An Author's Perspective: Copyright Maximalists Harm Authors

Copyright maximalists want all sorts of new laws to “help authors get paid”. Well, I’m a published author, and all their efforts to “help” cost me money. Even if we strictly limit the argument to printed books, copyright maximalists still only succeed in harming authors and publishers. This is how.

The History of “Using Samba”

This book was first published both as a traditional book and as an e-book suitable for reading and printing from personal computers. Andy Oram, my editor, negotiated a deal where every copy of the Samba program included a copy of Using Samba, so if you wanted a copy, you could get one as part of the normal free download.

There were no limitations on distribution or personal printing, and the license reserved only commercial printing rights to the publisher. Only commercial printers have equipment capable of printing and binding on sufficiently thin paper to make a manageable book. If printed on conventional photocopier paper, the book is over three inches thick. Printing small sections for reference on photocopier paper is perfectly practical, but large-scale printing is not.

The net result is that the book was widely used as a reference on Samba.

What surprised us at the time is that the on-line readers bought the physical book in great numbers. We went from the third-selling book on the subject to the first in a matter of weeks, and the book was one of O’Reilly’s best sellers for the year.

Readers buy books. To be precise, on-line readers buy printed books. They value their convenient form, they make notes in the margins and they lend them to friends. They preferentially buy books that are available on-line, partly because they know they’re not buying a “pig in a poke”, and additionally because the on-line copies are searchable, and in effect serve as a superior index into the printed ones.
This sold a lot of copies of Using Samba, and O’Reilly subsequently found ways to provide a search service for their books as well as free samples, all as part of their on-line offering, Safari. Other publishers noticed that, and have found variations that work for both fiction and non-fiction.

The Response from the Unwise

Some other publishers have not noticed.

Along with the publishers of movies and music, they have convinced themselves that what we saw didn’t happen.

In their world, readers don’t use both on-line and printed books: their readers buy a book once on some device or other, read it and throw it away. Their readers don’t have bookshelves in their houses or offices. In their world, public libraries are a business risk. A public library might allow a reader to read a book, and ever thereafter not be a prospective purchaser of that same book. An e-book is worse: someone might give away many copies, or even bundle a copy with every copy of a popular program.
At the request of these unwise publishers, the United States has for some years been carrying out a risky experiment in law, permitting the publishers to put arbitrary restrictions on books or other media in electronic form. Their “Digital Millennium Copyright Act” prohibits the lawful use of the book if the use is not explicitly permitted by the publisher. This permits publishers to impose any restriction they chose, sometimes flying in the face of established law. Now this is to be imposed by treaty on other countries, in part via the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”. Canada has already succumbed.

Protecting me from Success

The unwise publishers and their friends in government are doing their very best to make sure I don’t give my work away to prospective customers. They know I don’t want to do that, and will use any means within the law and some means which aren’t, to make that impossible.

The effort to prevent copying has led to some explicitly criminal acts: one of Sony’s DRM systems was in fact a root-kit, and at that time breached the criminal codes of Canada and the U.S. Under the DMCA it’s now arguably legal.

In the case of library books, that have successfully forced all e-books to have DRM and region codes. I can’t distribute my e-books via the public library because the monopoly supplier is DRM-only, and imposes lending limits on the libraries. If I publish a book without DRM, they won’t touch it, and thereby won’t let the libraries have it.

If a publisher has any channels which require DRM, their contracts will require all copies have DRM, and wherever possible, region codes to prevent a “Canadian” e-book from being readable in the Caribbean.

They wish a mere claim of downloading to be sufficient to cut a customer off from the ‘net, and to prohibit particular programs, notably bittorrent, and they already have overturned the laws that prohibit them from excluding the blind. This makes prospective customers afraid to download anything that is under copyright.

Three-strike schemes and prohibitions on programs do much the same thing: they cast a chill on all downloading, whether a book or a program that happens to come with a book.

We already have a problem with traditional channels to book sales becoming less effective: trying to cut off my ability to give away free samples cuts off a legal, proven effective, channel that benefits from widespread copying.

They’re wrong

I really do want to bundle a copy of my current book about a program with every single copy of the program. That sells printed books.

Prohibiting me from giving out free samples takes those sales away from me. And from my publisher. And from them, which they would know if they weren’t holding their eyes tight shut.


  1. Anonymous

    what the hell does this person know? he/she just wrote a book? there was no skill in that. the skill is in the advertising, the distribution and the ways to make as much money from the book as possible, as quickly as possible for as long as possible! you ask the agents!

    1. David Collier-Brown

      It was the acquisitions editor, Andy Oram, and the publisher, O’Reilly, that had the idea and the business plan. I just benefited from their brilliance!


    2. Simon Lindgren

      J.R.R. Tolkien would turn over in his grave if he heard you say that.

      1. gurrfield

        I think he is being sarcastic…But he really shows how some people in the copyright machinery seem to think of themselves and what they do…

      2. David Collier-Brown

        I think that this particular anonymous was just a troll, or perhaps amazingly unobservant: my name and photo are probably adequate proof that I’m a “he”.


      3. David Collier-Brown

        I think that particular anonymous was a troll.

        Or perhaps just startlingly unobservant. I think my picture and name are sufficient to indicate that I’ m a “he”.

  2. Anonymous

    the point, jokingly, being made is your part is minor and without what they did, you would have made nothing. the agents seem to think that they are more important than the authors, so they ramp up protection, not for the author but for them. the point about ‘free’, so often brought into these types of discussions is, people get it, read it and donate. fame is in the work, finance is in how the work is handled. nothing is worth more than people are prepared to pay. i always think that to sell 100 at $10 is not as good as selling a thousand at $1. same revenue, more exposure and distribution. you get the point, i am sure

    1. gurrfield

      Yes. “Piracy” is free PR. Good “content” which is shared freely creates a demand for the service to produce more. The emphasis being on the _work_ to produce more. If a cook is required to cook new food for each new hour of pay, why couldn’t an artist or a writer be?

      The answer is that of course they could be paid that way. You already have initiatives such as patreon. So it is not the creators which risk losing something – it is someone else..!

    2. frank87

      The writing is a minor part in traditional book selling. They told us good writers get rich and famous to keep a steady supply of cheap aspiring writers. The ones that did get rich and famous are the lucky ones that got picked by the publishers. They exist to keep up the appearance.

      1. David Collier-Brown

        That’s one business model, but it’s even less brilliant that the one the unobservant are trying for. It assumes the publisher is after “blockbusters”, and can create a stable of writers that successfully turn out best-seller after best-seller.

        Even in action/adventure that’s impossibly hard, and I note that the same publishers that try to use that model are the ones who whine most pitifully about how bad the market is.

        They overlap with the unwise I mentioned before, and tend to flog DRM-encumbered stuff via Amazon. The smarter ones of that dismal crew tried lining up with Apple, but opened themselves up to a legal counter-attack by Amazon.


  3. theverant

    I’ll keep checking my ebooks and media out from the modern library of humanity – the Pirate Bay.

    K THX!

  4. Alan

    This is nice as a specific example, but I was involved with Project Gutenberg in the 1990s and by the middle of that decade this was already obvious to anyone with eyes to see.

    1. David Collier-Brown

      The future isn’t even;y distributed: some people don’t see it as we speak, and are consciously trying to make it worse for everyone, so that they will be relatively better in a shrunken market.

  5. Thomas

    Once again we see how pirates are deeply stuck in their old-school, hardware thinking.
    The value of your books is not the paper or the binding. The value is in the text, the reading-experience.
    You are not in the business of selling “printed paper” but in the business of selling reading-experience. In whaterever way that experience is distributed.
    It feels like discussing with my grandmother, talking to you pirates. Please step out of your caves, leave the steam engines behind you and step out in this new and exciting world.

    1. Per "wertigon" Ekström

      There is no reason whatsoever that this argument cannot be applied to electronic media as well. But according to you the “reading experience” is what matters – then simply use it as “ransomware”. “Oh hai gaiz! I wrote AWEZOM text, plz gief 1.000.000 in mashrom kingdam coinz and I will gief entire text to all LOLCATs!”

      1. Thomas

        Who knows if the writers argument could be applied to any media? Apparently the writer does not see that, otherwise I am sure he would have included that in his text. Lets discuss what he actually wrote, rather than what he could have written…..
        My point is that the writer is stuck in the old fashioned hardware world. He is in the business of selling printed papers rather than selling an experience.
        He is selling media rather than content.
        Just like so many pirates that are stuck in the old-fashioned, steam engine economy.

        1. David Collier-Brown

          Actually I think the major publishers are stuck in the era of steam: the pirates are already living in a digital era, looking back at the laggards and wondering how they can be so foolish.

        2. Thomas

          Mr Collier-Brown
          I am sorry, but your text proves the opposite. When you write “Readers buy books. To be precise, on-line readers buy printed books. ” it is a very clear statement that you expect your readers to pay for paper and ink, rather than to pay for the content.
          So despite your claim – you are stuck in the old fashioned hardware business model. Which really is to bad – the value of your work is in the content, not in the paper and ink.

        3. gurrfield

          Oh my god. Thomas still doesn’t get it.

          ” the value of your work is in the content, not in the paper and ink.”

          No it isn’t. The value is in the work required for producing the content. The value is in the time and effort required to create the originals – not the copies or the data or the content or call it what you will.

        4. David Collier-Brown

          I think there is value in both the writing and editing process, which produces content, and the skilled trade of printing, which produces a product. Both pirates and dinosaur publishers see the former.

          On the other hand, The publishers value the printing process, as it dominates the work they do and the costs that they face. The dinosaur publishers think it is the most important part, and so over-value it. On-line residents (sometimes) undervalue printing, as they have what can be a better, less expensive production process.

          Readers, on the third hand, value books, not at all the processes that make them. They value both their content and the ability to access the content. E-books are better for searching, while paper books are better for making notes in, and reading in the bathtub.

          For people who enjoy the format, purchasing printed books is a reasonable decision. They pay for the entirety of the book, authorship, editing, production, warehousing and shipping, and don’t distinguish between them. They’re buying content in a form they find convenient, to access.

          As a community, they overlap with people who enjoy on-line formats, and will pay for both.

          The argument goes both ways, as it happens: a legal publisher of my acquaintance produces e-books of several of their successful printed titles. These are sold to the same people who bought the printed volumes, because they want to search the books, and can’t sign on to quicklaw from the middle of a courtroom to do so!


        5. Autolykos

          The problem is that until recently, two products (the book’s content and it’s printed representation) were only sold together, because they only could be sold together. But they are two separate products, and should be treated as such (and not be artificially tied together by obsolete laws and business models).
          David’s point seems to be that printed copies are sold more (and can thus generate more revenue) if the content is given away as a free sample. Publishers can still print better and cheaper books than me with my laser printer at home – that’s their business. They would just do well if they kept to their business and stopped mingling with the content side of things.

    2. gurrfield

      Thomas writes:

      “The value is in the text, the reading-experience.”

      Well by that logic… Isn’t the value of breathing in the inhalation experience. Not having to suffocate? Can’t you please tell me who to pay in order not to be a “parasite” or “pirate” whenever I breathe..? 😀

      Content is air. Like a castle in the sky. And anyone paying for it is being ripped off.

      1. Thomas

        Dear Gurrfield
        I will be happy to reply to your comment. But I am more interested in what mr Collier-Brown has to say. After all, it is a very strong comment that his writing is like air and without any value! I I am very curious to hear his reply to your claim that the value his books is only in the paper and ink, and not in his writing, not in his work.

        1. David Collier-Brown

          The work I put in writing and the work done by my editor is hard to charge for: right now there isn’t a well-known business model that can make it valuable without some kind of artificial scarcity or physical medium.

          I can imagine some schemes that limit scarcity, which take advantage of copyright in the same way copyleft does (;-))

          I can also imagine some schemes where some authors could crowdfund their advances-against-sales, but not the sales themselves.

          I expect someone may have solution… I just haven’t met them yet, so the value my work without a medium has trouble converting itself into money!

          Bummer, dude…

        2. gurrfield

          Hi David 🙂

          You could check out patreon, a somewhat new initiative for funding culture.. There’s also kickstarter for larger scale projects such as movies / computer games.

          Artificial scarcity is not a “solution” to anything, it will only anger your (potential) fans. I agree with you that people tend to view their own position in “the machine” as most important / paramount, but judging on the developments of the last 100 years with how many jobs/”trades” being replaced with machinery and computers… it’s not reasonable to believe the copyright system will survive much longer.

          So we probably have to find new ways to fund culture no matter what…

        3. gurrfield

          “After all, it is a very strong comment that his writing is like air and without any value!”

          It is not without value, because it can give him new fans – his most valuable resource.. if he intends to try and make a living by writing..!

          Charging over and over for work already done when you pay someone else and expect them do new work for you.. that’s not gonna last. People will see through that and just not accept it.

          I can lean back and charge you for a book I wrote 20 years ago, but when I want a burger, you have to flip a new one for me?

          Just forget it Thomas. People won’t accept that in the long run.

        4. Thomas

          Mr Collier-Brown, I am struggling to understand your comment that there should not be a well-known business where you can capitalize on the value that you create as a writer? Amazon has a couple of millions of e-book titles, Apple-store, Android-store, Barnes&Noble and all the other shops have a huge choice of titles. E-books is not new, it is a standard product and standard business model.
          Most new books are distributed both a paper books and e-books and in different combinations.

          Another take on this discussion is that copyright and IP-protection is the framework that gives you, as the writer, the platform to develop any business model of your choice.

          But I am glad to see that you value the work you do! It is important and it is valuable. Despite the claim from the pirates that content is “like air” and without any value.

    3. Anonymous

      Every time I hear someone say something like this it feels like I’m listening to some kind of cultist. “Content,” “reading-experience,” whatever you want to call it, isn’t real, it’s an abstraction. Each printed book is an instance of what it is defined as, but the content itself doesn’t exist outside of that definition. Not one particle of any material exists simultaneously within all copies of a book, and even each person’s experience of reading one copy or another is a unique individual experience.

      You want to pretend that figures of speech are literal and that multiple objects can simultaneously contain a single, concrete thing. You want to pretend that an abstract object can itself be “sold,” despite it being impossible to trade or exchange something which does not ontologically exist. You want an uneducated, superstitious interpretation of computing to become the norm, and you call people who have developed a more objective understanding “old-school.” You are the worst kind of religious fanatic.

      1. David Collier-Brown

        It’s not clear who you’re addressing here: gurrfield is replying somewhat ironically to thomas, although you’re replying to him … In addition, you’re reading a tremendous amount into what was written, making it hard to disambiguate it by context.

        1. Anonymous

          I was replying to Thomas. I’m very familiar with the way of thinking he’s presenting, and I was addressing his point of view, not just what he says here. Although, I see what you mean about ambiguity, but I’m really tired, and I don’t really care if anyone but Thomas understands what I mean. In fact, I don’t even care that much if he understands, I was mostly just venting some stuff that’s been on my mind.

        2. David Collier-Brown

          Righto, thanks!

      2. Thomas

        Anonymous – your comment highlights that you really are stuck in the old hardware economy. It highlights that you don’t understand the new world that we live in.
        To bad for you that you cannot understand and appreciate the difference between media and content. To bad for you that you can’t see the fundamental difference between an object and the value it delivers.
        But it is your loss – I could not care less!

        1. Anonymous

          Oh I understand, but your way of thinking isn’t new. You seem to see two realities: the physical reality, in which it is physically impossible for things to occupy more than one point in space simultaneously, and some parallel reality in which thoughts, ideas, information, and content exist as real entities rather than abstractions. You probably think that both the original and all copies of a creative work only access the content in the parallel reality, rather than actually contain it. You might see both realities as two aspects of our single reality, or any number of other variations, but regardless, you’re essentially a dualist.

          As for value, you clearly can’t separate between an object’s economic value (which in the case of digital files is always very small due to their inherent abundance and cheapness of manufacture) and its subjective value, which depends not on how much it costs, but on how much it satisfies some want or need.

        2. next_ghost

          @Anonymous: Or he’s just troll that’s trying to confuse everybody else by abstract nonsense.

        3. Thomas

          Anonymous – you are really funny! When you try to prove that you are not stuck in ideas from the 18th century, you use philosopy from the 18th century! Very amusing!

          The good news for you, is that this is not about philosphy, so can put away the old dusty books. It is much simpler, common sense and economy.
          So sather than study philosphy, you should learn some basic economy. There are three perspectives on a product, cost, price and value. In the old-school economy that you pirates refer to, these three entities had some correlation. However, the rest of the world left that framework some 40 years back, when we realised that there is no strict correlation between cost, price and value. Sure, you could argue that the value must be higher than the price, but this is not always right.
          In general, there is no correlation between cost, price and value.

          But Anonymous, we don’t want you to think outside your little box, so please go back to your dusty old library, put your slippers on and keep reading about the 18th century world.

        4. next_ghost

          > However, the rest of the world left that framework some 40 years back, when we realised that there is no strict correlation between cost, price and value.

          Congratulations, you’ve just rendered your entire argument about selling “reading experience” completely irrelevant. Because, as you said much earlier on November 28, 2013 – 07:25:

          > The value of your books is not the paper or the binding. The value is in the text, the reading-experience.
          > You are not in the business of selling “printed paper” but in the business of selling reading-experience. In whaterever way that experience is distributed.

          If price and value don’t need to closely correlate, the value of some “reading experience” is irrelevant for the choice of writer’s pricing scheme.

        5. Anonymous

          See, now you’re just showing yourself to be an idiot. You were just claiming that when you buy a book, you are paying for the value of work that went into the original. I thought price and value do not correlate? Besides, that’s the labor theory of value, an idea we left behind ages ago.

          Anyway, you failed to address the fact that neither the content nor the “reading-experience” you get from one copy of a book is literally the same as that gotten from another. Claiming that these are the things being sold and that the price of the copies should be based upon the value of the work that went into them seemed to be your main point.

        6. Thomas

          Gurrfield, Anonymous and next_ghost
          It is funny so see how you are struggling with these simple concepts of the new world. Going back to the semantics, rather than the content. Trust me, my points are valid, despite your futile semantics and even the timestamps on the comments.
          I think you have two problems, big problems.
          First, you don’t want to accept this new world of content and value. SInce it ruins your ideas about filesharing. As simple as that.
          Your ideas of filesharing is based on buying music CD, and the ideas has become as irrelevant as music CD’s
          But your second problem is more important for you. The rest of the world understands and accepts the new concepts. So we buy our e-books at Amazon, we download music from iTunes or Spotify and we stream movies from Netflix. And we are all happy consumers, since the value we get is higher than the price we pay. Just like any other products that we appreciate.
          This is the root cause why you pirates are getting totally irrelevant.
          You can keep on discussing the semantics, philosophy and compare the timestamps of comments, but meanwhile, the real world is running far ahead of you.
          With this comment I leave the discussion.

        7. gurrfield

          Thomas writes:

          “So we buy our e-books at Amazon, we download music from iTunes or Spotify and we stream movies from Netflix. And we are all happy consumers, since the value we get is higher than the price we pay.”

          Apparently you claim pirates are irrelevant. Ok so what’s the problem, then?

          If “piracy” not such a big problem, why are you still spending such outrageous amounts of money to battle it…?

          Your rethoric simply does not make sense.

        8. next_ghost

          > First, you don’t want to accept this new world of content and value. SInce it ruins your ideas about filesharing. As simple as that.

          What new world of content and value? The idea of charging for everything you can get away with is so old and outdated as it can get. Even the copyright industry finally got the fact that it doesn’t work and started selling services instead.

          > And we are all happy consumers, since the value we get is higher than the price we pay.

          Here’s the actual core of the problem. We Pirates are not consumers. We are first and foremost creators in one way or another. If we settled for being mere happy consumers and stopped fighting for our rights, we would be doing horrendous disservice to all of humanity.

        9. Thomas

          Sorry guys, just two final points. You are so funny!

          Gurfield – yes, you pirates are irrelevant! Who is spending outrageous amounts of battling you?? Sorry to make you disappointed, but there is no battle anymore. You lost….

          next_ghost – sorry but you pirated has not created anything. Nothing! Which is kind of strange, after all you have been around for some ten years and not created anything. Why is there no pirate “record label”? You claim it is so simple to produce and distribute music, but for ten years you have only been talking. Why haven’t you created any music? Any books or games? Or any other piece of culture?
          Only talks, only empty words.
          Perhaps people would listen to you if you actually did create something. If you added some value and content……

        10. David Collier-Brown

          Considering we’re talking about my experience with books piratical on the site of the author of “Swarmwise”, I think your argument fails rather quickly. For records, consider the Grateful Dead.

          I don’t expect to see a lot of examples of the arts piratical, as the first examples are from the 60s, and it took 50 years to get from there to a formed political philosophy and party. I do expect examples of non-trivial size, such as David Weber’s science fiction, as well as the folks I mentioned before, who are convinced that he couldn’t possibly exist.

        11. next_ghost

          Here’re a few authors who openly endorse free sharing of their books: Cory Doctorow, Paulo Coelho, Lawrence Lessig. Lessig in particular started Creative Commons and designed the first set of CC licences. I have myself translated a good chunk of his book Free Culture into Czech in an open translation project a few years ago.

          There’re also CC-licenced animated and live-action series (I’ll list just the ones I’ve made subtitles for): Pioneer One, L5, Your Face Is A Saxophone.

          And some truly Pirate original art: Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues and This Land Is Mine (both infringed on music copyrights, music licences for Sita Sings the Blues were eventually cleared). There was also a gag dubbing of the first Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie here in Czech republic called “Par parmenu”. A bunch of teenagers got together and completely redubbed the whole movie themselves and added the most popular pop songs of the day (Aragorn riding away from Nazghuls to the tune of Tatu’s Not Gonna Get Us is just epic). Some other running gags include Saruman as a helium addict and Gandalf being most famous for his “pointy hat trick” (everybody asks him to do it). Plot: the fellowship was going to a big rave in Mordor with the ring being an entry ticket for a party of eleven. Nazghuls were after the ring so they could go to the rave themselves.

          And also millions of fanfic writers all over the Internet who violate copyrights every day by creating new stories in settings and with characters owned by the copyright industry.

        12. Thomas

          Mr Collier-Brown, with all respect, but Grateful Dead is more a brand than a band. When did they originally start their career, 1960’s? I would say that what a bit prior to the pirate movement….

          next_ghost – I am sure there are a number of independent artists that to great work! But in what way have they been supported by the pirate parties or the pirate movement?
          You see my point?

          By the way, I respect and appreciate their contribution to the world! Culture is important. I also respect and appreciate that they choose their way to present and to share their artworks. It is great!
          But why don’t you have the same respect and appreciation for other artists decisions on how they want to share and distribute their works of art?

        13. David Collier-Brown

          The pirates respect my efforts to benefit from my writing, by supporting the GPL-like licences that keep other publishers from selling my work and not paying me, and by supporting my efforts to keep it legal to giver away free samples.

          What I don’t get is respect and appreciation from a community of short-sighted publishers, studios and labels who arrogate to themselves the right to legislate against artists and publishers, and in the case of Sony, to commit criminal offences against them.

          The Pirate Party, in particular, is actively supportive of my efforts, and IMHO should be running candidates in Canadian elections.


        14. Thomas

          My apologies, mr Collier-Brown.
          It was just now that I realized that the books about “Samba” that you co-authored, was published more than then years back. At that time, the market for e-books did not exist, there where no reading devices.
          So if I turn the time back ten years, I better understand your logic.

        15. gurrfield

          “Gurfield – yes, you pirates are irrelevant! Who is spending outrageous amounts of battling you?? Sorry to make you disappointed, but there is no battle anymore. You lost….”

          It is so funny you make that statement, I just saw a slashdotted piece of news that Elsevier (famous “prestigious” company in academic publishing) are hunting down researchers for sharing the result of _their own_ work. If you can’t see that this is death rattles… Well,*sigh*….

          Well obviously the copyright monopolists are spending buttloads of money on this, why are we otherwise seeing all these articles about spendings on sueing “pirate sites” such as bit torrent web sites every month or so?

    4. next_ghost

      One thing that we Pirates understand and you don’t: Trying to queeze every last cent out of the reading experience itself is always detrimental to said reading experience. The loss is apparently big enough to make it much more profitable to sell printed paper with both paper and digital reading experiences completely unrestricted. When your goal is to get paid, size of profit is the only thing that matters.

      We’re not stuck in the past as you claim. We’ve seen the possibilities you keep talking about and they made us shudder in horror. That’s what makes us Pirates. People who are truly stuck in old-school thinking and can’t see the possibilities at all generally don’t care about the topic.

      1. David Collier-Brown

        A side comment re “When your goal is to get paid, size of profit is the only thing that matters.”

        If your only goal is that, you price for profit maximization. Widespread profit maximization is what economists expect, but rarely see in knowledge industries. Instead, you often see people looking to widen their readership, arguing that the deferred benefits will be bigger.

        Regrettably, we do see profit maximization in large and especially large public companies like Nortel They used to be a customer of mine, but now they’re famously dead as a doornail.

        My motivation to be be comfortable, not a plutocrat, so I need a good living wage out of writing books, about what you’d make editing them for O’Reilly.
        Part of my real wage was in knowing that people liked the work.

      2. Thomas

        next-ghost – I assume that you don’t get paid for the job that you do either? Since you don’t want authors to get paid for their job….
        For me it is very simple. I belive that all of us should get paid for the work that we deliver, for the value we create.

        1. next_ghost

          Writer’s job is to write. Charging readers for “reading experience” doesn’t pay the writer for his job either.

        2. next_ghost

          Yes, the writers job is to write. But the value that the readers are paying for is a good reading experience. Or in this case, to learn more about at specific topic, in this case Samba.
          The value for the end-user is not to have 120 pages of paper with ink stuck in their bookshelves.
          And as consumers, we pay for the value that we get.
          This is common sense, but apperantly it does not fit your old school ideas that the content is without any value, “like air”. I respect the work of the writer, I suggest that you start to do that as well.

        3. Thomas

          Sorry – something went wrong with my last comment?
          Of course, this is a reply to next-ghost, not written by him.

        4. gurrfield

          Thomas writes:

          “Yes, the writers job is to write. But the value that the readers are paying for is a good reading experience.”

          Then we should pay for the job he’s doing while writing. You don’t pay over and over for the experience to have a comfortable shit, even though the plumber having done his work well once upon a time.

          Copy rights have become a bad excuse to charge over and over for old work without having to produce anything new. There is no connection between copy and the job required to produce the original, that is why people should not pay for copies anymore!

        5. next_ghost

          > But the value that the readers are paying for is a good reading experience.

          And a few minutes later you said that there’s no need for close correlation between price and value, therefore the argument about “reading experience” is completely irrelevant.

          Not to mention that “reading experience” doesn’t exist without a reader and it’s different for every reader. There are legitimate business models that charge customers for letting them create something themselves. But selling that “reading experience” of yours is not one of them because you need to destroy part of it (rather than enable it as the legitimate business models do) in order to secure your payment.

        6. next_ghost

          > This is common sense, but apperantly it does not fit your old school ideas that the content is without any value, “like air”.

          Don’t put others’ words into my mouth!

        7. Thomas

          Gurrfield and next-ghost – you are really struggling with his aren’t you?
          Gurrfield – you are totally confused with the differences between products and services. The plumber provides a service – a book is a product. Fundamental but basic differences. Please go back and do your homework on the basics in economy.

          next_ghost, keep it simple. As a reader, the value of a book is in the reading experience. And as long as the value is higher than the price, I will be buy and be happy.
          The concept of “reading experience” is not that challenging. Similar to a winter jacket. I buy a winter jacket to keep warm, so the value of the jacket is in the ability to keep me warm.
          You see, it really is very simple, no need to complicate things.

          Sorry for putting words in your mouth, my mistake. I mixed you up with Gurrfield. So I am happy that you do not want to share his thoughts that content is useless and without value.

        8. next_ghost

          > As a reader, the value of a book is in the reading experience. And as long as the value is higher than the price, I will be buy and be happy.
          > The concept of “reading experience” is not that challenging.

          Challenging or not, you said yourself that there’s no need for strong relationship between price and value to the customer. So why do you insist on creating it artificially at the expense of customer value?

        9. gurrfield

          Thomas writes:

          “The plumber provides a service – a book is a product. Fundamental but basic differences. Please go back and do your homework on the basics in economy.”

          But you obviously can’t “sell” books anymore, because they are free to copy. What (may be) left to charge for is the service to write.

          A product is covered by Property Right – which is Transferred at the point of sale. If no ownership is transferred, what has been paid for is not a product.

        10. gurrfield

          Thomas writes:

          “So I am happy that you do not want to share his thoughts that content is useless and without value.”

          Content is absolutely not Useless or Without Value, because sharing of content can work as PR for selling your future labour. Charging per copy or per “use” probably won’t work much longer, but good culture and knowledge has the property that it makes people want _more_ of it.

          “Oh wow what a song, I wonder what their next one will sound like” or “really exciting episode, I wonder what happens next…” and so on.

          Probably you have never even experienced this. You just see all the money you could leech off if you were able to squeeze yourself in between fan and creator.

        11. David Collier-Brown

          [I hope this sorts properly to the bottom of the current discussion]

          There is a contradiction between widely copying open source material with the intention of motivating readers to pay for the next increment, and getting paid for the next increment of work.

          In traditional paper-based publishing, this works, because people value the printed form, and thereby pay for the content. David Weber, for example, releases his backlist in copyable format, and gets people buying his newest works.

          In the performing arts, it brings people to public performances, rather famously in the case of the Grateful Dead.

          In electronic publishing, though, the mechanism is as yet unknown. That’s the origin of my speculation about crowdfunding as an “advance”, and limitations on artificial scarcity.

  6. David Collier-Brown

    continuing on from above…

    Hamburger sales, and to greater extent, computer sales, benefit from mass production driving prices down, and making the products available to more people. Remember Henry Ford, and his radical idea of making a car that his own employees could afford, instead of a luxury good.

    Physical book sales are the same, with far more paperbacks around than handwritten scrolls (:-))

    However, as we approach a cost of zero, the margin that pays for the writing and editing also tends toward nothingness. Publishers noted that they were getting squeezed and competed by … not paying the authors!

    This drove ancient governments (like the former thirteen colonies) to invent a means of giving what turned out to be publishers a limited monopoly, to ensure authors didn’t have their books printed by someone who didn’t pay them royalties.

    This didn’t actually solve the problem, and often benefited the wrong people, so about the time the cost really did approach zero, the period of the temporary monopoly effectively became infinite.

    We should solve the “copying costs are trivial” problem, but right now most are simply looking for another kludge like the original copyright (printer-right?)

    If I wanted to make the minimum change, I’d crank the period of copyright down to a few years, and apply some formal controls, like a depository. Which might be a sufficient kludge, but not a necessary one…


  7. nick

    I’ve read a good news related to Swarmwise. One day we could create swarm countries. The following article is worth republishing.

  8. Anonymous

    wont have to worry about getting things off the net soon. with the Irish ISPs just keeling over and volunteering to block web sites, it’s just the thing the entertainment industries, in all their forms, have been waiting for. once that happens, it will be used as a precedent for all sites deemed nasty by those industries and lead to them being blocked. that will escalate to other countries and voila! no one will be able to do anything on the net without getting previous permission, of all things, from fucking make believe companies! and the truly sad thing is, having achieved what they set out to do, holding back their own industry as well as countless others and progress in general, they wont have actually gained a damn thing! it sure as hell will not lead, as they expect and think, to multiple more sales in high street stores of their little plastic disks. if anything, it will lead to more pissed off people who refuse to buy anything!
    dont forget though, that this is also going to give governments what they want too and that is get back control of who is doing what, where, etc. their spying will be given the green light because they will carry on piggy backing off the entertainment industries and also continue to ramp up all laws they can think of that take away as much freedom and privacy, the core things of a democratic society, as possible! welcome to the new age of Fascism, of Totalitarianism, of Authoritarianism all rolled into one, all caused by greed and fear! greed that someone, somewhere was getting something for free and fear that no one could find out who that someone was, what they were getting and where they were, so governments couldn’t keep track of their movements, their ‘purchases’ and the tax not, perhaps, being paid! how absolutely pathetic a world we have developed, when we had the numerous opportunities to make it so right for everyone!!

  9. David Collier-Brown

    Amazing run-on sentences (;-)) I ran it through my english-to-vulcan translator, but all I got back was “lives under bridges” and something about riddles.

  10. RB

    Im starting to see some hope for this issue; What i havent started to see is a good set of arguments and SOLUTIONS . One thing no one has been able to explain to me : How do you expect anyone else from profiting from your work?! Because with the industry disappearance, artists themselves will be paying out of their pocket to release whatever they want to release.
    And the above argument that the value is not in the content ?!? BS ! Content is everything, mate, sorry to inform you ! And though some works “lacking content” do make it for a while, its only thanks to colossal marketing campaign ( crap wave of un-talented mainstream artists is the living proof of that).
    Reality is : Unless we can provide a better working model, i doubt we will be able to win this one… As an artist myself, and someone who really wants to believe its possible, i still just dont see how !
    WHY? ( i hear you ask) Because its hard to find a model that will suit all areas .
    Plus, as i said, i apart from the person who is fortunate to have the money to release things( a rare breed, tbh ) i dont see who is willing to risk investing upfront , even if its his own release, with same impact and quality that we do today ( films and music is a good example) .

    So, we need to start coming with some better answers and solutions, as until now, im struggling to find a saving line in this argument !

    1. RB

      I meant “How do you expect TO STOP anyone else from profiting from your work?! “

    2. David Collier-Brown

      The industry won’t disappear, but it will change significantly. There will still be an advantage to an artist or author to farm out the production and distribution work to a second party, and the produces and distributors will act to safeguard their margin.

      O’Reilly, for example, requires signed agreements before granting translation rights, and will act against people misappropriating my and their work.


      1. RB

        That doesnt seem to solve any problem, apart from making it easier to share, dont get me wrong !
        So , let me see if i get this straight: We would still have copyrights, regarding marketing something ( protecting us against other making money out of our work) but difference would be everyone can share it for free?! Or am i missing something ?!
        Whats the difference ? The industry as it is brought the prices down A LOT, in all affected areas like music, books, films, etc
        I understand it when it comes to educational stuff, in all fronts; But leisurely things ?! Where will be the incentive for better quality productions ?! Wont that sacrifice the final products? Wont that make it more selective for those that can afford to release stuff, only? invalidating any chance of those that CANNOT afford to invest themselves be stripped of any chance ? And please dont give me the old adagio ” if he has talent, he will still make it” because we all know its not true !
        As i said , id really like to find a middle ground, because im all pro-open source and the likes… Anything to do with education, im all for making it available , and easier to access.
        If anything this is the first chance ever artists have a chance to take controls of their work, without the bbig sharks interfering anymore. Why would anyone take that away from them, NOW of all tiime ?! Unless some real solutions to the main issues come forward, i dont see this working at all… I just hope im wrong, though, because thats what i want to keep hoping for the time being ! Forever positive 🙂

        1. David Collier-Brown

          I don’t think people will demand everything for free. Some things like Linux cost a few bucks and provide much more value then they cost. People then buy them.

          I buy older TV shows, if I get interested in a series, but only if the prices is seriously low.

          I buy books, which aren’t as cheap as penguins (;-)) if I’ve read them on-line and know they’re good.

          When I had a low-income period a while back, I read library books. I’ve since bought a few in a series I started there. I’ll be buying some David Weber books when they come out because I read their predecessors free.

          I expect people to pay me for my work, too, even when I make some forms of it available free. The non-free form has to be worthwhile, you understand!

          “For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn: and, The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

          In this case, scripture and I agree.


  11. Tim

    I’m about to give up reading the comments/argument. Anyway, all your POV are interesting guys. You all are brilliant, still this place belongs to Dave.

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