Death by Copyright

Aaron Swartz

No one should ever go to jail over copyright law.

It is inconceivable to me that anyone should ever die over it. Now someone has.

Aaron Swartz killed himself on Friday. He was 26. A legend in the tech community, probably a dotcom millionaire. He could have lounged around poolside sipping designer martinis for the rest of his days.

Instead he worked for the public good, fighting the copyfight, defending the internet and the public domain.

Sometimes people of principle feel the need to challenge unjust laws. And like many reformers before him, Aaron Swartz ran afoul of the law in trying to change the world.

A murderer might have to serve as many as seven years for taking a life.

But 26 year old Aaron Swartz faced perhaps more than 35 years in jail.  Over copyright.

Lawrence Lessig characterized it as bullying.

I seem to spend an awful lot of time writing about what’s wrong with copyright law. Since I started looking at copyright with new eyes, I can’t seem to avoid seeing the harm that it does.

Copyright law isn’t a right, its a government backed monopoly that supposedly promotes innovation. Aaron Swartz was certainly an innovator. He, too, was disturbed by the harm copyright does, and so he tried to push against it. But copyright law pushed back, and made sure he will innovate no more.

There is a great outpouring of agony across the Internet.  Having myself struggled with the demons of depression, Cory Doctorow’s eulogy makes me weep. Depression can seem interminable; I can’t imagine how much worse would it be looking at potential decades of imprisonment.

But what gets me is this comment made by someone I’ve never met on Lawrence Lessig’s blog:

No amount of IP will ever be worth a human life. I don’t care how you justify it. Putting Aaron away for 35yrs may be legally justifiable, just as sending slaves back to slave owners from non slave states once was. I however cannot begin to align the life of any human with imaginary property.”

Wayne Tedder

Aaron was only a little older than my own bright and principled child.  My heart aches for Aaron, and his family.  No family should have to endure this.  This is simply beyond acceptable. There is no harm greater than this.

Image Credit
Aaron Swartz, released under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication by Cory Doctorow


“Inconstant Moon” update ~ Uploaded

a graphic banner reads Inconstant Moon. rendered in the Rebel Caps font with a gibbous moon nestled between the words

blue balloon that says WOOT

I made my final-final upload to CreateSpace just before midnight on May 11th.


This is the “final-final” proof because I was certain that the previous proof would be “it.”
That’s why I cleverly called it the “final proof.”    But I was wrong.   There were too many typos.

What began as proof reading on the two previous “proofs” morphed into extensive editing.   So they were actually new drafts, and of course the editing process itself left all sorts of additional debris.  What I should have done was to proofread again after the editing was finished.
For this final-final proof, editing didn’t come into it. It was truly proof read.
And then I proofed it again, just to make sure.
And now I am sure that this is “it.”
When the final-final book-book proof arrives, I expect it will receive near immediate approval.

“ensemble” novel

The only editorial change in this final-final version is the inclusion of a dramatis personæ page. This is something I’d been meaning to do since the second draft but never quite got around to. Although unnecessary for most books, I expect it might be very helpful for Inconstant Moon due to the size of the cast of characters. Most novels have a single protagonist, but the way it worked out, Inconstant Moon has an ensemble cast.

Because the story deals with a brutal attack of a student, the story is told through several overlapping groups of students.
My assumption going in was that one of the characters would emerge as the protagonist. What happened instead was that the characters balanced themselves out far more evenly than I had envisaged, emphatically turning it into an ensemble novel.

[I’m learning that there are categories for everything.]

My Inconstant Moon ensemble has rather more characters than Amy Tan has in The Joy Luck Club, or Meg Waite Clayton has in “The Four Ms. Bradwells.” And I’m pretty sure I have even more characters than Ed McBain has in his 87th Precinct series.

And although the serialization blog will have character pages, those who prefer to hold a physical book will benefit from having the cast list accessible on the printed page.

proof copies on my desk

I’ve been told that standard practice is to release the ebook first, then the book-book. And I have no idea if anyone else (besides Cory Doctorow) does online serializations.  The theory goes that drawing the process out over time allows time for buzz to build, as well as providing fodder for things to talk about online.  [Like that’s ever been my problem!] And besides, I’ve been talking about Inconstant Moon online for so long that it’s high time for me to shut up and let the readers decide.

CreateSpace estimates the final proof copy should be in my hand by May 26th, 2011.   And I anticipate making a near immediate approval.  (To be doubly certain, I proofed it twice.)

This gives me time to get my serialization blog theme ready to go.

And learn how to do the ebook conversions.

I’m going to launch it all at once.

The serialization will begin when both the book-book and the e-book versions
are available. There won’t be a book trailer until I find time to master Linux editing software. Nor have I looked into any of the other online marketing strategies.

Unfortunately, the interesting times we’re living in have provided a bit too much distraction, so I’m not as organized as I should be.  Maybe next time.

Once Inconstant Moon is in hand I can get back to work on my second novel,
which I expect to publish by October. 
I’ll know what I’m doing by then. 
Right?  😀

Free Font Credits:
The Inconstant Moon font is Jay Batchelor’s Rebel Caps
The Woot font is Kingthings Bloone!