Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, is the highly recommended third book by Laurence Lessig, focusing on why and how copyright laws need to be changed to allow for greater innovation. If you’ve read the two previous books The future of ideas: the fate of the commons in a connected world and Free culture: the nature and future of creativity — or heard one of Lessig’s exciting lectures, much of Remix will seem familiar, remixed with new examples of copyright owners pushing their rights beyond culturally acceptable bounds and why the time frame for copyright should be shortened, allowing works to enter the public domain.
But this book demonstrates the value of remixing, adding a lengthy discussion of the economics of two types of culture — commercial and sharing.
A commercial economy [is centered on] money or “price” [as] a central term of the ordinary, or normal exchange.
Of all the possible terms for exchange within a sharing economy, the single term that isn’t appropriate is money.
But Lessig discusses a combination between the commercial economy and the sharing economy — the hybrid economy:
The hybrid is either a commercial entity that aims to leverage value from a sharing economy, or it is a sharing economy that builds a commercial entity to better support its sharing aims.
If those within the sharing economy begin to think of themselves as tools of a commercial economy, they will be less willing to play. If those within a commercial economy begin to think of it as a sharing economy, that may reduce their focus on economic reward.
Much of Lessig’s discussion about hybrid economies is applicable to fan culture and other examples of participatory culture and user-generated content. He does use the examples of Harry Potter fandom (relying heavily on Henry Jenkins’ Convergence Culture) and Second Life.
We’ll be using this section extensively in our future writings, so our readers will be seeing much more of the ideas in Remix.