My ETCON talk, in the Public Domain

I have just given a talk at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Confernece called Ebooks: Neither E, Nor Books, which is something of an anomaly for me in three ways:

  1. I wrote out this talk, word for word, in advance of the presentation
  2. I am releasing that written text as a free, public domain file, right now, moments before I get off the stage

So here’s the text of that talk, dedicated to the Public Domain, for you to do with what you will.

This isn’t to say that copyright is bad, but that there’s such a thing as good copyright and bad copyright, and that sometimes, too much good copyright is a bad thing. It’s like chilis in soup: a little goes a long way, and too much spoils the broth.

From the Luther Bible to the first phonorecords, from radio to the pulps, from cable to MP3, the world has shown that its first preference for new media is its “democratic-ness” — the ease with which it can reproduced.

(And please, before we get any farther, forget all that business about how the Internet’s copying model is more disruptive than the technologies that proceeded it. For Christ’s sake, the Vaudeville performers who sued Marconi for inventing the radio had to go from a regime where they had *one hundred percent* control over who could get into the theater and hear them perform to a regime where they had *zero* percent control over who could build or acquire a radio and tune into a recording of them performing. For that matter, look at the difference between a monkish Bible and a Luther Bible — next to that phase-change, Napster is peanuts)

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