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Free Ride

How the Internet Destroys Creativity

written by Robert Levine

Random House | ISBN 9781847921499

Paperback – 288 pages

$34.95

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'On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.'So said the influential technologist Stewart Brand at a 1984 hacker convention. Not only did his words evolve into a media business mantra that has shaped the internet as we know it today but the conflict which he predicted has led to a revolution in the way that our culture is disseminated and consumed.Over the last decade the traditional media - newspapers, music, television, films and books - have been systematically ransacked by digital organisations. Every media business has had to contend with the growing consumer demand for free online content. As it is currently configured, both technically and legally, the Internet allows technology companies to reduce the price of content to zero by letting them build businesses with content copyrighted by others. It's a very effective way to draw an audience. MySpace attracted a user base larger than the population of most European countries, in part by letting its audience stream music, then sold itself to News Corporation for $580 million. But what are the consequences for cultural businesses? Is the result simply mayhem and inevitable cultural impoverishment? Free Ride is the essential guide to a global marketplace in transition: where we are, how we got here and what we have to do to avoid cultural meltdown.

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