Lessig & Penguin Give Away Free Culture
Courtesy of the Creative Commons blog, I have just read an interesting story about how a creator might use the Creative Commons licensing program and still manage to make some money in the process. In particular, the story analyzes Lawrence Lessig‘s decision (along with his publisher, Penguin) to distribute free electronic copies of his new book Free Culture, and the business model any author might use in order to earn money from a creative work in the age of digital reproduction and distribution.
"Let’s say you’ve written a book. A book that is worth publishing. Let’s say you’ve got a publisher for your book. A publisher that people have heard of. What happens when you convince your publisher to give your book away, for free, to anyone who wants it? This isn’t about giving review copies to journalists, this is about converting the book into an electronic format and giving it away to the general public so that they don’t have to spend their hard-earned cash on buying a hardcopy for their hardwood bookshelf.
"If you believed the RIAA and other proponents of draconian copyright legislation, what happens when there is a choice between a free (legal or otherwise) download and a bought physical product, people will choose the free version over the bought version. Thus, say the RIAA, each time the free version is downloaded a sale is lost and the creators (read: rights holders) lose out financially.
"By this logic, giving away your book, even with the consent of your publisher, is a bad idea. Commercial suicide even. It’s not something that any sane author should do, surely?"
Suw Charman. Something for Nothing: The Free Culture AudioBook Project. Chocolate and Vodka. May 24, 2004.