TCLP 2014-12-13 Interview: Cory Doctorow, “Information Doesn’t Want to be Free”

Information Doesn't Want to be Free: Laws for the Internet Age book coverThis is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In this episode, I interview Cory Doctorow about his latest book, “Information Doesn’t Want to be Free: Laws for the Internet Age.” If you are interested in learning more about the topics we discuss and that book covers, you can also check out books by the scholars we mention: Lawrence Lessig, James Boyle and William Patry. I compared Cory’s book to “The Indie Band Survival Guide” the authors of which are friends of the show whom I have also interviewed.

The audiobook version of the book is already available. Check Cory’s site, the free download and electronic editions should be available soon.


You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

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TCLP 2012-10-16 Cory Doctorow: Pirate Cinema

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

There is no hacker word of the week this week.

The feature this week is an interview with Cory Doctorow, catching up with him while he’s on tour for his latest book, Pirate Cinema. In the course of the conversation, we mentioned the PWC study commissioned by Martha Lane Fox, the leak of AT&T’s notice and takedown plans, David Isen’s Freedom to Connect conference, the just passed anti-downloading law in Japan, Jamie King’s BitTorrent based TV distribution project VODO, Matt Mason’s research on piracy, Simon Bradshaw, Peter Laurie’s book on underground spaces in London, and the Humble eBook Bundle.


View the detailed show notes online. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

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TCLP 2011-12-11 Live Interview with Cory Doctorow about “Context”

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

There is no hacker word of the week this week.

The feature this week is the recording of the live interview I conducted with Cory Doctorow at the New America Foundation (where I now work.) We talked mostly about his new essay collection, “Context” but as usual the conversation ranged widely from there, especially when we opened up to audience questions.

My thanks to both Cory for his time and John Taylor Williams for getting me this audio.


View the detailed show notes online. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

First Major Update on Doctorow’s Self Publishing Experiment

I have been a fan and a supporter of Cory Doctorow’s “With a Little Help” since he first told me about it. (I was one of two podcasters with whom he interviewed when the book launched to help promote it.) Having discussed it further with him over the course of several interviews, I love that he views the project’s experimental nature with more of a West Coast mindset, that is one of failures being instructive rather than a reason to halt lines of inquiry altogether.

He’s just released his first major update since the project officially launched. I enjoy that he doesn’t hold back, not only sharing the upsides but also those very gaffes from which we learn so well.

Paperback sales have been rotten. In the first six weeks, I sold a scant 137 copies, as well as 12 MP3 CDs and five Ogg CDs. In all, I’ve earned a lackluster $490.03 in royalties from When I realized just how bad these sales were, I was gutted. So I did what every writer should do when he needs professional advice: I called my agent, Russ Galen.

Galen’s advice and insights are well worth reading and reinforce that the titular help comes from all corners of Doctorow’s world, not just his friends and fans, like myself, but his professional contacts in the realm of traditional publishing. The net-net is encouraging despite this potentially demoralizing lesson and Doctorow remains committed, in no small part because the nature of self publishing lets him continue tweaking the model. I can’t wait to see his next update, promised in a month, to see how he well he fares in tackling the challenges he lays out, especially improving exposure and wrestling with Lulu over paperback pricing.

With a Little Help: first post-publication progress report, BoingBoing

With a Little Help Launch

I’ve been saving my pennies for the deluxe edition of Cory Doctorow’s self published anthology, “With a Little Help“, since he first told me about it in one of my interviews with him last year. There have been a lot of experiments with self produced creative works, involving free and pay what you will models but his plan exceeds them all by quite a bit.

Cory didn’t include a name your own price option but did consider different spending capacities by offering a good variety of options. Like all of his other works, the electronic editions are free to download and share, so long as you do not alter or sell them. To his usual bevy of electronic text formats, he’s also added free audio in a variety of formats. You are also welcome to contribute by shifting to any formats you might like that are missing from what is available.

Participation is one of the ways this project stands out. Cory has always supported fan translations and re-formats of his ebooks. Since the main print edition is printed on demand, he can updated the text for any reason. In this case, he has promised to include credit to any and all who help spot and fix typos and other errors in the text. It’s an excellent idea to reward the efforts of those who help improve the work for everyone.

He also will be transparently sharing the financial details of the effort. At launch, he already has a net of just over thirty-five hundred dollars, mostly the remains of the commission fee for one of the original stories in the book minus his production costs to date. He has promised to update the POD version with appendices for each new set of financial data.

I have to say, all of that aside, the packaging on the various versions for sale is to a one gorgeous. The POD editions, priced at eighteen dollars US, can be had with one of four covers, painted by Frank Wu, Rick Lieder, Rudy Rucker or Pablo Defendini. The deluxe, hand bound hard cover has an original, embossed, color drawing by Randall Munroe of xkcd fame, the iconic image of Cory be-goggled and decked out in a red cape. There is also an SDHC card embedded in the cover containing all of the digital versions of the stories.

Cory is one of my favorite authors, I’ve read just about everything he’s written. He’s also tied with Randy Chertkow of Beatnik Turtle for most appearances on my podcast. If you are unfamiliar with his work, his short fiction is an excellent place to start and you definitely can’t go wrong with this anthology. He’s shared most of the stories on his podcast, all of them I’ve heard are wonderful.

I am also excited about this project because it is the most open experiment in what Mike Masnick of Techdirt refers to as Connect with Fans + Reason to Buy. Cory has turned what is usually a loss in the traditional publishing industry into a possible means for strengthening his readership as well as contributing directly to support his craft alongside his more traditional book deals with his publisher, Tor. The care that has gone into the non-free editions promises that the upgrade from any of the free electronic ones will be well spent. The fact that you can still sample his work without risk means there really is no reason not to and that if you enjoy it, you can help turn on new readers without friction.

What I am hoping happens is that the data he’s publishing feeds into further experiments by other artists of all stripes inspired by his efforts. He’s already shared many of his experiences, both successes and challenges, around this project. I think there are many learning moments to be had for anyone looking to pursue a more bottom up, peer oriented project like this, especially one with serious expectations of return on investment.

I wish Cory all the luck, as I patiently wait for my hard cover to wing over the pond to me, and look forward to an upcoming interview focused on “With a Little Help” that we’ve already scheduled for my podcast next week.

Be Part of the Help in Cory Doctorow’s “With a Little Help”

“With a Little Help” is the self published anthology with which Cory Doctorow is experimenting by enlisting the help of his friends in the production and promotion of the book. His call for help continues with a request for interested web designers to help update the design for the forthcoming book’s web site.

Since 2003, I’ve used the same template, with minor tweaks, for each of my book-sites; it was designed by the amazing Mena Trott for my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and great as it is, it’s not quite up to par for this.

Which is where you come in: I’m looking for a quick-and-handsome template that is identifiably of a piece with the rest of my sites, but accomodates four covers, the downloads, the audiobook, the limited hardcover, the special reports, the gallery of scanned ephemera, the two donation methods…

Cory is looking for designs, sketches, and ideas. If he uses yours, he’ll repay your help with one of the first twenty limited edition hard covers. You can send your suggestions to him via email.

TCLP 2010-06-30 Cory Doctorow at CopyNight DC

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, thanks to my friend Chooch for saving my bacon with the event audio I am sharing as this week’s feature. Also, with regards to the show’s 5th anniversary, I realize I pretty much said my peace on the subject last week. Just trying to keep that spirit of being receptive to surprise alive going forward.

I will save this week’s feedback, of which there is rather a lot, until next week.

There is no hacker word of the week this week.

The feature this week is a recording of the talk Cory Doctorow gave at this month’s CopyNight, here in DC.


There are no detailed show notes for this episode. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Thanks to Everyone who Attended CopyNight DC with Cory Doctorow

The CopyNight DC event with Cory Doctorow last night was an unqualified success. I want to once again thank our very generous co-hosts, New America and Public Knowledge for provided the space and video streaming and refreshments respectively.

It is hardly any surprise that the event was packed. I have it from James at New America that we received just over two hundred RSVPs for the event, just about as many as for an event New America hosted earlier in the same day with one of President Obama’s economic advisors.

Cory’s talk was engaging and thought provoking. New America has already made the archived video available, which I’ve embedded above. The audience questions were equally as fascinating as the talk and the general feedback I received afterward as folks were waiting to get books signed and at the happy hour was incredibly positive.

I want to thank Cory for giving us a big chunk of his time on a very busy trip. His thoughts certainly enrich the discussion around achieving a balanced copyright and on access to an open network more generally. I appreciate his help in drawing attention to the Open Technology Initiative at New America, to Public Knowledge and to CopyNight, both the one here in DC and the many other instances around the globe.

Schedule for June CopyNight DC with Cory Doctorow Confirmed

As promised, I got a confirmation from the folks at Tor about the meet and greet and informal key signing party to follow Cory’s talk for the June CopyNight DC at New America. He will be able to stick around for at least a couple of hours after the talk, to chat with folks at Mackey’s.

Cory has been using PKI as long as I can remember and it is a fixture in many of his works. If you want to participate with other users of PGP/GPG to extend the web of trust, bring several printed copies of your public key fingerprint and a couple of forms of ID with which we can verify you are who you claim.

Hope to see you there!

Cory Doctorow at June CopyNight DC

This month’s CopyNight DC will have a very special speaker–Cory Doctorow. This event, “How Copyright Threatens Democracy: A Conversation with Cory Doctorow” is being co-sponsored by New America Foundation and Public Knowledge.

Join Cory Doctorow, co-founder of the UK Open Rights Group, in discussing his dystopian vision of the growing conflict between free speech and the democratic principles of the Internet and the business aims of commercial media giants. Co-hosted by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative, Public Knowledge and Copynight DC, Doctorow combines his perspective as an author, activist, co-editor of Boing Boing to outline the threats to a free and open Internet, speech, creativity and fair use, and innovation from boundless copyright protections. Looking forward, Doctorow’s prediction is bleak:

This means war. It is time to stop treating the industry’s fight over copyright as a brush-war over creativity. The commercial media giants’ business models and ambitions are increasingly incompatible with a free and open Internet, and hence a free and open society.

New America Foundation is generously providing the venue and live video streaming and there will be light refreshments on offer thanks to Public Knowledge. The talk will be open to the public but please do visit the event page and RSVP. Copies of “Little Brother” and “For the Win” will be available for sale and signing by the author.

Schedule allowing, we will be adjourning after the talk to Mackey’s for a meet and greet and informal key signing party. If you are already using PGP/GPG or were inspired to start using a key pair after reading “Little Brother”, join us in extending the web of trust. Bring your key info (Key ID, Key Type, Hex Fingerprint and Key Size info) and a couple of forms of identification.

I will post a confirmation on the after talk activities once I have one, hopefully early this coming week.