Presenting at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference

Portait of Karl Fogel

I’ll be giving a talk at the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York City next week: Beyond Numbers: Gatekeeper Effects and Just-in-Time Publishing, on Tuesday, February 12th, at 2pm; conference details here. The talk is on the commercial potential of on-demand publishing of freely-licensed material, even as a storefront business model, and how it could mean a richer and more participatory experience for readers, authors, and booksellers.

Another way to get at it is with this question: what economic arrangements would help ensure that publishers spend their energies on publishing, instead of on today’s contradictory combination of publishing and the prevention of publishing? The latter is what happens when publishers exercise copyright to prevent others from publishing certain things (such as fan fiction and other derivative works), and it’s still considered a normal part of the business — like a hospital that somehow thinks its job is partly to cure its own patients and partly to make patients at other hospitals sicker.

The conference as a whole looks excellent. Naturally, there will be a lot of attendees who are, to say the least, not in complete agreement with’s mission. But this conference attracts people in the publishing and bookselling industry who are looking for new ideas, and who fully understand that the old monopolies, enforced as they were by technological constraints, are going away. I’m looking forward to talking with them, and seeing many of the other presentations there.

I’ll put up the slides to the presentation as soon as they’re ready, and link to them from here… Okay, done: (ODP), Adobe PDF, Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT).

13 Comments on "Presenting at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference"

  1. Hi there, thank you for your excellent website and for your work in promoting and defending public interests.

    I want to invite to to submit a paper to Communia Thank you for your important work on defending public interests in the copyrights issues.
    We are organizing a Communia workshop in Vilnius, Lithuania on March 31, 2008 called “Ethical Public Domain: Debate of Questionable Practices”.
    Communia is an event which can have significant influence on EU policies toward copyright issues in Europe and consequently in a wider world too. We ( international internet grassroots network Mincius Sodas ) are working in, and promoting Public Domain, and we would like to ask you to submit one page position paper in the Public Domain
    So please, send us one-page position paper so that we might present it on your behalf as we are organizing debates!We hope to have both sides represented ( all flaws of pro copyright and pro public domain ideas ).
    Thank you!
    Kind Regards, Sasha Mrkailo

    1. Thank you for your kind words about the site!

      Yes, I will prepare something based on the material here. I need to finish a couple of other things this weekend, so I may not be able to get it to you until the end of this coming week; I hope that’s okay?


  2. This page is very interesting, and I’m glad to find a discussion
    like this online

  3. This is the first time I’ve found
    this site, but I’ll definitely be back. It’s a great resource

  4. On Demand Publishing is a very interesting subject here in our bookstore. I own a place called Zeeba Books and we discuss the future of the traditional bookstore often. Online sales are already helping the closure of a few bookshops here in Montreal. But as always in business one must adapt, in this case by selling online from your traditional shop, in order to stay open. In the long run we will see these on-demand machines in local shops I think. As the price comes down (still many years away) the local dealer may have to add publisher (or at least printer) to his list of duties.
    Montreal Books

  5. A friend of mine from Singapore recently developed a site to help the foreigners visiting Singapore:
    A Guide to Singapore City. If this was in US, I suspect that the copyright fanatics would be trying to pull it down for all sorts of made up reasons too given all the information on here that one could claim doesn’t have the right Copyright issuance and what-not. I, for one, cannot understand how any information of knowledge would be spread with the strict focus on copyright issues instead of plgiarism confrontation.

    Keep up the good fight!

  6. I think copyright should only be enforced to prevent plain straight-forward plagiarism without value add. If we look at the online industry today, information is mixed and mashed from various sources to create new “original” content. As long as the resulting content has value-add to the end user, it should be permitted. For example, this Singapore property website crunches information from various sources to derive new statistics for the end user. Such mashups are common today.

    Therefore, I think the publishing industry can bootstrap themselves by borrowing some licensing ideas from the online industry.

    1. We’re busy with some other projects right now. But is there something you would like to say about orphan works?

      That site you link to is pretty outrageous. But it’s also hard to imagine anyone taking it very seriously… unless they already held that position anyway.

  7. I am in Singapore. I have received a C&D notice citing copyright on some emails which were posted on a blog to enable discussion on it. That was not a private email message but a copy of mass mail sent to thousands of people (parents of a school here). My lawyer has responded to the notice that there is no copyright infringement. As far as Singapore IP laws go I am confident that I don’t need to take down the content.

    From other comments I read here, it seems US law would take a more draconian view of copyrights: or did I misunderstand the comment ?

    [ There was also an allegation of trademark violation for using their name to discuss them, but I thought that was ridiculously lame and obvious even to a layman like me. Apart from that, there is an ongoing civil defamation suit which is trying to shut down the blog but I have resisted it so far ]