Compensation, Access, and Theft: Copyright in the 21st Century: a few comments

I felt like it would be exploiting the bully pulpit of my note taking for the Compensation, Access, and Theft panel at the Anarchist Bookfair to include my editorial comments within the primary written document of the event, but I couldn't resist posting them somewhere!

Editorial comment, re: Amy Goodman question
I was disappointed that this question (which was mine) didn't get more of a response. Can you imagine what publishing her book might have done for a press like South End, for example? With her Democracy Now! platform, she hardly needs the additional publicity that a large press (which is probably scared to promote her political content anyway) can provide. I truly don't believe she chose Disney for the money.

Editorial comment, re: Vikki saying "Compensation isn't always monetary" might have been the most radical statement from this panel.
I wish we'd explored it more. I guess what she was getting at, aside from the fact that being cooked a meal, having someone provide a place for her to work, or even for babysitting while she did something other than write her book would be most welcome, is that the work is its own reward. I also think that if Vikki, an underemployed single mother of color, weren't on the panel, people would have questioned if this "self-exploitation" is less available or appropriate for people of different races and classes. Vikki has chosen to live her life a certain way, based on ideals. Perhaps that isn't self-sacrifice. Perhaps she isn't capable of betraying her ideals and living any other way.

Editorial comment, re: format
This question and the one above generated a conversation about print vs. electronic publishing and reading that I found a little distracting and even annoying in the context of the anarchist bookfair. As part of it there was the usual claim that paper books consume resources and somehow electronic don't. I thought about it later and wish we'd discussed labor practices in print vs. electronic production. I can't imagine that there's such a thing as a fair trade eBook, computer, or eBook reader. In print publishing outsourcing might go to Canada, but not to China. And how renewable are computer parts' raw materials? eBooks put some people out of work, but keep those exploited in sweatshops employed.

sub-comment about format

I actually didn't mean to ask that question about the "essence of the reading experience" in such a way that it would elicit the traditional discourse about print vs. electronic. What I had in my mind was a conversation I heard recently about how expertise in fonts and layout and color and design are what add to a publisher's cost -- and to what extent will those elements be brought with us into a more predominantly ebook market? (One of the people in that conversation was talking about a beautiful multi-page PDF publication she'd bought, and how every time she opens it on her reader she's wowed by how exquisite it looks.) So the question was both about how the business of radical publishers will or won't change in that regard, and also about whether we as radicals value aesthetically pleasing text more than the average reader (and would continue to do so as books go more and more digitized). Or something like that.


A woman who attended the panel but left early pressed a note into my hand, thanking us for the event and saying that the best people she's read on the subject of "the reading experience" are Ted Striphas and Nicholas Carr.

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