I’ve decided to release my blog under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0). This means you can use my blog however you like, as long as you share it with others, too. You can modify my blog, translate it, and even publish it for money–as long as you give others the same freedom I give you.
This announcement is a bit premature, but I’m planning to write an e-book in a few months under the same license. And as a programmer, I’m thinking about releasing my software under similar open licenses.
I don’t support the idea of restricting access to information. A good idea is like the wind. It is immaterial in substance and so it’s impossible to hoard. It has no real owner, nor point of origin, since it flows wherever it pleases.
When it comes to useful knowledge, I want to promote free sharing instead of hoarding. More people need to hear about Greenimalist living, not less. So if someone wants to e-mail a copy of my book to his friends, I don’t want him to worry about being sued by a team of lawyers. I just want him to enjoy it without a guilty conscience.
We’re at a crossroads in digital technology. Using what we have today, we could reduce our environmental impact to practically zero. Videoconferencing can replace international travel, search engines can replace entire libraries, and digital downloads can replace newspapers, books, DVDs, television, and radio. All this is possible because software and data can be transmitted without the need to change hardware.
But our technology is being stymied by a lack of openness. Digital restrictions and intellectual property law have created a litigious atmosphere that has stopped us from fully enjoying the fruits of our technology.
I like e-books a lot. They’re superior to printed books in every way; the image quality is better, delivery is instant, storage is simpler, and the environmental impact of a 10MB download is negligible. But what I hate about e-books is the lack of openness in the publishing platforms. I enjoy taking old computers, which would otherwise end up as e-waste, and rehabilitating them with GNU/Linux. But because of the restrictions on these platforms, I won’t be able to read e-books even if I pay for them. I have to buy a Kindle or an iPad or whatever overpriced gadget is on the market.
Without open software, I can’t salvage old computer parts. Instead, I have to buy items with a short, planned obsolescence. So if I do buy the e-reader, either I purchase the latest version year after year, or risk losing access to my books.
What I find especially disturbing about digital information is that I am losing control over it. If I buy a printed book, I can loan it to my friends, sell it at a bookstore, or donate it to a library. With an e-book, I don’t have those rights. Simply opening a document or watching a movie requires that I sign an ironclad legal agreement. Technically, because of my operating system, I’m breaking international patent law each time I play a DVD or listen to an mp3, even though I legally pay for the content (1). So in spite of the potential of digital downloads, I still visit the old-fashioned library.
I’m tired of this—and I don’t want to put you through this nonsense.
I can’t control what happens in the netherworlds of the digital universe, but I can control what happens at Greenimalist. I’m making my content freely sharable.
So please share; the more people hear about the Greenimalist life, the better.
[[Note: To avoid confusion, CC-BY-SA 3.0 allows you to sell content. The license protects the user's ability to share/copy/transfer/print content once purchased. Think of it as granting the user extra freedom, rather than the content being without price.]]
1 If I recall correctly, DVD decryption and mp3 decoding is protected by patent law. So even if I legally buy mp3s, I’m not allowed to play them using open-source software since they don’t pay licensing fees to Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. Correct me if I’m mistaken.