Review of "Free Ride"

Book by author Robert Levine - FREE RIDE: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back

Review by Jeffrey Rosen in the NYT

Excerpt: “The real conflict online,” Levine writes, “is between the media companies that fund much of the entertainment we read, see and hear and the technology firms that want to distribute their content — legally or otherwise.” By delivering content they don’t pay for, or selling content far below the price it cost to create, Levine says, information and entertainment distributors like YouTube and The Huffington Post become “parasites” on the media companies that invest substantially in journalists, musicians and actors; the distributors drive down prices in a way that sucks the economic lifeblood out of those who create and finance the best achievements of our culture. The result is a “digital version of Wal-Mart capitalism,” in which free-riding distributors reap all the economic benefits of the Internet by cutting prices, and culture suppliers are forced to cut costs in response. This dynamic, Levine argues, destroys the economic incentive to create the kinds of movies, television, music and journalism consumers demand, and for which they are, in fact, quite willing to pay.

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I asked this question of the author on his Facebook page for his book.

What is your view on libraries? Libraries are in the business of sharing information. Would you distinguish libraries from the aggregators and other sharing entities you mention in your book?

Here was his response: Yes, as long as they don't compete directly with bookstores.

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