While our #publishingopenup campaign has long called for greater acceptance of indie authors in the wider publishing world, today we’re pleased to welcome our News Editor Dan Holloway discussing openness in a different sense: open access to work shared under Creative Commons licences, unprotected by copyright.
Here at ALLi we talk a lot about opening up. But as indie authors, there is a kind of opening up we rarely if ever talk about, even though in the world of academic publishing people have been talking about little else for several years now.
Open access is a hot topic in academic publishing for many reasons, but the one driving legislation is in many ways relating to this conversation the least interesting: the fact that research is paid for from the public purse, and therefore belongs in the public domain.
The main reason for the explosion of opportunity for indies is the same reason we need, as Eva Katchadourian would endlessly remind us, to talk about copyright. Technology.
The thing about technology is that it can do things. All kind of things. Most pertinently the things we don’t much like to do but nonetheless have to do for society to function. Automation of those repetitive tasks we have relied upon human labour to carry out is not so much peeking over the horizon but standing in the porch and banging on the door.
Society needs to have a conversation about what that means, but more specifically we as indie artists need to talk about what that means, because this new world will bring changes our vocabulary is at present ill-equipped to handle.
First among those changes is the introduction of a universal income, an amount paid to everyone, whoever they are, whatever they do. In a world where vast swathes of what we currently call work are not required of humans, it will make no sense to make a decent living standard dependent upon being earned by labour.
This has huge consequences for creativity, and, indeed, for science, as it represents the freeing from time-scarcity of a level of human creativity on an unimaginable scale. Writers will no longer *need* to write to survive. Just think what that would mean for your creative life, for your creative freedom.
Full Circle to Copyright
Which brings me back to copyright. Let me start with science. In a world in which we are both freed from repetitive tasks to think and to act, and not required to protect the fruits of our thought for the sake of survival, the greatest global challenges seem suddenly less frightening. To meet them we will need knowledge to be open source, available to the largest number of minds.
An initial very unscientific survey of my Facebook friends highlighted a difference amongst my creative colleagues from those in science. Most people thought a universal income would give them more time to write, and free them from many of their worries. A few thought they would be able to write more of what they wanted and less of what the market dictated. But there was little shift in opinion on copyright.
Universal Income & Creative Commons
The concerns expressed were less about loss of income and more about creative control. It is precisely this concern that the Creative Commons licensing movement seeks to address. A Creative Commons licence allows artists to choose how their work is shared and what may be done with it. Whilst remixing and repurposing have a fundamental place in culture, which is richer as a result of permission to remix and repurpose, a far more central place is held by the notion of building conceptually on what has gone before. If a writer is to take the form of the novel forward, for example, they need to have read Sterne, Woolf, and Joyce. Open access seems to me to be a cornerstone of a potentially huge leap forward in human creativity to match that in science that a universal income could catalyse.
It offers a freedom that is fundamentally at one with what seems to me to be the indie spirit.
It is impossible even to ask most of the necessary questions in an article this length, but it is essential to start the conversation. For a wealth of information on all stripes of thought on universal income see the Basic Income Earth Network , and go here for more on Creative Commons.
OVER TO YOU Extending Dan’s informal survey among his personal network, how do you think you, and your writing life, would be affected by the introduction of a universal guaranteed income? Would you find yourself writing different things? And would it change your feelings about copyright, specifically would you find yourself thinking differently about the idea of your books being available on a completely open access basis? We’d love to hear your views.
Thank you for whatever support you are able to offer.#Writers - how would a #universalincome affect your attitude to sharing your work via @CreativeCommons? asks @agnieszkasshoes Click To Tweet