Thursday – Sharing

02007-02-16 | Computer, Copyright, Musings, New Mexico, Reading, Recording, Santa Fe, Technology | 7 comments

More snow last night. About 2-3 inches. The sun is out and makes it all sparkle. As I turn around a corner I see the mountains, covered in fresh and blinding white snow.

More thoughts on sharing and DRM:
Sharing is a very important, maybe the most important way to create culture. You can share books by lending ones you really like to your friends. That’s how knowledge spreads. You find a book you love, one I have never heard of, or maybe one I have passed on because I don’t like the cover or the author or the theme, and you lend it to me and I read it because I want to see what it is you like about it… and maybe I’ll love it, too. Maybe I’ll buy another copy to give or lend to another friend.

We can do the same thing with music. Even before copying CDs became a possibility there was the exchange of CDs. I’ll borrow these two and lend you these.

I think it is typical of our present-day culture that we are trying to eliminate that most basic element of culture: sharing information, sharing beauty, sharing a different POV. By adding DRM to files – presently that means music, but movies are starting to be downloaded regularly and once there is a reader that doesn’t look and feel like crap books will be downloaded as well – we are eliminating sharing. You won’t lend me your reader, because then you would not be able to read other books, and I am not going to camp out in your house so I can use your reader when you don’t…

We need to educate: it is OK to copy a few songs, even a whole album for your friend, or several friends – but it is most certainly not OK to make that music album or book available to all on the internet. That is not sharing – that is indiscriminately giving something away and most certainly piracy. We need to teach people the difference between sharing culture, which is of supreme importance and adds value – and piracy, which subtracts value and affects the livelihood of the author.

In the afternoon Genpo Roshi asks me for a brief blurb for his upcoming book Big Mind/Big Heart: Finding Your Way. I suggest:

The new book by Genpo Roshi is the missing manual for human living. Every human should receive it at birth.


  1. dave

    We do need to educate, which can be as simple as a parent setting an example for their children by ethical actions. For example, if the parent always tries to get something for “free” then the child will tend to follow suit thinking it’s proper when it’s really subtracting value from the culture.

    BTW, I like the blurb. When is Genpo Roshi’s book due out?

  2. Jill


    I’m “The more ears reached…the more hearts touched.” girl who buys her music and loves to share it. I’m not a “Free Downloader” but I have accepted copies from friends.

    I was climbing back up the fence on this issue after reading about the piracy of Ottmar’s music and considering why a line should be drawn when it comes to ALL art forms.

    Patty Larkin performed last night in a small coffee shop in Cedar City, Utah. The show was amazing. I sat in the audience feeling a little twinge of guilt, thinking about how I came to know of Patty because a friend had copied her CD and handed it to me a couple of years ago. I knew about the show because I had shared the same CD with my sister who lives in Cedar… who told me she shared it with another friend in Cedar… who may have shared with another friend… and so on…and so on… and there we all were drinking in the magic of Patty’s live performance.

    After the show I was delighted to see us get in line to buy her CDs (I bought three, including the copied one I already had) and Patty gracefully signed them for us. The thought hit me… it is very likely none of us would have been there if it weren’t for the copy my friend had made.

    Our ears were reached and our hearts were touched.

    I’m still trying to sort my thoughts understanding that there are pirates in my “perfect sharing world”.

    Thanks for this post Ottmar.

  3. Anna

    Ottmar, when I attended your Sydney performance, I got to talking to some people. The woman told me that she learned about you from her sister who lives overseas (received a copy of one of your CDs), she wanted to know where I learned about your music and what brought me there that night. I think thats how most people got to talk that night, especially waiting for the CDs to get signed.

    Most people find it strange that I have an open mind, I do purchase CDs and go to concerts after hearing 30sec of the tracks (courtesy Amazon).

  4. Anna

    Ottmar, will this book be only available through Shambhala Publications?

  5. Mixalis

    In the early 80’s, I was very fortunate to travel to Central Africa. While residing in Bujumbura, Burundi, I would frequent the local shops and take part in as many cultural events as possible. But to my surprise, American soap opera’s were all the rage in Bujumbura. Thanks to video pirates in europe, a few wealthy shop owners in Bujumbura were able to get in the video rental business ( pre- internet days). Even lower income families were able to rent a an episode of Dallas at the mere price of 300 franks Burundica ($1.80).

    This story has 2 negatives;

    1. Shop owners accepting video copies of the soaps to rent for the purpose of making money.

    2. A whole generation of people in Bujumbura were exposed to “Dallas”

    In my opinion, the world will always have pirates and thieves,however, they will never out number the good, honest, and hard-working majority.


  6. ottmar

    Anna – Why do you say that? I think the book will be published by Kanzeon or’s new publishing arm – not sure what the exact name of that publisher is nor what the exact release date will be. Will keep everyone posted though.

  7. Anna

    Ottmar, lately I’ve noticed that a lot of books have been published by Shambhala Publications, hence my question.

    If it wasn’t for Shambhala Publications, I’ve never have learned about zen scrolls, and enso etc.


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