[-empyre-] Week Three - Open Access

Gary Hall gary at garyhall.info
Mon Jun 21 18:59:55 EST 2010

Dear Pauline,

Thanks for taking the time to reply my earlier question. I appreciate it.

The reason I asked is because we're in something of a similar situation 
with regard to projects such as 'Pirate Philosophy' and OHP's Liquid 
Books series (http://openhumanitiespress.org/liquid-books.html). So what 
you're saying is very helpful.

I'm looking forward to reading Proud to be Flesh.

Thanks again.


Pauline van Mourik Broekman wrote:
> Hello, all,
> Gary asked specifically about Mute Publishing's copyright model...
> Simon's shorthand for it is correct, and was arrived at for reasons 
> that are pretty much continuous with many of the critiques of more 
> legally 'tight' 'free' models that he makes (in our case, what we were 
> specifically discussing at the time we set this (anti-)copyright 
> policy was the way in which the Creative Commons model (and other 
> 'open' models - as it sits in his descriptor, 'open and closed'), 
> while notionally opposing proprietary content paradigms, does still 
> support a legalistic one, wherein - importantly, as we saw it, for 
> anyone interested in class politics - only those privileged enough to 
> access adequate resources could actually fight for the stipulations 
> they'd attached to their content... hence making adherence to it a 
> sort of fictitious, or dreamlike?, act which can arguably not be 
> followed through in the majority of instances................. I'm 
> sure I may be diminishing the importance in this argument of certain 
> parent bodies (though I've just reminded myself that Creative Commons 
> 'is not a law firm' and also doesn't do 'referrals', and so it's down 
> to particular law firms one might engage - or get pro bono support 
> from? - to actually defend your rights), but I suppose the general 
> point is clear...
> (What I should also say is that, technically, this might still 
> constitute a sort of double bluff in that, in a situation where one 
> doesn't explicitly assign a copyleft type licence/policy, one then 
> apparently still falls under a 'closed' copyright regime, as it is 
> ultimately impossible not to escape it, and by not 'doing anything', 
> you default-to-guides, i.e. you submit to the convention, which is 
> copy*right*... Finding this territory difficult in the extreme - both 
> then and now - I'm conscious this may still be a mischaracterisation, 
> so please correct me if I'm wrong...)
> Anyway, in terms of this then ultimately perhaps symbolic act, it all 
> happened in the context of a gradual scepticism that I think developed 
> all over as the sacred cow of the public domain - which Mute, too, had 
> discussed with some fervour circa 2000 - gradually began to be 
> interpreted as the incredibly complicated entity that it is, shot 
> through with access points for those already in possession of power 
> and resources; and immaterial and free labour (as well as free 
> software, actually) were likewise being deconstructed as only being 
> able to exist on the back of other, more manual or materially based 
> activity, or more traditional institutions, corporations or 
> capitalisation/investment programmes. (Though we returned to these 
> questions much later, when Web 2.0 was being lionised in similar 
> terms, for us many of the lynchpin articles that helped shape our 
> thinking on this - within Mute, that is - are included in a chapter in 
> the Proud to be Flesh book I probably mentioned, 'Of Commoners and 
> Criminals', namely Gregor Claude's 'Goatherds in Pin Stripes'; the 
> University of Openess's 'Commercial Commons'; and Soenke Zehle's 
> 'FLOSS Redux: Notes on African Software Politics'. Florian Cramer's 
> writing on copyright was similarly influential... )
> Having said all this, the problems with 'free' being what they are, we 
> don't want to *force* any author to submit to this, and so see it more 
> as a default that can be adapted if the writer feels strongly it 
> should be another way (though again, enforcement would be hard...). We 
> also do encourage that the Mute source is attributed, so we at least 
> get some reference back to the original commissioning context, and the 
> editorial/authorial work that went in... I also have to say - as most 
> magazines would, I think - that releasing all our content in this 
> manner has posed quite significant, err, revenue problems for us, and 
> that, while we were far from 'sorted' when we were still holding 
> content back in a print magazine and trying to exist on 
> subs/sales/ads/funding, we are still totally flummoxed by the 
> challenge of finding a sustainable publishing model wherein authors 
> and staff get paid, but the lion's share of material is free. That's 
> why Mute's always done other projects too...
> Hope this helps clarifies things, and thanks for the great posts.
> Pauline.
>> Earlier in the month I noticed Simon Worthington mentioning that 
>> ‘Mute magazine publishes... free 2 share, with no copyright, open or 
>> closed.’ It’d be really interesting and helpful if Simon or Pauline 
>> could say a little more about the thinking behind that.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Gary Hall
Professor of Media and Performing Arts
School of Art and Design, Coventry University
Co-editor of Culture Machine 
Co-founder of the Open Humanities Press
My website http://www.garyhall.info

Latest: 'Deleuze's "Postscript on the Societies of Control"', Culture Machine 11, 2010 

More information about the empyre mailing list