Question: How do people feel about fiction collective (with shared IP) using creative commons?

I've been talking with people about this and want to hear more thoughts.

My current opinion is that it would limit prospects for adaptation of written work into film and television, but I could be mistaken on this. Would a studio want to adapt a work under CC?

More thoughts:

*A fiction collective optioning their work for adaptation is a really good revenue generator, but it also allows for the collective's work to reach a wider audience. Both are helpful towards building stability within the collective (paid positions, benefits, long-term viability of the collective, etc.)

*(In the speculative fiction market at least) A lot of short fiction is already available online for free. If the collective is writing primarily short stories and making them accessible online, is it necessary to use CC, especially when they're making their money off of site visits, subscriptions, ads, etc.?

*The problem would really come from adapting larger work (anthologies and novels) in print and Ebook, but I know writers often post their books on their site as well. Same question applies: is CC necessary?

*I know a lot of this is getting into the weeds, but I've seen a divide here when I talk to writer/artists friends. Some people like giving full access to their work/freeing up control of their IP, while others want to compensated for access/and optioning rights. I think it is a labor question as much as a question about the commons. Artists are constantly exploited for their work ---


and it is one of the only industries (areas of work) where people (both consumers and even some artists) don't expect/believe workers should be able to live off their work. On the other hand, everyone recognizes its value and it is a 760 billion dollar industry ( that provides the livelihood of millions of workers (but often not the artists themselves).

Big names can afford to loosen restrictions and open up access to their work, while being able to negotiate with the traditional industry. Artists with more niche or smaller followings may find that option not viable if the want to live off their work.

So the larger question I'm asking is: how do we open up access while actually creating livelihood for artists?

Secondary question (equally important in my opinion): Is popular work the only work worth of sustained stability and livelihood?

*popular, meaning, successful enough that open access doesn't affect its economic viability*

My thinking is that art for small communities should also be sustainable, even if readership/engagement is limited. I think some form of solidarity should allow such art to exist with livelihood attached (the same way academic work is supported even when engagement is low).

*Note: Art can have a niche following and still be acclaimed. Such art often has value for its fandom AND other artists.*

I think solidarity between artists (collectives, co-ops, shared IP) could allow for niche art to provide livelihood for artists.

I also think solidarity work could be a place where artists can grow and develop their craft while getting stability in return.


we're asking the same thing but in the world of journalism: how can journalists who are reporting on very pertinent issues about minority groups still earn stable income while not limiting content to only paying readership?

A lot of speculative fiction markets publish their short fiction online for free. They make their money off of subscriptions and ads, but there is very little incentive for people to subscribe for things they can read anyway (even if it comes in a nice print package). The most stable magazines are print ones, but they also have way less readers engaging with the work. The online mags that are successful have some side hustles that help, sometimes books, which typically aren't open access.


I wonder what solutions the journalism world has come up with. I've been thinking about some form of online library system, sponsored by creators and paying consumers? Or art as community investment or some multi-stakeholder structure where fans co-own art with creators.

I don't know. The world seems to suggest that writing/art shouldn't be personally sustainable unless you're uber-successful, but that means the places where it is most needed get starved out.


Gah, I think my last toot disappeared before I could toot it! (Or if it did toot, thus will be a doubled toot)

I think it’s a pretty high hurdle and requires a lot of social capital to get consumer/paying/subscribing members. There’s a lot of great sites out there adopting this model that they are fighting for a small market segment. The obvious cooperative solution to this is to form a network but it’s hard when dif projects are at such dif stages of development


I think for both journalists and artists it’s hard to “calculate” value (and distribution of profits) without resorting to commercial success.

The alternative would be to have a way of paying everyone a basic income... I guess it could be pitched to be a “cooperative Patreon”...


I agree. I wonder if workshops and paid writing internships might be a method of solidarity, some way of developing writers in house. Of course, a project would have to be successful before it can do that.

A cooperative Patreon is a fabulous idea. I'd be curious how it would work.

@emi I suggested an association for the spec mags and got positive responses from writers, but not much from the mags themselves. On top of it being difficult to unite many different projects, there also seemed to be a distrust of a cooperative solution.

@cadwellsocialcoop Could you have open access, but reserve the right for the co-op membership to decide what's canon and what's merely fan fiction?

@Steve Fan fiction happens anyway, and most writers position is that it is actually a good thing (with some notable high-profile exceptions).

Some shared worlds also do this (encourage people to make work and then pick out what's canon). A lot of authors I know frown on it because they see it as exploiting free labor for the benefit of the project. Authors feel similarly about writing contests.


The fundamental question is a labor one and it is wrinkle in the discussion about open access. The conversation still requires authors/creators to have to earn the right to livelihood, even though they're doing the work, while simultaneously requiring them to give open access.

Opensource volunteerism also doesn't answer the labor problem, since those that will likely volunteer have the time and stability to do so. It isn't a question for them.

@cadwellsocialcoop I think that's a false dichotomy. Some people who are now Big Names in part became so because their works were freely shared widely (even if they weren't openly licensed), e.g.

@cadwellsocialcoop I don't think the data that exists backs up the widely held assumption that if you openly license a work you can't earn money from it. If anything, the opposite seems to be true. As Doctorow has pointed out many times, for most the problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity, see eg

@cadwellsocialcoop but, yeah, as I understand it there are really issues with e.g. film festivals etc not yet being up with the times and refusing to have submissions from openly licensed work :-/

@cadwellsocialcoop one pattern wrt shared IP within is the dual licensing they do at the FairShares Association; members of the association are able to use all Association IP, including commercially, but non-members can only use it non-commercially.

I am sympathetic to pirated work and I do agree that some of this is an industry problem. Some writers are big enough to willingly leverage piracy against their published work. Some writers might even become big by doing so. But for every Doctorow or Coelho, there are tons more writers who can't make up their advances, even with pirated versions of their work available.

Most writers can't unilaterally give access to their full catalog. Your example authors are best-sellers. What about mid-list authors, or authors that don't generally sell well? These authors may be well-reviewed or their work might not have enough popular sensibilities to benefit from ready access to their work. Indie publishing shows that in the game of cheap or open access work, being prolific is what is going to get you financial stability.

Or popular. Prolific or popular. What if you are writing books that people love, but the audience is smaller, books that gain recognition, even win awards within the field, but just never become best-sellers, pirated or not.

The diversity within publishing makes Doctorow's argument feel like it is missing other important considerations.

My argument here isn't as reductive as saying piracy is wrong, or work shouldn't be open access. My argument, my question really, is that of expectation. If we expect work to be available in this way, shouldn't we ALSO advocate for the livelihood of artists?

Open access AND socialization of art feels like one answer. It is unfair for culture and society to say that art is extremely valuable, but treat the makers like that work should be a side hustle.

Artists should have a salary, or the open access should be regulated through system that compensates artists, or art should be subsidized.

Definitely agree that industry concerns should be addressed, open-access becoming a norm. But if we are asking artists to put out their work for free, we should also be asking ourselves how we can put systems in place that will support them, if that system doesn't grant them stability. This system doesn't either, but that's my point really.

@cadwellsocialcoop yeah, no simple answers to the conundrum. Hard to find a stable wholesome livelihood of any kind really. Ultimately we need broadscale land, banking and media reform, but how to get there?

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