April 28, 2008  ·  Lessig

PFF has launched what they promise to be a “series of papers that will critique Free Culture and the Free Culture Movement.” Their first is a piece by Tom Sydnor II called “Tragedy and Farce: An Analysis of the Book FREE CULTURE.” Calling the book akin to “quasi-socialist utopianism,” the 17 page review is certain to be an interesting read. Someone should add this to the Anti-Lessig Reader.

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    The PFF wouldn’t know progress or freedom if they were thrown from a prison transfer coach in a collision with inevitability. Indeed, they are intent on making sure neither progress nor freedom occurs in the context of published works and the cultural liberty of the public.

    As for your book ‘free culture’, this also falls grievously short of envisioning a culture free of constraint by copyright, and so does one of the greatest disservices to the term ‘free culture’ and the free culture movement.

    Just as with Andrew Keen the PFF is a critic of similarly poor calibre and not one to be proud of.

  • Rob Myers

    Free Culture is an excellent reformist (rather than abolitionist) work regarding cultural freedom.

    PFF are well named, although they really need an ellipsis.

    Linking to their idiocy is generous rather than kind…

  • http://linuxworld.com/community/ Don Marti

    Sourcewatch has some background info on this group: “PFF seems to have been funded by communications companies from the outset.”

  • Krishna

    Unless Larry has the power to change people into agents of the dark lord Satan, I really wish Mr. Sydnor would stop saying “literally demonize.”

    -krish

  • James Day

    Someone should point Tom Sydnor II to the evil socialists who made the odd billion Dollars by selling GPL (but also commercial) MySQL to Sun and who are the (Labour) party in power in the UK, a close military ally during the various wars of this administration. It may well be the case that less than one user in a thousand of MySQL has paid MySQL any money but the odd billion Dollars of gain is not something to dismiss easily. Nor is the implied criticism of the government of a close ally just because Mr Sydnor can’t distinguish between socialism and communism.

    Tom Sydnor II also seems to completely ignore the success of socialist Europe and the economic powerhouse that the European Union is becoming. Ask Boeing about that. And maybe watch Mr Sydnor have apoplexy as he tries to reconcile the free market he champions with a desire to protect Boeing from free competition in which it loses, in spite of being caught trying to fix the result of the competition.

    He may also benefit from a little more research when it comes to the obviously bogus claim that “During the latter half of the 20th Century, the United States emerged as a uniquely successful creator and exporter of a vast array of expressive works”. He appears not to recall that George Orwell, author of the work 1984 that he cites so much, was English. Fans of Mr. Harry Potter’s popular magical adventures might notice that the author is Scottish.

    Research about “foresee the consequences of spyware-powered Thought Police” also seems lacking, for it was Sony that introduced spyware-powered monitoring of the plays of the music they were distributing, in a free market Orwellian approach to monitoring every play of those works. Not a theoretical threat like many Mr Sydnor is discussing, but actual commercial reality in the United States.

    His writing does provide amusing and sad comment on the demons of the past that seem to dominate the thinking of some advocates in the US. All those sad references to the cold war past that we in Europe have already moved on from. Hopefully he’ll move on from his tragic life in the past and farcical lack of understanding of the parts of the world outside the United States.

    And should you red this, My Sydnor, do note also that it was in England that highly restricted copyrights were found, by an absolute monarch, to be unhelpful and were limited to control the harm that they were doing. And that failed experience with unlimited copyrights is how we ended up with the limited copyrights that followed, in the United States and elsewhere. Events in the rest of the world sometimes matter. Maybe not often if you ignore the history, but some of us don’t.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Oh boy, another one of those papers saying “Property is God. Anyone else is a COMMIE.”. There really should be some sort of way that flacks can just indicate they want to advocate such a viewpoint, without the huge waste of time of pages and pages of bombast over it.

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    Seth, I wouldn’t really have much issue with the PFF if they championed property rights, a free and fair market, and rejected communism.

    Unfortunately, they are championing the preservation of the status quo, the retention of the mercantile privileges of copyright and patent, which are nothing to do with property or rights, and by their monopolistic nature completely undermine a free and fair market.

    The only thing I could agree with the PFF on is how ludicrous the idea of communising the production of digital works is, i.e. all digital works may be freely exchanged if they’re funded via taxation and valued by a central committee with assistance from a computerised proliferation census.

    Either:
    A) the PFF are stupid because they’re barking up the wrong tree if they’re trying to discredit Professor Lessig – who is doing an excellent job of persuading everyone to retain copyright (by suggesting that if one has a problem with its unkindnesses one simply adopts kinder licenses).
    or
    B) The PFF are cunning because by pretending to attack the pro-copyright treatise ‘Free Culture’ as anti-property it obtains greater support by those easily beguiled by the ‘enemy of my enemy must be my friend’ fallacy.

  • http://www.paul-lockett.co.uk Paul Lockett

    The PFF’s statement is possibly the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read.

    The statement is so focused on the false dichotomy of “privately owned” versus “government owned,” it is completely blind to the possibility that ideas and other intangibles might simply be unowned.

    If the PFF were to bother to look, they could find numerous examples of unowned ideas working wonderfully well, where people come together in an “open source” kind of way to use an idea and add to it to create an unowned commons, without any expectation of payment. One example is the English language, built up over centuries by people using it and freely adding words to it, with nobody seriously suggesting it should be privately owned or that royalties should be paid to the introducers of words.

    If the PFF is so opposed to that supposedly “commie” model of creation, perhaps it should practice what it preaches and refrain from using the English language.

  • http://www.e-giyim.net Giyim

    There really should be some sort of way that flacks can just indicate they want to advocate such a viewpoint, without the huge waste of time of pages and pages of bombast over it.

  • http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk Crosbie Fitch

    If we’re deleting spam, I don’t believe Giyim has passed the Turing test, so by leaving the comment instead of deleting it grants it greater standing than if the other spam comments remained. Tricky isn’t it?

    Incidentally, Tom Sydnor (or someone purporting to be him) has replied on Techdirt concerning the PFF’s apparent antipathy toward the book Free Culture.

    See The Smear Campaign Against Larry Lessig And Free Culture.