Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
26 January 2003
I'm in the middle of reading Cory Doctorow's novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which has been made available free online -- a gesture demonstrating a very smart approach to copyright and intellectual property. Doctorow released the novel under a Creative Commons "Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0" public license, giving anyone permission to copy, distribute, display, and perform unaltered copies of the work, as long as it's done non-commercially and he's given credit each time. Perfect. Perfect for a first-time novelist seeking to make a name for himself.
Of course he acknowledges the controversial nature of this move. "Yeah, there are legal problems," he says when introducing the novel. "Yeah, it's hard to figure out how people are gonna make money doing it. Yeah, there is a lot of social upheaval and a serious threat to innovation, freedom, business, and whatnot. It's your basic end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario, and as a science fiction writer, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenaria are my stock-in-trade."
And the novel itself is quite good so far. I like this: "I think that if I'm still here in ten thousand years, I'm going to be crazy as hell. Ten thousand years, pal! Ten thousand years ago, the state-of-the-art was a goat. You really think you're going to be anything recognizably human in a hundred centuries? Me, I'm not interested in being a post-person. I'm going to wake up one day, and I'm going to say, 'Well, I guess I've seen about enough,' and that'll be my last day."
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