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Light On Light Through

You'll hear a little of this and lot of that on Light On Light Through - my reviews of great television series, my interviews with authors and creative media people and their interviews of me, my political commentary, thoughts about my favorite cars and food and space travel, discussions of my music, and a few of my readings from my science fiction stories. These are usually audio and a few are video.  In the first years, starting in 2006, I put up a new episode at least once a month.  More recently, it became more or less often than once a month, usually a lot less often.  But in the Fall of 2018, I began getting more in the mood to podcast, and you can expect new episodes now a little more frequently.  - Paul Levinson

iPhone and Intellectual Property in the Digital Age

Aug 27, 2007

It was the summer of 1984 - the very dawn of the digital age.  Stewart Brand and I were having lunch with several other people near the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute in La Jolla, California, where we had just given lectures in the morning.   That was when I first heard Stewart say "information wants to be free."  He said it again over lunch.  And  I replied - well, maybe so, but creators of information still need to eat.   I was a staunch supporter of copyright and patent. 

I’m still a strong believer in copyright.  But, in the two and a half decades since then, the wretched excesses of the RIAA and like organizations have caused me to clarify to myself and others exactly what I mean.  And that would be:  If some person or organization wants to make money from my writing or other creative work, they need my permission and of course need to pay me. I'm not allergic to money. But if someone wants to take my book out of a library, read my blog, listen to my podcast, buy a second-hand copy of my book, that’s fine, even great.  I'm delighted, and I don’t expect to get paid.  Which means that, to be consistent, I should have no problem with someone acquiring a new copy of any of my books and not paying me - and, in fact, that’s fine, too. I have no problem at all with that.  

And that's why, as I wrote yesterday, I was so happy about George Hotz and his re-soldering the iPhone to work with a T-Mobile sim card.  Apple and AT&T were wrong to lock the iPhone in the first place.  What George did was not only legally permissible but ethical laudable.

In the digital age, you can best make money - as well as friends -
by including not excluding.

See also A Lesson from AT&T History.

For more on Stewart Brand and the history and future of intellectual property, feel free to beg, borrow, or buy my book, The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution...