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Interesting piece on copyright/digital rights. - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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March 24th, 2007


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02:08 pm - Interesting piece on copyright/digital rights.
Interestingly enough, even one of the authors of the DMCA admits the entire idea was a failure, and goes on to say that "While ... teens have lost respect for copyright, he lays much of the blame at the feet of the recording industry for their failure to adapt to the online marketplace in the mid-1990s."

I would most definitely add that teens are not the only ones who have lost respect for copyright. Cory Doctorow then adds "...there are tons of new, copy-friendly artists who are making a good living from touring (using free copies to bring people to gigs), from direct sales of MP3s, from merch, and so on? Sure, these people aren't supporting a label that takes $0.92 out from every buck they earn, but should the law concern itself with full, permanent employment for middlemen? If they add value, they'll survive. If the market doesn't support them, they'll go broke. The point of copyright is to support creativity, not Fortune 100 entertainment giants."

Which, is a statement I completely and wholly agree with. I believe that as useful (and durable) ebook readers start being marketed, the same thing will be true for authors. In addition to reducing profits for publishers, I think that this sort of change in text publishing may also reduce the profits of some of the best-selling authors, but is equally certain to increase the profits of mid-list authors, and it's honestly far more important to me to see many thousands of authors making $10,0000-$40,000 year off of their work than it is for there to be a few dozen authors making one or two orders of magnitude more than this. As with everything else, I believe that people have a right to make a living wage off of well done productive work, but do not agree that anyone has a right to become exceedingly wealthy off of their work unless no one in their society is poor.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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[User Picture]
From:johnaegard
Date:March 24th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
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> I think that this sort of change in text publishing may also
> reduce the profits of some of the best-selling authors, but
> is equally certain to increase the profits of mid-list authors,

Musicians have live performance. If pervasive piracy forces the price of books to near zero, then what is the equivalent alternate money stream for authors?
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 25th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
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I can see two non-copyright options for authors, and I'm certain there are others:

1) The Ransom Model:(aka street-performer protocol): The author releases the first chapter of a novel, or first portion of a story online and then sets an amount they wish to make off of the work and uses an escrow service to keep track of things. Everyone donates what they want (between a few cents and as many dollars as they wish) and as soon as the target number is reached, the work is released copyright free. Several authors have successfully used this method, including RPG author Greg Stolze, who has now used this for several games.

Currently, if the target amount is not reached in some reasonable amount of time (a few months) then the money is donated to charity - a better model is to have it refunded.

2) Group Patronage: This works for comics, series, or any other continuing work (and could potentially also work for TV shows). The first book or issue is released either for free or via the ransom model. Then, the author seeks a monthly income based on continuing donations to release X books/year in this series. As long as the author keeps producing works, the money keeps coming in. For more well-known authors, this model could extend beyond series and extend to their work in general. I know that there are several comics and SF&F authors I'd pay $5-10/month to insure they continued writing (for me, the top three would be Warren Ellis in comics, and both Alastair Reynolds and P.C. Hodgell in books). Bean books releasing electronic versions of the first volumes of various series for free is an obvious step towards this model.

As an added incentive for people of act as patrons or for them to contribute more than X$/month, there could be limited membership mailing lists, where members can email questions to the author (obviously there would need to be a limit of no more than x-questions/week or month), on-line chat sessions with the author... Effectively, instead of taking time from writing to schmooze with agents or publishers, the author would do this with paying fans. Also, contributors could receive electronic copies of works a week or two before the works were made public. These fans would naturaly be free to release such works on-line.
[User Picture]
From:antayla
Date:March 25th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
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Magazines? Multiple publication venues? Book signings and talks?

I think that books often suffer from availability issues on the net.
The wider the variety of books, the less problem there will be with being able to make money off them. I mean, why will someone risk downloading from a potentially super slow and virus-ridden P2P client rather than a trusted direct source for a buck or two?

Of course, I generally check out the books at the library before purchasing them. I like to write in my books, I like having them on hand in paper form for my own ease of reference.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 25th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
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Of course, that's not going to be true for (at most) the next decade. By that time, I'm expecting a small, durable (ie you can drop it and still have it work) ebook reader using electronic paper and similar tech. At this point, you have a "book" that can hold many thousands of books, is searchable, and where users can include their own footnotes and hyperlinks. At this point, print books are going to start going the way of the vinyl record, the cassette tape, and the hand-written manuscript written on vellum. Authors who are not quite elderly or tired of writing will need to consider this, because I'm guessing this tech will be in widespread use in more like 5-7 years.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 25th, 2007 03:24 am (UTC)
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I remember people saying that about vinyl records when CDs started getting big. I'm guessing in no more than 15 years book publishing will largely consist of hardback books and ebooks - paperbacks are a pretty dodgy format now, and I would welcome their replacement, especially if you have an electronic paper reader that looks like a book. Certainly collectors and people who love books as physical objects (which, despite owning thousands of them, I am not definitely not) will keep buying hardbacks. However, given the way the ipod & mp3 player are replacing so many other forms of music (CD sales are already dropping as mp3 sales increase), I'm certain books will go the same way.

There are two limits now:

1) You drop a book and (at most) its a bit skuffed. Drop a PDA or ipod, and you have some expensive junk.

2) Reading on a backlit screen is far less pleasant than reading on paper.

I've seen electronic paper - it looks like paper, not like a screen. Any difference between the two is trivial to me. Combine that with a durable reader and books will begin to vanish. I know that once such things exist, I'll never voluntarily buy a print book again.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:March 25th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC)
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Electronic paper only needs power (and even then, not very much) when you "turn" a page, as a result, battery life will be measured in weeks or months, so that won't be an issue. Backlit LCDs eat lots of power, organic LEDs eat considerably less, and electronic paper uses almost none.
[User Picture]
From:antayla
Date:March 25th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
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...Those morons thought they could fight the market and win :P.

Truth is that no amount of control at the "top" of a system can win over determination at the "bottom."

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