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Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free

Laws for the Internet Age

By Cory Doctorow
10-minute read
Audio available
Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free (2014) is a guide to copyright laws, censorship and the needs of the modern interconnected world. These blinks explain what ownership means in the digital age and explain why we need to reform our copyright system.

  • Fighters for a free and open internet
  • People interested in the ins and outs of copyright law

Cory Doctorow is a blogger, technology activist and science-fiction novelist. He formerly served as director of the European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

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Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free

Laws for the Internet Age

By Cory Doctorow
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age by Cory Doctorow
Synopsis

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free (2014) is a guide to copyright laws, censorship and the needs of the modern interconnected world. These blinks explain what ownership means in the digital age and explain why we need to reform our copyright system.

Key idea 1 of 6

Despite the internet, people still want to pay for quality content.

People often say that the rise of the internet precipitated the downfall of record labels and copyright law. Huge record labels no longer have much say in who emerges as the next big musical star. Stars now rise and fall online, and the internet has its own criteria. It’s in this environment that no-name indie bands like the Arctic Monkeys can achieve monumental success.

But how does this work?

Well, the internet has made fundamental changes to how consumers access creative content. If you want to listen to a song or look at a painting, for instance, you no longer need to pay for an album or a museum ticket; you just need to go online. As a result, people are growing accustomed to free access. We stream movies; we listen to music on YouTube; we search for images.

But, in such an environment, artists must be unable to earn money from their content, right?

 

Actually, not really. If given the opportunity, people still want to pay for quality content. In fact, since the advent of art, there have always been people willing to pay for it. For instance, long ago, patrons greatly influenced the creative process of artists like Michelangelo. More recently, this power was wielded by major labels like EMI, who paid bands like The Beatles for their music. And today, thanks to the internet, lovers of art can directly pay those making it.

So, the internet is actually advantageous for artists.

When people are given free creative content, like music on YouTube, a lot of them will check it out, appreciate it and move on without spending a dime. But there will always be a few who want to support and appreciate the artist by paying, especially if paying the artist is easy. If all it takes is typing a song name into the iTunes Store, some consumers will always pay their fair share instead of illegally downloading a lower-quality file.

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