Cory Doctorow says he does not tell artists to give their work away for free, as some people incorrectly claim, and anyone who thinks he does is wrong. He just believes that preventing copying is impossible, and that copying is only going to get easier, so adapting to this reality just makes sense for “copyright giants.” The topic dear to his heart is what he describes very clearly in “The real cost of free”: “the risks to freedom arising from the failure of copyright giants to adapt to a world where it’s impossible to prevent copying.”
His personal answer to copyright is to give away his “ebooks under a Creative Commons licence that allows non-commercial sharing.” He then attracts readers who buy hard copies. Having two books on The New York Times bestseller lists in the last two years, he says, validates his particular approach.
But his piece online at The Guardian, published today, takes on a much broader issue than how he’s perceived by others or even the idea that copy-prevention is futile. “… here’s what I do care about. I care if your plan [to stop people from copying your work over the internet or to build a business around this idea] involves using ‘digital rights management’ technologies that prohibit people from opening up and improving their own property; if your plan requires that online services censor their user submissions; if your plan involves disconnecting whole families from the internet because they are accused of infringement; if your plan involves bulk surveillance of the internet to catch infringers, if your plan requires extraordinarily complex legislation to be shoved through parliament without democratic debate; if your plan prohibits me from keeping online videos of my personal life private because you won’t be able to catch infringers if you can’t spy on every video.”
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