In the continuation of Cory Doctorow’s book Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, I continue on about Doctorow’s Second Rule, “Fame won’t make you rich, but you can’t get paid without it”. This might be contradictory to the title but in essence, it means that being famous doesn’t always come with money but with a bit of fame, you can earn money.

Doctorow states that there are advantages and disadvantages of being part of a media company while pursuing a career. The advantages of using a media company are that:

  • able to produce and finish your work in a cheaper way than doing it personally
  • have an efficient, tested workflow
  • have capital and can act as your investors
  • able to reach a larger audience

However, the disadvantages of using a media company are that:

  • they can ignore your creation for someone bigger
  • puts their investors over you as the creator

With going solo, a person would need to know people who he trusts and can do the jobs that would normally be covered by the media company. And the deciding factor of this is the love of your product. Doctorow uses the example of the blog bOING bOING as a labour of love as it would not have been such a success without the love put into that. He states that “If you love doing it, you should do it”. As creators, you can decide between going solo or being part of a big media company but the driving force behind your product should be that you love creating your product, not just for the money. I agree with this as a person has to love what he is doing it in order to do it, but without this love, this person has no interest in doing it.

If going solo is your choice, then you would have to have intermediaries. Intermediaries are the ‘middlemen’ between customers and creators such as, in the case of music, Spotify, Youtube and Apple Music. Intermediaries are the only way to get your product out to your audience, even if they try to take as much money from the product for themselves in the process. Technology has created new ones over the years but the job has stayed the same of helping creators for their cause. This has created ‘common carriers’, which are intermediaries that have to accept all creators work without any bias to anyone. The different types of intermediaries on the internet are:

  • Online service providers
  • software companies
  • app stores
  • game servers
  • payment processors

They play a critical role in any creative product. Any project would require a lot of different types of intermediaries.

However, there is one group of intermediaries that are not categorized as ‘common carriers’, these would be the cable operators. This is because they can be sued if one of their programs contained a copyrighted image which is the creator’s fault. This means that creators that want their products on cable would have to have told the cable operator’s lawyer that your product has not breached the copyright law so that the cable operator would not have to run into any trouble.

But common carriers also have something that stops them from displaying copyrighted items. This is called the NaTD or the Notice and Takedown, which is part of the WIPO Copyright Treaty. If an intermediary is thought to be hosting something that breaks the copyright of another thing, they would have to be given notice and they would have to take it down. However, sometimes NaTD can be a fake or an abuse of power. Creators feel that fake NaTDs on their product is a presumption on their guilt.

There are many different policies that protect copyright but there are also a lot of trade agreements that protect them too. Doctorow sums up the agenda of these agreements and acts as “More intermediary liability, with fewer checks and balances”. This can be interpreted as intermediaries are more liable for what they put on their site but there is less need to check on the copyright. This is a bad thing for the intermediary. And they are targeting intermediaries such as:

  • Hosting providers and other online service providers
  • Linkers
  • Internet service providers
  • Search engines
  • Payment processors and ad networks
  • Registrars
  • Domain name service providers
  • Proxies and circumvention tools
  • Technology designers

These intermediaries can be pressured into helping the copyright holders by using these acts and agreements. This has made them act as though they are police, not companies bridging the creator and the audience together. But to be fair, these regulations have made it more expensive and difficult to be an intermediary. Even then, there are many intermediaries on the internet and there are a plethora of creators that require them, this means that intermediaries try to tempt creators to join their brands with good deals for their products but still want to pocket a lot of money for themselves. The system works such that when there are more customers than creators, then the creators would have more money, vice versa. In a way, intermediaries are vital for a creator for his work to be distributed to the audience but with the use of these regulations on them, they have made the arts industry suffer too.

All in all, Doctorow’s Second Law simply says that it is hard to make a living in the art industry, the money that is made is little until you get that breakthrough. Copyright and intermediaries are just hurdles that creators have to get over in order to make some money but even then, there are many ways to do it and some don’t work the same as others. But by doing what you love, there is nothing that can stop your enthusiasm for work.

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