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Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age

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In sharply argued, fast-moving chapters, Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free takes on the state of copyright and creative success in the digital age. Can small artists still thrive in the Internet era? Can giant record labels avoid alienating their audiences? This is a book about the pitfalls and the opportunities that creative industries (and individuals) are confronting today — about how the old models have failed or found new footing, and about what might soon replace them. An essential read for anyone with a stake in the future of the arts, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free offers a vivid guide to the ways creativity and the Internet interact today, and to what might be coming next.

192 pages, Hardcover

First published November 18, 2014

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About the author

Cory Doctorow

233 books4,654 followers
Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing and the author of the YA graphic novel In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free, and young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema, and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture Of The Nerds and Makers. He is a Fellow for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in Los Angeles.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 407 reviews
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
400 reviews2,179 followers
May 7, 2018
Posted at Heradas

Doctorow expertly breaks down and illustrates just how much we lose societally by allowing intermediaries to stipulate things entirely outside of their business through lobbying and extortion of all parties involved. It’s a fascinating, multi-faceted deep examination of digital rights, copyright, piracy, net neutrality, and the human tendency toward protecting our own interests at the detriment of everyone else (including, unbeknownst to us, ourselves).

At first it made me angry, then it made me paranoid, and finally it made me angry again when I realized just how paranoid I actually have to be now that I understand this stuff a little more. After working my way through that cycle a few times, I’ve actually come out the other side more hopeful than I was when I went in. I feel a little more informed on just how serious the situation actually is, and I now have a huge amount of respect for the EFF and all the work they’re doing to combat ridiculous things like SOPA/PIPA, and anti Net-Neutrality nutjobs.

I recommend it for pretty much anyone that would like to hang on to their privacy in an increasingly invasive world.
Profile Image for Andrew.
125 reviews14 followers
November 24, 2014
Cory Doctorow's "Information Doesn't Want to be Free" aims to be a 2014 successor to Lawrence Lessig's "Free Culture", both authors writing about how modern copyright law restricts artistic expression and how art and copyright should function within the context of the Internet. Where Lessig's expertise shows in his book's policy analysis, Doctorow's comes from his personal experience as a writer navigating new mediums and distribution channels.

The book starts off strong, first laying out the roles of creators, publishers, and distributors ("intermediaries") in getting art to consumers and discussing how digital distribution has changed the power dynamics involved. Doctorow's key addition to the related discourse is the connecting of DRM, largely marketed and sold as protection for content itself, to distributor lock-in and, consequently, a rise in distributor power.

Unfortunately, the book's second half losses this coherence. Doctorow begins jumping from topic to topic, including rambling thoughts on typical hacker culture issues: net neutrality, free software, proprietary hardware, three strikes laws. These are great topics to write about, but the lack of organization and depth turns the book into and unsorted collection of ideological screeds.

I hoped for better from Cory Doctorow. He's the right person to be writing an in-depth book on the intersection of art, copyright policy, and the internet, but instead of a thoughtful analysis on these topics the book has the depth of a short blog post, part anecdote and part ideological rant. Readers who regularly follow these subjects will find little, if any, new information, and a minimum of analysis.

The book's organization even reflects this level of depth: sections are often only a page or two long, as if the book is actually a collection of brief Techcrunch posts. Most sections have anecdotes written in the margins, some of which are in a smaller font at the end of a section with more content than the section it follows, others adjacent to the text with no good point for the reader to break their reading flow for this side piece.

Where Lessig is able to add depth to the conversation about modern copyright issues through legal analysis and policy suggestions, Doctorow's book doesn't add much at all. It's an interesting summary about current issues and particularly how modern players like Amazon and YouTube relate to them, but little more than that.
Profile Image for Thom.
1,550 reviews46 followers
July 22, 2016
Short title, quickly read. Has some very good points (Copyright is really something that is designed to bind corporations) and some good ideas (a blanket license scheme payable by ISPs / users). Has digressions (Net Neutrality) that I believe take away from the message. Finally, has a pretty decent forwards and an epilogue summing things up.

Read the audio book (Wil Wheaton) checked out from the library, and I was a bit irritated with the loud noises between section breaks. Reading the book in another format may have been a better way to go. Still, generally recommended.
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
Author 171 books1,309 followers
December 3, 2014
An eye opening, thought provoking book length essay on copyright, the internet, and making a living in the creative arts today. I feel like I finally understand the issues around how creators should think about the internet, free use, copyright, DRM. A must read for anyone seriously considering a career in the arts during the internet age.
563 reviews28 followers
August 11, 2016
I think this is a book that everyone should read, but creative people such as authors, musicians, ect must read this book.
Profile Image for Chinook.
2,242 reviews19 followers
June 24, 2017
That was excellent - interesting and engaging. I listened to the entire thing in two big chunks and never got bored or sleepy (in spite of the fact that I'm basically perma-tired.) I think everyone should read this, it's hugely important and it's a very easily understood look at the issue of access and copyright.
Profile Image for Dirk.
144 reviews11 followers
September 15, 2015
Despite it’s lively style, this book is oppressive. It has several threads, but it mainly explores the dismal consequences of the entertainment industry trying to impose copyright on the World Wide Web and on the world of digital communication generally.

Doctorow favors copyright in principle and supports strategies that would allow creators and the entertainment industry to make a reasonable amount of money but he is hostile to strategies that make information flow more difficult, more expensive, or more vulnerable to malware.

Along the way he offers advice for creators (musicians, movie makers, freelance writers, graphic artists, and the like) about how to prosper on the World Wide Web. His basic advice is: Become well known.

He is widely informed in relevant knowledge: about both the theory of computer operation and practical programming, about the ongoing development of the World Wide Web, about copyright law, about the policies and threatened policies of important nations and international agencies and treaties, and about the changing economics of the entertainment industry (which, of course, now includes Amazon and Apple and Google as well as Disney and, Warner Brothers, Bollywood, Nollywood, and Hachette).

Ironically this little book is a beautifully designed and printed example of a paper, hardcover book. The writing is brisk, clear, but glib at times. It is divided in to small sections and sometimes has the feel of threaded-together, short-form blogs, but it has an overall arch of argument. He’s a bit exhibitionistic and frequently talks about his personal experience as a writer and entrepreneur and good deeds he has done.

I urge anyone who wants to become informed in this area to read this book.

He explains various political censorship efforts as those in China, Iran, and North Korea. He discusses briefly their techniques, success and failures, and points out their similarity to censorship aimed a preserving copyright. All this he does without citing more than illustrative snippets of computer code.

The basic problem is that scattering copies is essential to digital communication. When you log into a web site and, say, look at a picture, something like this happens: You send a request, which is a sort of text, to a server somewhere where the image resides. In response, software peels off a copy of that image, which is reproduced and handed off in steps on its home server, and then passed to a node of the internet where one or more copies are made, and scattered to other nodes, where other copies are made and passed intricately toward you, until one arrives at your ISP, where a copy is made, or several in several steps, and transmitted to your computer, where one or more copies are made till one appears on your screen. The same process applies to a movie, a song, a computer game, and the text of this little essay. That’s what “Downloading “ means.

The entertainment industry marshals an army of engineers, expensive lawyers, and equally expensive lobbyists in a leaky effort to control copying and to make each of the entities that handles copies responsible for not leaking them. Of course ultimately we pay for this army.

But that is not the worst of the problem. Of course, the title is false, (It is an allusion to a famous dictum by the futurist guru Stewart Brand). Information lacks volition and doesn’t want anything. But by the nature of how computers work it is unfettered. In order to fetter it’s free flow, engineers and their bosses have to cripple the files, the programs that read them, and the machines that handle and display them.

They do this, on the level of glib generalization, by embedding in the image or in the machine bits of code invisible to you but visible to one another that make it impossible to handle the image freely. Generally, these are bits of code, that look to the human eye like, say, $sys$, though they may be much longer. They are called keys.

Of course, cleaver engineers and hackers locate the keys and remove them to create files everyone can read or machines that can read any files, and the engineers working for the entertainment industry make new and cleverer keys, and hackers removed them in an endless escalation, but that is not the worst problem.

Worst of all the crippled software and hardware is vulnerable to spyware and malware. Doctorow gives this example:

In 2005 Sony shipped 6 million audio CD's loaded with a secret rootkit that covertly installed itself when you inserted one of these CD's into your computer. Once your computer had been compromised, any file or process that began with "$sys$" was invisible. The Sony toolkit was used to cloak a program that watched for, and then killed, attempts to copy music off audio CD's ... it looked like you computer had suddenly developed a mysterious bug that stopped CD ripping software from running.... But it didn't stop there. Once there were millions of computers in the wild that couldn't see files that started with "$sys$," virus writers started to add "$sys$" to the names of their programs..."

Doctorow does not quite say, but implies strongly that the massive efforts to cripple copying are responsible for a substantial part of the vulnerability of software to viruses.

Nor does he hold back from scathing agencies like NSA. Here is another example:

NIST (The National Institute for Standards) was forced to recall one of its cryptographic standards after it became apparent that the NSA had infiltrated its process and deliberately weakened the standard - an act akin to deliberately ensuring that the standard for electrical wiring was faulty so that you could start house fires in the homes of people you wanted to smoke out during an armed standoff.

Doctorow accepts the principle of copyright and proposes a compromise based on something called a blanket license, or similar arrangements. Essentially it is a method for paying money into a collective pool of copyrights and statistically allocating it to the copyright holders. DJ's are allowed to play songs on the radio (Remember radio?) because of such an arrangement. There are many technical and legal difficulties, which he discusses.

From a time before this technology arose, I myself never accepted the principle of copyright. It seems to me, as has often been said, copyright is theft. It is theft from the commons as sure as is The Lord of the Manor fencing off the common pasture of the village to run his sheep only. It is theft for the simple reason that if I sell you an apple or a painting or a manufacturing device, at then end of the transaction you have and apple or machine tool or whatever and I do not. If I tell you a story or tell you how to do something, at the end of the transaction we both have it. In this way information differs from property as named by Proudhon in his original phrase, "property is theft."

Doctorow does not explain temp files, but perhaps that’s a red herring. He omits mention of 3-D printing, but the issues seem to me essentially the same except for the initial step of making an image of an object.

Be my perspective what it may, I believe that by its nature digital communication has killed copyright. It is meaningless in the world of computer communication. But the entertainment industry is making a massive and destructive effort to give it zombie life, and it is eating our brains.

You may say that the entertainment industry could not exist as we know it without copyright. Tough shit.

You may ask how creators are to earn their bread. Creators have been surviving and occasionally prospering since long before the entertainment industry, since long before copyright. Shakespeare did not have copyright (He did have a faint precursor called the Stationers Register, but he became modestly wealthy mostly by owning stock in his acting company). Dante did not have copyright. Archimedes did not have copyright. Galileo did not have copyright. The authors of the Bible did not have copyright. In the long view of recorded history creators have mostly earned their bread through patrons. The patronage system had serious problems and opportunities for abuse of creators, but it seems to me no worse than what is going down now. Furthermore, as Doctorow explains, the World Wide Web provides once unimagined ways for creators to reach audiences.
Profile Image for GD.
1,040 reviews24 followers
March 21, 2015
I read this on a whim because one of my best friends was reading it, and he has a way of always getting me into something I'll later think is badass. Holy crap this book was the shit! The internet in general and copyright are not things I ever find myself thinking about, so I went into this book a blank slate and came out with all kinds of neat thoughts and opinions about these things, which are a lot more important than I thought they were.

This book tends to focus on art and how it has to be seen in a world of endless copying, and world of decreasing "scarcity," is how I think Cory Doctorow put it in another book (this is apparently a theme with him). I myself am something of a collector, and it's something that I have never been able to explain, why do I like my first editions, why do I treasure my Christian Death boxed 7-inches set? And the digital revolution was (is) something I have never liked for some reason. I was the last person I knew to have a cell phone, the last person I knew to have a DVD player, but one of the first I knew to have a CD player, for some reason. Anyway, there is always this sick feeling of watching the old things, the old models, fall away. But the author reminds us, this has been going on since the Catholics lost control of the Bible with the invention of the printing press and the rise of Protestantism, when the bible was no longer controlled by just a few people, but was in the hands of millions, in languages they could understand. The beautiful cathedrals of the old school which took thousands of people generations to create were replaced by thatch-roofed local churches, but with that fall in power and grandeur came freedom, which people have almost always overwhelmingly chose.

The thing that, as of this writing (March 2015) happened a few weeks ago in America about net neutrality, I was always for getting the fucking government out of everything, the internet included, why should the government get to order around an internet provider and tell them who they have to service (everyone) and for how much (the same price) and at what speed (the same speed)? Well, me not really being interested in computers in general, I probably didn't know enough about it in the first place, but this book also made a good point that appeals to the psycho libertarian in me, these telecommunication companies have already had TONS of government help when it came to by-passing property laws, running wires through public and private places, etc., making possible the huge phone networks that we have, which would have been impossible otherwise, so why do the same companies balk at the government telling them what to do now, when they owe their very existence to the government intervening for them in the first place? Well put, dude.

This book has tons of examples and hypothetical scenarios to illustrate his points, the main one of which is copyright laws need to be changed in order to protect the future freedom of humans (and that's not hyperbole, I'm convinced of it now, and I went into the book with a really sarcastic view of the importance of the internet).

I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in the politics of freedom, the internet, copyright, records, books, movies, inventions, art, etc. etc. etc. Super awesome, super readable (that may have to do with him honing his writing chops CONSTANTLY with Boing Boing and tons of other projects), a friendly, clever voice. AWESOME book.
Profile Image for Tim.
513 reviews4 followers
March 4, 2017
This book is an integral read for…everyone. I can't believe it took me so long to read it.
Profile Image for Vylūnė.
112 reviews41 followers
September 14, 2015
Informative and fun and educational if you don‘t mind the tone and enthusiasm and jokes of a keynote speaker‘s follow-up who‘s eager to prove their capability of delivering the key speech next year.

Great read if you want to learn:
* How copyright works and how it changed during the last century esp because of the internet and how it‘s evolving;
* What was pipa/sopa/acta about and how it affects you;
* Why your frustration over “i paid for CD how come mp3 of that CD are illegal to keep“ is completely normal;
* How internet censorship works and why is doesn‘t work;
* Which methods of monetizing (creative) work (online) are most likely to succeed;
* Why you should care about freedom of speech/freedom of expressing yourself if you don‘t consider yourself an artist/content creator;

* Especially good if you want to learn all these things and prefer someone explaining it all without too much technicalities;
* Can be used as texbook??????

Would recommend but exalted-hyperbolized-street-corner-preacher's manner can and does make the text difficult to follow.
Profile Image for George Kaslov.
97 reviews130 followers
August 11, 2017
When I first saw the title I thought that the book was written by someone defending the bad practices of copyright holders, that was until I noticed that it was written by Cory Doctorow. This book like other nonfiction books by Cory Doctorow is a collection of essays on topics of copyright, technology and human, or better put consumer rights. If you enjoyed his other works or would like to learn more about the mess that is the current copyright system you will enjoy this book. He explained the title in his last essay, but man if I didn't know who Cory Doctorow was there is a good chance that I would have skipped this book.
Profile Image for Atila Iamarino.
411 reviews4,363 followers
December 30, 2014
Ótima perspectiva sobre copyright e como as pessoas querem se comunicar e podem ser impedidas por isso, escrito por um dos autores mais capacitados. Adorei os exemplos que ele dá de como a própria indústria que combate pirataria hoje em dia cresceu em cima dela, como a indústria do cinema americana, que foi pra a Califórnia fugindo das patentes do Thomas Edison. Os exemplos de indústrias antigas se queixando de novos modelos, como músicos reclamando das rádios acabando com a performance ao vivo, também são fantásticos.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,879 reviews7 followers
September 7, 2015
What a fascinating read regarding our digital world. This was geared around copyrights and all those who are affected by that. It doesn't sound like rules and regulations have caught up to the modern world. Rights need to be protected, but the digital world cannot be ignored if you want to get your product out to those who are in demand of said product.

Profile Image for Nebuchadnezzar Kander.
55 reviews9 followers
January 23, 2021
Magnificent treatise on Copyright, The Arts, The Internet, and everything in between. Absolutely a must-read for anyone creating any sort of art these days. Doctorow is a very knowledgeable writer (he has been a part of the Electric Frontier Foundation and Creative Commons) but he comes off as a down to earth kind of guy. He explains beautifully how the legislator cooperates with the entertainment industry and Big Tech to suffocate freedom of expression on the world wide web.
Profile Image for Bart Carter.
64 reviews9 followers
August 7, 2017
Everyone should read this. This one is a bit of an echo chamber to me, but Doctorow puts many of the confusing issues on the web (net neutrality, copyright, DRM) in more relateable terms. It's a great book.
Profile Image for Nelson Zagalo.
Author 9 books312 followers
January 15, 2016
Cory Doctorow é sobejamente conhecido pela sua luta contra o copyright, com formação em tecnologia e editor de um dos blogs internacionais mais influentes — Boing Boing — assim como com vários livros publicados, muitos de forma independente, é uma pessoa com uma visão alargada do estado do copyright assim como das tecnologias que dão vida à atual web. Assim este livro surge num tom puramente retórico, com base em toda a sua experiência pessoal acumulada ao longo das últimas duas décadas.

Do lado positivo, além da sua experiência e amplo envolvimento no debate internacional, o livro vem carregado de analogias que nos permitem facilmente ganhar uma compreensão do que está em causa em toda esta discussão. O cerne do seu argumento não se foca na abolição do copyright, de todo, antes na proposta de uma nova regulação para o mesmo, estando o verdadeiro problema, para Doctorow na grande indústria de entretenimento. Doctorow ataca sem dó nem piedade tudo o que ela representa desde a música, cinema às editoras livreiras.

Diga-se que o foco é bem definido e sustentado, se fossemos aceitar tudo o que essa grande indústria deseja, viveríamos hoje debaixo de uma autêntica ditadura, totalmente amordaçados, tudo em nome de algo que nunca foi consagrado na lei do copyright. É contra isto que Doctorow se move, e toda a sua argumentação está cheia de casos recentes que conferem enorme força à sua luta, e digo mesmo que era bom que fosse ouvido.

O problema é que o livro acaba por sofrer desta abordagem, de pura retórica, mais tipo TED Talk ou post de blog, estendidos num livro, sem metodologia de fundo que sustente toda a argumentação, acabando por surgir caso a caso, mais anedotário do que cientificamente sustentado, conferindo-lhe assim baixa credibilidade. Doctorow mete os pés pelas mãos ao misturar assuntos imensamente mais complexos — banca, terrorismo, pedofilia — do que aquilo que a indústria de entretenimento anda a tentar fazer com o PIPA, a SOPA ou a ACTA. Doctorow tenta tocar em tudo aquilo que a internet toca, e ao fazê-lo perde-se, porque apesar de eu concordar com o facto de esta ser o sistema nervoso da sociedade contemporânea, isso não quer dizer que não tenha de existir regulação, como ele próprio acaba por admitir por entre frases ao longo do livro.

Por outro lado, e talvez por ser um discurso sentido e quase confessional com o leitor, que se espera serem os novos criadores, Doctorow acaba fazendo um discurso muito relevante para todos aqueles que pretendam entrar no mercado da cultura criativa. Sempre que apresenta alguma coisa boa que a internet pode fazer pelo artista independente, nunca se esquece de apresentar o reverso da medalha, explicitando bastante bem os problemas, as armadilhas, mas sem deixar de incentivar sempre à criação. Aliás, o modo como termina o livro vai exatamente nesse sentido quando diz simplesmente:

“If I have to choose between twenty hours’ worth of blockbusters every summer and sixty hours of “personal” video every second on YouTube, I’ll choose the latter (..) I think we can tell a good copyright system from a bad one by what kind of work gets made under its rules. A bad copyright system has fewer creators making fewer types of work, enjoyed by fewer people. A good copyright system is one that enables the largest diversity of creators making the largest diversity of works to please the largest diversity of audiences.”

Também em: http://virtual-illusion.blogspot.pt/2...
Profile Image for Gordon.
212 reviews44 followers
March 20, 2015
Cory Doctorow is a Canadian-British novelist, prolific blogger and an activist crusading for reducing barriers to artists (authors, musicians, etc) getting their content in the hands of their audiences. In particular the barriers are those put up by intermediaries of various kinds -- Amazon, Apple, Sony, Universal Music, etc. -- in cahoots with governments providing the legal and contract enforcement framework. These barriers are everything from digital rights management, censorship, taking an exorbitantly large share of the revenues, etc.

Doctorow's thesis is that intermediaries are essential -- especially if the artist doesn't want to be a jack-of-all-trades who masters everything from contract law to book cover design -- but that they become an obstacle when they become restrictive corporate juggernauts. In particular, he hates every kind of copy restriction method, on the grounds that they never work for long, and simply create a habit among users of stealing content without payment while providing no long term benefit.

Doctorow's best metaphor (he excels at this) is to explain two content distribution alternative business models this way: they are like the different reproduction strategies of large mammals vs. dandelions. An elephant has very few offspring but takes careful care of each one. A dandelion spreads its seed indiscriminately and in large numbers, relying on those large numbers to overcome the high attrition rate of those seeds. Similarly, some artists (such as musicians) take the dandelion approach and put out their music free to all, counting on voluntary contributions and on building a platform for other sales opportunities e.g. selling t-shirts, concert tickets and so on. Some artists are more elephant-like, and resort to highly restrictive distribution strategies: content is only available in copy-protected form, and can only be purchased through such channels as iTunes. The dandelion and the elephant -- it's a great metaphor.

The author also extends his worldview beyond just looking out for the best interests of content creators (the artists). He is just as concerned with benefits to end-users. He wants to maximize choice, ensure free access to information, and escape the potentially repressive control of governments. He particularly worries about governments doing the bidding of corporations to protect one-sided intellectual property rights, or else just controlling information flow as a way to keep those governments in power (think China, or North Korea, or Egypt).

I liked a lot of aspects of the organization of the book. Short chapters, lots of sidebars with more anecdotes or details for inquiring minds, and a simple overall structure of three parts, each devoted to one of "Doctorow's Laws".

The major failing of the book is that it is very weak on numbers. I have no read idea if the revenue of media intermediaries is rising or falling, if artists are seeing more or less of the industry revenue, or many other such basic business facts. A lot of his elegantly argued theses become very hard to evaluate without this kind of data.

But if you want good, lively writing, along with the passionate views of an activist, this is a great read.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,051 reviews101 followers
March 2, 2018
When I just read the title of this book I was astonished. After all, it directly comments on cyberpunk and cyber-activists slogan, “information wants to be free” and Gary Doctorow (the author of this book) is (was?) one of them. Has he sold his soul to big business, I wondered?
No, he hasn’t.
This book is a great critique on what is wrong with current attempts of entertainment business to limit people, their (potential and actual) clients in what they can do. The fact that digital locks don’t protect the author but the intermediary. That attempts to forbid looking into propertiary software actually creates more problems that it solves. Just an example from the book, one of many:
In 2011, Columbia computer-science grad student Ang Cui conducted research into the security of HP printers. HP refused to disclose the inner workings of its printers to him, citing commercial confidentiality, so Cui undertook to reverse-engineer their technology himself, and was able to quickly unravel the system. He found that HP had devoted a lot of resources to preventing the use of refilled cartridges, but almost none to other types of security.
To demonstrate this, Cui wrote a simple two-hundred-line program that could turn any document into a vector for hijacking HP printers. If Cui could convince you to print his document (if, for example, he sent a résumé to your company’s HR department, and they printed it), he could seize control of your printer. Once the printer was under his control, it would no longer accept software updates from its owner, though it would pretend to accept them, and register them as being successfully installed. It would also spy on every document printed, and send copies to Cui’s personal drop box. It could even look for certain words or numbers in documents (say, Social Security numbers) and alter them when the documents were printed

Doctorow doesn’t only criticize. He suggests solutions. And these solutions are needed now, because the internet and digital devices are growing in power every day.
Profile Image for Ross Blocher.
429 reviews1,358 followers
March 21, 2016
Information Doesn't Want to Be Free is essential reading for content creators in the Internet age, especially those hoping to earn a living doing what they love. Doctorow is a gifted explainer, unpacking concepts like copyright law, net neutrality, fair use, digital locks, DRM, encryption, licensing, piracy, and rootkits. He provides historical context and real-world analogies to make the abstract readily understandable.

The stakes are high, and the power that we allow publishers and intermediaries to exercise in regulating content use has consequences affecting society beyond the confines of entertainment media. Learn what the existing laws do, what problems they were created to solve, whose interests they protect, and what their implications are for the future. It's a surprisingly quick, readable and engaging book, given the complexity it addresses.

Doctorow is well-suited to understand this tangled system of publishers and platforms, with a CV including: programmer, work with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, best-selling author of fiction and non-fiction, chief contributor to one of the world's most popular blogs (Boing Boing), an honorary PhD in Computer Sciences, and delegate to the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization.
Profile Image for Dar.
486 reviews18 followers
April 17, 2015
Actually fun to read! The most clear explanation of digital copyright I've seen (and I read most new info on copyright and DRM). The author has strong opinions but most readers would agree - otherwise they wouldn't have chosen to read it. If you are not sure where you stand on copying music, movies and e-books; or if you want to be able to explain and defend your choice, give this a try!
Profile Image for Kent Beck.
86 reviews109 followers
February 6, 2016
Absolutely required reading for creators--writers, artists, musicians, programmers, designers. The rules of the game are changing. This book presents the change with great, sometimes brutal, clarity. I still don't know what to do about the new rules, but I have many new ways to think about them. Thank you, Cory.
Profile Image for Clara Biesel.
357 reviews10 followers
June 5, 2017
This book is a little ranty, and superior sounding at times, but also inspiring and thought provoking. Doctorow asks extremely important questions about the computers to which we trust our lives, and who the laws surrounding copyright are intended to protect. The intros from Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer are a bonus.
2 reviews
December 24, 2017
The author's take on how outdated copyright laws are being used by lobbyists of big corporations to maximize their profits can undermine our most basic human rights, namely freedom of expression and freedom of speech, is profound.
Profile Image for Roberto Rigolin F Lopes.
363 reviews95 followers
January 6, 2015
This Doctorow guy is witty and funny. The man has some creative friends as well. To be honest, this copyright thing is quite boring but this book is entertaining and very informative.
Profile Image for Songhua.
49 reviews2 followers
July 23, 2017
This was a fascinating read for me as it challenged my thoughts on piracy. I recall in my school days (which was about 10 years ago) when I had done a Project Work on piracy, but my position was the typical conservative one - that piracy is bad and it is going to kill the creative industry. This book made me realise that my analysis back then was too simplistic (it scored an A anyway because probably our teacher likes students to stick to safe and conservative arguments) and that there were more aspects to be explored.

Some thought-provoking points for me: Do current anti-piracy measures really protect all stakeholders as they have claimed, or just the interests of certain groups? Is the creative industry really dying, when we actually have so much more content produced in the Internet today, and some of them even rising to be YouTube stars and celebrity bloggers? Or perhaps what is really dying is the old business model that the creative industry had been sticking to? How can the industry then adapt to today's digital age, where information is free-flowing?
Profile Image for Tatiana.
229 reviews8 followers
September 12, 2019
'... not savable, not reinstatable, not resuscitatable'

'Every pirate wants to be an admiral'

There were a lot of powerful words and ideas that came out of this book, and a lot of important criticism of the current system of media distribution and copyrighting. He addresses the unsustainable nature of the media industry in light of the internet, and also how we don't necessarily need it to work because creators will always find a way, and fans will always look for a way to compensate and support their favourite creators to ensure their will be future content. He sites examples of free to view web comics that earn their creators a living through merchandising, or Patreon and GoFundMe projects.

It was a fascinating read, with a lot of important ideas. Listened to it on audio book and my only criticism was the annoying sound effects between sections, because they really got on my nerves very quickly.
Profile Image for Andrea Hickman Walker.
749 reviews30 followers
March 2, 2019
This has taken me a long time to get through for the simple reason that I had to keep putting it down. The book is well-written, and engaging, but the content is infuriating and rage-inducing. I believe in copyright laws, yes, but I also believe in the public domain, in the creative commons, and in piracy. Surveillance and punitive laws do not stop criminal activity. Making the legal routes easier and cheaper than the illegal ones is the only way to prevent piracy. Copying is easy, and will only get easier, so copying will continue to happen. Instead of trying to legislate copying, make there an easy way for people to pay the creators small amounts for copying, and your problem is (mostly) solved.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
1,375 reviews77 followers
April 8, 2020
Quick fire, quippy essay style chapters on topics about digital locks, digital ownership, regional restrictions, surveillance, and other related topics. Very interesting and informative for the average person who knows very little (aka me) about laws and policies regarding digital freedoms against individuals by publishers and corporations. The main thing I didn't care for — Doctorow's writing. The voice was pretentious and obnoxious. Trying very hard to sound clever. Worth reading as it's quick and quite plain with its explanations.
Profile Image for Răzvan Molea.
42 reviews36 followers
March 18, 2018
“Artists need to worry about fame before they worry about fortune.” Recognition is one of many necessary preconditions for artistic success: luck, talent, and an indefatigable drive to succeed that lasts through the years and years it takes to get noticed, build a following, or get onto the radar of an important promoter, gatekeeper, or investor are a few of the others. So, yeah, being famous won’t—in itself—make you rich. But if nobody knows about your work, nobody’s going to buy it.
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