“Information Doesn’t Want to be Free” Review

I recently read Information Doesn’t Want to be Free, by Cory Doctorow. It contained a lot of points and themes for such a slender volume, but I found it enjoyable overall. It can be thought of as a collection of short essays organized by their thematic relation to each of “Doctorow’s Three Laws.”

I would recommend it as a primer to anyone who isn’t intimately familiar with the details of the recent “copyfights” and the history of intellectual property, especially as it pertains to record labels and book publishers. It gives a whirlwind tour of the issues entangling trusted computing, DRM, national Internet firewalls, censorship, surveillance, and vendor lock-in. It points out the many ways “digital locks” and their anti-circumvention laws empower middlemen at the expense of content creators and their audiences, enable both lawful and unlawful surveillance and censorship, and undermine the security of the computers that have come to permeate every aspect of our lives.

The physical book itself is well-designed and worth having as an artifact in its own right, if you can afford it. The typography is beautiful and the red and white color scheme is striking. The content itself will undoubtedly provide many jumping-off points for my own studies and writing in the future. (I have pages and pages of notes to work from!) And as with all his books, text and ebook versions will be made available for free on his website soon.