It is the intent of this paper to show that the normative social costs of a permission based culture are too great a burden for a society that values creativity and autonomy to bear. Culture, digital or otherwise, must be made available to everyone for the culture to grow. The paper will be divided into three sections.
Section one will start with the idea of what a permission based culture is and how the digital revolution is changing the way people interact with each other. Some of the key legal issues that currently dominate the debate and structural issues of the Internet will also be discussed. Section two will discuss how autonomy, creativity and democracy are interrelated how they interact with copyright within various modes of cultural expression. Section three will put forth the idea that the digital revolution is evolutionary in nature and will propose a compromise position in which the transition to a fully realized digital age might be realized.
Understanding the quiet struggle for freedom in the digital age begins with describing where we are now and how the existing legal structures and those of the Internet affect how we interact. A permission based culture is a fully copyrighted culture: there is no fair use, no commons; every idea is owned. A perfect iteration of permission based culture would follow the flawed assumption: “if value… then right”. That is to say that if I take creative work [which possesses inherent value] and use it in any way, I must have permission to do so, since it necessarily must be someone’s property. To use it without permission is piracy. Lawrence Lessig, an advocate for a rational copyright policy, skewers this notion with the example of a composer suing Girl Scouts for singing his song around a campfire. Lessig finishes curtly with the following rejoinder: “Instead [of a