You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

Notes: Cory Doctorow at Harvard, Feb 15, 2006

February 16th, 2006 by

Cory Doctorow at Harvard, 15 Feb

Cory Doctorow’s talk at Harvard tonight was titled “Set Top Cops” and worked through the various threats posed by DRM. I use the word “threat” not to take a side in this debate, though my position may be obvious, but rather to stress that this talk largely succeeded in discrediting DRM as sustainable strategy. Over an hour, Doctorow’s presentation constructed a checklist to determine the Internet-readiness of various business models. It roughly reads as follows:

Your business model is NOT Internet-ready IF…

  1. …it criminalizes the behavior of the majority of Internet users.
  2. …suppresses science.
  3. …allows product features to stagnate.
  4. …incurs multi-million dollar lawsuits.
  5. …content is valued over community.
  6. …it sustains the myth that there can ever be a copy-proof bit.

To support this list, Doctorow suggested that the majority of Internet users have participated in activity that infringed on a copyright monopoly. In the cases of anti-circumvention legislation (viz WIPO, DMCA) and permission-based extensibility (DVD tech), short-term protection has led to the loss of unforseen features and added value in long-term. He describes a century-long arc of change in the relationship between creators and consumers that begins with the key value lying in the charisma of performers, shifting toward virtuosity with recorded audio/ video, and arriving now with the conversational vibe of “MySpace bands.”

The success of the conversational creator/consumer relationship is a strange triumph for underground musics. My participation in hardcore/punk through out the 90’s and early-2000’s was largely reliant on friendship-style interaction. I regularly traded tapes and shows with strangers from around the world and the advent of the Internet facilitated an incredible amplification of these values. Entire tours could be booked via email and messageboards; ad-hoc social-networks prior to explicity relational tools such as Myspace, or Friendster. (Though, it should be noted that hardcore kids have always used available tech to step beyond traditional industry models. 15 years ago bands used the same blue box technology that launched Apple to book their tours.)

My thinking is also spurred by Doctorow’s discussion of the mythological “copy-resistant bit.” In true futurist fashion, I am beginning to suspect that now is simply an extension of a larger transitional phase in which we move away from media altogether. As input devices grow more intuitive and network availability edges toward ubiquity, there will be fewer and fewer barriers between our thoughts and their expressions. Where once the former enjoyed considerably more liberty, they may both soon achieve a sense of intangibility and infinite reproducibility. At that point, legal code concerning the copying of any expression ought to look quite different to be of any use to us.

I was pleased to hear the accomplished sci-fi author address his rather privileged position as both an advocate for the arts and a creator in one of the last fields (publishing) to remain relatively safe from the copying-frenzy that follows rampant digitization. “The biggest threat to an author is not piracy,” states Doctorow, “but obscurity.” By licensing his work to be distributed freely online and for dollars offline, he has broken free of this flight from obscurity but he recognizes that it is not a model that can last. “Technology giveth and technology taketh away,” he said, referring to the fact that writers should be considering ways to make money once their work is best distributed as bits.

For its simplicity, Doctorow’s working definition of DRM is worth reproducing here as well. “DRM controls your use of media after you acquire it lawfully.” I like this definition for its clarity in expressing that DRM hurts only those consumers who conform to the law.

He also wore a B * A * S * H shirt and that’s worth a few points alone!

19 Responses to “Notes: Cory Doctorow at Harvard, Feb 15, 2006”

  1. Jessica Says:

    Elaine, you are just to funny. Don

  2. Andrew A. Sailer Says:

    I’m not asking for you to spill the secrets to the secret sauce, but I went to and it had fantastic information, but I wanted to post this to our forum where I actually trust your opinions.

  3. Herman Schur Says:

    I was searching for photography when I found your site. Great post. Thank You.

  4. Dwayne Leandro Says:

    Internet Business will grow in the years to come as more and more people get online. I also invested in an online store.”;

  5. money online Says:

    hi very informative post! too bad, my english is not the best.

  6. online store Says:

    Hello, I was just reading your post; Kevin Driscoll » Blog Archive » Notes: Cory Doctorow at Harvard, Feb 15, 2006. I don’t know if you have seen it or any of your readers but there is a new free shopping application that makes it easy to find the best internet price on any item. I got it last Saturday for free and it still is I am sure.

  7. Adah Huckins Says:

    definitely is pleasant data need to know more

  8. Arnold Brown Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I really feel strongly about it and love learning extra on this topic. If doable, as you acquire experience, would you mind updating your blog with further information? This can be very helpful for me.

  9. James McLeod Says:

    This one is an inspiration, which uncovers a lot associated to this subject. I must confess your knowledge matched my sentiments. I’m going to now take your feed to stay updated on each coming weblog post you may create. You are hereby thanked for a job perfectly done!

  10. peliculas online gratis estrenos Says:

    Highly rated post. I learn one thing totally new on totally different blogs everyday. Deciding on one . stimulating to read the paper content material from different writers and study a little bit something from their website. I’d like to apply sure of this content on my blog you’re mind. Natually I’ll give a hyperlink right here we’re at your internet-site. Appreciate your sharing.

  11. Air jordan 19 Says:

    You blog is so lovely that speak the words right out my month. The familiar perspectives on this topic really calls for a drink. I bookmarkt you so that we can talk about it in details, see ya, pal!

  12. Erotik Kontakte Says:

    I found your weblog site on google and test just a few of your early posts. Proceed to keep up the excellent operate. I just further up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. In search of forward to studying extra from you later on!…

  13. My-Wanted Says:

    Thank you for this excellent post. I have read it and everything in the post is so brilliantly create. Most of that time it’s important to search and research several posts make any concise explaination the posts on the net but it is put very nicely

  14. Josef Forts Says:

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  15. christian louboutin Says:

    Thank you for sharing! Very good.I hope to see you share more.

  16. Cami Fahrney Says:

    I’ve learn a few good stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot attempt you set to make any such magnificent informative site.

  17. where can i watch pretty little liars episodes Says:

    some times its a pain in the ass to read what people wrote but this site is very user genial ! .

  18. baseball shirts custom Says:

    Property is the sole location where one dosen’t obtain homesick.

  19. Valentin Neikirk Says:

    You, my friend, ROCK! I found exactly the information I already searched everywhere and simply could not find it. What an ideal site.