October 2, 2008 | By Hugh D'Andrade

Book Review: ©ontent by Cory Doctorow

A glowing review of Cory Doctorow's latest book on EFF's Deeplinks should come as no surprise. Not only is Cory is one of the loudest and most prominent promoters of EFF, tirelessly promoting the cause of digital freedom in his blog, his opinion pieces and even his novels, but Cory is also — full disclosure — a former employee, current Fellow and generous supporter of EFF.

That said, this is one fine collection of essays. ©ontent: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future collects Cory's thoughts on issues as diverse as the conflict between copyright and free speech, the evils of DRM, the importance of fanfic, and how EULA's threaten civilization. The book is more than just insightful, brilliant, and to the point — it's also funny and fun to read.

But don't take our word for it. Here are some choice bits from ©ontent:

On DRM agreements:

I've seen sausages made. I've seen laws made. Both pale in comparison to the process by which anti-copying technology agreements are made. (p27)

On free e-books:

I've been giving away my books ever since my first novel came out, and boy has it ever made me a bunch of money. (p71)

More on e-books:

If the Catholic church can survive the printing press, science fiction will certainly weather the advent of bookwarez. (p131)

On the music industry:

Every Christmas, we get articles about how this was the worst Christmas ever for CDs. You know what? CD sales are never going to improve. CDs have been rendered obsolete by Internet distribution — and the record industry has locked itself out of the only profitable, popular music distribution systems yet invented. (p50)

On sci-fi & fanfic:

I'd rather stake my future on a literature that people care about enough to steal than devote my life to a form that has no home in the dominant medium of the century. (p73)

On copyright:

The Securities and Exhange Commission doesn't impose rules on you when you loan a friend five bucks for lunch. Anti-gambling laws aren't triggered when you bet your kids an ice-cream cone that you'll bicycle home before them. Copyright shouldn't come between an end-user of a creative work and her property. (p87)

On Facebook:

Like other "social" apps (cough Evite cough), Facebook has all the social graces of a nose-picking, hyperactive six-year-old, standing at the threshold of your attention and chanting, "I know something, I know something, I know something, won't tell you what it is!" (p180)

On EULAs:

READ CAREFULLY: By reading this article, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compte, and acceptable use policies ("BOGUS AGREEMENTS") that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents, and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer. (p197)

©ontent — like all of Cory's books — can be purchased from Amazon or your local bookstore in paper form, or downloaded as free PDF from Cory's site.


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