(urth) Lexicon Urthus

Maru Dubshinki marudubshinki at gmail.com
Fri Jul 22 11:26:27 PDT 2005

Alright, I'm done. Here's the rough draft; critique as you will:

Dear Mr. Andre-Driussi:

On behalf on the Urth.net mailing list [0], I would like to ask you to
re-license ''Lexicon Urthus'' with a free-er license; by 'free' I mean
free as in speech [1], or the 'free software' sense [2].

I ask because your work is very well-known on the list, as are you,
but it is nigh impossible to acquire.  People like myself, who were
not around during the original printing of "Lexicon Urthus", now find
it impossible to acquire a copy.  No physical book stores possess any
of the run of 1000 books; Sirius Fiction says it is completely out,
with no plans for a corrected second printing, or a second edition
[3].  Abebooks, Amazon, Ebay etc. all demand a absolute minimum of 100
US$ for a copy, which may not even be in mint condition!  Simply put,
$ 100 is not doable for the vast majority of Wolfean readers, and a
year is a long time.

Releasing your work under a permissive license would cost you very
little; commercial prospects for "Lexicon Urthus" appear minimal, due
to the fact that by its very nature it appeals to a limited and select
group, so potential profit is very slim (though there is some demand
[5]).  Furthermore, if you feel there are opportunities for future
editions, you could simply release it under a Creative Commons [6]
license reserving commercial use of "Lexicon Urthus" exclusively to
yourself, but freely allowing non-profit usage of it [7], or perhaps
under another similar license [8]; or possibly even into the public
domain [9] (which, however, from our perspective would be ideal.
Public domain is the freest licensing scheme, and the simplest to
understand and work with). Or you could choose the GNU Free
Documentation License [10].

There are strong reasons to believe that a freely available online
edition will not cannibalize sales of "Lexicon Urthus"- Firstly, the
person who will read more than a smidgen of an online edition is very
probably a fan of Gene Wolfe's work, and so would buy an edition for
convenience, as reading online fatigues the eyes and is not always
possible, if they don't buy just to support critical Wolfe literature
or for their collection; Secondly, more likely, viewers will be
looking up a few entries. Seeing the quality of the entries, they may
well be more motivated to buy, since "Lexicon Urthus" would then not
be a book of unknown quality with a deterring price (Cory Doctorow
[11] notes on the Wikipedia article on him (a project known for its
sucess and its use of a free license [12]) that his books have sold
very well, thanks to his licensing practices [13]). Thirdly, all the
licenses suggested would allow you to incorporate our work into any
future editions for free.

Whichever you choose, be it one of those I suggested or a license of
your own devising, you need only reply with a refusal, or with a
simple statement saying "I hereby release my "Lexicon Urthus" under
the X license." And that's it- one of your fans has already
volunteered [14] to scan and format it; then the rest of us can set to
work improving it, fixing the small errors others have caught [15],

What motivation do I have to ask?  Simply that "Lexicon Urthus" could
be an excellent basis for the long-discussed Urth.net FAQ, since it
disposes of just about every vocabulary related question, is a primary
source document for many of the most popular theories, and is

Thank you for your time. I hope you will consider my suggestions seriously.

~Maru Dubshinki

[0] http://www.urth.net/
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software
[3] http://www.siriusfiction.com/#lexicon
[4] http://lists.urth.net/htdig.cgi/urth-urth.net/2004-December/000159.html
[5] http://listserver.dreamhost.com/pipermail/urth-urth.net/2005-July/001275.html
[6] http://creativecommons.org/ 
[7] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/
[8] http://creativecommons.org/license/
[9] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain
[10] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Free_Documentation_License 
[11] http://www.craphound.com/
[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Cory_Doctorow
[13] http://craphound.com/someone/000362.html
[14] http://listserver.dreamhost.com/pipermail/urth-urth.net/2005-July/001269.html
[15] http://www.siriusfiction.com/errata.html

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