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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Free Culture - in print, online and audio

This story has been going on for a while, but I finally took it to its logical conclusion only today.

Lawrence Lessig's latest book is entitled Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. This book has been released under a Creative Commons license, which means that derivative works, such as electronic books and audio books can be created by anyone who wishes to do so.

The electronic version of the book, in PDF and other formats, is available from http://www.free-culture.cc/freecontent/. When this electronic version was released, a variety of people on the Internet came up with the idea to create an audiobook by having a different person read and record each chapter of the book. Te project surprised everyone in the swiftness of its completion. With a week, almost the entire book was available for download as MP3 audio files, or as streaming audio direct from the Internet.

I have been spending a lot of time in the car lately, and, on a whim, I decided to take this book along for the ride. After downloading the various chapters, I burned the first 5 to standard audio CDs that would play in my car. These disks worked perfectly and I was able to enjoy Chapter 1 and 2 as I drove through the Santa Monica mountains on my way to a client.

You can just as easily play these MP3 files on your iPod or other MP3 player, or listen to them on your computer.

Project Gutenberg, which collects and makes e-books out of public domain materials is also now creating audiobooks from classic texts. You can browse through their online library to sxee which audiobooks are already available.


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