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Is your art for the 21st century?


Author Cory Doctorow, asked for the millionth time “What’s the deal with giving away your stuff for free?” by Joel Turnipseed guestblogging at, covers the the usual economic and ethical grounds, and also comes up with something new and wonderful (emphasis added):

But then there is the artistic reason: we live in a century in which copying is only going to get easier. It’s the 21st century, there’s not going to be a year in which it’s harder to copy than this year; there’s not going to be a day in which it’s harder to copy than this day; from now on. Right? If copying gets harder, it’s because of a nuclear holocaust. There’s nothing else that’s going to make copying harder from now on. And so, if your business model and your aesthetic effect in your literature and your work is intended not to be copied, you’re fundamentally not making art for the 21st century. It might be quaint, it might be interesting, but it’s not particularly contemporary to produce art that demands these constraints from a bygone era. You might as well be writing 15-hour Ring Cycle knock-offs and hoping that they’ll be performed at the local opera. I mean, yes, there’s a tiny market for that, but it’s hardly what you’d call contemporary art.

Also check out Doctorow’s recent Commoner Letter penned as part of the CC fall fundraising campaign and of course his books, which you can indeed download and share for free under CC licenses.

Posted 05 November 2007