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July 04, 2008

Cory Doctorow on open licences

The Guardian's Tech Weekly podcast from Wednesday this week contains a brief but interesting interview with Cory Doctorow (about 21 minutes into the podcast if you want to jump straight to it).  In it he talks about his 3 key reasons for adopting open licences for his books.  Speaking about the work he produces he says:

  • Firstly, artistically it doesn't seem like a plausible 21st century piece of art if it is not intended to be copied.  There's something anachronistic in doing otherwise - "it's like making horse shoes or something".
  • Secondly, morally we are not going to be able to stop people copying and remixing work anyway, and our attempts at doing so to date have resulted in horrible things happening like spying on people, kicking them off the Internet, or suing old ladies or very young people for all their money.  Further, like most of us, he was a avid copier when he was part of the "time rich, cash poor" demographic - "I never would have had a single romantic episode if it wasn't for the mix tape".  If he was 17 again he'd be copying and remixing stuff it so it seems hypocritical to try to stop it happening to his own stuff.
  • Finally, financially the fundamental problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity.  The people who don't buy his books, do so because they've never heard of them, not because the books are openly available online.

He then goes on to talk about his desire to give practical help to those people who "get" the open access argument but need help in making it happen effectively.  And towards the end he touches on the people illegally selling CC licenced Flickr images on eBay issue that I blogged about a while back.

Worth a listen if you have time.


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