Some Thoughts on Copyright

Cory Doctorow, a co-editor of Boing Boing and a published author, has a little FAQ* over on his Overclocked book site. I’ve quoted it here and added a few things in bold, which really make this a great copyright liberation manifesto for the new digital millennium. After arguing with a friend about possible legislative reduction in copyright extensions, and the expansion of Fair Use rights, I figured it might benefit a lot of people to be exposed to the hidden copyright reform wars. By the way, if you haven’t read Overclocked or Little Brother, do it. Now.

I think the idea that [writers, musicians & artists] deserve to get paid sounds great, but the truth is that most [writers, musicians & artists] — nearly all [writers, musicians & artists] — have not been paid through history. The Internet doesn’t change that. But it does make it possible for [writers, musicians & artists] to earn their living in new and exciting ways. That’s what I’m doing here. If you have a scheme to provide full employment to [writers, musicians & artists], I’d love to hear it, but I think you’re going to have some problems getting it rolling.

Giving [writers, musicians & artists] more copyright doesn’t make them more money. You could give me ten million years of copyright and the right to personally impale anyone who makes an unauthorized copy of my work and it wouldn’t change the word-rate at Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (nor the song-rate at iTunes).

More copyright just means that working [writers, musicians & artists] have to go through more permissions-clearance hell when they want to create new things from old. More copyright means that dead [writers’, musicians’ & artists’] works vanish from the historical record because their idiot descendants turn into lunatic saber-rattlers, or because no one can figure out who the right idiot descendant is. More copyright means that the public is denied the benefit of the 98 percent of works in copyright that have no visible owner, and that are out of print.

… from the Overclocked Blog Archive

Also see Creative Commons, the best way to retain ownership of your work while releasing it to the public for mashups, reworks, and republishings.

* I realize his post came from Jan 07, but I only just yesterday read all the short stories from Overclocked, when I happened upon this information.