NYLA Hosts Cory Doctorow
The New York Library Association, along with the library at the New York Academy of Medicine, hosted a lecture by Cory Doctorow at the academy on June 6, in New York City. Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist, blogger and the co-editor of Boing Boing.
At the event that drew an audience of 75 librarians and fans, he focused on his book Information Doesn’t Want to be Free: Laws For the Internet Age (McSweeney’s, 2014). He summarized his talk with three points:
• Any time someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you and won’t give you the key, that lock isn’t there for your benefit.
If the Digital Rights Management Law was really there to prevent piracy of your work, the company wouldn’t object to you taking the DRM off the work when you felt it best.
• Being famous won’t make you rich, but no one will give you money unless they’ve heard of you.
Although there’s no one reliable way to turn fame into wealth, there is no way at all to turn obscurity into even modest sums.
• Information doesn’t want to be free.
There are two small policy interventions that would make a huge difference to the balance of commercial power in the arts, while safeguarding human rights and civil liberties.
1. Reform DRM Law.
It should never be a crime to:
*Report vulnerability in a DRM
*Remove DRM to accomplish a lawful purpose
With this simple reform, DRM would no longer turn our devices into long-lived reservoirs of pathogens (because bugs could be reported as soon as they were discovered), and would no longer give the whip-hand over publishing to tech companies (because removing DRM to do something legal, like moving a book between two different readers, would be likewise legal).
2. Reform Intermediary Liability.
*The DMCA ‘‘safe harbor’’ should require submission of evidence that the identified works are indeed infringing.
* If you file a DMCA takedown notice that materially misrepresents the facts as you know them or should have known them, you should be liable to stiff, exemplary statutory damages, with both the intermediary and the creator of the censored work having a cause of action against you, and with the courts having the power to award costs to the victims’ lawyers.