Promises to Keep
Technology, Law, and the Future of Entertainment
By William Fisher
(Stanford Law and Politics, Hardcover, 9780804750134, 352pp.)
Publication Date: August 2004
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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During the past fifteen years, changes in the technologies used to make and store audio and video recordings, combined with the communication revolution associated with the Internet, have generated an extraordinary array of new ways in which music and movies can be produced and distributed. Both the creators and the consumers of entertainment products stand to benefit enormously from the new systems. Sadly, we have failed thus far to avail ourselves of these opportunities. Instead, much energy has been devoted to interpreting or changing legal rules in hopes of defending older business models against the threats posed by the new technologies. These efforts to plug the multiplying holes in the legal dikes are failing and the entertainment industry has fallen into crisis. This provocative book chronicles how we got into this mess and presents three alternative proposals—each involving a combination of legal reforms and new business models—for how we could get out of it.
William W. Fisher III is the Hale and Dorr Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.
"Digital technologies have given society an extraordinary cultural potential. If that potential is to be made real, we must reconcile it with the legitimate and important claims of copyright. In this beautifully written and careful work, Fisher, more completely than anyone else, maps the choices that we might make. He argues for a choice that would produce enormous social good. And while not everyone will agree with the conclusions he draws, no one who cares seriously about creators or culture can ignore the framework that he has set. There are choices that we as a society must make. And as Rawls did in political theory, or Milton Friedman did in economics, Fisher provides an understanding that will color policy analysis for the generations to come."—Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School
"The strength of this book is Fisher's willingness to step above the political fray to solve problems. He has produced one of the most important books in media studies and law in some years. It is refreshing, bold, and provocative. We need it badly." —Siva Vaidhyanathan, Director of Communication Studies, Department of Culture and Communication, New York University
"This book provides the first comprehensive, accessible overview of the conflict surrounding music distribution and the emergence of digital communications networks, working towards a detailed proposal for how we could radically transform the way in which our society funds its music and film industries."—Yochai Benkler, Yale Law School
"Fisher's proposal might be the best thing that ever happened to the cultural commons: the creators would be paid, while every individual would have unlimited access to every cultural creation." —The New York Times (January 25, 2004)
"Harvard University Professor Terry Fisher has completed the first comprehensive examination of various alternative [compensation] models....Our thanks to Professor Fisher for his exhaustive research in making our choices clear."—The Register (February 1, 2004)