Musician and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier once celebrated the wild-west freedom that the Internet allows.
Now he's rethinking the Web, and argues against the idea that "information wants to be free."
Lanier has published a new book, You Are Not A Gadget, that suggests that the Web is turning people into digital sharecroppers, and that it's time to reimagine how we use the Web.
"An intelligent person feels guilty for downloading music without paying the musician, but they use this free-open-culture ideology to cover it," said Lanier in a recent interview about his new book. "The same thing could be said if you hacked into a bank and just added money to your online account.".
Lanier doesn't see either of these as victimless actions.
"The problem in each case is not that you stole from a specific person but that you undermined the artificial scarcities that allow the economy to function."
The free culture philosophy that the Internet has encouraged rewards a few established artists, like Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails, argues Lanier, and is passing new artists by.
"It’s as if culture froze just before it became digitally open, and all we can do now is mine the past, like salvagers picking over a garbage dump."
What do you think? Is the free culture philosophy that many Internet users have turning musicians into digital peasants?