Cory Doctorow and Ursula Le Guin have something in common. Something that many great artists and activists seem to share. They do great work, they write great books, they say great things... but as people they can be great stubborn chumps, dills and pains-in-the-ass. Unfortunately the fact that they do great stuff doesn't necessarily make them great people.
I really admire Doctorow's activism around DRM and that he made his books available on the net. I practically read boing-boing everyday. Ursula Le Guin is an accomplished author and scholar. The Earthsea novels were part of my childhood. I really felt for her when they slaughtered her books and turned the remaining lips, hooves and arseholes into some of the worst television the world has ever seen.
But look at this and this.
In summary Le Guin wrote a really short story (577 words) and posted it to Ansible. Frankly I've seen better comments on Slashdot. But Doctorow liked Le Guin so much he posted the whole thing on boing-boing. Good for him, helping an old lady get some publicity. But it turned out Le Guin didn't like that. Even though her work was available on the net and Cory could have just linked to it, she objected to the reproduction on boing-boing. Instead of contacting Cory directly to ask him to remove it (which he surely would have) she had someone else write a post dissing his use of the 'work' and mischaracterising the effect of the Creative Commons licence. Now Doctorow has apologised to Le Guin and remove all references to her from boing-boing.
Partly this whole situation results from Le Guin abusing the de minimis rule in copyright. This is the issue about how small does a work need to be before it ceased to have copyright protection. In general, you can't have copyright in one word (that is trademark territory) but you might be able to have copyright in a sentence. Le Guin's 577 word "story" is clearly capable of being a work protected by copyright. Reproducing it in its entirety is not fair use. However just because Le Guin was within her rights, doesn't mean she was right.
My message for Le Guin. Grow up. Doctorow was trying to do you a favour. If "gravy" is all you care about, being a copyright bully about this issue has probably cost you more in book sales than you'll earn with your 577 word "story". Not contacting Doctorow directly to deal with this issue discreetly doesn't say much about your character. Allowing your friend to slime the Creative Commons is just low.
My message for Doctorow. Grow some balls. Le Guin did the wrong thing. She may be right in law but that does not mean she is morally right. The last time I looked Cory Doctorow stood up to copyright bullies rather than backing down and apologising. She's like three times your age boy, find the nerve.