Meet the face of your imminent demise, publishing. No, it’s not Drew Carey on Slim Fast, it’s Canadian sci-fi writer and uber-blogger Cory Doctorow, muthatruckahs. And he’s here to bust an affable, common sense cap in your ass. That or he’s the anti-Christ. Are we supposed to be mad at him because he makes money? Because his analogies are sensationally brutal? Because he cornered the black plastics market with those glasses? Can anyone tell me what this ridiculous article is actually saying?
As an example of that, Doctorow cites Amazon.com’s decision to delete – unilaterally and by remote control – thousands of electronic copies of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four it had previously sold to users of its Kindle e-readers.
“They gave everybody back their copies and promised they would never do it again – unless they had a court order,” Doctorow said. “I’ve worked as a bookseller, and no bookseller has ever had to make a promise at the cash register: ‘Here’s your books. I promise I won’t come to your house and take them away again – unless I have a court order.’”
Traditional copyright law is like a tank mine, according to Doctorow, a fellow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights watchdog. It exists to regulate the activities of large commercial interests. “A civilian can’t set it off by stepping on it.” But new corporate models born of digital technology are changing that, so that penalties for comparatively petty violations – like sharing a book – are targeting individual readers. “They’re redesigning tank mines to blow the legs off children.”