Dear Authors...

Authors Against DRMDear Authors,

You probably saw the New York Times story today about publishers imposing still more artificial scarcity on e-books by liming the number of times they can be "lent" (a verb already odd enough in the context of e-books).

Ask yourself, in all seriousness: is this helping you?

If you're an author who makes their whole living from royalty income, then at least in a short-term economic sense, this policy might help you in a way (though the system is still hurting you in other ways).  But for anyone else, if you're not lucky enough to have a publisher who gets it, and instead you have a publisher like HarperCollins who apparently thinks their job is to limit the number of people who can read your book, ask yourself how exactly this helps you.

HarperCollins has become a filter that prevents people from reading its authors books.  This is a historical reversal from everything a publisher should be.  The last thing I want, as an author, is someone who thinks it's their job to stand between my readers and my writing.  There are already enough forces in the world doing that, starting with all the other demands on my readers' attention.  Why on earth would I bring in a special service to do it even more?  That's crazy.

Just say no.  HarperCollins can't do anything without you.

Readers' Bill of Rights For Digital Books

Nina Paley, our Artist in Residence, has created a powerful image against DRM for the library community's action "Readers' Bill of Rights For Digital Books." 

Librarians against DRM Despite the stated revolutionary potential of E-books for widespread access, E-books have been increasingly restricted due to DRM and draconian licensing agreements from publishers. Recently, HarperCollins announced its new policy in which ebooks they supply to Overdrive (a vendor to public and academic libraries across the US) would disappear after 26 checkouts. In response to this, librarians have been reclaiming readers’ rights and challenging publishers who insert DRM and demanding licensing agreements that do not restrict libraries and users from downloading, sharing and preserving ebooks. Here are some voices from the library community:

eBook Users Bill of Rights

Readers’ Bill of Rights for Digital Books

Barbara Fister, "A Library Written in Disappearing Ink"

Please help spread the word and support your local librarians. Blog it, Tweet it (#ebookrights), Facebook it, email it, and post it on a telephone pole.

Thanks Nina for the wonderful art!

And the Winner for Most Ironic Oscar is...

The Academy Awards happened Sunday night, as you, and perhaps James Franco, may be aware. Over breakfast Monday morning, I reviewed the hilarious snark about the Oscars that had filled my tweetstream overnight. Among the catty epigrams, I found the intriguing observation that in awarding the Oscar for Best Original Score to Atticus Ross and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor for The Social Network, Hollywood had given its approval to a musician who has capitalized on remix culture in recognition of work that lifted straight from a classical composer.

On February 24, 1876, Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt, loosely based on a Norwegian fairy tale, made its debut with incidental music by Ibsen’s countryman Edvard Grieg. “In the Hall of the Mountain King” has since joined the canon of Classical Music’s Greatest Hits. It has been used in movies, TV shows, commercials, and video games, and has been arranged and covered by numerous musical artists outside of the classical genre. In last year’s The Social Network, Reznor’s version of “Mountain King” made the “Winklevii”’s Oxford boat race one of the film’s most memorable scenes.

Did Grieg get name-checked by the Academy alongside Reznor and Ross on Sunday night? No. Did the duo have to license “Mountain King” from Grieg’s family (or, more likely, from TONO, Norway’s music copyright collection society) before including it in their score? No. Grieg’s Peer Gynt is in the public domain. “Mountain King” has long since joined the European fairy tales that motivated Ibsen in the shared cultural treasure trove to which artists in America and elsewhere continually turn for inspiration and raw material, whether intentionally or unconsciously.

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