Saturday, October 29, 2011

The United Nations of Reading

The Internet Archive
I had a great time at Books in Browsers, even though I completely lost my voice on the second day. The assembled talent and brainpower made almost every moment a thrill. When my talk from the morning of the first day was given prominent mention in the New York Times' Bits Blog, I got so excited that I couldn't pay attention to an amazing talk on annotation of medieval manuscripts.

But the most important talk of the two days was Brian O'Leary's closing presentation, which prompted the Twitter backchannel to unanimously elect him the "Secretary-General of the United Nations of Publishing".

Here's his abstract:
Although business models have changed, publishers and their intermediaries continue to try to evolve their market roles in ways that typically follow the rules for “two-party, one-issue” negotiations.  In an environment in which the negotiations are better framed using models for “many parties, many issues”, these more limited approaches have made the design of a flawed ecosystem even worse, shifting burdens onto valued intermediaries (libraries and booksellers, among others).

Content abundance, coupled with improvements in available technologies, gives us an opportunity to reshape the competitive framework.  This talk will examine options to apply the principles of effective game design to create a set of new, targeted and evolving business models for content dissemination in an era of abundance.
O'Leary talked about the changes occurring in the entire ecosystem of what used to be called "publishing": authors, agents, publishers, distributors, retailers, libraries, and of course readers. He noted that relationships throughout the ecosystem were being renegotiated without an awareness of the effects of these changes on the rest of the ecosystem. As a result, frameworks, arrangements and processes that could benefit the entire ecosystem were not being given the consideration they deserve.

The future of EPUB
O'Leary pointed to the discussions leading to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as a possible inspiration for a reading-ecosystem way forward. The breakthrough in those discussions was the introduction game-theory models that helped the parties see the effects of agreements and provisions on all stakeholders in the Law of the Seas negotiations. If a similar sort of model could be developed for the activities surrounding publishing, it might be possible to do a lot more that to "save publishing". Intelligent, collaborative application of digital technologies should be able to increase the effectiveness of an industry whose purpose is to promote reading, education, culture and knowledge.

According to O'Leary, we need to figure out ways to fund the sort of research that could be the basis of modeling for the reading ecosystem. One possibility would be to create a cross-industry organization to do so.

If such an organization were created, I hope that its membership mirrors the composition of Books in Browsers attendees. Many inhabitants of the reading ecosystem were represented, despite the technology emphasis of the meeting- publishers, librarians, agents, academics, authors, designers. The contrast with last week's DPLA Launch meeting was striking- hardly any publishers or authors were in evidence at DPLA. It seems to me that with everything that's at stake, we could do a lot worse than to listen some more to Brian O'Leary.

Update (10/31/11): The text of O'Leary's talk is posted here.)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Creative Commons - ND (No Derivatives)

When I was a sophomore in high school, I read Catcher in the Rye. To me, the amazing thing about this book was the language. It seemed like every other word was "bastard", "goddam" or "sonofabitch". What were my teachers thinking?

Imagine if the Salinger estate decided to release a Catcher in the Rye ebook with a Creative Commons License so that 10th graders around the world could read it for free. What sort of license would they choose? In particular, would they choose a "No Derivatives" license?

Here's the "legal code" of the No Derivatives (ND) restriction in the CC BY-NC-ND license:
The [granted] rights include the right to make such modifications as are technically necessary to exercise the rights in other media and formats, but otherwise you have no rights to make Adaptations.

"Adaptation" means a work based upon the Work, or upon the Work and other pre-existing works, such as a translation, adaptation, derivative work, arrangement of music or other alterations of a literary or artistic work, or phonogram or performance and includes cinematographic adaptations or any other form in which the Work may be recast, transformed, or adapted including in any form recognizably derived from the original, except that a work that constitutes a Collection will not be considered an Adaptation for the purpose of this License. For the avoidance of doubt, where the Work is a musical work, performance or phonogram, the synchronization of the Work in timed-relation with a moving image ("synching") will be considered an Adaptation for the purpose of this License.
The advantage of allowing derivative works (Adapations) is that people would be free to use Catcher in the Rye for all sorts of amazing things. There would be a thousand YouTube dramatizations of Catcher in the Rye, free to all. There would be fan fiction. There would be novels about Holden as a homeless person, Holden as a Wall Street tycoon, or as President Caulfield. There would be translations, graphic novels and operettas. Best of all there would be versions of Catcher that would have all the goddams replaced by gosh darns and bitches replaces by guns, and that's what 10th graders would read in Texas. Imagine what they'd read in North Korea: Brother Ho Gathers Rice.

J. D. Salinger is rolling over in his grave even as we ponder the scenario. I think it's safe to say that Catcher in the Rye will not see a license allowing derivatives in my lifetime or in yours. It's not about generosity at all, it's about the artistic vision of the author. And J. D Salinger is not alone in wanting to ensure the integrity of his works. That why Creative Commons offers the "No Derivatives" option for its licenses in the first place.

There are lots of cases in which it's valuable to be able to change a work. As much as it hurts when your edit is reverted, the most amazing feature of Wikipedia is that anybody can change it. For a jazz singer, a song that you can't riff on is not jazz at all. For a teacher, a textbook that you can't adapt to your curriculum is just wrong. In these and many other applications, an ND license seriously reduces the value of a work.

But to date, most books have been written with the expectation that the the version that goes out to the printers is more or less the version that will be read. Authors have not incorporated the possibility of remixing and read-write literature into their creative visions. Certainly this will change as new forms and conventions emerge. But for now, most authors want to control the expression of their creations, even if they're willing to set them free. For the purposes of, we have to respect these wishes if we are to convince authors to release their works into the public commons. Money is not the issue.

As Mike Taylor, a long time friend of this blog, commented on a previous post, the ND aspect of our "standard" license clashes somewhat with the second two bullet points of Creative Commons'  "Share, Remix, Reuse" slogan.  It's important to recognize that even the CC BY-NC-ND license that will use by default unlocks "Remix" and "Reuse" activity that falls under "Fair Use".  The Creative Commons licenses leave untouched the fair use rights of users, and are hostile to Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that in practice impedes these rights. DRM typically blocks many types of fair use, and in the US, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) criminalizes the circumvention of this DRM.

Many of the derivative works that have Salinger spinning are allowed under fair use no matter what the license. But an ND license lets an author keep potentially valuable movie rights and translation rights. The value of these would be enhanced by letting everyone in the world read the book for free through ungluing, and this incentive will benefit the public by reducing the authors' ungluing price.

It's hard to know what sorts of "adaptations" of a work will be possible in the future. However, the Creative Commons licenses, including the ND licenses, make it clear that users have the right to migrate the work to new formats for the purposes of accessibility and compatibility with new media and technology. This is important to all of us, because without this right, it's quite possible that many of the ebooks we use today will be unreadable 50 or a hundred years from now.

  1. As always, don't confuse this blog with legal advice.
  2. According to Wikipedia, Catcher in the Rye continues to sell 250,000 copies a year. 
  3. The Catcher in the Rye is #410 on Amazon's best-seller list. 
  4. A fair "ungluing price" for Catcher in the Rye would be at least $4,000,000.
  5. I've previously posted about the Attribution and Non Commercial attributes of Creative Commons Licenses
  6. It's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The DPLA Muster

Battle flags never made sense to me. "Why give your opponents something to shoot at?", was my thinking. As if soldiers with deadly weapon would bother rally to a flimsy piece of cloth. An idea. What's powerful about that?

Friday, I attended the plenary session that launched the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) at the National Archives in Washington DC. (with 300 others!) When it started early this year, I was pretty skeptical of the DPLA. It had no discernible plan of action, no coherent vision for the future of libraries, no business model, not even an awareness of how impossible its dream really was. All they had was... a battle flag, and a figurative one, at that.

What I saw was the power of a battle flag. John Palfrey and a cabal of Harvard academics have forged a movement from the fire of frustrated librarians, archivists, and information professionals who have recognized that a lot of the present system is broken and going nowhere fast. They sent out a call for help, and amazingly enough, that call was answered.

Although the news of the day centered around $2.5 million grants from Sloan Foundation and the Arcadia Fund, and promises of cooperation from Europeana and the British Library, I was most encouraged by the presentations in the afternoon, from people who actually build stuff.

At Gluejar, we've been struggling with the difficulty of presenting collections of books to Internet users in a meaningful and effective way. The typical UI of a book site is pretty lame. If the site goes beyond bland lists, it may try for a "bookshelf" view. The problem is that a bookshelf can only present 50 books or so, and a decent library will have 100,000 or even a million things to display.

The most elaborated UI experiment latched on to DPLA was ShelfLife from the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. It presents books as an "infinite bookshelf" arranged vertically to best display titles on the spines. It clings to the physicality of books by using thickness to represent the number of pages in the book, and uses the height of the book to show... the height of a book. It sounds stupid, but works a lot better than you might think. Go try it.

Bookworm was another interesting demonstration, from the people who brought you Google NGram Viewer. Using the less-restricted data from OpenLibrary, Bookworm allows you to examine subject heading occurrence as a function of time, and uses this visualization as a way to expose lists of book records. Very cool, but I felt like it was a fun toy for a job that wants a ear-splitting power tool.

The enthusiastic reception for these and other projects, which seemed to come out of the woodwork in response to the DPLA call to action, convinced me that DPLA is much more than a pitch for foundation funding. The library world, and the academic community that relies on libraries, is hungering for innovation and experimentation to show the way out of ebook purgatory.

So go for it, DPLA. There will be content of all sorts from libraries, museums, and the like for you to organize. Internet Archive, Hathi Trust and others will push the boundaries on book digitization and distribution. Gluejar will do its best to stock your shelves with unglued books that people care about. My advice: do some small things well and the big things will follow. That's what battle flags are all about.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creative Commons - NC (Non-Commercial)

wormsby Wahj  (CC BY-NC-ND)Real worms don't come in cans. The last time I saw worms offered for sale, they came in paper buckets, the kind that usually hold Chinese take-out. You open these up, and the worms don't jump out at you. Maybe if you left the bucket open for a day or two, the worms would eventually find their way out, but any resulting problem is manageable. So when we say that doing something "opens up a can of worms", the main thing to think about is not about the calamities that will emerge from the bucket, it's whether or not you want to go fishing today.

The "Non-Commercial" attribute of Creative Commons "NC" licenses is definitely a can of worms. "Non-commercial" is subject to varied interpretation, and the license is not entirely successful at removing ambiguities. What uses are commercial? For example, is a blog that attracts advertising revenue allowed to post a CC NC licensed ebook? Is a for-profit distributor of ebooks allowed to distribute an NC ebook? Is a non-profit charity allowed to print paper copies of an NC ebook and sell the copies? Is a for-profit copy shop allowed to charge a school to make copies of an NC textbook? Is a for-profit company allowed to use an NC ebook about widget manufacturing to improve its factory? Is it ok for me to show you this picture of worms? Et cetera.

In building, we hope that readers and institutions will financially support Creative Commons relicensing of books that are important to them. In doing so, we need to make sure that the licenses we choose enable the things that the supporters want to do. We need to balance these uses against the rights and concerns of the authors and other rights holders who would be granting these licenses.

To get a better feel for what's allowed and what isn't under NC, we have to look at the "legal code" of the license. Here's what it says in the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND) License:
You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You [...] in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation. The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in connection with the exchange of copyrighted works.
Let's examine some of our wriggling worms against this "code". Remember that I'm not a lawyer, and you should not rely on my scribblings for legal advice of any kind.
  1. Go ahead and improve your lucrative widget factory. The rights restricted by the NC clause are the rights to reproduce, distribute and publicly perform the work. The Creative Commons licenses do not restrict other uses of the work. If there are million-dollar ideas in the book, your ability to exploit them for commercial gain is not restricted by a CC license.
  2. If your blog is your business, it's not a good idea to build it on NC licensed photos from flickr, even if you don't charge for access. But if you're a book blogger and you make money with advertising, is posting a free ebook "primarily directed towards commercial advantage"? This worm is jiggling a bit! If you're a potential supporter of a book, this is the sort of use you probably want to support. It's not really clear how to apply the NC clause. Similarly, Apple, Amazon and Google are big companies that make a lot of money in the course of distributing ebooks. Distribution of some ebooks for free gives them indirect commercial advantages. To the extent that the uncertainly in the NC provision prevents seamless distribution of the works to their users, it goes counter to what most book lovers would want.
  3. Even if you're a non-profit, you can't print and sell copies of an NC e-book to raise money for starving orphans with cancer.
The areas of uncertainty includes some use cases that we think are non-commercial uses. To make it clear that we consider the distribution of unglued ebooks for free to be an allowed activity under NC licenses, rights holders who offer works to the public through will agree to the following:
For purposes of interpreting the CC License, Rights Holder agrees that "non-commercial" use shall include, without limitation, distribution by a commercial entity without charge for access to the Work.
We may also require a statement to the same effect in the front matter of the released ebook; we're still working out the file format details.

Given this clarification, why not go all the way, and require that rights holders agree to commercial distribution of works that get unglued?

 It turns out that the alternative to our can of worms harbors some poisonous snakes. Let me introduce you to one of these. Look at the Amazon page for Dance Dance Revolution (Wii Video Game) a 140 page paperback supposedly edited by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, and Susan F. Henssonow. The so-called publisher, "Betascript Publishing" takes Wikipedia articles and turns them into books. So far, so good. Perfectly legal within the scope of Wikipedia's Creative Commons License (BY-SA). But how would you feel if you found a Wikipedia article that you wrote (with minor edits from others) on sale at Amazon for $57.47? When this happened to my brother he was mostly amused at the audacity of it all. But I think that if the same thing happend to a book I had worked on for a year of my life, it would seriously piss me off. If I had contributed money to "give the book to the world" I would be similarly aggravated. You could argue that Betascript is providing a valuable service by providing attractive formatting and improving the discovery of the article, but please don't.

chinese takeout boxby gabrielsaldana  (CC BY-SA)Retention of commercial rights is potentially of significant value to authors, and can reduce their asking price for ungluing books. I've previously written about Cory Doctorow's experience with selling "deluxe bound" versions of his Creative Commons Licensed books. There's also the possibility that authors' prior publishing contracts preclude them from offering commercial Creative Commons licenses (I'll write more about that soon). Since most of the uses we imagine for unglued ebooks, including the uses most important to libraries, are not affected by our use of the NC-flavored licensed, we've decided to open this "can of worms" in hopes of catching more "fish". We'll allow rights holders to offer non-NC licenses, but we won't expect them to do so.

Notes: I posted yesterday on the "Attribution" in Creative Commons Licenses. Here are some links on Betascript, which has over 350,000 "books" listed in some book directories:
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Creative Commons - BY (Attribution)

Have you ever wondered whether Anonymous can use an Creative Commons attribution license? The Answer is YES, Attribution licenses ARE useful, even for Anonymous.

In the process of developing the service, we've had to study licenses and decide which ones are best for ungluing ebooks. Since supporters will be putting up real money to relicense the books (making them free to the world), the details of the license need to be spelled out clearly, upfront.

It's a big topic with lots of considerations, so I'm going to write about our choices in three pieces. We'll be using the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-ND) License for most of the books that we unglue. This post will focus on the easiest choice- the attribution part. Even with attribution, there are some tricky bits.

Here is the text, or "legal code" of the attribution requirement in the CC BY-NC-ND License:
If You Distribute, or Publicly Perform the Work or Collections, You must [...] provide, reasonable to the medium or means You are utilizing:
  1. the name of the Original Author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, and/or if the Original Author and/or Licensor designate another party or parties (e.g., a sponsor institute, publishing entity, journal) for attribution ("Attribution Parties") in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, the name of such party or parties;
  2. the title of the Work if supplied;
  3. to the extent reasonably practicable, the URI, if any, that Licensor specifies to be associated with the Work, unless such URI does not refer to the copyright notice or licensing information for the Work.
The credit required by this Section may be implemented in any reasonable manner; provided, however, that in the case of a Collection, at a minimum such credit will appear, if a credit for all contributing authors of Collection appears, then as part of these credits and in a manner at least as prominent as the credits for the other contributing authors. For the avoidance of doubt, You may only use the credit required by this Section for the purpose of attribution in the manner set out above and, by exercising Your rights under this License, You may not implicitly or explicitly assert or imply any connection with, sponsorship or endorsement by the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties, as appropriate, of You or Your use of the Work, without the separate, express prior written permission of the Original Author, Licensor and/or Attribution Parties.
In the case of Anonymous, you can't distribute a CC BY licensed work owned by Anonymous unless you provide attribution to anonymous. You can't say that you wrote it, for example.

For Public Domain works, there's no attribution requirement. It would be perfectly legal for me to take Moby Dick, for example, change the title to Moby Duck, attribute it "the Gluejar Collective" (me and Herm), and sell it on Amazon for $100 per copy (if I get an ISBN!). It might not be legal in France, though. Unlike the United States, most European countries, and especially France, have strong protections for authors' "moral rights". In France, even if an author had released work under a non-attribution license, I wouldn't be able to use the work in a way that abused the author's name and reputation.

Non-attribution licenses (i.e. CC0) are particularly useful when many people contribute to a work, as in the case of Wikipedia, and the use of the work would be inhibited if attribution of all the contributors was required. CC0 (technically a waiver, not a license) tries to address possible conflict with laws assuring moral rights.

For, we expect that most creators will insist on the attribution requirement. Come to think of it, most readers and supporters would insist on it as well. You wouldn't want to read Primary Colors by Herman Melville, would you?

Note: I'm an engineer, not a lawyer, so please don't use this article as a substitute for legal advice. If you want to build nuclear weapons with it, or generate superluminal neutrinos based on the information it contains, you have my explicit permission to do so.
Update 10/20/2011: Corrected CC0 info. The "NC" option is discussed in another post.
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

How Can We Change the Future? The Tomorrow Project

It turns out that Intel, the giant chip maker, employs a full time futurist. His name is Brian David Johnson, and he actually gets paid to go around asking people what the future might be like. Intel says they're the "Sponsors of Tomorrow", so I guess they want to have a clue about what they're sponsoring. When I worked at Intel in the early 80's, we could have sponsored a thousand futurist studies, and not one of them would have predicted that Intel would someday employ a "Chief Futurist" leading a "Tomorrow Project".

None of those futurists would have predicted that over a hundred thousand people would show up at New York Comic-Con, either. But it's happening. The show is completely sold out. Jacob Javits Convention Center is packed to the gills with zombies, otaku, wood nymphs, transformers and girls with blue, purple or red hair- i don't know the word for them.

Many of them packed a very serious session hosted by Johnson featuring Cory Doctorow, the science fiction writer, blogger, and activist. The session was entitled "Sci-Fi Prototyping: Designing the Future Panel". No on in the audience was disappointed not to hear about the future of the panel, and we also did without Doug Rushkoff, whose appearance was scheduled to make the panel a panel, but who failed to predict his future schedule well enough to participate.

Doctorow, Johnson, Rushkoff, and, who was accurately predicted to not be present, have contributed to The Tomorrow Project Anthology which had its launch today. Nostalgically enough, this is a book. Less nostalgic, but perhaps just as dated, it's a 1.8MB PDF file. Made available for free, by Intel. Doctorow's contribution is a novella by Doctorow called The Knights of the Rainbow Table which so far (I'm on p.17), is a fun read. It's about the nano-apocalypse that will occur in the near future when it's easy for a group of grad student low-lifes to crack everybody's website password security.

Johnson framed the session as a discussion about the ways in which science fiction can provide a narrative to steer the future. I'm a bit skeptical. I don't think that the "narrative" of Star Trek communicators caused Motorola engineers to create the flip-phone, even if they were fans of the show while growing up. Doctorow had a really interesting analogy, though. He said a science fiction story was like a Petri dish that lets an microscopic idea grow into a huge colony of micro-organisms visible to the naked eye. That strikes me as a really useful way to think of how fiction influences the world.

The problem with ascribing power to narrative is evident if you look at the world around us. Narratives compete with other narratives, and their relative power derives not from their truth or their skill, but rather from their fit. Narratives warning about the death of privacy, for example, have scant power compared to the offer of a free movie, or even a free PDF download. No one pays attention to a narrative unless it fits with what they want to do today.

Before the panel, Doctorow expressed to me his strong commitment to making his works available with Creative Commons licenses; He'll certainly release The Knights of the Rainbow Table that way. But let's work on Intel to change the future a bit. Why can't they release The Tomorrow Project Anthology with a similar license? (the current license is all rights reserved, you can download it, but you can't redistribute it) You CAN help change the future- file a request to post the whole ebook using this form.
In yesterday's tomorrow, androids dream of electric sheep, cars fly around LA, and in Blade Runner, people read newspapers on paper. What will today's tomorrow look like tomorrow? I wonder how much of today's best writing about the future will be available to people ten years from now. Unfortunately, the answer depends on licensing details that most creators don't think much about. Doctorow is an exception.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Clawback of @lessig's "Remix"

Lawrence Lessig, a professor at the Harvard School of Law and a prominent scholar of intellectual property law in the age of the internet, has written several books about "Free Culture". He argues that today's copyright laws are poorly suited to copyright's original purpose of advancing the creative arts. Today's digital culture increasingly blurs the line between creator and consumer and remixes strands of media to create new works in ways that were inconceivable when copyright was invented.

To provide ways for copyright holders to participate more fully in today's digital culture, Lessig co-founded Creative Commons (CC). The licenses offered by Creative Commons will be used by  for "unglued e-books". "Unglueing books" is what we call the process of gathering together people and institutions willing to contribute to the cost of relicensing books they love under CC licenses. (Specifically, we'll use CC BY-NC-ND) Since Lessig has made many of his books available under CC licenses, you could say they're already unglued. By checking on the availability of these books, we can get a feel for the readiness of readers and institutions for ebooks that can be free to all readers, everywhere.

Lessig's groundbreaking first book, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, was published before Creative Commons existed, it's out of print, and not available as an ebook. But a second edition, Code, Version 2.0 was released with a CC (Attribution, Share-Alike) License. You can download it for free from Google Books. But it's not available on the Nook store or on Internet Archive. Amazon wants $2.99 to put it on your Kindle. Kobo books wants $13.69. Worldcat reports that it's available in 462 libraries around the world, but only 11 of these libraries report holding the electronic version. Worldcat has a URL for the ebook, but it's dead. If you don't like the idea of downloading from Google, you can get it from a site owned by Lessig, or you can download it from my personal website. The non-unglued, earlier (and out of date!) edition is much more available in libraries, with 1103 libraries listing it in Worldcat.

If you think that Code 2.0 is an important book, and you want your friends to read it, you can not only download and distribute it from your website, you can print up a bunch of copies and sell them, or give them away. Code 2.0 doesn't restrict its redistribution to non-commercial uses or prevent you from making derivative works, as long as you use the same license on the copies and derivative works that you sell or distribute. The Creative Commons licenses are media-neutral and aren't restricted to digital works. Licensees (the users) may migrate the licensed works to other formats, so a CC-licensed pdf file can be printed to make a CC-licensed print volume.

The fact that only 11 libraries list the digital version of Code 2.0 in Worldcat says a lot about the chasm that the library world needs to traverse if it is to effectively support unglued books. Most libraries don't yet have the workflow to select and manage ebooks that aren't offered by their accustomed vendors, even if the price is zero. There is a huge amount of stuff available "for free", and individual libraries don't have the resources to seek out the material that's of value to their communities. But now's a great time to start. Code 2.0 is a good book to start with. There's no reason it shouldn't be available digitally to every user in every library in the world!

In 2004, in the wake of his failed challenge in the Supreme Court to the Copyright Term Extension Act, Lessig published Free Culture, How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity with Penguin Books. At about the same time, Lessig published the book as a PDF on his website using a Creative Commons Non-Commercial, Attribution License.

For readers looking to read Free Culture, the CC license has resulted in availability from many sources, which dominate a Google search for the book. But although Lessig is a lawyer, his free-culture intent for Free Culture is undermined a bit by some legal flamethrowing on the book's title page:
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. 

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This mixed message may be what's keeping Google Books and other institutions from making the book available in some ways that Code 2.0 is available.

Obviously, Penguin (the publisher) wants you to buy a copy of Free Culture instead of downloading it for free. The non-commercial CC license permits Lessig to license commercial rights separately to Penguin. Many people who read the book for free digitally will still want to buy a bound copy while many others will prefer print to digital from the start. At Amazon, you can have Free Culture on your Kindle for $12.99, which is actually a premium to the new hardcover price of $10.94. If you want the French translation, Culture libre (French Edition), it's a free download via whispernet (incorrectly described as a public domain work). If you want it from a library, the situation is similar to Code. It's in the catalogs of 1601 libraries, but only 20 of these list the ebook. If I want to read it on an iPad, I'm best off going to Internet Archive, which has it in many different formats, including EPUB. (Just drag an EPUB to iTunes, and it loads automagically into iBooks on your iPad.) I can also get it direct from Goodreads.

By contrast, Lessig's 2008 book, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy appears to be a poster child for everything that could go wrong for an unglued ebook in today's environment. Remix was published in the US by Penguin and in the UK by Bloomsbury Academic. In 2009, Lessig announced on his blog that Remix (the Bloomsbury version, at least) was available as a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC) download. He even went on the Colbert Report and challenged viewers to remix his interview with Stephen Colbert:

The Colbert people even made a joke on their website about Penguin requesting a takedown of Remix.
Today, it seems as though the free version of Remix has been clawed back from the internet, but not as a joke, more likely it's just a bunch of unrelated mistakes. I challenge you to find it by googling. Only Scribd still has a copy (in a Bloomsbury Academic account). A month ago, Internet Archive offered it in several formats, but their page is currently dead. I'm told it's some sort of database problem. Links to the Scribd page have vanished from the Bloomsbury Academic site, which was totally revamped a few months ago. Google Books wants you to buy the Penguin ebook. Amazon wants $4.99 for the Kindle edition. Same story for ebooks from Feedbooks.

At least libraries can buy the ebook of Remix from their preferred ebook providers. Here's the description at Ebook Library. But perhaps most depressing is the entry from Overdrive:
Adobe PDF eBook Rights:
  Copying not allowed
  Printing not allowed
  Lending not allowed
  Reading aloud not allowed
It's a bit scary. Imagine if it was not just a couple of mistakes. What if a commercial licensee wanted to wipe a CC-licensed free version of Remix from the Internet, to enhance their profits. A sleazy take-down notice or two, and CC Remix would be gone, despite the best intentions of its author.

Remix comes with this description:
Remix is an urgent, eloquent plea to end a war that harms every intrepid, creative user of new technologies. It also offers an inspiring vision of the postwar world where enormous opportunities await those who view art as a resource to be shared openly rather than a commodity to be hoarded.
Let's do what we can to make that vision a reality.

Update 10/13/2011 9PM EDT: The Internet Archive page for Remix is back up; the Worldcat link for Code 2.0 is fixed. Nothing is unfixable, if we pay attention!
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