Free books on Copyright [sources for open source]

by Daniel

Certain smarty pants (I’m looking at you James Boyle) are stepping up to write accessible, interesting, and essential works on the depressing state of copyright law/file sharing/free culture. Things are not good, and everyone should know not just the base headlines “Teenager sued by RIAA for $15,000“—but the facts. I now refer to Boyle:

It is not merely supposed to produce incentives for innovation by rewarding creators, though that is vital. Intellectual property is also supposed to create a feedback mechanism that dictates the contours of information and innovation production. It is not an overstatement to say that intellectual property rights are designed to shape our information marketplace. Copyright law is supposed to give us a self-regulating cultural policy in which the right to exclude others from one’s original expression fuels a vibrant public sphere indirectly driven by popular demand. At its best, it is supposed to allow a decentralized and iconoclastic cultural ferment in which independent artists, musicians, and writers can take their unique visions, histories, poems, or songs to the world—and make a living doing so if their work finds favor. [via Boyle, The Public Domain]

Until the massive rise of bit-torrenting and the subsequent MPAA/RIAA cartel lobbying machine grew, the pool of legal scholars was shallow. Outrage has fueled scholarship and collective interest, and now the pool is deep.

If you dive into any of the following *free as in beer* books below (and I hope you do), you’ll notice that each makes a point that the concept of the owning ones ideas is not an issue born in the Napster generation, but has been interlinked with fundamental and universal concepts that internet people can understand:

vinyl([]) technology improves [this displaces some]
([]) this forces the concept of ‘publishing’ to reinvent itself
([]) monopolies come face to face with the instrument of their doom (changing the distribution model)
([]) those who fear displacement fight the technology that displaces (sue the bastards!)
([]) option 43: make PSA’s with governators…this never works!

These are issues that have existed since Gutenberg’s first fateful pressing. The VHS was scary, as was Radio, walkmen, and Zunes! I mean ipods. Gutenberg was no hero to the handwriters of his day. You may recall the landmark case initiated by the ‘HMQA’ — the ‘Handwriting Monks with Quills Association.’

So what’s the point? If people have a nebulous sense of what sharing means, what remixing means, what content is, and what should and should not be paid for, culture will stagnate. The Linuxes, DIY projects, and enlightened gardeners and seed sharers of the world will form their own secret society and our own TEACHERS will think that the concept of ‘free software’ is borderline criminal.

Here’s the books (free free free/donationware)

publicdomain> http://www.thepublicdomain.org/download/ James Boyle – The Public Domain
> http://futureoftheinternet.org/download Jonathan Zittrain – The future of the internet
> http://freesouls.cc/

And don’t forget to visit the motherload:

  1. http://creativecommons.org/
  2. WIPO

And the site that Gutenberg described in his last will and testament: Gutenberg.org