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James Boyle's New Book Under CC License 80

Posted by kdawson
from the far-from-the-common dept.
An anonymous reader writes "James Boyle has released his new book, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (Yale University Press) under a Creative Commons License. It can be downloaded free or read online. There are chapters on Thomas Jefferson's views of IP, musical borrowing and the birth of soul, free software, and synthetic biology. Lessig is impressed. Doctorow says he is a law prof who writes like a comedian (is this a good thing?), and credits Boyle's first book for getting him involved in online rights."
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James Boyle's New Book Under CC License

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  • Thomas Jefferson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrugCheese (266151) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @11:37PM (#25939901)

    Philosophically Jefferson opposed slavery too ... but his slaves would tell you a different story.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ronocdh (906309)
      I'm not one to shun a history lesson, but I think the important thing here is that acknowledgment that the work of brilliant people should be free to all.

      Keep charging for Hollywood crap, I don't care. But if you're truly bright, you'll want the world to know what you think.

      It would also behoove Hollywood et al. to adopt this model, as it substantially augments the agent's influence in the given domain, but hey, they'll learn that the hard way, I guess.
      • by fugue (4373)

        I'm not one to shun a history lesson, but I think the important thing here is that acknowledgment that the work of brilliant people should be free to all.

        Here's an amusing thought: in a purely anarchist or capitalist "society" (too strong a word, really), each person's brain belongs to only that person (assuming autodidacts everywhere). In a somewhat socialist society (such as here in the USA where society chips in to protect and educate people), your brilliance is partially a product of the freedom and education that society has given you--for example if you went to public school, watched PBS, got a government scholarship, spent time thinking rather than

      • by Grashnak (1003791)

        I'm not one to shun a history lesson, but I think the important thing here is that acknowledgment that the work of brilliant people should be free to all.

        Really? How do you propose that brilliant people feed themselves?

        • by Down8 (223459)

          By working like the rest.

          If they are truly brilliant, they will find time to show their brilliance. Einstein worked in the patent office while he did some of his most ground-breaking work.

          -bZj

    • by ITEric (1392795)

      Didn't he at least free them in his will? At least he made some kind of statement about it with his actions. I'd wager he was a better owner than many of his peers.

    • Philosophically Al Gore opposed climate change... but his electricity bill would tell you a different story.

      But what the hell, he's done more to fight climate change than I ever have. I've heard Jefferson did quite a good job over slavery too.

    • May be that's why James Boyle brings it [yupnet.org] up before he even brings up Jefferson's arguments.

      Admittedly, the massive conflicts between Jefferson's announced principles and his actions on the issue of slavery have led some, though not me, to doubt that there is any sincerity or moral instruction to be found in his words. But even those who find him a sham can hardly fail to see the continual and obvious joy he felt about knowledge and its spread.

    • by jvkjvk (102057)

      Did Thomas Jefferson free all his slaves upon making that statement? No? Well, James Boyle freed his work by licensing it under the creative commons. Perfect.

      So, what was your point again?

    • And that is why we don't live the way Jefferson ran his plantation, but rather more like the way he ran his philosophy.

      It's not like Jefferson was magic or something. He was just a brilliant person in a time of fundamental crisis, who came up with a lot of ways out of that crisis. A fundamental crisis that awaits whenever we ignore or abuse his contributions. One of which contributions was that ideas and laws, not the people who make them, are the standards according to which we should live our lives.

  • Comedy of law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by subreality (157447) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @11:38PM (#25939905)

    a law prof who writes like a comedian (is this a good thing?)

    I think so. The world of law is rich with ironies and absurdities. Unfortunately the people on the giving end are too invested in the system to see it, and the people on the receiving end are usually having a bad time, so the humor is rarely appreciated.

    • Re:Comedy of law (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:48AM (#25940241)

      I don't have the book on hand, but Bill Bryson put it well towards the start of "A Short History of Nearly Everything" where he blames the dry and boring nature of science textbooks and the authors need to put questions at the end of every chapter for squashing his interest in science. He then goes on to praise scientific authors who can make their work informative and entertaining.

      I agree wholeheartedly. Make an otherwise dry subject funny and interesting and it becomes more memorable and therefore easier to learn.

      To demonstrate my point, I have deliberately made this post dry and dull. You will notice that within a week you will have forgotten it entirely.

      • Re:Comedy of law (Score:5, Interesting)

        by argiedot (1035754) on Monday December 01, 2008 @03:26AM (#25940969) Homepage
        Resnick, Halliday and Walker (Fundamentals of Physics) did a great job with this. I loved how each chapter would start with a story and a question formed from that. For example, Electromagnetics, I think, started with telling how Jimi Hendrix fiddled with his guitar pickups to change the kind of sound he got.

        Pretty much one of the best Physics textbooks I had when in high school.
        • Re:Comedy of law (Score:4, Interesting)

          by digitig (1056110) on Monday December 01, 2008 @07:09AM (#25942201)
          Richard Feynman's Lectures on Physics are good in that regard, too. For example, he starts his lecture on planetary motion by describing the medieval myth that planets were pushed around by invisible angels. He finishes by pointing out that because we don't really understand what gravity is, all we've really done is turn the invisible angel through 90 degrees and say how hard it pushes.
      • Oops, I forgot already!

      • by Golddess (1361003)
        That doesn't really prove that I would have remembered it if it hadn't been dry and dull. To demonstrate that.. well, ideally I would put your post to song and dance, but instead I will simply reference Schoolhouse Rock [wikipedia.org].
    • Of course comedy in law is a good thing! Ask Phoenix Wright!

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Of course comedy in law is a good thing! Ask Phoenix Wright!

        Objection!

        If you want to bring in those sorts of statements, I'm afraid you'll need some COMPELLING EVIDENCE!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      I think so. The world of law is rich with ironies and absurdities. Unfortunately the people on the giving end are too invested in the system to see it, and the people on the receiving end are usually having a bad time, so the humor is rarely appreciated.

      Yes... a law prof writing like a comedian is great.

      Universities need to find more law profs like that, and make an intro to law by such a prof mandatory for all majors, even more important than English 101.

    • There is a lot of humor in law, especially the parts that are interwoven with human experioence. Law like science is an effort to explain and order the world, though without any promise of ultimate truth. The best teachers in law school used a lot of humor, at least in first year, as a way of sustaining attention and perhaps befriending the audience (it's soft Socratic, not like The Paper Chase any more).

      Humor in the hands of the brilliant is the perception of and pointing out the truth of a situation in

  • Prses? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by solafide (845228)
    Yale University Prses? are all /.'s editors lacking in both mechanical spellchecking and literacy simultaneously?
  • by prayag (1252246)

    I've never heard of this guy. Never would have bothered to buy his book. But now that I read it online (for free). If it is engrossing enough, I would like to buy a hard copy, or anything tangible if its available in my country.

    I would also tell my friends about this book and they would do the same, at least some of them would. PROFIT !!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Reichiru (1420795)
      In the case of books I wouldn't be surprised to see it work like that since there is a notable difference between electronic text and reading out of a book; but for a medium where the CC version and the paid version are essentially the same (ex: music... at least in the case of mp3) I don't see it working as idealistically as that. But I guess that is why you don't see it much in those types of media.
      • In the case of books I wouldn't be surprised to see it work like that since there is a notable difference between electronic text and reading out of a book; but for a medium where the CC version and the paid version are essentially the same (ex: music... at least in the case of mp3) I don't see it working as idealistically as that.

        I guess you also never go to live concerts, never listen to the radio, never go to movie theaters (in the case of mpgs), and never buy commemorative copies of DVDs and/or concer

      • Actually, they can keep their music recording, it would be significant progress if just the lyrics and the musical sheet music were released under CC. May be, that's part of the problem, CC advocates have been focusing too much on the performance part of music. They(we)'re trying to replicate the current idiotic system, where the performer is king/God, when in fact we should be focusing on making the initial materials freely exchangeable to make the average Joe able to copy, remix, rewrite, remake, republis

    • A couple of years back I downloaded a novel published under Creative Commons from a respected writer (excellent book, BTW.) The site included a PayPal "tip jar", so I put in five bucks. The writer wrote me soon afterward and kindly offered to send me a paperback copy of the book, as, after a few thousand downloads, I was the very first person to use the tip jar.

      Not to knock Creative Commons, but our society may still need some rewiring to make it profitable profitable.
  • Good thing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SuperBanana (662181)

    Doctorow says he is a law prof who writes like a comedian(Is that a good thing?)

    No, it's a meaningless thing given that Doctorow has little to no education, and is an author who has never been of sufficient caliber to get the attention of a publisher (and no, I do not count a company that publishes Halo fanfiction "books" to be a publisher.)

    He's also a hypocritical little shit [arstechnica.com]; we never did see him press charges against the SFWA for filing illegal DMCA notices, now did we? Funny how he didn't get all

    • We shouldn't celebrate mediocrity just because it offers some sound bites for our use, but all too often in the Slashdot community we either do that, or elevate people like Lessig who, in fact, pursue goals different from what we'd like to see. Would that there were more critical voices of this Slashdot establishment figures.
    • Re:Good thing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:43AM (#25940203)

      Aren't we angry. Not a BoingBoing reader or terribly familiar with Doctorow myself but your vitriol seems mostly inspired by some personal vendetta than anything constructive.

      Doctorow's education (or lack thereof) aside, he's free to make whatever point he wants. It's up to you to prove his lack of education in any way inhibits his ability to contribute to society. There have been many people who were never formally educated who have contributed greatly.

      I do not count a company that publishes Halo fanfiction "books" to be a publisher.

      What -you- consider a publisher is irrelevant. He started his own company and got ISBNs for his books and apparently they're readily available. He's gone and done more than most loud-mouthed slashbots who whine about "teh evil corporations" and do nothing about it.

      He's also a hypocritical little shit

      Hypocracy would only be the appropriate label if he decried the blind spamming of DMCA takedown notices... then went and did it himself and continued to decry the takedowns sent by others. Also, I don't think -he- can press charges, but I'm not up on how federal law works in that respect. If he can, then at worst I would chalk it up to apathy, before that, a lack of funds.

      What drugs did she put in their water?

      I don't know, but someone must've pissed in your coffee. You cite the fact that they mention she plays games and that's somehow a reason to deny her USC's conferrance of the title of "fellow"? Maybe you should go and talk to them, find out why they decided to grant them the titles. You may not like it, but you'd at least disagree while being informed instead of ranting based on the fact that they mentioned two GAMES. Oh no, GAMES.

    • He's also a hypocritical little shit; we never did see him press charges against the SFWA for filing illegal DMCA notices, now did we? Funny how he didn't get all up in their grill, but he's happy to incite riots among his BoingBoing readers when it doesn't involve him?

      It is because they were not "illegal DMCA notices" they were simple false. The DMCA only requires that the filer "believe" that the DMCA notice is justified, and showing that the SFWA's lawyers did not "believe" their DMCA notices were legit is essentially impossible. That's why no one, absolutely no one, has been taken to court for filing false DMCA notices. The law is firmly stacked in the favor of those issuing the notices, regardless of whether the filings are valid or not.

    • by STrinity (723872)

      (and no, I do not count a company that publishes Halo fanfiction "books" to be a publisher.)

      You mean Tor, the publishing company that puts out Vernor Vinge, Charlie Stross, Ken MacLeod, Robert Charles Wilson, John Scalzi, the Wheel of Time, and Malazan in addition to Doctorow's latest book?

      There are many reasons to think Doctorow is an intellectual lightweight, wannabe Jacobin, and all-around poseur, but this ain't it.

    • He's also a hypocritical little shit; we never did see him press charges against the SFWA for filing illegal DMCA notices, now did we?

      He never [boingboing.net] did say he was going to press charges.

      Funny how he didn't get all up in their grill, but he's happy to incite riots among his BoingBoing readers when it doesn't involve him?

      Where did he incite a riot? Besides, if you read the comments associated with that same story [boingboing.net], you'll notice that those same readers pointed out -- that the take down request wasn't even a real [craphound.com]

    • I don't know what formal credentials Doctorow has. When he held a seminar with graduate students at my university he was anything but uneducated. Reading his popular arguments online you wouldn't know he can back them up with philosophy and theory. He can.

      I have some ability to judge this. I just completed an MA in Communication, with a focus on the commons of ideas (and copyright). But it's not the letters in front of your name that make you educated: It's the reading and thinking, the talking and wr

  • Can't he get a Quantum of Solace? After all, he's Boyle. James Boyle.
  • once it is on the internet it is difficult to have artistic control, however the producer has the rights to be credited for its creation. The one that is not responsible for the creation of the product that is put up on the internet is the thief if it is put up there without the creator's permission.

    Taking an idea from someone else and giving it away is thievery, but once an idea has been sold it is no longer under the control if its author.

    All of academia and our modern society is based on both the
  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Monday December 01, 2008 @12:33AM (#25940157)

    Doctorow says he is a law prof who writes like a comedian (is this a good thing?)

    Yes. Comedians are more thoughtful than is often apparent. They are logical and intelligent and perceptive. You can't be dumb and (deliberately) funny. It actually takes intelligence and a great deal of work to be as (deliberately) funny as Dan Quayle [wikipedia.org] for example. Comedians often derive their humour from pointing out the incongruities that most other people overlook. If all of us could be comedians then the world would be a far more intelligent (and funnier) place to live.

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      You can't be dumb and (deliberately) funny.

      A certain drooling moron who repeatedly shouts "GIT-R-DONE!" would seem to offer evidence against your assertion.

      • by cduffy (652)

        He's a smart guy, he just plays a drooling idiot on TV.

        (No, seriously).

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday December 01, 2008 @01:37AM (#25940475) Homepage Journal

    The idealism of copyright is that people want stuff that is non-rivalrous (you can copy it, I can copy it, so apparently no-one will ever pay for more than one copy). To encourage "artists" to create the stuff that people want, you give them exclusive rights to make copies, and magically the non-rivalrous good becomes a rivalrous good and now the market system works and the people get what they want.

    The thing is, people don't know what they want. If we're talking about the market for potatoes, sure, we all know a good potato from a bad one, but we're not. We're talking about "artistic" goods. If the people knew what they wanted, they'd just make it themselves. So how do they decide what is "art" and what is not? Why, marketing of course. The "artists" just pump out crap and the people consume.

    Compare this to the old patronage system. You go to an artist, you say "I want X" and when they make Y you say, "no, I want X" and you keep saying it until you get X. If the artist can't give you X, you go find an artist who can. That is a market.

    • by Panseh (1072370)

      If only there was some way for people to preview art before they purchase, like test-driving a car.

      Also, what's stopping today's nobility from hiring an artist to personally satisfy his taste in art? The market for art today is live and well.

    • So how do they decide what is "art" and what is not? Why, marketing of course. The "artists" just pump out crap and the people consume.

      Call it what you will, but music is closely interlinked to memory. A song (or a similar tune) needs to be primed into memory before it becomes catchy.

      That is why radio stations get paid to play the same songs over and over again, over our public airways. If you ask me, that is not a problem of capitalism. That is a problem of government intervention and centralized planning

    • Copyright, whatever it's merits, has spit to do with whether capitalism works or not.

      Personally, I think the current copyright structure is ludicrous and -- like alcohol prohibition -- encourages disrespect for the law and the rights of others.

      It's entirely reasonable that artists (people who consciously shape material) be given the sole right to benefit from their efforts for a reasonable length of time. The old 28 years with a single renewal was a reasonable length of time. Half of that would be rea
  • Specifically, the license is the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Noncommercial mean it is not entirely free, but it is still one of the more free cc licenses. Just saying that something is cc-licenses means almost nothing, there are cc licenses that give very little freedom.
    • by zotz (3951)

      "but it is still one of the more free cc licenses."

      Not quite, BY and BY-SA are the "Free" ones, the NC and ND ones certainly aren't close to those two.

      all the best,

      drew

  • An unexpected development! A Creative Commons -licensed book about copyright and licensing! I would have never expected them to- ... okay, I expected them to do this.

    Just a small suggestion to people: Creative Commons was founded in 2001, and as such, there's been just a little bit of discussion about copyright and licensing (and consequently why CC rocks) since then. Can we finally move away from meta-stuff and start to celebrate the real-world use of Creative Commons licenses? Please???

    I'd really love it

    • by size8 (1067704)
      Go on then wolfy.
    • by zotz (3951)

      "I'd really love it if Slashdot would post more about Creative Commons -licensed (and other free-culture) stuff that interests geeks, but I'd also love it if we would step away from discussion about copyrights and licensing in itself and touting CC as the main selling point. Can we get away from the mechanism and move on to the substance?"

      Well, while people still speak of a cc license and don't name it and when you speak of "(and other free-culture) stuff" when the licnese on this book is not a Free one, we

  • The way this is set up, you can either download the file for free, or buy the book (hardcover). I don't want a book, I want a file -- but I also want to financially support the author and his publisher.

    How about a "download with donation" option, with a 50/50 split to the author and the publisher? (For those who might object to giving the publisher anything, just ask any author how much work goes into getting a book ready for publication. Splitting the donation is plenty fair, I can assure you.)

    • by size8 (1067704)
      If you *want* to pay for the file, why don't you just go ahead and pay for it? Is it too difficult for you to pay if there isn't a little button for you to click? Diddums.
  • I don't have time to read much more than that - my own work and the grad student shuffle have demands on my time I can't ignore - but I do have some comments on the first chapter of the book.

    First of all, having tried to read Lessig's Free Culture at least twice, and having been stopped by some massive and often bizarre leaps of logic, I was very happy to see no such thing so far in this book. Boyle manages to make his argument without any strange leaps of logic, and he backs up what he says. I think he d

  • PDF is great an all but he should really put it into a variety of eBook formats... even just a plain text file would be better than a PDF... though I suppose you'd lose the "typesetting" and "formatting" of the printed material.

    And no I don't think an HTML version would be any better than PDF. Possibly for google searches, otherwise no.

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