Cory Doctorow Explains Why 'Free' Isn't His Concern; But Restrictions On Individual Rights Are

from the pay-attention dept

We had already covered Guardian columnist Helienne Lindvall's absolutely ridiculous and logically tortured attack on people who recognize the value of "free," by mocking them for charging people to speak at their events. We already explained how misguided such an argument is, but one of the people she specifically called out, Cory Doctorow, had responded in a detailed manner in the comments, pointing out that Lindvall's claims about his own speaking fees were flat-out wrong, and the vast majority of his speaking is for free. He's now written a full response to Lindvall that is absolutely worth reading. You can skip over the stuff at the beginning about his "speaking" fees, and get down to the meat of the topic in the second half of the article.

Doctorow points out the simple fact that he doesn't tell people they should give away their works for free. He just points out that it's worked quite well for him, and he notes that if you understand the market, it makes a lot of sense. However, if you can figure out a way to do it differently, then go ahead. He just doesn't think it will work. But, what others do concerning what they charge isn't really a concern to him. Then he gets to what he really focuses on, related to this topic:
But here's what I do care about. I care if your plan 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.
From there, he details the various plans in various countries to kick people off the internet and to censor the internet, all in some misguided attempt to hold back what technology allows, so that a few people can try to pretend that they can avoid economics. And that, reasonably, bothers him.

It's a fantastic response (not that you would have expected much less), though I doubt that will stop anyone who already wants to deny reality from simply claiming that Cory and others like him are telling everyone they "should" give away their works for free.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    The i-Team (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 5:07am

    Further comments from Cory

    Further down the page in the comments, Cory has posted a rather elegant rebuttal to a previous comment.

    Here's another success-factor for systems that gets drowned out in the noise about which artists get paid how much: Whether the pre-Internet system was doing a very good job of enabling a diverse group of creative people to create a diverse pool of art that was pleasing and available to a diverse audience (this, presumably, is the goal of copyright policy -- it's not government's job to pick winners in the marketplace, but ensuring a plurality of participation in the market is assuredly good policy). In this regard, the Internet is so fantastically ahead of all the commercial distribution systems and business-models and ethics that preceded it that its lead can only be measured in astronomical units.

    Very well put, I thought :-)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 6:09am

    obviously

    he's just a pirate and wants to steal content for free, he needs to grow up and pay to license media so we can continue to churn out pop stars and reality TV.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 6:32am

      Re: obviously

      Everyone with a High Speed internet connection is, at least that is what Tim Kuik told us Dutchies.

       

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    Nina Paley (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 6:33am

    I misread the title

    I read "Cory Doctorow Explains Why 'Free' Isn't His Concern; But Restrictions On Individual Rights Are" to mean Cory wrote some satirical piece explaining why he'd given up freedom in favor restricting individual rights. Maybe could be, "Cory Doctorow Explains Why 'Free' Isn't His Concern; But Individual Rights Are"

    Anyway, go Cory!

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:05am

    Cory and geist dont care about non commerical use

    as he says he doesnt care about free software like stallman
    he and geist would see a disabled guy wiht little to no income get fines jailed and have his balls cut off over a music / tv / movie.

    GEIST and him are AOK with c32 if all you do is remove DRM and screw us all for downloading non commercially.

    ITS why both GEIST and CORY are not cared about any more.

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    I like hte jutice league animations dealing with lawyers

    if your a lawyer and you fail you get the same sentence as the accused, same goes for prosecution....

    ALSO his buddy Geist seems to be AOK as well with hardware based DRM i had huge argument with geist his lawyer buddy after a year ago at groklaw.net that TPM's are just hardware based drm. IT culminated with a post about a Nazi Stalinist style warrant less search and seizure law the conservatives were tabling, which i took a nick "Hitler would be proud" and then commented that this nazi piece a garbage should be tossed back where the conservatives crawled out from. I got banned for that from posting ever there.....

    these two think they know wtf but really they just use lawyery twist ties.

    Geist has admitted hes in tight with the eff , you think good right? WELL it did jack shit for the americans and the DMCA.....and of late i see more and more shills posting at geists site as the rest of us move on ....

     

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    lfroen (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

    Both Mike and Cory Doctorow seems to think that if some technology enable you to do "X" it automatically means that you're allowed to do it.
    It is not, and numerous examples are available. Your car can drive 100mph and more, are you allowed to do it? You can build powerful radio transmitter - does FCC allows you? Read chemistry book about C4 - are you allowed to make explosives?

    This "laws" thing is invented by society to regulate when (and who) is allowed to do whatever technology makes possible.

    Yes, Cory in many countries it is not allowed to tinker with your car unless you qualified to. In even more countries, it's forbidden to tinker with your house (building itself) unless you've got permission.

    DRM is not different. Bad idea by itself, but principle of limiting your "technological freedom" is not new.

     

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      Mark Murphy (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:01am

      Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

      Your car can drive 100mph and more, are you allowed to do it?

      Mr. Doctorow is fighting against those who would install engine governors to prevent 100mph speeds, even if those governors would prohibit legitimate uses, such as driving on the German autobahn.

      You can build powerful radio transmitter - does FCC allows you?

      Mr. Doctorow is fighting against those who would ban the sale of copper to prevent people from operating "powerful radio transmitter", even though copper is used other places, and even though there is a threshold of "powerful" that a ban on copper would ignore.

      Read chemistry book about C4 - are you allowed to make explosives?

      Mr. Doctorow is fighting against those who would install cameras in every basement and garage in the off chance that somebody might make C4 there.

       

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        lfroen (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:29am

        Re: Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

        >> Mr. Doctorow is fighting against those who would install >> engine governors to prevent 100mph speeds, even if those >> governors would prohibit legitimate uses, such as driving >> on the German autobahn.
        Never new there's a road from US to Germany. Nevertheless, such devices present in trains, for example.

        >> Mr. Doctorow is fighting against those who would ban the sale of copper to prevent ...
        Some chemicals are actually forbidden for sale or export to "dangerous" countries.

        >> Mr. Doctorow is fighting against those who would install cameras in every basement ...
        In facilities that actually deal with above mentioned chemicals there are logbooks, cameras, and ton of another security measures to make sure that only permitted people have access.

        But - why ruin your idealistic dreamworld where Cory Doctorow is living too. I read his books - it's hard to get more clueless about technology. This is recent example. He have no idea about how technology is controlled today or how it had been controlled centuries ago.

         

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          Mark Murphy (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:47am

          Re: Re: Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

          Nevertheless, such devices present in trains, for example.

          You are the one who chose the car analogy.

          Some chemicals are actually forbidden for sale or export to "dangerous" countries.

          Please name any export-controlled chemical that is involved in the construction of radio transmitters. Remember: you are the one who chose the radio transmitter analogy.

          In facilities that actually deal with above mentioned chemicals there are logbooks, cameras, and ton of another security measures to make sure that only permitted people have access.

          You are the one who chose the analogy of "Read chemistry book about C4 - are you allowed to make explosives?". In that scenario, it is far more likely for the work to be done in basements and garages. Once again, you set up the analogy, and now you do not like it.

          I can see that English is not your native language, as evidenced by the numerous spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Perhaps your analogy problems are tied into language limitations. Certainly, I would be loathe to try to draw analogies in Spanish or Japanese. I would recommend that you find an outlet for your opinions that is published in your native language, so language barriers do not hamper your ability to express your thoughts, as may be the case here.

           

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          PRMan, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

          Let's see. What's the difference here?

          100mph - Affects others - they could die.
          Radio - Affects others - there would be utter confusion in the marketplace for everyone in range.
          C4 - Affects others - they could die.

          Piracy - Some slimeballs that have been ripping off both customers and artists for decades might lose some money.

          See the difference? Nobody dies and it only affects rich, corrupt people.

           

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        Bob, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

        Mr. Doctorow is fighting against those who would install engine governors to prevent 100mph speeds, even if those governors would prohibit legitimate uses, such as driving on the German autobahn.



        Actually, his battle is broader. In this analogy, he would be screaming the radar speed guns and the cops on motorcycles. They would be fascists who prevent people from using all of the features of the new technology. These speeders might be discovering something new, after all, even if they're endangering others.

         

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      chris (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:36am

      Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

      Both Mike and Cory Doctorow seems to think that if some technology enable you to do "X" it automatically means that you're allowed to do it.

      and you seem to think that because an idea *might* affect a corporation's profits, that is automatically an evil idea and that there should be a law against those ideas.

      laws are supposed to reflect the social mores of a society, but societies are made up of people, not corporations. societies also change over time as the people who make up those societies change. technology enables a fair amount of that change. a corporation that profits from holding back progress should not have a say in how a society progresses.

      Your car can drive 100mph and more, are you allowed to do it? You can build powerful radio transmitter - does FCC allows you? Read chemistry book about C4 - are you allowed to make explosives?

      there are already laws against malicious actions by bad actors. we don't need corporations deciding what people can and cannot do with their personal property. if i choose to speed, that is something between me and the local police and GM or whomever can mind their own business.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 8:43am

      Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

      And you seem to think that just because something bad can happen with technology, it's okay to use every possible means to stop it.

      You don't like bombs? Okay, we're going to monitor all gasoline consumption, ration out fertilizer, ban the sale of any and all incendiary chemicals...

      Sorry lfroen. It may be illegal to make a bomb, but that doesn't mean the FBI is allowed to send every minor suspect into Gitmo without trial.

      You want to stop piracy? Go right ahead. Just stop butchering individual rights and privacy while you're at it.

       

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        Bob, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

        I don't think that the content creators would be yelling for such extreme measures if they weren't faced with such open hostility from jerks like the Pirate Party. If piracy were fairly casual and limited, there would be no need for fascist laws. But once there are major businesses like the USENET resellers and the torrent trackers, well, there needs to be a confrontation.

        If the pirates wanted to keep being pirates, they would be better off keeping quiet instead of dancing up and down and yelling, "We can take all of your hard work and not pay you a dime. Why? Because we can. Heck we don't even watch 1/10th of what we steal but we do it because we can. And we're going to yell as much as we can and we're going to comment in echo chambers like this blog's, and we're going to try to recruit pothead law professors to give us some legitimacy."

        But when push comes to shove, the pirates pay zero in taxes. The content community pays plenty. Which one will the government support? Who pays for welfare programs, roads, buildings, the military and the police? Whom will they ultimately choose to support?

         

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          Tek'a R (profile), Oct 6th, 2010 @ 3:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"


          the pirates pay zero in taxes. The content community pays plenty. Which one will the government support?



          Thank you for sharing this truly scary idea. Yes, government automatically follows the lead of "the content community" because they pay more money. How could anything else be true?

          So, the best government money can buy? What happened to the ideal of equality in rights and duties?

          This also manages to ignore the fact that the much-vilified "Pirates!" are just people, People who pay their taxes, buy products and services and vote, While "The Content Community" is largely made up of massive multinational rights-holding corporations that use endless legal loopholes and favorable tax laws to wriggle out of any tax burden at all.

          The Pirate Party is just the tip of the iceberg, citizens committed to the idea that they should not be stripped of more and more rights, over and over, simply to maintain the status of these self-entitled Content Overlords.

           

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          chris (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:50am

          Re: Re: Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

          But when push comes to shove, the pirates pay zero in taxes. The content community pays plenty. Which one will the government support?

          i have a 9 to 5 and pay taxes just like everyone else. i also buy stuff and pay bills, meaning that i spend money that enables others to pay taxes as well.

          and when the content industry realizes that the money they made in the 90's just isn't possible in the current market, they'll be paying a lot less in taxes thanks to lower revenues.

          so when push comes to shove, who is the government going to side with? the consumers (and voters) who have semi-reliable and semi-steady incomes, or an industry in decline? (hint: one group's tax revenue is sustainable, the other is not.)

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2010 @ 9:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

          It's kind of amusing when you have to make things up and rewrite history in order to support your flawed arguments.

           

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      PRMan, Oct 6th, 2010 @ 1:03pm

      Re: It's OK to "hold off what technology allows"

      At first, we had cops on bicycles and horseback (and even on foot) giving people tickets for going 9 or (gasp) 15 MPH.

      Are you saying that we should go back to that? Or should we let the technology take us as far as is safe, instead of as far as the previous regime (buggy-makers) think they can compete with?

       

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