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How Rights Change: Freedom of Speech in the Digital Era

By Jack M Balkin


Technological change produces new forms of social conflict. The digital revolution is no exception: lowering the costs of distribution and content creation inevitably creates conflicts between ordinary individuals and the information industries. Freedom of speech is a key site for these struggles, as media companies repeatedly attempt to expand intellectual property rights at the expense of individual free expression, while simultaneously invoking freedom of expression to oppose telecommunications regulation. This stunted vision of free speech undermines the creative and participatory possibilities of the digital age; it treats ordinary individuals as passive consumers rather than active producers of their cultural world. We must promote a democratic culture that celebrates interactivity and widespread cultural participation. Earlier free speech theories concerned with democratic deliberation were adapted to the twentieth century world of broadcast media, in which only a relatively few people controlled access to mass communication. Free speech theory must now be dedicated to promoting each individual\u27s ability to participate in the growth and development of culture

Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 2004
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