The Real Cost Of Free

Cory Doctorow

By Cory Doctorow: Last week, my fellow Guardian columnist Helienne Lindvall published a piece headlined The cost of free, in which she called it “ironic” that “advocates of free online content” (including me) “charge hefty fees to speak at events”.

Lindvall says she spoke to someone who approached an agency I once worked with to hire me for a lecture and was quoted $10,000-$20,000 (£6,300-£12,700) to speak at a college and $25,000 to speak at a conference. Lindvall goes on to talk about the fees commanded by other speakers, including Wired editor Chris Anderson, author of a book called “Free” (which I reviewed here in July 2009), Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde and marketing expert Seth Godin. In Lindvall’s view, all of us are part of a united ideology that exhorts artists to give their work away for free, but we don’t practice what we preach because we charge so much for our time.

It’s unfortunate that Lindvall didn’t bother to check her facts. I haven’t been represented by the agency she referenced for several years, and in any event, no one has ever paid me $25,000 to appear at any event. Indeed, the vast majority of lectures I give are free (see here for the past six months’ talks and their associated fees

This article originally appeared in © Guardian News & Media Ltd..

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