Best Debate Evah: Cory Doctorow and Nina Paley discuss licensing and freedom.

Wow.  You almost never see a debate as good as the one below when it comes to copyright (indeed, when it comes to any topic).  Most  discussions about copyright flounder in the very definitions of terms: “Unauthorized copying is theft!”  “No it’s not!”  “But they’re stealing the money they never paid me!”  “If they didn’t agree to pay it to you, how can they steal it from you?”.  And so on.

That’s why it’s such a pleasure to see a debate about non-commercial restrictions in licensing where both sides have clearly thought deeply about the issues and are careful to stay intellectually honest even while disagreeing.  Recently, author Cory Doctorow and animation artist Nina Paley conducted a long email exchange about the Creative Commons “noncommercial” licenses versus the Creator Endorsed Mark.  Afterwards, Nina edited down their discussion and posted it, with Cory’s permission.  Both the discussion and the readers’ comments afterwards are well worth a look.  I wish all discussions could be like theirs.


4 Comments on "Best Debate Evah: Cory Doctorow and Nina Paley discuss licensing and freedom."

  1. So, what you people are thinking is that everything that can be copied should be free? and that nobody should be able to make money of things? Seriously, I’m all for piracy if you can’t afford the products because that doesn’t hurt the developer but making it completely legal is something completely different, that way we’d have no commercial software or music left and while indie software/music can be pretty good, it almost never manages to be as good as a commercial product.

    Example: Gimp is not the same thing as Photoshop.

  2. No, of course it’s not about that. It’s about eliminating the monopoly of middle-men, who stand between the creator and the world (audience, other creators, future generations). Right now middle-men hold artists by the tender parts and are able to gain complete ownership of their creations. This gives birth to more and more exploitative contracts, from reduced royalties, to creative restriction, to hoarding art (like the 20’s music which should long have been part of the public domain). In effect, this hoarding stiffles culture and progress the same way over-extended patents stiffle science and technology.

    The proposed solution is far from a “no profit allowed” system. With easy multiplication and distribution creators can potentially gain much bigger audiences than through middle-men alone. If a system of easy free distribution is made, an artist with many followers can make a profit through anything they choose:

    – voluntary donations (more followers means more donations, even if they’re extremely small)
    – micropayments ($0.01 per download)
    – subscriptions for exclusive content in addition to free content (popular podcasts have successfully made this work)
    – donations (more followers means more donations, even if they’re extremely small)
    – merchandise and personalized merchandise (shirts, signatures, original signed artwork, other items)
    – most importantly, with a large enough following creators can seek small or large investment in order to create more and more ambitious projects (for example, PirateMyFilm/crowd funding, PirateBayAFK, The Yes Men, VoDo, etc.)

    … and other systems that haven’t yet been thought of.

    So it’s basically a matter of new technology replacing an outdated, inefficient and self-stiffling system of mediators. It frees artists from exploitation, unleashes culture to grow freely, and also benefits the audience, which gains access to more content for less money. And when they give money, they gain the satisfaction that it’s going directly to the creator, and not some middleman who created nothing.