According to Robert Levine, the author of the just published Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, the Internet is destroying the market for high quality culture. Blaming both the ideology of free culture and online piracy, Levine argues that the digital world is making it increasingly hard for professional writers, journalists, musicians and film makers to make a living selling their content.
Levine, the former executive editor of Billboard magazine, isn’t necessarily the first to make this argument – but Free Ride is probably the most credible and coherent book to date on the impact of the Internet on our culture.
Free Ride has already ignited controversy for its portrayal of Google’s central role in the free culture movement. “Follow the money,” Levine told me, when he came into our New York City studio last week to talk about Free Ride, and you’ll find Google bankrolling organizations like Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and The Stanford Center for Internet and Society which pursue extremely permissive positions on copyright reform. So is Levine right – could Google really be killing our culture?
ROBERT LEVINE was most recently executive editor of Billboard magazine. His articles on technology, business, and culture have appeared in the New York Times, Fortune, CondÃ© Nast Portfolio, Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and Travel & Leisure. He lives in New York.