SFWA is becoming an on-line spectator sport. I’m not going to go into too much depth here, as the bandwidth expended on this is already reaching critical mass. I’ll only comment by posing the following rhetorical question:
If the chair of your e-piracy committee screws up so bad that it makes your whole organization look like of bunch of myopic Luddite fossils and causes you to throw said committee under the bus, and then you impanel a bunch of respected writer-type folks to draft recommendations on how to fix the problems, is it a wise move to then, to all appearance, just take said recommendations, file them, and re-constitute the same e-piracy committee with the same leadership with the same obsessions?
I make no comments on the merits, but I’ll just make the observation that in some situations, making yourself look as if you’re stupid, clueless, arrogant and unprofessional is tantamount to actually being stupid, clueless, arrogant and unprofessional. Appearances count, and this looks really bad.
Sometimes you come across news that so twisted in recursive levels of self-parody that you cannot even express an opinion on it, you just have to sit back and say, “gee that’s f__ked up.”
Case in point, this series of events, the latest of which I found thanks to a post on the SF Site blog:
The SFWA e-piracy committee overreaches in demanding a laundry-list of items taken off a website because of copyright violations. Some items turn out to be perfectly legit, including some work by Cory Doctrow released under a Creative Commons license. Can you say oops?
Doctrow gets predictably medieval on SFWA’s ass in an internet dust-up that essentially ends with SFWA throwing the current incarnation of the e-piracy committee under the bus.
Then we find out that Doctrow reprints an essay by Ursula K Le Guin under the Creative Commons license. Problem? The essay wasn’t printed under any such license, which means Doctrow was guilty of exactly the reverse of the mistake that SFWA had made.
What this all means to me?
A) IP law is broken. (But we knew that.)
B) Everyone is capable of being stupid, and the current IP law facilitates such stupidity.
Q: What is the best way to inflame and alienate the the SF blogosphere?
A: Call everyone who publishes their work on the internet a webscab (don’t pick it, it may become infected)
Check out the blogstorm Dr. Hendrix has started, here, and here, and here,
oh, here‘s one,
or here. . .
maybe here too. . .
and April 23 is International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day
ADDENDUM: The webscab comment has infected non-SF blogs.
Came across this bizarre rant by the current VP of SFWA:
I’m also opposed to the increasing presence in our organization of webscabs, who post their creations on the net for free. A scab is someone who works for less than union wages or on non-union terms; more broadly, a scab is someone who feathers his own nest and advances his own career by undercutting the efforts of his fellow workers to gain better pay and working conditions for all. Webscabs claim they’re just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they’re undercutting those of us who aren’t giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work. –Dr. Howard V. Hendrix
WTF? OMG. LOL!
It is amazing how one mind can synthesize the absolute worst elements of left-wing pseudo morality and right-wing authoritarianism, and combine it with a false analogy that manages to insult a long history of people actually dying to try to receive bare subsistence wages in 19th and early 20th century industrial sweatshops. Yeah, I’m stealing food out of starving children’s mouths by posting on an effing-Blog. This guy is so reactionary, he probably is upset at the impact movable type has had on penmanship. It is hard for me to figure out how you could cram more bad ideas on economics, markets, technology, individual liberty and intellectual property rights in such a small space.
Did I mention he is the current VP of SFWA?