Licentiousness

I have decided to put a license on my blog.

To be precise, a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand licence.

This means that you can copy, reuse or even alter my works, providing that you give attribution and share yourself. (Sharing is good. Unless you have a cold.) You can even make money from them.

There are several reasons why I am doing this.

The first (at least chronologically) is that I have actually heard of CC licensing, thanks to the Caped Gooseberry.

Cape gooseberry

Many people haven’t, particularly writers. Most advice for writers on the subject of licences is how to protect yourself from having your ideas ripped off.

Except the advice I received as a student in writing for theatre: don’t bother trying to protect your writing: theatre does not make enough money to be worth pirating.

Clearly, times have changed since actors made a handy side-income in reciting the latest Shakespeare to a printer. (Fascinatingly, you can actually tell which role they were playing – those lines are perfect, the other lines in their scenes are pretty accurate, and the scenes where they are offstage are complete rubbish.)

Bad quarto, good quarto, first folio

The biggest reason is that a lot of what writers do these days is publicity – book signings, library visits, blog tours and what have you. And these are the writers with publishing houses behind them.

Frankly, that isn’t my cup of tea, as much as I love the sound of my own voice. I’d rather be holed up in a rather cozy garret somewhere, writing.

Carl Spitzweg - Der arme Poet (Germanisches Nationalmuseum)

A CC license allows me to allow others to spread my works far and wide (should they find it worth their while) while I stay curled up in afore-mentioned garret.

Ah, I hear you say, but what about the money?
There isn’t any.

Well, that’s not entirely true.
There are those who do quite well out of their writing – everyone knows about the fabulous wealth of J K Rowling, and as for no money in theatre, well, Yasmina Reza doesn’t do too badly.

But – and this is the point I would stress – there is not a lot of money in it either way. Unless you are JKR, you would, as one writer on writing I read said, be making a better living as a professional knitter.

Fair-Trade Knit Toys

Even if you can get a publishing contract – and they’re harder than ever to come by – there’s still a lot to be done for relatively little reward, considering the hours put in.

I remember meeting a bloke in a pub once who told of his best friend admitting how guilty he felt at not buying a copy of the bloke’s recently published book.
“That’s ok,” he said, “give me a dollar twenty and we’re even.”

Somewhat counter-intuitively, you can still make money by giving your work away. Exhibit A: Nina Paley.

SitaCriesARiver

But even if there isn’t any money in it, there’s still the joy of telling stories. And knowing that they won’t be restricted to those who can fork out forty bucks for a copy. Stories for everybody.

The world has changed. Reciting Shakespeare to a printer is no longer good money. Books don’t sell like they used to (although I would be the last to announce the death of the book).
As Curly says in Oklahoma, “Country a-changin’, got to change with it!”

Myself, I long for the old old days, when rich people would display their wealth and taste by having a writer on the payroll. Bed, board, mansion garret and possibly access to the library, in return for writing all day? Where do I apply?

So, if you see something you like, take it. Use it. Pass it on. Feel free.

The world is changing, and “the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”.

What do you think?