Today in the Book Room, a very special episode of the podcast (just press the "Play" arrow on the pod-player above). Mordecai the puma and I travel to the upper mezzanine lobby of the Fairmont Royal York hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada. There we meet up with Robert Levine, author of Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destorying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back.
Free Ride exposes the lazily-accepted falsehoods and extreme rhetoric of free culture theory (e.g. "copyright threatens democracy"), and tracks the decline of professional culture-making from the early days of Napster right up to the edge of this year's SOPA blackout protests from Google and Wikipedia. For anyone with even a half-formed intention to be a professional artist (or journalist, for that matter), Free Ride is a mandatory read.
Here's a bit more about Mr. Levine, in his own words:
Robert Levine has been covering pop culture, technology, and the awkward dance between them for 15 years. Most recently, he was the executive editor of Billboard, charged with running the influential music business trade magazine. He has also been a features editor at New York magazine and Wired. His first job was at HotWired.com, the Web publication of Wired, where he was hired several months after it sold the first banner ad on the Internet.
His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Fortune, Rolling Stone, and the arts and business sections of the New York Times. He has offered commentary on the media business for CNN, CNBC, and VH-1, and spoken at the CMJ music conference and the World Copyright Summit in Brussels. He holds a B.A. in politics from Brandeis and an M.S.J. from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
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