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Posts Tagged ‘Cory Doctorow’

Does Random House Have a Morality Clause?

facebook2INS0511_468x320.jpgWow. Is Random House secretly being run by a middle eastern government? Earlier this month it was announced that the publishing house giant was canceling a novel by American writer Sherry Jones about prophet Muhammad and his “feminist leanings” because of concerns it might “incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” Now comes word (via Galley Cat) that the company is asking its young adult writers to sign a morality contract.

If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished, and we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement.
Ha! Seriously? And how does one define morality in the day and age of Facebook? It is possible, however, that this is just a Random House UK contract clause since Cory Doctorow says there was no such wording in his recent contract. Oh, the English!

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Ubiquitous Learning and Cultural Copyright


Following up on yesterday’s post about Cory Doctorow and the perplexing problem of copyright is Ubiquitous Learning (upcoming from University of Illinois Press) Jack Brighton, a prof at UIIC and one of the contributors to the book, writes:

Just a century ago most Americans celebrated their arts and cultural heritage by actively participating in them. Before we had access to mass-produced news and entertainment, we made our own. People told family stories and shared what news they had, made more dear by its scarcity. Families made music together, and the influx of musical traditions and instruments fueled an American folk music culture that lead to Jazz, Blues, and their offspring. “Everyone was encouraged to take part, both men and women, from practiced musicians to visitors and children, and in the nineteenth-century home the quality might at times be excellent,” writes music historian Tim Brookes. “Yet in a sense that was not the point…it was an active, participatory tradition as opposed to the passive listening to radio and recordings.”

He goes on:

Is it any great surprise then that in a moment when folk practices are in digital renaissance, many of the same mass media stories, images, and sounds are being reclaimed and remade on YouTube, Boing Boing,, and blogs everywhere? The content currency of the emerging online media commons highlights the power and cultural resonance of twentieth century mass media industries, but there is a fundamental difference: we are reclaiming our own voices, and making the stories our own.

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Cory Doctorow On Dancing Toddlers, Fan-Fic, and Cultural Copyright

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Cory Doctorow, relentless champion of no stinkin’ copyrights, has a piece in The Guardian (UK) that starts off with a fatal flaw, right from the jump:

In theory, there’s just one set of copyright rules and they apply to everyone, from Sony Pictures to your neighbour’s eight-year-old who wants to photocopy his Spider-Man comics and sell them to the other kids.

What kid does this? Who’s dumb enough to buy some crappy copy of a comic?

Doctorow goes on about how the internet has made “folk-users” bolder in their appropriation of the creative works of others, with horrible repercussions. He cites

Now you have billionaire media empires behaving as though parents should get a licence for a Prince song before they upload a YouTube video of their adorable toddler dancing to it.

Adorable toddlers dancing to Prince should be hunted down, taken away from their parents, and kept in a suitable institution, far away from video cameras. The parents should be whipped. But we digress.

He goes on about writers of fan-fiction, people uploading videos of jolly singalongs, and other such “cultural” uses (his word, not ours) needing protection beyond the grasp of those greedy corporations, authors, artists, etc.

Well, fine. But the kid in the lede was selling his home-made comics, not giving them away. Should that use be protected? Pirating is okay for the under-aged? That’s how gang hits work.

And then he drags in the disabled:

Access to Knowledge (A2K) treaty is a proposal from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to set out the rights and responsibilities of archivists, educators and people who provide access to disabled users of information.

The drafting group – which is open to the general public – includes representatives of creators’ groups (tellingly, no one from the corporations that buy creators’ works have taken part), disabled rights groups, technical standards bodies, civil rights groups, even medical rights groups like Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Why the disabled get a pass on copyright violation is a mystery.

Has Doctorow taken a position on the WGA strike? It’s all about internet use.

Donna Druchunas comments, as possible violations of copyright is a huge issue in the knitting community.

LeGuin Accepts Doctorow’s Apology For Copyright Violation


Ursula LeGuin, doyenne of science fiction novelists, got an apology from BoingBoing’s copyright cowboy Cory Doctorow after Doctorow decided to post her 600 word single paragraph short story, as some sort of copyright test case or maybe just because he liked it. She responded to his apology post which was nearly 400 words longer than the actual story.

ValleyWag’s commenters accuse him of sucking up.

Cinerati has Doctorow’s “killfile” excuse. Killfile is a term from the dark ages of Usenet; Doctorow’s showing his age.

Nihilistic Kid and Science Fiction Writers of America dissect the whole thing.

Gaudy Patter gets the big picture:

because Doctorow does the digital equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and singing “la, la, la” when he receives email from someone he doesn’t like, he embarrassed himself personally and professionally and undercut his credibility on one of his signature issues.

(photo by Dan Tuffs)