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Radio Berkman 137: Cory Doctorow – In Defense of ©

November 19th, 2009

Is the fate of books a forgone conclusion? Will they just continue to make their way out of print and into digital form? This week’s guest, author Cory Doctorow, suggests that we might want to keep books in print for a little while longer. Not just out of nostalgia – but actually to protect the institution of copyright.

Cory Doctorow — a longtime supporter of remixing and free culture, who releases his books under Creative Commons licenses — now throws his weight behind copyright. Huh?

Find out what happens when books meet bits on this week’s Radio Berkman.

or download
…also in Ogg!

This week’s artists
Coconut Monkeyrocket – Accidental Beatnik
MorganTJ -Time Decay

The Reference Section:
Cory Blogs at BoingBoing
Cory in Toronto last week
David Weinberger posted a recent Broadband Strategy Week interview with Cory here
Download (or buy) Cory’s brand new book Makers

Subscribe to Radio Berkman

See a partial transcript after the jump.

Prolific Author, Blogger, and Copyright Provocateur Cory Doctorow is something of an anomaly in the publishing world. He is the author of some of the most popular science fiction books in recent history, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Little Brother, and Makers just released last month.

While you’ll probably be able to find Makers, and Cory’s other books, at the most popular bookstores in the nation – you can also find most of his novels and non fictions books on the web as a free digital download – not only free as in beer, but under a creative commons license so you can feel free to download, remix, and redistribute! While some in the industry say free downloads kill profits, encourage piracy, and destroy respect for copyright – Cory effectively says, bring it on!

So it may have caught some of Cory’s followers by surprise when he came out in support of copyright at the National Reading Summit in Toronto last week. Wait, was he actually supporting the arguments of publishers who fear the death of their industry at the hands of millions of file sharing bibliophiles?

But while many in the publishing industry might argue for copyright restrictions to protect the future of the book from download happy readers, Cory is actually arguing for copyright as a means of protecting the existence of books from the hands of overly litigious publishers.

There is a distinction, he says, between the kind of licensing that publishers use to prevent readers from sharing, copying, or even permanently owning a text – and theview of copyright that would actually safeguard the rights of the reader. And what we learn from the publishing industry in this space can be used in film, music, software, and any other kind of digital media.

David Weinberger recently sat down with Cory to talk about copyright, the publishing industry, and the wonderful culture of the book. The interview was so fascinating we decided we couldn’t cut any of it this week, so settle in and enjoy.

Cory Doctorow is author of Little Brother, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and the recently released the book Makers. You can find his musings posted almost daily at Want to find out more about Cory – maybe download his new book for absolutely free? Visit our website at

This episode of Radio Berkman was produced by me, Daniel Dennis Jones, with David Weinberger from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cory Doctorow – In Defe&hellip  |  November 19th, 2009 at 8:45 am

    […] Radio Berkman 137: Cory Doctorow – In Defense of © […]

  • 2. Cory Doctorow’s cra&hellip  |  November 20th, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    […] Radio Berkman 137: Cory Doctorow – In Defense of © […]

  • 3. David Weinberger: What&hellip  |  November 22nd, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    […] flags. We use the books we own as tribal flags, as Cory Doctorow points out in a recent interview. You probably carefully choose which book you’re going to […]

  • 4. David Weinberger: What&hellip  |  November 22nd, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    […] flags. We use the books we own as tribal flags, as Cory Doctorow points out in a recent interview. You probably carefully choose which book you’re going to […]

  • 5. SF Signal&hellip  |  November 23rd, 2009 at 2:30 am

    SF Tidbits for 11/23/09…

    Interviews/ProfilesHour of the Wolf interviews Ellen Datlow and Richard Bowes (podcast).The Agony Column has a recording of the World Fantasy Convention Panel Podcast : Invention Versus interviews Deborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix. (…

  • 6. Cory Doctorow on Copyrigh&hellip  |  November 24th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    […]… […]

  • 7. The Kindle Chronicles - 7&hellip  |  November 26th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    […] Manifesto and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, interviewed Cory Doctorow recently on copyright issues and the future of the eBook. (Click here to download […]

  • 8. The pendulum swings. Agai&hellip  |  January 16th, 2010 at 5:16 am

    […] Cory Doctorow came out in defense of copyright in a Radio Berkman talk recently, available as a Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast. Of course, there’s more to that talk — energetic, flippant, and deep all at the same […]

  • 9. Notorious Webmaster &raqu&hellip  |  February 24th, 2010 at 12:55 am

    […] pay attention. But it’s worth it. I’ll leave you with one I’ve just listened to: an interview with Cory Doctorow on copyright. I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to listen to […]

  • 10. Everything is Miscellaneo&hellip  |  April 14th, 2011 at 11:31 am

    […] my interview with Cory Doctorow, I wondered, in the midst of an overly-elaborate three-part question, whether ebooks will provide […]

  • 11. Tyler M  |  October 13th, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Cory’s position on this is spot on.

    It’s a sad fact that many media publishers are indeed overly litigious to the extreme these days. And it’s not surprising that as music publishers have gone this route to improve their bottom line, so have book publishers.

    Hopefully we will see a surge in self-publishing or smaller online publishers in the coming years, and I think we will. I also expect that e-book prices will drop as people begin to self publish across a variety of platforms.

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