From the slightly-aged news department:
Writer-with-whom-I-often-almost-agree, Cory Doctorow puts artist rights into priority sequence on the way to an Internetty utopia. In an op-ed in Locus magazine, sci-fi kingpin Doctorow decides that freedom of expression is the all-beef patty in the artistic Quarter Pounder (TM).
Oh, that was a mistake -- now I'm picturing Doctorow as a gigantic white-suited Wilson Fisk, battling SpiderMan (TM).
Anyway, here's Doctorow:
Sure, it's fine to talk about the artist's rights to get paid, to control copying, to have their work attributed to them and be fairly edited, but all that stuff is just the appetizer. There's one artist's right that's more important than all the rest combined: the right to free expression. No one gives out awards for writers who bring copyright suits — but we do give out awards to the brave writers who publish in the teeth of censorship and state oppression.
My problem with this argument is that the artist rights I'm familiar with come as a bundle, and as one begins to evaporate, the others become equally endangered. Without the right to get paid, to control copying, to attribution and fair editing, there is little chance of an effective right to free expression -- which is probably why these rights are bundled the way they are as widely accepted principles of copyright.
And before anyone attacks my commitment to free expression, just don't okay.
It's all well and good to celebrate new business models and greater artist leverage through distribution competition, but the casual dismissal of fundamental artist rights as mere "appetizers" is ridiculously naive.
I don't think I've ever seen such clear and unequivocal rebuttal of this the freedom of the Internet trumps all kind of argument as I did in the comments section following Doctorow's Locus article. Innnteresting.