Lasica, J.D. 1955–

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Lasica, J.D. 1955–

PERSONAL: Born 1955; married; wife's name Mary; children: Bobby. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, biking, traveling, nature, chess, and genealogical research.

ADDRESSES: HomeSan Francisco, CA. Agent—Wiley Publishing, Inc., 111 River St., 5th Fl., Hoboken, NJ 07030. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer, consultant, public speaker, and editor. Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA, editor and columnist, 1985–97; Microsoft, Inc., copy chief and managing editor, 1997–98; BabyCenter, managing editor, 1999–2000; iVendor (online retailer), director of content and production, 2000; Online Journalism Review, senior editor, 1998–; Ourmedia.org, cofounder and executive director; Social Media Group, founder, president, and chief executive officer; speaker and panelist at technology and media conferences.

WRITINGS:

Darknet: Hollywood's War against the Digital Generation, J. Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Writer, editor, and public speaker J.D. Lasica is a technology and social-media expert who frequently appears at technology and media conferences throughout the country. He has been the head of editorial teams at three startup companies, including BabyCenter, an online information source for new and expectant parents, and at iVendor, a company in Silicon Valley that managed Web stores for a number of businesses and media outlets such as ABC, Fox, media giant Bertelsmann, and entertainment company DreamWorks.

A former newspaper editor at the Sacramento Bee and a copy editor at Microsoft, Lasica is considered an expert in personal—or grassroots—media, noted a biographer on Lasica's home page. This type of media includes personal Web logs (blogs), home-made video and independent films, family histories, podcasts, software, photographs, text, and more. Lasica's nonprofit organization Ourmedia.org serves as a "respository and community site" for storing and preserving these types of grassroots media, according to his Web site. Lasica is also a blogger himself, maintaining blogs at New Media Musings, Darknet, and Social Media. As founder, president, and chief executive officer of Social Media Group, Lasica and his associates consult with businesses and nonprofit organizations in order to give them access to the tools of social media, including blogs, RSS webfeeds, digital storytelling, and other technologies and techniques.

In his nonfiction book Darknet: Hollywood's War against the Digital Generation Lasica presents a "sprawling account of the battle between corporations and creative individuals over what constitutes the proper use of digital media," commented a Kirkus Reviews, contributor. In the wake of controversies over digital media sharing networks such as Napster and Kazaa, Lasica describes how the big media companies are making every attempt to shut down sharing networks. In response to the heavy-handed tactics of media conglomerates, file traders are establishing darknets, or private, closed-off sections of Web space where electronic files of music, movies, and other content can be swapped freely without fear of interference or reprisal.

Lasica criticizes the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which he says criminalizes harmless behavior. He warns that Hollywood and media corporations are trying to stop the development of technology that has the potential to be used to copy their materials without permission, no matter what kinds of legal and legitimate uses these new technologies might also have. If the media giants have their way, the same marketplace that accepted the photocopier, the MP3 player, and the VCR might be forced to quash beneficial new technologies. He describes the type of "lockdown culture" that media companies are trying to impose, effectively turning electronic entertainment devices into one-way receivers for programs and messages controlled solely by the companies that produce them. If media companies prevail, consumers may no longer be able to copy a song from a CD, watch a DVD, or keep copies of a television program for longer than a single day.

Lasica interviews people on both sides of the copyright issues, including Hollywood lobbyist and former MPAA chairman Jack Valenti, who comes out in full support of the "media companies' right to every last penny," according to the Kirkus Reviews critic. He also offers interviews with a wide variety of electronics consumers, including professors, independent filmmakers, hackers, music fans, and entrepreneurs who have roused the ire of copyright holders of numerous types. Lasica "provides a cogent analysis of the broad problems with America's outdated legal framework for dealing with intellectual property rights," noted a Publishers Weekly writer. He also stresses the need for the entertainment industry to embrace and adapt to new technologies rather than try to stymie them as potential drains on profits. Joe Accardi, writing in Library Journal, called Darknet "an absorbing book."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Digital Lifestyles, March 22, 2005, Mike Slocombe, interview with J.D. Lasica.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2005, review of Darknet: Hollywood's War against the Digital Generation, p. 337.

Library Journal, May 1, 2005, Joe Accardi, review of Darknet, p. 180.

Publishers Weekly, April 11, 2005, review of Darknet, p. 43.

ONLINE

J.D. Lasica Home Page, http://www.jdlasica.com (August 20, 2005).