September 30, 2008 · Lessig
In my view, the “free culture” test for a work is whether it is available freely — not whether it is also available not freely. “Free Culture” is available freely — meaning, it is licensed freely here. One can put that freely licensed version on a Kindle, freely. I hadn’t known my publisher was going to make Free Culture available on the Kindle, but now that they have, I’d be very keen to have a version I can make freely available on the “Free Culture” remix page.
“But shouldn’t,” one could well argue, “you not support DRM technologies at all?” That’s a valid position taken by many I respect. My view, however, is that one supports the campaign to avoid debilitating DRM by making culture freely available. New technologies will try all sorts of new deals to make things competitive. So long as free, open format versions are available to compete with that, I am not concerned about the DRM’d version existing as well.
Ben’s post claims that one would violate “the DMCA by circumventing the DRM, it is hard to put the pdf version of the book on the Kindle.” I don’t get this. There’s no violating of the DMCA when one adapts the format of a work as permitted by the copyright holder. Indeed, I should think the DMCA is violated by any effort to restrict the rights granted by a license — including the CC license rights. So any problem here is not the user’s — it is Kindle’s.
Anyway, I may be wrong about this. And I’ll be listening to see.