Joe Clark’s Cranky About Copyright

By Raena Jackson Armitage

Reading a book in progress is an unusual concept. Being a technical editor, I get to do it here at SitePoint, and it’s great fun to watch a book take shape. If you’d like to be a part of that process, and you’re interested in copyright, then Joe Clark (yes, the very same Joe Clark known to accessibility fans) has just announced his latest project: The Cranky Copyright Book.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re also a creator. Whether you’re writing text, drawing graphics, taking photos, or building blog themes, copyright is an important concept that affects us all. It’s especially true if you want to reuse content you found elsewhere. Plenty of people aren’t happy with the current state of affairs—of course, there’s Creative Commons, but there’s still plenty of room for criticism there. Joe asks:

What if everything you knew about copyright was wrong?

Well, it isn’t. And I’m not here to tell you it is. But I do want to break you out of the spell you’ve been under since Larry Lessig became your secular god.

There really is a way to look at copyright that is not a form of apologia for dying “content” industries, like the music business and Hollywood studios. This new way also has very little to do with “free culture,” Creative Commons, and the teachings of gurus like Lessig and Michael Geist.

Sassy! Whether you agree or disagree with this stance, I’m sure we can all agree that there ought to be more voices in the copyright debate, and Joe’s upcoming book promises to do exactly that. What’s also interesting to me is that he’s asking for micropatronage to help him get the book off the ground. Benefactors (or should we call them microbenefactors?) will be able to read beta chapters as they appear, and they’ll be acknowledged in the final book, which will be published in both electronic and physical formats.

It’s early days yet, but this looks like it will become an interesting experiment in publishing—and it’s about an important topic to boot. You can find out more about The Cranky Copyright Book project at its Web site.

  • This is a nice one. The Cranky Copyright Book of Joe Clark is really a good one to become a creator . TO know about writing text, drawing graphics, taking photos, or building blog themes, copyright is an important concept that affects us all. Thanks for this type of posting.

  • Pretty entertaining to read thus far. Did some quick browsing. Should probably be an entertaining read if nothing else!

  • Hmm is that the final or a working title? Reminds me of the crankies which is perhaps not a great thing in the UK. I like the funding model. If it works it could be more influential than the end product.

  • I like his style, just made my donation to the book effort. :)

  • thebobweb

    This has been done a million times following the exploitation model of publishing a poem in a book with 9,999 other unknowns, which the profiteers never clarify upfront. Let’s make a movie with 10,000 exploited “producers” who in turn enjoy such great benefit as seeing their name in a “Special Thanks” end-credit-scroll, each of whom naively paid $100 to one more capitalist. Go ahead, Joe, make their day, take their money, and run! This comment will escape the “moderation queue” only if “sitepoint” itself is not a promotional partner behind this Joe, er, knock-off capitalist.

  • thebobweb, I’m aware of the kind of scam you’re talking about, and this really isn’t the same thing. You might or might not be aware that Joe is already a published author and well-known to the Web development community.

    As you can see, your comment did in fact come through. I can assure you we’re not a promotional partner behind his book—if we were, there’d be a bit more than a 350 word post about it.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  • Well, after I made the donation, I found that there was no way Joe would know who donated or where to send the promised draft chapters and such.

    I sent him a friendly e-mail asking about it and got a very rude reply.

    I sure won’t be sharing the site with anyone else now.

  • Great post! I’ll subscribe right now wth my feedreader software!

  • One Who Knows

    Dan Grossman: “I sent him a friendly e-mail asking about it and got a very rude reply.”

    Consider yourself lucky. Pity that Joe Clark knows his stuff but is tainted by a toxic social ineptitude.

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