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A galactic-scale Pac-Man is eating a row of 'big blue marble' Earths. The Pac-Man has a copyright circle-c in his center. The starry sky behind the scene is intermingled with a 'code rain' effect from the credits of the Wachowskis' 'Matrix' movies.

This week on my podcast, I read my final Medium column
The internet’s original sin
, about the failure of trying to stretch copyright to cover every problem on the internet.


Copyright is a regulation. It regulates the supply-chain of the entertainment industry. Copyright matters a lot to me, because I’m in the industry.

But unless you’re in the industry, it shouldn’t matter to you.

It’s fine to require a grasp of copyright among people who write, publish and distribute novels — but it’s bananas to require people who read novels to understand copyright.

And yet, here we are.

The test for whether copyright applies to you — for whether you are part of the entertainment industry’s supply chain — is whether you are making or dealing in copies of creative works. This test was once a very good one.

Back when every book had a printing press in its history, every record a record-pressing plant, every film a film-lab, “making or handling copies of creative works” was a pretty good test to determine whether someone was part of the entertainment industry. Even if it turned out they weren’t, the kind of person who has a record-pressing plant can afford to consult an expert to make sure they’re on the right side of the law.

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My daughter Poesy and me, standing with our Christmas Tree in our living room.

12 years ago, my four-year-old daughter’s nursery school let us know they’d be shutting down for Christmas a day before my wife’s office closed down, so I took the kid into my office in London to do some coloring, play with toys, and, eventually, record a podcast. It was hilarious.

In the years since, we’ve done this nine more times (we missed one year, after my podcasting mic got broken during our move to Los Angeles). Now the kid is fifteen (!), learning to drive (!!), and I still managed to get her on the mic for a session to discuss her hobbies, TV shows, online habits, and musical favorites, and once again, we sang a seasonal song!

Here are the previous year’s installments: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.

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/ / News, The Lost Cause

Today is the day that my new novel, The Lost Cause, goes on sale, and I’m hitting the road with it! I hope you can make it out – tell your friends!

Los Angeles: I’ll be at the Studio City branch of the LA Public Library tonight, Monday, November 13 at 1830hPT; there’ll be a reading, a talk, a surprise guest (!!) and a signing, with books on sale. Tell your friends! Come on down!

https://www.lapl.org/whats-on/events/author-talk-cory-doctorow

Stratford, Ontario: I’m onstage on November 16 at 19hET with Vass Bednar at the University of Waterloo Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business. I’ll also be doing a talk for middle-schoolers at the Stratford Public Library on November 16 from 1330hET-1430hET.

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/cbc-ideas-visionaries-in-conversation-tickets-729692809837

https://www.provocation.ca/upcoming-2023-events-stratford

Concord, NH: I’ll be at Gibson’s Bookstore on Saturday, November 18th at 13hET.

https://www.gibsonsbookstore.com/event/doctorow-lost-cause

Simsbury, CT: I’m at the Simsbury Public Library on November 20 at 19h.

https://simsbury.librarycalendar.com/event/author-visit-cory-doctorow-29257

Toronto, ON: I’m at the Metro Reference Library on November 22, at 19hET, hosted by Vass Bednar.

https://web.archive.org/web/20230907160105/https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMEVT495758&R=EVT495758

Toronto, ON: I’m hosting Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower, on November 27 at 19hET, at the Metro Reference Library.

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/who-is-watching-big-tech-tickets-707927880347

New York City: I’m at the Strand Bookstore on November 29 at 19hET.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cory-doctorow-the-lost-cause-tickets-734958008187

Chapel Hill, NC: I’m at Flyleaf Books on December 5, live with Sarah Taber, at 18hET.

https://www.flyleafbooks.com/doctorow-2023

If you don’t see your city on this list, don’t panic! I’ve got another tour coming in a couple of months, when The Bezzle, sequel to Red Team Blues, comes out in February:

https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250865878/thebezzle

/ / Articles, News, Podcast, The Lost Cause

Will Staehle's cover for 'The Canadian Miracle.'

This week on my podcast, I read the second and final part of my short story, “The Canadian Miracle,” a story set in the world of my forthcoming pre-apocalyptic Green New Deal novel, The Lost Cause, which comes out on November 14.

Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. -Fred Rogers, 1986

It’s a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud. -Bing Crosby, 1927.

I arrived in Oxford with the first wave of Blue Helmets, choppered in along with our gear, touching down on a hospital roof, both so that our doctors and nurses could get straight to work, and also because it was one of the few buildings left with a helipad and backup generators and its own water filtration.

Humping my bag down the stairs to the waterlogged ground levels was a nightmare, even by Calgary standards. People lay on the stairs, sick and injured, and navigating them without stepping on them was like an endless nightmare of near-falls and weak moans from people too weak to curse me. I met a nurse halfway down and she took my bag from me and set it down on the landing and gave me a warm hug. “Welcome,” she said, and looked deep into my eyes. We were both young and both women but she was Black and American and I was white and Canadian. I came from a country where, for the first time in a hundred years, there was a generation that wasn’t terrified of the future. She came from a country where everybody knew they had no future.

I hugged her back and she told me my lips were cracked and ordered me to drink water and watched me do it. “This lady’s with the Canadians. They came to help,” she said to her patients on the stairs. Some of them smiled and murmured at me. Others just stared at the back of their eyelids, reliving their traumas or tracing the contours of their pain.

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/ / Articles, News, Podcast, The Lost Cause

Will Staehle's cover for 'The Canadian Miracle.'

This week on my podcast, I read part one of my short story, “The Canadian Miracle,” a story set in the world of my forthcoming pre-apocalyptic Green New Deal novel, The Lost Cause, which comes out on November 14.

Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. -Fred Rogers, 1986

It’s a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud. -Bing Crosby, 1927.

I arrived in Oxford with the first wave of Blue Helmets, choppered in along with our gear, touching down on a hospital roof, both so that our doctors and nurses could get straight to work, and also because it was one of the few buildings left with a helipad and backup generators and its own water filtration.

Humping my bag down the stairs to the waterlogged ground levels was a nightmare, even by Calgary standards. People lay on the stairs, sick and injured, and navigating them without stepping on them was like an endless nightmare of near-falls and weak moans from people too weak to curse me. I met a nurse halfway down and she took my bag from me and set it down on the landing and gave me a warm hug. “Welcome,” she said, and looked deep into my eyes. We were both young and both women but she was Black and American and I was white and Canadian. I came from a country where, for the first time in a hundred years, there was a generation that wasn’t terrified of the future. She came from a country where everybody knew they had no future.

I hugged her back and she told me my lips were cracked and ordered me to drink water and watched me do it. “This lady’s with the Canadians. They came to help,” she said to her patients on the stairs. Some of them smiled and murmured at me. Others just stared at the back of their eyelids, reliving their traumas or tracing the contours of their pain.

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/ / Articles, News, Podcast

A clip from a Jenga ad showing a dad knocking over the Jenga tower.

This week on my podcast, I read a recent Medium column, “Microincentives and Enshittification” (open access link), about how Google went from being a company whose products were eerily good and whose corporate might was more often on the side of right than wrong, to being a company whose products are locked in a terminal enshittification spiral and whose lobbying might is firmly on the wrong side of history.


Let’s start with how hard it is to not use Google. Google spends fifty billion dollars per year on deals to be the default search engine for Apple, Samsung, Firefox and elsewhere. Google spends a whole-ass Twitter, every single year, just to make sure you never accidentally try another search engine.

Small wonder there are so few search alternatives — and small wonder that the most promising ones are suffocated for lack of market oxygen.

Google Search is as big as it could possibly be. The sub-ten-percent of the search market that Google doesn’t own isn’t ever going to voluntarily come into the Google fold. Those brave iconoclasts are intimately familiar with Google Search and have had to override one or more defaults in order to get shut of it. They aren’t customers-in-waiting who just need a little more persuading.

That means that Google Search can’t grow by adding new customers. It can only grow by squeezing its existing customers harder.

For Google Search to increase its profits, it must shift value from web publishers, advertisers and/or users to itself.

The only way for Google Search to grow is to make itself worse.

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A mockup of the hardcover for the Tor books edition of The Lost Cause.

This week on my podcast, I present the prologue and first chapter of The Lost Cause, my forthcoming solarpunk novel of Green New Deal world threatened by seagoing anarcho-capitalist billionaire wreckers and their white nationalist militia shock-troops. The book comes out on November 14 from Tor/Macmillan (US/Canada) and Head of Zeus/Bloomsbury (UK/Australia/NZ/SA, etc). As with all my books, I’ve had to produce my own audio edition, because Amazon refuses to carry my work in audio form. You can pre-order the DRM-free audio and ebook and the hardcover through my Kickstarter.

If you like my work and have ever wanted to say thank you, this is the best way to do so. These kickstarters don’t just pay my bills, they also provide the financial cushion that lets me produce all the free work I’ve done for decades, including this podcast. What’s more, they help me show other authors and the publishing world that when writers have their readers’ backs, readers will return the favor.

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A paint scraper on a window-sill. The blade of the scraper has been overlaid with a 'code rain' effect as seen in the credits of the Wachowskis' 'Matrix' movies.

This week on my podcast, I read a recent Medium column. “How To Think About Scraping: In privacy and labor fights, copyright is a clumsy tool at best,” about the real risks (and benefits) of web-scraping, and how to formulate policy responses that preserve those benefits while targeting the harms head-on”

Scraping when the scrapee suffers as a result of your scraping is good, actually.

Mario Zechner is an Austrian technologist who used the APIs of large grocery chains to prove that they were colluding to rig prices. Zechner was able to create a corpus of historical price and product data to show how grocers used a raft of deceptive practices to trick people into thinking they were getting a good deal, from shrinkflation to cyclic price changes that were deceptively billed as “discounts.”

At first, Zechner worked alone and in fear of reprisals from the giant corporations whose fraudulent practices — which affected every person in the country — he had revealed.

But eventually, he was able to get the Austrian bureaucrat in charge of enforcing competition rules to publish a report lauding his work. Zechner open-sourced his project and attracted volunteers who started pulling in data from Germany and Slovenia.

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(Image: syvwlch, CC BY 2.0, modified)

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A woodcut of a gentleman at a writing table, staring down at a sheaf of papers. His head has been replaced with the menacing eye of HAL9000 from Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey.' The paper is covered in the green 'code waterfall' from the Wachowskis' 'The Matrix.'

This week on my podcast, I read my latest Locus column. “Plausible Sentence Generators,” about my surprising, accidental encounter with a chatbot, and what it says about the future of the bullshit wars.

When I came back to the tab a couple minutes later, I found that the site had fed my letter to a large language model (probably ChatGPT) and that it had been transformed into an eye-watering, bowel-loosening, vicious lawyer letter.

Hell, it scared me.

Let’s get one thing straight. This was a very good lawyer-letter, but it wasn’t good writing. Legal threat letters are typically verbose, obfuscated and supercilious (legal briefs are even worse: stilted and stiff and full of tortured syntax).

This letter read like a $600/hour paralegal working for a $1,500/hour white-shoe lawyer had drafted it. That’s what made it a good letter: it sent a signal, “The person who sent this letter is willing to spend $600 just to threaten you. They are seriously pissed, and willing to spend a lot of money to make sure you know it.” Like a cat’s tail standing on end or a dog’s hackles rising, the letter’s real point isn’t found in its text. The real point is the threat display itself.

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(Image: Cryteria, CC BY 3.0, modified)

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A trio of public toilet stalls, each fitted with a pay toilet coin-op lock. The middle lock's mechanism has been replaced with the menacing, staring red eye of HAL 9000 from Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey.' The space around and beneath the stalls is filled with a 'Code Rain' effect from the credit sequences of the Wachowksis' 'The Matrix.'

This week on my podcast, I read a recent Medium column. “Enshitternet: The old, good internet deserves a new, good internet,” clarifying that our aspiration shouldn’t be to restore the internet’s former glory, but to make a new and glorious internet.

The enshitternet wasn’t inevitable. It was the result of specific policy choices: the decision to encourage monopoly formation, which created the corporate power and concentration that led to even more policies, granting the monopolist unlimited freedom to abuse us, and denying us any right to defend ourselves.

Anything that can’t go on forever eventually stops. The disenshittification of the internet isn’t a nostalgic bid to restore the old, good internet. It’s a plan to build a new, good internet, and to make the enshitternet a bad memory, a mere transitional stage between the old, good internet we had and the new, good internet we deserve.

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(Image: Cryteria, CC BY 3.0, modified)