Kottke interview of Cory Doctorow

Joel Turnipseed blogging at Kottke asks, why give away books for free?  Cory responds:

…we live in a century in which copying is only going to get easier. It’s the 21st
century, there’s not going to be a year in which it’s harder to copy than this
year; there’s not going to be a day in which it’s harder to copy than this day….And so, if
your business model and your aesthetic effect in your literature and your work
is intended not to be copied, you’re fundamentally not making art for the 21st
century. It might be quaint, it might be interesting, but it’s not particularly
contemporary to produce art that demands these constraints from a bygone era….

So that’s the artistic reason. Finally, there’s the ethical reason. And the
ethical reason is that the alternative is that we chide, criminalize, sue, damn
our readers for doing what readers have always done, which is sharing books they
love–only now they’re doing it electronically. You know, there’s no solution
that arises from telling people to stop using computers in the way that
computers were intended to be used. They’re copying machines. So telling the
audience for art, telling 70 million American file-sharers that they’re all
crooks, and none of them have the right to due process, none of them have the
right to privacy, we need to wire-tap all of them, we need to shut down their
network connections without notice in order to preserve the anti-copying
business model: that’s a deeply unethical position. It puts us in a world in
which we are criminalizing average people for participating in their

The economics have yet to be worked out but I think Cory has got the aesthetics and the ethics right.  Lots more of interest.


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