Thursday, January 25, 2007

Text is free, we make our money on volume(s)

James Boyle is on the money yet again in the FT.

" The internet makes copying cheap. Businesses that see their livelihood
as dependent on the restriction of copying – concentrated in the
recording, film, publishing and software industries – are understandably
upset. Their goal is to have the same ability to control their content
as they had in an analog world but to keep all the benefits of
pervasiveness, cost saving, and viral marketing that a global digital
network brings. To that end, they have moved aggressively to change laws
worldwide, to introduce stiffer penalties, expand rights, mandate
technological locks, forbid reverse engineering, and increase
enforcement. It is not so much a case of wanting to have their cake and
eat it, as to have their cake and make your cake illegal.

Yet there are hints in each of these industries of a different business
model, one that aims to encourage, rather than to forbid copying. At the
moment, the hints are only that – a scattering of anecdotes suggesting
alternative ways of supporting creativity. It is not clear if they will
thrive or even survive, still less whether they can “scale” to a broader
audience. Still, if the alternative plan is to make the internet illegal
or sue grandmothers for downloading, it might be worth taking a look at

James has recently published a new book called The Shakespeare Chronicles, a novel he has apparently been working on sporadically for 20 years. He's also, naturally given his stance on intellectual property, making it available freely via the Net.

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