A dirge to print…

For some reason I’ve been stewing over intellectual property recently. I know, I’m weird. Maybe it was this, or maybe it’s just me thinking about the desire to keep trying to get myself published and continue to actively write and hopefully, get paid for it.

How do you balance that out though with a desire to not fall into the trap of becoming a supporter of intellectual copyright absolutes? How do you manage to keep true to ideals of information freedom and DIY publishing and ethics where information can be shared and used to expand your audience, but at the same time protect your intellectual property and manage to make a living from doing what you love, which is writing?

I want to write, I want to get paid to do it, plain and simple. I’m very protective of my written material because at heart, it’s mine. i wrote it, I thought it up, and if I don’t want someone to read it, then they shouldn’t fucking be reading it, much less manage to have a copy of it. I don’t really share the specifics of what I work on with a lot of people because I’m paranoid as hell that someone’s going to steal my ideas. I know it sounds weird but it’s how I am. If I could afford it I’d fucking copyright every scrap I’ve ever written, but I can’t. And despite what anyone tells you, mailing a copy to yourself isn’t a legal copyright, it just establishes ownership with a date (postmark).

But still…I’m coming from a background in underground/DIY punk and hardcore where the freedom of information and media is key, if not paramount, for the survival of aspects of the culture. I tape traded as a kid, made mixes, lent records to people so they didn’t have to buy stuff, and borrowed to do the same. I get free zines put out by people who feel that they shouldn’t have to sell their written words to get them out, and read the internet for the same affect, not paying to read information, someone’s intellectual property. I’ve contributed to such outlets (internet media) in order to establish an audience, and contribute(d) to free zine/paper outlets that put my intellectual property out there for people to read for free or almost free.

Would I be a traitor and a hypocrite if all of a sudden I managed to say, get a manuscript published and it cost money? And not through just a small-time publisher like say, Punk Planet Books or Microcosm Publishing, but maybe even a larger publishing house? If I all of a sudden asked people “you know what, I know I used to put this sort of stuff out online and in print for close to nothing if anything at all, but now I’m hoping you’ll pay $10 a pop to get this book”?

Can I be truly radical in any sense if I hope to garner fat cash money dollahs for my art?

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About Costa

Writer. College professor.
This entry was posted in academics, blogging, DIY, freelance, independant media, nyc, punk, random, underground, zines. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A dirge to print…

  1. k- says:

    There is a good doc floating around the net called ‘Good Copy, Bad Copy.’ The main host site is here: http://www.goodcopybadcopy.net/
    I strongly recommend sitting through the whole 45 minute thing because it is excellent all the way through.
    The copyright examples you raise are interesting because they also reflect the difference between an artist making money off his/her work and a company making money off the artists’ work (often cast as ‘protecting one’s investment’). It is the latter that this recent Canadian law is concerned with and not the former — though the rhetoric may occasionally be cast that way.
    Finally, are you suggesting that you are the exclusive and original author of the words you write? How much ownership over these words and ideas can you realistically take credit for? I think J. Letham recently wrote a piece once again debunking the myth of original thought and speech.

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