The Foolishness of Andrew Keen

by on March 20, 2008 · 40 comments

Back in December, I wrote about a good article in Democracy by Beth Simone Noveck, director of the Institute for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School. Her article highlighted the Peer-to-Patent experiment being conducted with the Patent and Trademark Office.

A response has now been published by Andrew Keen, a critic of all things 2.0 heretofore unknown to me – and for good reason. Keen’s response is drivel.


He alternately overreads and nitpicks Noveck’s article. Nowhere in her argument for infusing administrative processes with more information, for example, did she argue for changing the republican form of our government or diminishing constititional rights. But Keen’s careening response says:

The critical issue, to which Noveck and the digital populists don’t face up, is that more political participation neither means better democracy, nor does it guarantee more efficient government. In fact, it often results in the reverse: Mob rule is mob rule, whether it is electromagnetically broadcasted on the wireless or digitally streamed from the Web.

Sure, Andy, drawing the knowledge of the interested public together for government officials to use begets mob rule.

Here’s Keen reaching, reaching to make a criticism:

[Noveck] says [YouTube] has generated “brilliant art films,” but she fails to name the digital auteurs behind these masterpieces. This is because much of YouTube’s content is posted anonymously. Without a traditional editorial staff, nobody knows who is authoring much of its content. Not surprisingly, often the most “brilliant” amateur work turns out to be the professional production of advertising companies, political parties, or corporations . . . .

Here’s the sentence from which he plucked the scare-quote: “For every brilliant art film or newsworthy clip, there are thousands of pieces of video junk on YouTube.” Noveck wasn’t extolling YouTube. Keen’s attack on her fair reporting comes from an odd tangent indeed. He evidently didn’t get the point. Or he brought in the specter of corporate influence for another purpose. The audience for this magazine and article is evidently “progressive,” and appealing to corporate influence on culture is a prominent bugbear in this community.

Playing to progressives, Keen uses the word “libertarian” in an attempt to tar things as self-evidently wrong.

Nobody is in charge of determining who can and can’t author a wiki, anyone can become a contributor, anyone can edit the work of another writer, and anyone can come along and (re)edit the original edit. This is, of course, technology created by and designed for libertarians.

“Libertarians.” Shudder . . . Or maybe wiki technology was created by and designed for true liberals.

Thrice he equates the users of Web 2.0 technology with the belief that government is a “self-evident racket, the ultimate conspiracy.” This is more transparent pandering. Progressives don’t believe that government is so venal, thus they must agree with him on his other points. (I doubt it.)

I hasten to add, as a libertarian, that Keen is wrong to call government a “self-evident racket.” It’s not self-evident at all! What is evident from reading this piece is that Keen’s reaction against using information technology to inform government decisionmaking is essentially conservative.

  • http://techdirt.com/ Mike Masnick

    Keen is not worth legitimizing with a response.

    If he upsets you, just recognize that what he’s doing is pure self-parody. Everything he rails against he’s done himself.

    He writes a book about the value of professional media and editors, and that book is a terrible mess, horribly written getting tons of facts wrong — effectively satirically proving his point is incorrect.

    And, of course, Lessig has the best response to Keen:

    http://lessig.org/blog/2008/03/there_he_goes_again_1.html

    Lessig asked him to prove one of his false assertions, and when Keen couldn’t his response was to take an informal poll from people he knew to say that Lessig had taken a position he had not. In other words, while railing against “the mob,” Keen relied on a mob to back him up when he had no facts.

  • http://techdirt.com/ Mike Masnick

    Keen is not worth legitimizing with a response.

    If he upsets you, just recognize that what he’s doing is pure self-parody. Everything he rails against he’s done himself.

    He writes a book about the value of professional media and editors, and that book is a terrible mess, horribly written getting tons of facts wrong — effectively satirically proving his point is incorrect.

    And, of course, Lessig has the best response to Keen:

    http://lessig.org/blog/2008/03/there_he_goes_ag

    Lessig asked him to prove one of his false assertions, and when Keen couldn’t his response was to take an informal poll from people he knew to say that Lessig had taken a position he had not. In other words, while railing against “the mob,” Keen relied on a mob to back him up when he had no facts.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    So . . . is he a comdeic genius, then, maybe?

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Great post Jim.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    With due respect, Keen’s criticism of Lessig is fundamentally correct. If it’s hard to cite a single reference to Lessig’s lauding the “appropriation of intellectual property” that might be because it’s so pervasive in Lessig’s work that it’s easier to cite the rare examples of where he doesn’t; what do you think the “Free” in “Free Culture” means?

    A guy writes several books arguing that we’d all be better off if it were easier to sample, mashup, download, and otherwise appropriate intellectual property, he takes a case of copyright violation to the Supreme Court and starts a movement to put works into the public domain and people have to “prove” he’s in favor of relaxing intellectual property policy in favor easier appropriation?

    We’re clearly through the rabbit hole now.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Richard, the “free” in “free culture” means the same thing “free” means in “free speech,” “free markets” and “free trade”: free of legal restrictions.

    And Creative Commons doesn’t put works in the public domain.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    So . . . is he a comdeic genius, then, maybe?

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    “Free of legal restrictions” differs from “freely appropriable” how exactly?

    And Creative Commons is the public domain in effect, if not in name.

    Jesus, why not just fess up that this whole Lessig-worshipping movement is about making more stuff more freely available for more re-use? If you’re in favor of that fine, argue for it, but there’s no reason to hide behind smoke and mirrors and claim that “free” doesn’t mean “free.”

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Great post Jim.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    With due respect, Keen’s criticism of Lessig is fundamentally correct. If it’s hard to cite a single reference to Lessig’s lauding the “appropriation of intellectual property” that might be because it’s so pervasive in Lessig’s work that it’s easier to cite the rare examples of where he doesn’t; what do you think the “Free” in “Free Culture” means?

    A guy writes several books arguing that we’d all be better off if it were easier to sample, mashup, download, and otherwise appropriate intellectual property, he takes a case of copyright violation to the Supreme Court and starts a movement to put works into the public domain and people have to “prove” he’s in favor of relaxing intellectual property policy in favor easier appropriation?

    We’re clearly through the rabbit hole now.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    “Free Culture”, pp. 184-185:

    “You could write a poem to express your love, or you could weave together a string—a mash-up—of songs from your favorite artists in a collage and make it available on the Net. This digital “capturing and sharing” is in part an extension of the capturing and sharing that has always been integral to our culture, and in part it is something new. It is continuous with the Kodak, but it explodes the boundaries of Kodak-like technologies. The technology of digital “capturing and sharing” promises a world of extraordinarily diverse creativity that can be easily and broadly shared. And as that creativity is applied to democracy, it will enable a broad range of citizens to use technology to express and criticize and contribute to the culture all around.

    “Technology has thus given us an opportunity to do something with culture that has only ever been possible for individuals in small groups,isolated from others. Think about an old man telling a story to a collection of neighbors in a small town. Now imagine that same storytelling extended across the globe.

    “Yet all this is possible only if the activity is presumptively legal. In the current regime of legal regulation, it is not. Forget file sharing for a moment. Think about your favorite amazing sites on the Net. Web sites that offer plot summaries from forgotten television shows; sites that catalog cartoons from the 1960s; sites that mix images and sound to criticize politicians or businesses; sites that gather newspaper articles on remote topics of science or culture.There is a vast amount of creative work spread across the Internet. But as the law is currently crafted, this work is presumptively illegal.”

    This is “lauding the appropriation of intellectual property” looks like. Write it down, it will be on the test.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Richard, the “free” in “free culture” means the same thing “free” means in “free speech,” “free markets” and “free trade”: free of legal restrictions.

    And Creative Commons doesn’t put works in the public domain.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Richard, Creative Commons is about artists voluntarily making content available on less-restrictive terms. Lessig doesn’t claim that every artist should license all their work under Creative Commons, and he’s certainly not advocating that they be required to do so. Rather he’s trying to ensure that those artists who want to make their work more widely available have the opportunity to do so.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    “Free of legal restrictions” differs from “freely appropriable” how exactly?

    And Creative Commons is the public domain in effect, if not in name.

    Jesus, why not just fess up that this whole Lessig-worshipping movement is about making more stuff more freely available for more re-use? If you’re in favor of that fine, argue for it, but there’s no reason to hide behind smoke and mirrors and claim that “free” doesn’t mean “free.”

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    “Free Culture”, pp. 184-185:

    “You could write a poem to express your love, or you could weave together a string—a mash-up—of songs from your favorite artists in a collage and make it available on the Net. This digital “capturing and sharing” is in part an extension of the capturing and sharing that has always been integral to our culture, and in part it is something new. It is continuous with the Kodak, but it explodes the boundaries of Kodak-like technologies. The technology of digital “capturing and sharing” promises a world of extraordinarily diverse creativity that can be easily and broadly shared. And as that creativity is applied to democracy, it will enable a broad range of citizens to use technology to express and criticize and contribute to the culture all around.

    “Technology has thus given us an opportunity to do something with culture that has only ever been possible for individuals in small groups,isolated from others. Think about an old man telling a story to a collection of neighbors in a small town. Now imagine that same storytelling extended across the globe.

    “Yet all this is possible only if the activity is presumptively legal. In the current regime of legal regulation, it is not. Forget file sharing for a moment. Think about your favorite amazing sites on the Net. Web sites that offer plot summaries from forgotten television shows; sites that catalog cartoons from the 1960s; sites that mix images and sound to criticize politicians or businesses; sites that gather newspaper articles on remote topics of science or culture.There is a vast amount of creative work spread across the Internet. But as the law is currently crafted, this work is presumptively illegal.”

    This is “lauding the appropriation of intellectual property” looks like. Write it down, it will be on the test.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Richard, Creative Commons is about artists voluntarily making content available on less-restrictive terms. Lessig doesn’t claim that every artist should license all their work under Creative Commons, and he’s certainly not advocating that they be required to do so. Rather he’s trying to ensure that those artists who want to make their work more widely available have the opportunity to do so.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Close enough, Tim.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Close enough, Tim.

  • http://linuxworld.com/community/ Don Marti

    Lessig does say that the trend to shift certain kinds of “intellectual property” laws in one direction is a public policy mistake.

    But “intellectual property” is a property right in the same way that the “right of way” is a property right. It’s an Article 1, Section 8 economic development power of Congress. The government gives some people and companies “intellectual property” in order to promote the progress of science and useful arts, in the same way that it gives some drivers “right of way” in order to promote safe and efficient flow of traffic.

    It’s not “appropriating” when the government takes time off your favorite left turn arrow, and it wouldn’t be “appropriating” to re-balance the copyright and patent laws.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Don, please read the quote from Free Culture that I posted above. These remarks say Lessig is not just counseling against the expansion of the intellectual property right, he’s actually arguing for a contraction of the tradition right because it interferes with things he regards as “creative” that most of us consider simply parasitic: “This digital “capturing and sharing” is in part an extension of the capturing and sharing that has always been integral to our culture, and in part it is something new. It is continuous with the Kodak, but it explodes the boundaries of Kodak-like technologies. The technology of digital “capturing and sharing” promises a world of extraordinarily diverse creativity that can be easily and broadly shared. And as that creativity is applied to democracy, it will enable a broad range of citizens to use technology to express and criticize and contribute to the culture all around.”

    Because digital information *can* easily be shared, Lessig says that law *should* change to make this easy sharing legal. And that’s why people fairly regard him as pro-piracy.

    There are all sorts of interesting questions around digital sharing and property rights, but we’ll never get to them if it’s going to be necessary to try and square Lessig’s circle every time he’s mentioned.

    I find his pro-piracy argument kind of refreshing, in an odd way. Most anti-intellectual-property libertarians use a “war on drugs” argument, asserting that the violations of privacy necessary to protect IP are worse than the crime of IP theft, but Lessig argues that IP theft is actually good for the soul (both individual and collective.) I don’t agree with him, but I recognize that he makes a novel and clever appeal.

  • http://linuxworld.com/community/ Don Marti

    Lessig does say that the trend to shift certain kinds of “intellectual property” laws in one direction is a public policy mistake.

    But “intellectual property” is a property right in the same way that the “right of way” is a property right. It’s an Article 1, Section 8 economic development power of Congress. The government gives some people and companies “intellectual property” in order to promote the progress of science and useful arts, in the same way that it gives some drivers “right of way” in order to promote safe and efficient flow of traffic.

    It’s not “appropriating” when the government takes time off your favorite left turn arrow, and it wouldn’t be “appropriating” to re-balance the copyright and patent laws.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Don, please read the quote from Free Culture that I posted above. These remarks say Lessig is not just counseling against the expansion of the intellectual property right, he’s actually arguing for a contraction of the tradition right because it interferes with things he regards as “creative” that most of us consider simply parasitic: “This digital “capturing and sharing” is in part an extension of the capturing and sharing that has always been integral to our culture, and in part it is something new. It is continuous with the Kodak, but it explodes the boundaries of Kodak-like technologies. The technology of digital “capturing and sharing” promises a world of extraordinarily diverse creativity that can be easily and broadly shared. And as that creativity is applied to democracy, it will enable a broad range of citizens to use technology to express and criticize and contribute to the culture all around.”

    Because digital information *can* easily be shared, Lessig says that law *should* change to make this easy sharing legal. And that’s why people fairly regard him as pro-piracy.

    There are all sorts of interesting questions around digital sharing and property rights, but we’ll never get to them if it’s going to be necessary to try and square Lessig’s circle every time he’s mentioned.

    I find his pro-piracy argument kind of refreshing, in an odd way. Most anti-intellectual-property libertarians use a “war on drugs” argument, asserting that the violations of privacy necessary to protect IP are worse than the crime of IP theft, but Lessig argues that IP theft is actually good for the soul (both individual and collective.) I don’t agree with him, but I recognize that he makes a novel and clever appeal.

  • http://linuxworld.com/community/ Don Marti

    Richard, wanting to change the law doesn’t make Lessing “pro-piracy”, any more than wanting to change the timing on the green light would make him pro-red-light-running.

    None of the stuff covered in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is a natural right. They’re all miscellaneous programs that Congress is allowed, not required, to do. You don’t have a right to “intellectual property” any more than you have a right to a post office or post road next to your house, or to a letter of marque. Congress stopped issuing letters of marque entirely, and Congress would be equally within its rights to zero out the patent office.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Let’s not change the subject, Don, there’s enough going on in the discussion of Keen vs. Lessig that we don’t have to rope the poor framers into this blog.

    Does Lessig “laud the appropriation of intellectual property” or does he not? I say he does, and Jim and Tim say he don’t.

    What do you say?

  • http://linuxworld.com/community/ Don Marti

    Richard, wanting to change the law doesn’t make Lessing “pro-piracy”, any more than wanting to change the timing on the green light would make him pro-red-light-running.

    None of the stuff covered in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is a natural right. They’re all miscellaneous programs that Congress is allowed, not required, to do. You don’t have a right to “intellectual property” any more than you have a right to a post office or post road next to your house, or to a letter of marque. Congress stopped issuing letters of marque entirely, and Congress would be equally within its rights to zero out the patent office.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Let’s not change the subject, Don, there’s enough going on in the discussion of Keen vs. Lessig that we don’t have to rope the poor framers into this blog.

    Does Lessig “laud the appropriation of intellectual property” or does he not? I say he does, and Jim and Tim say he don’t.

    What do you say?

  • http://linuxworld.com/community Don Marti

    Lessig doesn’t tell people to go download from Pirate Bay or an “0EM S0FTW@RE” spammer — he wants to change public policy. He’s for reforming the law, not violating it.

    Saying that a change in the law would appropriate an intellectual property right is like saying that a change in a road would appropriate your right of way. You don’t have right of way without the government road; you don’t have intellectual property without the Article 1, Section 8 government program for promotion of science and useful arts.

    If Lessig argued that the government should buy fewer ashtrays, some of the people on this board would say he’s for confiscating the manufacturers’ selling-ashtrays-to-the-government property right.

    Is it possible to discuss a change in a government policy without calling it a “theft” from those who would be negatively affected?

  • dmarti

    Lessig doesn’t tell people to go download from Pirate Bay or an “0EM S0FTW@RE” spammer — he wants to change public policy. He’s for reforming the law, not violating it.

    Saying that a change in the law would appropriate an intellectual property right is like saying that a change in a road would appropriate your right of way. You don’t have right of way without the government road; you don’t have intellectual property without the Article 1, Section 8 government program for promotion of science and useful arts.

    If Lessig argued that the government should buy fewer ashtrays, some of the people on this board would say he’s for confiscating the manufacturers’ selling-ashtrays-to-the-government property right.

    Is it possible to discuss a change in a government policy without calling it a “theft” from those who would be negatively affected?

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    The charge was that Lessig “lauds the appropriation of intellectual property.” The passage I quoted has him saying that making a music mix is a creative act, while admitting that it’s a technical violation of law.

    I think that settles the question, but I don’t consider downloading to be a creative act. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    The charge was that Lessig “lauds the appropriation of intellectual property.” The passage I quoted has him saying that making a music mix is a creative act, while admitting that it’s a technical violation of law.

    I think that settles the question, but I don’t consider downloading to be a creative act. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Richard, it’s discussions like this that remind me that you’re a conservative :-).

    You’re wrong. What you’ve done is to switch the definition.

    What is meant by
    “lauds the appropriation of intellectual property”?

    The obvious meaning is “approves of copyright infringement” – that is, specifically tells people to violate existing restrictions.

    When called on this, people who want to attack Lessig define it as something like “advocates copyright be less than maximal” – that is, gives examples where there is a social benefit from less extensive ownership restrictions.

    What this does is to conflate “advocates illegal activity” with “proposes changes in the law” – which is a rhetorical sleight of hand.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Richard, it’s discussions like this that remind me that you’re a conservative :-).

    You’re wrong. What you’ve done is to switch the definition.

    What is meant by
    “lauds the appropriation of intellectual property”?

    The obvious meaning is “approves of copyright infringement” – that is, specifically tells people to violate existing restrictions.

    When called on this, people who want to attack Lessig define it as something like “advocates copyright be less than maximal” – that is, gives examples where there is a social benefit from less extensive ownership restrictions.

    What this does is to conflate “advocates illegal activity” with “proposes changes in the law” – which is a rhetorical sleight of hand.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    I ain’t no stinkin’ conservative, Seth, I’m a philosopher, which is even worse.

    Seriously, though, I understand our pal to advocate looser IP laws so that some acts that are illegal today (and would have also been illegal before recent changes to IP law) would be legal. Free Culture lauds mash-ups, sampling, re-mixing, and other forms of digital transformation that are technically illegal and have been for more than 30 years. Lessig says this stuff is cool and should be legal.

    Lessig may not “advocate” illegal activity, but he certainly does find merit in it, which is what the term “lauds” connotes, and he certainly advocates on behalf of people who engage in illegal activity against IP, such as Mr. Eldred.

    And Lessig may very well have a point that illegal mash-ups are creative, and that all creative work should be regarded as an assembly-line product serving as raw material for to other creative works, but I think he overplays it.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    I ain’t no stinkin’ conservative, Seth, I’m a philosopher, which is even worse.

    Seriously, though, I understand our pal to advocate looser IP laws so that some acts that are illegal today (and would have also been illegal before recent changes to IP law) would be legal. Free Culture lauds mash-ups, sampling, re-mixing, and other forms of digital transformation that are technically illegal and have been for more than 30 years. Lessig says this stuff is cool and should be legal.

    Lessig may not “advocate” illegal activity, but he certainly does find merit in it, which is what the term “lauds” connotes, and he certainly advocates on behalf of people who engage in illegal activity against IP, such as Mr. Eldred.

    And Lessig may very well have a point that illegal mash-ups are creative, and that all creative work should be regarded as an assembly-line product serving as raw material for to other creative works, but I think he overplays it.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    …and BTW, I agree with the premise of this article that Keen is a fool. Not that he doesn’t have a point regarding the Cult of the Amateur and all that, but he doesn’t argue it very well, and in fact it’s not his idea.

    I’ve been railing against the romantic idea that ordinary citizens are just as smart and well-informed as experts for many years, so it’s obvious to me that Keen has appropriated my ideas so he could re-sell them as his own. And I don’t appreciate such a cavalier attitude toward my IP.

    It wouldn’t be necessary for me to explain what the ideas Keen expresses actually mean if he understood them himself, but as the post clearly shows, he doesn’t. That’s how you know he ripped me off.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    …and BTW, I agree with the premise of this article that Keen is a fool. Not that he doesn’t have a point regarding the Cult of the Amateur and all that, but he doesn’t argue it very well, and in fact it’s not his idea.

    I’ve been railing against the romantic idea that ordinary citizens are just as smart and well-informed as experts for many years, so it’s obvious to me that Keen has appropriated my ideas so he could re-sell them as his own. And I don’t appreciate such a cavalier attitude toward my IP.

    It wouldn’t be necessary for me to explain what the ideas Keen expresses actually mean if he understood them himself, but as the post clearly shows, he doesn’t. That’s how you know he ripped me off.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Let’s back up to the exchange between Lessig and Keen. Obviously, there’s a trivial way where proposing a law be changed to make it less strict is by definition advocating illegal acts. However, that’s what I called rhetorical sleight of hand, since the connotations are extremely different. BUT, critically, the trivial meaning cannot be what Keen meant, formally. Because if that’s what he intended, it would not have been difficult for him to say that when Lessig called him out. That is, he could have said, e.g. “I meant anyone who in any way says it’s a good idea to make copyright even the smallest bit less restrictive is a COMMIE PIRATE, err, “lauds the appropriation of intellectual property”.” (ok, I’m being hyperbolic, but it gets the point across). He didn’t go that route, because then it would be transparently obvious that he’s doing nothing but inflammatory red-baiting. He went for an appeal to prejudice instead. That’s what this is about. Nobody at all is disputing that Lessig thinks current copyright law is overly broad. Rather, the attacks are to try to cast that viewpoint as somehow illegitimate and driven by immoral anti-capitalism, which is transparently wrong based on Lessig’s actual writing. Which is why there’s such an attempt to make it a “by definition” argument (i.e., per above, an argument that anyone who says copyright has gone too far is by definition taking an immoral stance).

    Note the thing to understand about Andrew Keen is that he is not making any serious intellectual arguments. He’s being a mirror-image of the web-evangelist and working that marketing niche. His blather may connect to serious ideas, but it’s only in the same incidental way of net utopians, just in the opposite direction.

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    Let’s back up to the exchange between Lessig and Keen. Obviously, there’s a trivial way where proposing a law be changed to make it less strict is by definition advocating illegal acts. However, that’s what I called rhetorical sleight of hand, since the connotations are extremely different. BUT, critically, the trivial meaning cannot be what Keen meant, formally. Because if that’s what he intended, it would not have been difficult for him to say that when Lessig called him out. That is, he could have said, e.g. “I meant anyone who in any way says it’s a good idea to make copyright even the smallest bit less restrictive is a COMMIE PIRATE, err, “lauds the appropriation of intellectual property”.” (ok, I’m being hyperbolic, but it gets the point across). He didn’t go that route, because then it would be transparently obvious that he’s doing nothing but inflammatory red-baiting. He went for an appeal to prejudice instead. That’s what this is about. Nobody at all is disputing that Lessig thinks current copyright law is overly broad. Rather, the attacks are to try to cast that viewpoint as somehow illegitimate and driven by immoral anti-capitalism, which is transparently wrong based on Lessig’s actual writing. Which is why there’s such an attempt to make it a “by definition” argument (i.e., per above, an argument that anyone who says copyright has gone too far is by definition taking an immoral stance).

    Note the thing to understand about Andrew Keen is that he is not making any serious intellectual arguments. He’s being a mirror-image of the web-evangelist and working that marketing niche. His blather may connect to serious ideas, but it’s only in the same incidental way of net utopians, just in the opposite direction.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    I agree Keen doesn’t make serious arguments, and he’s basically a self-promoter who’s taken a position for its commercial benefits rather than for any serious purpose. So he annoys me more than Lessig. Lessig makes some arguments that strike me as silly to their core, especially the business about downloading and mashing-up being creative acts that should be protected by law. Keen is unfortunately one of the few people who stand up to Lessig and challenge this fatuous thinking, but he doesn’t do it well, so at the end of the day Keen’s attacks on Lessig’s weakest ideas simply make Lessig look smarter than he is.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    I agree Keen doesn’t make serious arguments, and he’s basically a self-promoter who’s taken a position for its commercial benefits rather than for any serious purpose. So he annoys me more than Lessig. Lessig makes some arguments that strike me as silly to their core, especially the business about downloading and mashing-up being creative acts that should be protected by law. Keen is unfortunately one of the few people who stand up to Lessig and challenge this fatuous thinking, but he doesn’t do it well, so at the end of the day Keen’s attacks on Lessig’s weakest ideas simply make Lessig look smarter than he is.

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