Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Lawrence Lessig

Larry blogs that:

Last Free Culture lecture, first thought about what to do about political corruption

So this Thursday, January 31, at 1:00pm, at Memorial Auditorium on the Stanford Campus (directions) (map), I will be giving my last lecture about "Free Culture." The event is a bit staged (literally), as it is being sponsored by an entity making a film about these issues, and they want the lecture to use in the film. But the venue is beautiful, and I will also use the opportunity to map out one plan for addressing the problem of "corruption" (as I've described it) in politics. I've now finished a draft of the talk; for those who have seen me speak before, it is new (almost completely new -- maybe 1% are must have slides from the past). For those who haven't seen me speak before, it will be a nice map of where this debate has been, and where I think I want to go. Any questions about logistics, send an email here.

I'll be there. If you're in the area, please come. It should be an important/great talk.

Daily Kos speculates that Larry should run for Congress and is running a poll. 83% are saying yes as of this posting. ;-)

Last.fm just announced that:

As of today, you can play full-length tracks and entire albums for free on the Last.fm website.

Something we've wanted for years--for people who visit Last.fm to be able to play any track for free--is now possible. With the support of the folks behind EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner--and the artists they work with--plus thousands of independent artists and labels, we've made the biggest legal collection of music available to play online for free, the way we believe it should be.

That's very cool, but what I'm also very excited about is:
Free full-length tracks are obviously great news for listeners, but also great for artists and labels, who get paid every time someone streams a song. Music on Last.fm is perpetually monetized. This is good because artists get paid based on how popular a song is with their fans, instead of a fixed amount.

We will be paying artists directly.

We already have licenses with the various royalty collection societies, but now unsigned artists can put their music on Last.fm and be paid directly for every song played. This helps to level the playing-field--now you can make music, upload it to Last.fm and earn money for each play. If you make music, you can sign up to participate for free.

This is a great news. Some rights collections agencies have various restrictions such as banning Creative Commons licenses and this should give artists in these regions a new choice for generating revenue on their music.

Good job guys.

Disclosure: I was an investor in last.fm before they were acquired by CBS. Now I am a friend and occasionally advise them on their business.

Disclosure: I'm on the board of WITNESS which is one of the non-profits that does work in Burma.

Related links:

WITNESS website

Read about Burma in Japanese

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International

TCHO Beta

My TCHO Beta arrived. YUM! TCHO is one of my rare non-Internet investments. Several years ago, my old friend Timothy Childs told me he was starting a chocolate factory. I thought he was totally crazy. I sort of tried to ignore it for awhile, but he didn't give up and appeared to continue getting more and more excited. Finally he said he had sort of gotten things set up and invited me over to his super-secret lab and showed me around. I was really impressed. He told me his secret plans and said that my old friends Jane and Louis (the founders of Wired) were investors. He gave me some chocolate nibs to take home and put on my salad.

While I munched on the nibs I thought a lot about how fun it would be to be involved in a chocolate factory and when Louis took the CEO role and invited me in to their friends and family investor round I jumped at the chance. Anyway, the hardest part about being an investor in TCHO was keeping it secret.

Now you can order the beta C Ghana 0.2x from the site and tell us what you think.

When I was in London, Cory gave me a copy of his new book Little Brother. I read it mostly on the plane and while traveling through London, Hong Kong, Macao and Tokyo airport security. The book is about a future where there is a terrorist attack on San Francisco and DHS in the US gets overzealous and starts abusing their power. The hero of the story is a teenage hacker who decides to declare war on the DHS and take back his civil liberties.

It's a great story about teenagers, net culture, security, activism and politics and was a lot of fun to read. It references a lot of real-life stuff like XBox hacks and ARGs and is classic Cory.

Anyway, it should be coming out soon and I would recommend it to people who like that kind of stuff as well as recommend recommending it to people who still think that fighting terrorism the way we currently are makes any sense at all.

It's also pretty good timing considering the upcoming election in case there is any doubt on which way Americans should vote on security vs civil rights issue.