Weekly E-Book: The Future of Copyright

Photo by Sable Jak.

Photo by Sable Jak. Licensed under a CC-By-ShareAlike license.

Our first few EPUB releases have been on the serious, scholarly side. This week’s EPUB goes the other direction.

The Future of Copyright is a rather witty collection of stories submitted to the Fundacja Nowoczesna Polska’s Indiegogo campaign. The original Indiegogo proposal was simple:

How should a good copyright system look like? Obviously, the one our civilization uses now doesn’t fit the reality of today. Outdated, over-extended and unenforceable it leads to ridiculous court cases against random people and clearly fails to meet the needs of the digital world. Without good alternatives, the only solution some can imagine is to take what doesn’t work and get more of it, hoping that this will do the trick. It won’t.

In order to form the future of copyright system we need to step up and craft a model that will fit the digital reality, shaped by technology of today and tomorrow. There are some initial proposals, most notably Barcelona Charter or Washington Declaration, but we believe there’s room for improvement and we want to give it a try. We invite you all to take part in the global project of crafting the Future of Copyright!

This is a contest for the best work about the future of copyright. The idea is simple:

The rules of the contest were simple. The amount of money raised in donations became the basis for the award, in which the winner (judged by an independent panel) received half of the money raised, while the other half went to the making of books, cards and perks. Entries could be in any genre, so long as they were released under a Creative Commons licensed and had been published somewhere on the World Wide Web.

From the entries, the judges chose ten pieces to include in the Future of Copyright e-book anthology. Seven of them are fictional pieces, with a distinct bent to the dystopian, notably Jesse Betteridge’s crisp and creepy tale “The Brick in Room 207.”

The most interesting to me, given my inclination toward all things linguistic, is actually the prize-winner: Aymeric Mansoux’ “Morphology of a copyright tale,” which is an exquisitely witty piece based on Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp’s linguistic study of Russian folktales. But this is far from an academic piece. The Propp is only a structure (if you’ll forgive the pun) for an excellent survey of the stereotypes present in discussions about copyright and personal property. You’ll have to read it to find out.

Of the three non-fiction pieces, Togi’s excellent “Give” provides a neat corollary to Aymeric Mansoux’ fiction. It too is exquisitely structured in short bursts of one- or two-sentence mathematical lemmas. It that sense it reminds me a bit of Eric Hoffer’s old books, such as The True Believer.

Other stories in the anthology will likely appeal to readers of speculative fiction–an area in which there seems to be an immense sympathy for a more sensible vision of copyright and the commons (e.g. Cory Doctorow’s work), while all three of the essays are provocative and reach different conclusions. Some of the contributors here are clearly on the side of copyright abolition, while others are more measured in their dissent.

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Download EPUB or MOBI here.

PDF format available here.


Filed under Literature

Omar Willey was born at St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Seattle and grew up near Lucky Market on Beacon Avenue. He believes Seattle is the greatest city on Earth and came to this conclusion by travelling much of the Earth. He is a junior member of Lesser Seattle and, as an oboist, does not blow his own trumpet. Contact him at omar [at] seattlestar [dot] net