Philip Jacob

Brendan Greeley is not a crime

· Philip Jacob

The other day, my good friend, Brendan Greeley from Radio Open Source, was unfairly dragged through the mud for some comments that were posted on Boing Boing. And I feel that now is the time for someone to come to his rescue. My super-brief summary of the events leading up to this go something like this:

  1. This American Life published MP3 versions of their show on their site
  2. John Udell and Jared seperately published RSS-based podcasts on their own sites. These podcasts allowed people to auto-sync This American Life using their podcast software.
  3. Udell and Jared received requests from This American Life to disable their feeds
  4. Boing Boing covered all of this business
  5. Brendan (from Radio Open Source) wrote to Boing Boing and said that he empathized with This American Life. Rather than misquote him, you can read his original words.
  6. Cory Doctorow gave Brendan a public lecture about how much Brendan / Radio Open Source doesn’t understand the Web.

So let’s start here: the target of all the negative attention should first have been directed at This American Life. They’re the ones who clearly don’t understand the points that Cory thinks Brendan doesn’t understand.


It is a fact that Radio Open Source has posted all of their MP3 podcasts under a Creative Commons license. The show is produced in an open, collaborative manner on the Radio Open Source blog. Seriously, this is cutting-edge stuff (in a fairly old-fashioned public radio world) produced by a group of people that very cleary do understand the Web, how it works and how to interact with their hugely supportive listeners.

Now, I’m not trying to make any enemies here. I’m a Boing Boing reader, but if there’s a silly comment to be found here, it’s one of Cory’s own:

There are LOTS of people who could have new business-models if fundamental internet freedoms, like the freedom to link to any URL that will serve back a page, were abolished or rewritten. A competitor to Google that hired a million phone-monkeys to make sure that they had *permission* to link to everything in the search-engine’s database could come into existence with a radically reduced index and then get the law to get rid of the superior resource we have in Google.

I’ll leave the Google-fearing phone monkeys aside for now, but isn’t this example a bit far fetched? The changes that would have to occur in order for this scenario to occur are well beyond hypothetical.

One more:

First of all, you have gravely misunderstood what CC licenses permit.

This is untrue. Unless, that is, Cory is implying that Radio Open Source has been somehow been tricked into releasing their content under CC license since day 1. And John Palfrey sits on the Radio Open Source board. By any measure, this is a guy who understands copyright better than most people in the world and is there to act as an advisor to Brendan and the gang. I can’t see how this claim of a grave misunderstanding holds any water.

Brendan and Cory - you guys need to kiss and make up. Or go out for a beer or something. This skirmish is based on misunderstandings and should never have happened in the first place.