The Smear Campaign Against Larry Lessig And Free Culture

from the getting-nasty dept

You may recall that I've had my run-ins in the past with the incredibly misnamed Progress & Freedom Foundation. While I tend to think that Adam Theirer does okay work for them, almost every other report that comes out of the "think tank" seems highly questionable. We haven't heard much from them lately on intellectual property rights -- perhaps since two of their most outspoken folks on that topic (Patrick Ross and James DeLong) moved on. However, it looks like they've found someone new to drum up ridiculous arguments on intellectual property issues. If you don't recall, PFF is the group that has claimed that fair use harms innovation, that net neutrality is theft, and that open spectrum harms innovation (obviously WiFi was a huge problem). The most amazing thing to me, though, is that the PFF positions itself as a "libertarian" "free markets" think tank that thinks there should be less government regulation. But... anything having to do with intellectual property or spectrum, and suddenly all those libertarian statements go out the window.

Given all of that history, it's still rather amazing to read its newly released report on how the "Free Culture" movement, as explained by Larry Lessig, is really a "quasi-socialist" movement. Reading the full paper, you get a sense of how Washington DC works. It's a pure smear job that takes Lessig quotes out of context for ultimate impact and fills the rest with ad hominem and totally unsupported attacks. I certainly don't agree with everything that Lessig has to say -- and I particularly disagree with some of his policy recommendations. But there's simply no way to read Lessig's work and come to the conclusions in this paper if you are being intellectually honest. You can disagree with his conclusions. You can disagree with his reasoning -- but to paint what he has to say as a celebration of communism or socialism is simply a smear tactic and a political hack attack.

What becomes clear as you read the attack is that the author, Tom Sydnor, simply read through Lessig's works in search of sentences that could be taken out of context in order to paint Lessig as a secret socialist/communist. It's hard to see how that's "scholarship." It's not worth refuting each and every statement here, but we'll give a few simple examples. First, Sydnor claims that Lessig "demonizes" property owners. Actually, Sydnor claims that Lessig "literally demonizes property owners." Unless Lessig is turning property owners into demons, then I'd have to say that Sydnor doesn't understand what "literally" means. But, more to the point, this is a rhetorical trick by Sydnor, which is the basis of nearly his entire paper, where he repeatedly assumes that intellectual property is no different than tangible property. This is a fabrication. There is no reason to ignore the very real differences between the two unless you're trying to unfairly and dishonestly paint someone as supporting something they have not.

While making fun of Lessig (Sydnor snidely accuses Lessig of "name calling" before referring to Lessig as a "hypocritical demagogue" -- kettle, pot, etc.), Sydnor points out that Lessig "analogizes property rights to the pesticide DDT." If you're playing along in the home game, Sydnor is pulling this from page 129 in Lessig's book Free Culture. Lessig's actual point, which is quite valid and interesting is that DDT was originally designed to serve a good purpose, but it was only later that it was realized that it had negative unintended consequences. This isn't "demonizing property rights" as Sydnor implies. It's merely pointing out that even those with the best of intentions (the makers of DDT or the creators of copyright law) may not realize the negative consequences of their actions, and how those negative consequences may outweigh the positive consequences.
"No one set out to destroy the environment. Paul Muller certainly did not aim to harm any birds. But the effort to solve one set of problems produced another set which, in the view of some, was far worse than the problems that were originally attacked. Or more accurately, the problems DDT caused were worse than the problems it solved, at least when considering the other, more environmentally friendly ways to solve the problems that DDT was meant to solve."
If someone can explain how that's somehow demonizing property rights, I've got a job for you as a paid shill in DC. Instead, it's making a valid point that isn't demonizing anything -- most certainly not property rights. You can go through the rest of Sydnor's piece, and each and every time you'll notice he does one of two things: he conflates copyright with tangible property or he takes statements out of context to prove his point. He's also not beyond ridiculous hyperbole. In pointing to a rather reasonable quote from Lessig about why we should be interested in seeing if other systems can provide better outcomes, Sydnor brushes off all other systems of copyright by claiming:
"But during the last century, humanity conducted many vast experimental investigations of the relative merits of these "different property systems and the freedoms each allowed." Those experiments were run by well-intended people who sincerely believed that replacing systems of private property with "different systems" would improve the material and spiritual well-being of humanity. During those experiments, millions were murdered and billions were impoverished and enslaved.
Hyperbole much, Tom? Sydnor, once again, is equating copyright to tangible property (missing the irony that copyright -- a government granted monopoly -- seems a lot more closely aligned with the centralized governments of the former socialist nations than a system that relies on the free market). He then cuts off any questions about looking for a more reasonable system than copyright (which is a monopoly right, not a property right) by suggesting that any other system leads to "millions murdered" and "billions impoverished and enslaved." It's quite a leap. If there was any left, this paper destroys any credibility on pretty much anything coming out of PFF these days. It's the worst kind of political smear tactic.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    mjr1007, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 1:22pm

    How do I get this Mike?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    mjr1007, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 1:23pm

    How do I get this Mike?

    Mike,

    Great job. You clearly know the difference between rhetoric and reason. You've done a great job of destroying this guys arguments. All I want to know is

    "HOW DO I GET THIS MIKE?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      matt, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 1:43pm

      Re: How do I get this Mike? uh what?

      Your comment makes no sense buddy.

      Additionally, has anyone looked into this "PFF"'s events?

      They are stacked to the freakin walls with one sided views.

      example:
      http://www.pff.org/events/pastevents/062807broadbandconference.asp

      so a broadband conference. Who's in on it? Verizon, comcast, and someone speaking for the free press. Where do any of these people, who are all economists or PR members, have any qualification for any technical presentations or technical viewpoints as they are presenting?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    DCX2, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 2:40pm

    This sounds familiar

    What becomes clear as you read the attack is that the author, Tom Sydnor, simply read through Lessig's works in search of sentences that could be taken out of context in order to paint Lessig as a secret socialist/communist.

    Gee, this sounds familiar. It sounds like someone who watched a lot of Jeremiah Wright's sermons in search of sentences that could be taken out of context in order to paint Wright as a secret anti-American extremist (the true irony of which is that those who paint him as "anti-American" have probably done less for Americans than Wright has, with his service in the Marines and Navy and his various ministries for the poor and the homeless etc)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 2:42pm

      Re: This sounds familiar

      and his multi-million dollar mansion being built on the backs of his poor parishioners.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    MLS, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 3:08pm

    Remember this comment yesterday concerning ALJs at the USPTO?:

    "While the issue was first raised by a well-regarded scholar last year..."

    That individual is John Duffy, one of the principals with the PFF.

    That organization is not "stocked" with a bunch of dyed-in-the-wool "property" people, but with many who are well respected and versed in the field of law known as IP. I know and have dealt with several of them and they are far from being off the deep end as your numerous articles consistently suggest about those who hold views that run contrary to yours concerning digital content.

    While I certainly do not hold Larry Lessig's views in disregard as his work is well respected, this does not mean that his views are necessarily correct and that those who may disagree with him are out of touch with the reality of the "digital age".

    By the way, and to keep things in perspective, Larry Lessig is one of the individuals behind the concept of Creative Commons. To me this is interesting in that CC does rely upon copyright law (works are licensed since CC is a licensing scheme). For a work to be truly free, all rights would be disclaimed such that the work truly enters the public domain. If as so many who post in response to Techdirt articles seem to believe that copyright serves as an impediment to "progress" (as used in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution), then I do have to wonder why even the CC group operates under the umbrella of copyright law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      mobiGeek, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 6:27pm

      Re:

      You've made one interesting point about a principal at PFF. But you have not addressed at all any of the many articles raised against PFF nor any of the many points raised against the one paper in particular.

      So your point that these guys are not "deep end" doesn't hold.

      No one said that Lessig's views are entirely correct. No one said that disagreeing with Lessig's views make one "out of touch". In fact, Mike explicitly states that he disagrees with Lessig on some issues.

      And it isn't "interesting" that CC depends on copyright. It leverages the copyright system specifically. To say that something is "more free" by not applying copyright is to twist the meaning of "free". Free to copy is one thing, free to remove my credit of authorship is a completely different.

      Those against copyright are not out to abolish the protecting of authorship credit; we are out to abolish the abuse of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Jason Phillips (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 12:44pm

      Re: to MLS,

      Of course Lessig is a proponent of Creative Commons. In his world, CC would be used to grant "rights" to those, like me, who create for public consumption. The "real" copyrights would only be available to the Disneys, NBCs, and CBS's of the world who create for profit, and they would be free to take my CC works and use them as their own for eternity, without compensation to me. It's a wonderful dream for the Socialist community to push Creative Commons in the way that works for them.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Jason Phillips (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 1:04pm

        Re: Re: to MLS,

        Good lord! I've forgotten to add the /sarcasm tag to my previous reply to MLS. Apologies all around for the confusion.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Nick (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re: to MLS,

        Creative Commons is an option to a creator. Its proponents do not suggest that everyone abolishes copyright and replace it with Creative Commons.

        There are many different types of Creative Commons licenses. By far, the most popular is BY-NC-SA. BY states that the secondary user of the work say who the original artist its, NC means it cannot be for commercial purposes, and SA is share alike, meaning the license becomes viral, that the secondary user must also license their derivative work as a share alike license, as well as any others. This is probably becuase authors open to CC appreciate flattery, they hate red-tape and their possible contribution to it.

        The Creative Commons license that most opponents default to thinking about is BY only, who's only requirement is author attribution. It which allows commercial derivative use, does not require the derivatives be licensed under CC. It is easy for opponents to say that it allows media corporations to "steal" artists' work. But the artists might decide on this license for personal reasons which the opponents are either not aware of or ignorant about. Some authors might not even disclose the purposes for the choice of the license he or she choses.

        It is possible to be a profitable and commercial with Creative Commons or GPL licenses. Examples are Nine Inch Nails, Cory Doctorow, MySQL. Virility is a marketing strategy. Allowing content and ideas to flow with less restrictions than copyright can be central to the marketing strategy for some. CC allows artists and strategist to chose CC for its virility. If the author choose the traditional copyright for another type of work, he or she may have reasons, but the freedom to chose CC or copyright is the key. It is intellectuality dishonest to suggest that anyone who picks a CC license is an IP abolitionist or disrespectful of the way other peoples chose to license his or her works.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    I wonder..

    ...if the PFF realizes that much of Disney's early movies were based on public domain content.

    ...if the PFF realizes that one of the reasons that movie studios are located in California was to avoid paying royalties to Thomas Edison.

    ...if the PFF realizes that the only reason that the internet took off was because universities and the government opened it up to others.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Tom Sydnor, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 3:14pm

    Gee, the "smear job" seems to hold up pretty well.

    Mr. Masniak, you seem upset. I’m sorry that you think that I “smeared” Lessig by pointing out that conjoining tax-funding of expression with a regime of pervasive surveillance of what ordinary people hear, watch, and read is an idea sufficiently dangerous and shopworn that it could be fairly labeled “quasi-socialist utopianism.” I continue to think the label fair.

    The central claim in my paper is that Lessig proposed to replace copyrights with a scheme in which the government determines the value of expression, taxes technologies, and conducts pervasive surveillance of what people read in order to divide up the speech-tax revenues. As I point out, this presents us with an amazing spectacle: “Baby-Boomer academics arguing that while the kids may have been alright, the music of the 1960s and early 1970s would have been so much better had it been guided by Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Nixon.”

    You don’t dispute any of this, Mr. Masniak. You can’t.

    The paper also points out that similar “governmentally administered” reward schemes were common in communist countries—and were disastrous from every conceivable point of view. You do dispute this—but only by claiming that I err by “equating copyright to tangible property right.”

    We’ll debate that later; for now, it’s irrelevant. As I note in the paper by quoting Fidel Castro and other sources, these collectivist regimes did, in fact, use similar reward schemes to replace copyrights. And such schemes were as, or more, disastrous than their collectivists schemes for producing tangible property. But don’t take my word on it, here’s Leszek Kolalowski: “[T] he longer the communists have been in power, the fewer such works their have been. Genuinely original work inspired by communist ideas, work of any real worth, virtually disappeared in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.” My Correct Views on Everything, p. 88.

    Apart from your here-irrelevant claim that copyrights differ from tangible property rights, you don’t dispute any of this. You can’t: It is true. Lessig did declare it "monstrous" to use property rights to encourage the production of private expression and innovatation and then propose to replace them with something much like what Castro did in Cuba. I do no one wrong by noting that in doing so, Lessig fails to confront some brute and highly relevant facts from recent history. He does.

    Nor do you dispute that that Lessig praised the “effective freedom” and ideals of communist Vietnam while denigrating those of the United States. He did.

    Nor do you dispute that Lessig used the term “bland communism” to characterize the show-trial, purge, and terror-famine filled reign of Joseph Stalin. He did.

    Nor do you dispute that Lessig analogizes most people to witless cows. He did.

    Nor do you dispute that Lessig devoted entire chapters of his 1999 book Code and his 2006 book Code v.2.0 to very personalized, (“What Declan Doesn’t Get”), attacks on the as-he-sees-it pernicious influence of “libertarians” who dare to think that control of all aspects of the Internet should not be vested in the government. He did.

    Nor do you dispute that Lessig, in the book and law-review article cited, re-defined the meaning of the word “free” until costly, state-controlled resources are “free.” He did.

    In short, you bewail a “smear job” without showing that one occurred. And for good reason: No missing "context" can rationalize, e.g., Lessig’s contortions of "free," his tax-and-surveillance scheme, or his defenses of Vietnamese and Soviet communism. (Stalin? bland!?!?)

    As for name calling, I did not accuse Lessig of that, I showed it. I quoted the very passages of his own articles that show that Lessig has effectively denounced himself as a terrifyingly self-righteous partisan who uses the rhetoric of racism to ”insist that the other side is the devil’s own work.” Those are Lessig’s words, not mine. I do no one wrong by exposing Lessig's own hypocrisy.

    I understand that you do, however, really like Lessig’s explanation of why we should think of property rights like DDT. Others have concluded that it backfires miserably. See Julia D. Mahoney, Lawrence Lessig’s Dystopian Vision, 90 Va. L. Rev. 2305, 2324-26 (2004). I barely thought it worthy of note.

    Finally, you get nowhere by insisting that a copyright “is a monopoly right, not a property right.” Those are two ways to say the same thing. Again, no need to take my word on it. Here is Milton Friedman: “[T]he grant of patents to inventors and copyrights to authors… are different because they can equally be understood as defining property rights. In a literal sense, if I have a property right to a particular piece of land, I can be said to have a monopoly with respect to that land defined and enforced by the government.” Capitalism and Freedom, p. 127.

    And do remember that to speak of “free markets” or “market competition” in the absence of legally and practically enforceable private property rights is nonsensical. Property rights are an indispensible predicate to that which economists call "market competition."

    At any rate, thanks for the comments. --Tom

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Willton, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 4:41pm

      Re: Gee, the "smear job" seems to hold up pretty well.

      Well, Mike, I don't know about the Lessig stuff, but Mr. Sydnor is dead on about you trying to make a distinction between a "monopoly right" and a "property right." It's a distinction without a difference. If you own property rights to a thing, whether it's a tangible thing (like a plot of land or an automobile) or an intangible thing (like the trademark TechDirt), you almost always have a monopoly over that thing. If you didn't, then the property right would not be all that valuable.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Mike (profile), Apr 29th, 2008 @ 4:54pm

        Re: Re: Gee, the "smear job" seems to hold up pretty well.

        Well, Mike, I don't know about the Lessig stuff, but Mr. Sydnor is dead on about you trying to make a distinction between a "monopoly right" and a "property right." It's a distinction without a difference. If you own property rights to a thing, whether it's a tangible thing (like a plot of land or an automobile) or an intangible thing (like the trademark TechDirt), you almost always have a monopoly over that thing. If you didn't, then the property right would not be all that valuable.

        The point is in understanding that not all monopolies are good. If you honestly believe that property rights are necessarily good (as Sydnor posits) and then that property rights and monopoly rights are identical, then why don't you support granting all kinds of monopolies. Why don't we have a gov't monopoly on sugar production? Or computers? After all, isn't that a good thing, according to this reasoning?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Willton, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 6:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: Gee, the

          The point is in understanding that not all monopolies are good. If you honestly believe that property rights are necessarily good (as Sydnor posits) and then that property rights and monopoly rights are identical, then why don't you support granting all kinds of monopolies. Why don't we have a gov't monopoly on sugar production? Or computers? After all, isn't that a good thing, according to this reasoning?

          I suppose it would be, according to that reasoning. But you make one honkingly incorrect assumption: you assume that I prescribe to the reasoning that all property rights are good. Strawman alert: I don't believe I said or implied that once. Talk about trying to smear someone...

          What I am saying is that this mess about a monopoly right vs. a property right is a distinction without a difference. A property right, like the right to exclude, essentially gives you a monopoly over a certain thing in a certain way, regardless of whether that thing is a plot of land, a piece of candy, a trade name, or a copyright. All you're doing by calling an intellectual property right "a monopoly right" is using a pejorative to garner favor for your position.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            Mike (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 1:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Gee, the

            But you make one honkingly incorrect assumption: you assume that I prescribe to the reasoning that all property rights are good. Strawman alert: I don't believe I said or implied that once. Talk about trying to smear someone...

            I was referring to Tom's statements, as I stated in the comment.

            What I am saying is that this mess about a monopoly right vs. a property right is a distinction without a difference.

            I disagree for an important reason. Property rights is used as a term that suggests a natural right to property. The idea of a monopoly right is clearly seen as something granted by the gov't. That distinction is important.

            Using "property right" to describe a monopoly is misleading. It implies a natural right where there is none.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Mischa, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 6:13pm

        Re: Re: Gee, the

        How can either one of you claim that copyrights and property rights are the same thing? The difference between tangible and intangible isn't minor.

        If you give something tangible to someone else you lose something. Be it the object you had, or the resources it took to make it, you loose something. You don't loose any of those things when you give away something intangible. Copying the intangible is quite easy and has almost no cost. Copying the tangible can take a lot of effort or money and is sometimes impossible no matter how much money you have to spend. (Anyone tried copying a plot of land recently?)

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Willton, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 6:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: Gee, the

          How can either one of you claim that copyrights and property rights are the same thing? The difference between tangible and intangible isn't minor.

          Property rights can be placed on anything, tangible or intangible. You seem to be confused in thinking that "property" only refers to tangible things. It does not.

          Copyrights are a subset of the broader realm of property rights.

          If you give something tangible to someone else you lose something. Be it the object you had, or the resources it took to make it, you loose something. You don't loose any of those things when you give away something intangible. Copying the intangible is quite easy and has almost no cost. Copying the tangible can take a lot of effort or money and is sometimes impossible no matter how much money you have to spend. (Anyone tried copying a plot of land recently?)

          Certainly there's a large difference between tangible and intangible things. But that difference in and of itself does not change the fact that the Government can grant you property rights in either.

          Also, learn basic English: if you give something away, you do not "loose" it -- you lose it.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Colg, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 9:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Gee, the

            "Certainly there's a large difference between tangible and intangible things. But that difference in and of itself does not change the fact that the Government can grant you property rights in either."

            This isn't the point of the debate. Certainly the government can grant property rights to any number of things. The question is should it? and for how long?

            "Also, learn basic English: if you give something away, you do not "loose" it -- you lose it."

            It occurs to me that if you give something away, you do in a sense loose it. But that doesn't really matter, the point of your comment wasn't about English, it was about being petty.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Apr 29th, 2008 @ 4:52pm

      Re: Gee, the "smear job" seems to hold up pretty well.

      Hi Tom,

      First off, you don't ever address the key concern I have with your paper: the conflation of tangible property and intangible property.

      And, while you're right that I didn't address every awful, misleading or incorrect point in your paper, it was certainly not because I cannot -- but because (as I clearly stated) it wasn't worth it to go for point for point against your assertions.

      But, if you really want to go down this rabbit hole, so be it.

      tax-funding of expression with a regime of pervasive surveillance of what ordinary people hear, watch, and read is an idea sufficiently dangerous and shopworn that it could be fairly labeled “quasi-socialist utopianism.” I continue to think the label fair.

      Ah, nice mislabeling. "tax-funding of expression with a regime of pervasive surveillance of what ordinary people hear, watch, and read" is a nice label, but wholly inaccurate concerning what Lessig has proposed.

      I should note that I disagree with any sort of compulsory licensing-type scheme, but compulsory licensing is hardly "tax-funding of expression with a regime of pervasive surveillance of what ordinary people hear, watch, and read."

      The central claim in my paper is that Lessig proposed to replace copyrights with a scheme in which the government determines the value of expression, taxes technologies, and conducts pervasive surveillance of what people read in order to divide up the speech-tax revenues.

      Again, I don't support compulsory licensing schemes, at all, but if that's all you get out of Lessig's writings, you read them wrong.

      The paper also points out that similar “governmentally administered” reward schemes were common in communist countries

      Again, the only people who think this is accurate are those who haven't read Lessig's work or those (like yourself) who want to mislead. Lessig brought up a number of different suggested solutions -- none of which he said were perfect, but as ideas to discuss ways to fix a broken system.

      None of them were the equivalent of the communist reward schemes in any meaningful way. The only way to paint them that way is to simply ignore reality.

      only by claiming that I err by “equating copyright to tangible property right.”

      We’ll debate that later; for now, it’s irrelevant.


      Considering it's the basis of your entire paper, it's actually very very very relevant. And you don't debate it later. You ignore it.

      As I note in the paper by quoting Fidel Castro and other sources, these collectivist regimes did, in fact, use similar reward schemes to replace copyrights.

      This is blatant revisionism, designed to link up an entirely different concept, as proposed by Lessig with Castro. Castro's system was purely a centralized gov't-based system -- which is not (again) what Lessig was suggesting (again, as one of many different potential paths to explore). You paint what was done in Cuba as identical to Lessig's proposal, when they're extremely different. A voluntary licensing scheme is not gov't funded art creation.

      But don’t take my word on it, here’s Leszek Kolalowski: “[T] he longer the communists have been in power, the fewer such works their have been. Genuinely original work inspired by communist ideas, work of any real worth, virtually disappeared in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.” My Correct Views on Everything, p. 88.

      Indeed. Communist gov't funding of arts was a disaster. And I'd say the same thing about Lessig's proposal if that's what he's proposing. The problem is that he's not. And you know it.


      Apart from your here-irrelevant claim that copyrights differ from tangible property rights, you don’t dispute any of this. You can’t: It is true.


      Except that it's not true. You twist Lessig's words to make it appear as if he's supporting something he clearly is not. It's a flat out smear campaign and you should be ashamed of yourself.

      Lessig did declare it "monstrous" to use property rights to encourage the production of private expression and innovatation and then propose to replace them with something much like what Castro did in Cuba. I do no one wrong by noting that in doing so,

      Tom, frankly, the above statement is so sickening that I'm almost tempted not to respond to it at all, but someone needs to shine a light on your blatant falsehoods.

      Lessig's use of the word monstrous was not, as you suggest, in talking about the idea of using property rights to motivate expression. What he describes as monstrous is the way property rights have been ABUSED by certain interests in denying AIDS medication to those who can benefit most from it.

      And again, he does not propose to replace it with a system like that in Cuba, no matter how many times you repeat this.

      For you to take Lessig's words out of context like that is, frankly, disgusting. Are you proud of yourself?

      Nor do you dispute that that Lessig praised the “effective freedom” and ideals of communist Vietnam while denigrating those of the United States. He did.


      Taken totally out of context. People who actually care can read the details:

      http://www.socialtext.net/codev2/index.cgi?sovereignty

      What Lessig pointed out is that for many people in Vietnam, they don't end up dealing with day to day regulations, while most people in the US do. This isn't to praise the communist system (which he clearly states has many, many problems) but to point out how the US system is much more highly regulated than we believe.

      It's an argument in favor of fewer regulations. And you made it sound like exactly the opposite.

      Nor do you dispute that Lessig used the term “bland communism” to characterize the show-trial, purge, and terror-famine filled reign of Joseph Stalin. He did.

      Again, totally taken out of context (insanely out of context).

      http://www.socialtext.net/codev2/index.cgi?code_is_law

      Again, hopefully people will read the whole thing. The discussion of "bland communism" wasn't in reference to the Stalin era at all.

      Nor do you dispute that Lessig analogizes most people to witless cows. He did.

      Once again, totally taken out of context. What Lessig is pointing out is that regulations are all too often controlled by big business interests who are abusing the regulatory process in their favor.

      http://www.socialtext.net/codev2/index.cgi?regulating_code

      As someone who is supposedly in favor of free markets and against the abuse of the regulatory process, I would think you would agree... that is if you weren't trying to publish a total smear against someone.

      Btw, do you think the noted libertarian Bryan Caplan is equally problematic? He wrote an entire book on this subject.

      Nor do you dispute that Lessig devoted entire chapters of his 1999 book Code and his 2006 book Code v.2.0 to very personalized, (“What Declan Doesn’t Get”), attacks on the as-he-sees-it pernicious influence of “libertarians” who dare to think that control of all aspects of the Internet should not be vested in the government. He did.

      And again... totally taken out of context. Lessig's point here was simply juggling realism with libertarian idealism. He wasn't attacking libertarianism.


      Nor do you dispute that Lessig, in the book and law-review article cited, re-defined the meaning of the word “free” until costly, state-controlled resources are “free.” He did.


      The only one I can see who did any redefining was you. I've read both his passage and yours multiple times and I don't see how you get from his statement to yours unless you are purposely ignoring basic economic principles.

      In short, you bewail a “smear job” without showing that one occurred.

      No. I stated clearly that I would only challenge some points, and I did. And the other ones you brought up were equally simple to show how you took them out of context.

      And for good reason: No missing "context" can rationalize, e.g., Lessig’s contortions of "free," his tax-and-surveillance scheme, or his defenses of Vietnamese and Soviet communism.

      Other than, say, the actual context.

      I understand that you do, however, really like Lessig’s explanation of why we should think of property rights like DDT.

      Clearly, you do not understand it. Because neither Lessig nor I compared property rights to DDT. Only you did, for lack of any real argument.

      Finally, you get nowhere by insisting that a copyright “is a monopoly right, not a property right.” Those are two ways to say the same thing.

      And, once again, beautifully taken out of context. Based on your claim, then ANY monopoly right would be a good thing, since it's a property right -- and you, yourself, claim property rights are good. Yet, as a free market supporter, do you also think gov't granted monopolies are a good thing?

      Something breaks there.

      Do you think we should grant property rights on air? After all, then companies could be built to charge people to breathe.

      There's a reason we don't. Because it's unnecessary and it's a distortion of the free market.

      And do remember that to speak of “free markets” or “market competition” in the absence of legally and practically enforceable private property rights is nonsensical.

      No. What's nonsensical is claiming that all property rights are good, and that all property rights are monopoly rights. It shows a woeful lack of understanding of the most basic fundamental economics.

      Tom, this was a hack job. Your response was no better. It was a sad attempt to smear someone who has raised some interesting ideas (many of which I don't agree with). I hope you're proud of yourself.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Kiba, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 5:16pm

      Re: Gee, the "smear job" seems to hold up pretty well.

      You are very interesting to dare think of monopoly rights as property rights.

      I, on the other hand don't think of monopoly rights as the system of property right. Rather, I like to think it infringe on my property rights.

      Whenever I buy musics or any other copyrighted items. I am still unable to use it to produce something else, or even copy it without the permission of copyright holders. I don't even own the product to some extent that I just brought.

      However, when I buy something like a car, Toyota can't tell me that I can't use to produce something else, or even copy it. It is mine. I can even scrap the metals if I wanted to.
      I can say that I am the owner of this car.

      Monopoly rights can in some extent even control market conditions. They can make the goods artificially high like we see in the software market. They can prevent the entry of similar products and technologies as well the creation of goods that is derivative of products and technologies.

      Private property rights can't exert such economic power. They are brought, copied, and used without restriction by original creators. Derivatives are created freely and the prices of goods can't be jacked up to artificially high prices.

      This is the difference between monopoly rights and true property rights.


      On your portrayal of Lessig, I never heard of such outrageous proposals. It is the most ridiculous lies that he propose government funded expressions as well the "surveillance" you speak of. I have no idea what you're talking about so correct me about Lessig's intentions.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      mjr1007, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 7:46pm

      Re: Gee, the "smear job" seems to hold up pretty well.

      mjr1007 wrote:
      I think almost unthinkable has happened here. You actually got me to agree with Mike on a point. Most of your's and Mike's debate seems to be trying to classify exactly where Lessig is, and quite frankly it's of little interest. I think the message is more interesting then the messenger. In that vain I thought the following paragraph was of interest.

      Tom Syndor wrote:
      Finally, you get nowhere by insisting that a copyright “is a monopoly right, not a property right.” Those are two ways to say the same thing. Again, no need to take my word on it. Here is Milton Friedman: “[T]he grant of patents to inventors and copyrights to authors… are different because they can equally be understood as defining property rights. In a literal sense, if I have a property right to a particular piece of land, I can be said to have a monopoly with respect to that land defined and enforced by the government.” Capitalism and Freedom, p. 127.

      mjr1007 responded:
      It's hard to imagine IP as real property. There is no natural exclusion of an idea as there is in property. Both of us can use the exact same idea, even with neither of us knowing about the other. This would be very difficult with real property. An idea is none the worse for wear. Your using an idea does not diminish it's productive life. It's not a machine which needs to be maintained from use, or even disuse.

      Since we seem to be quoting Nobel laureates how about this one from Joseph E. Stiglitz

      http://www.cceia.org/resources/transcripts/5397.html


      “Academics believe in the importance of spreading ideas. Thomas Jefferson talked about it much more poetically than I can. It's in the Jefferson Memorial. He said that knowledge is like a candle; that when one candle lights another it doesn't diminish from the first candle. So the way economists say this is that knowledge is a public good—zero marginal cost, to put it in very unpoetic terms.”

      Since you bio states you are a lawyer how about this from the Constitution, I'm sure you're recognize it
      Article I Section VIII Clause 8

      “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”

      I've always found this to be an amazing clause. To start with it states

      “To promote the progress of science and useful arts”.

      For a naive reader, it would seem any law which can be shown to retard the progress of science and the useful arts would be unconstitutional.

      Also is says for a limited time, I suspect that if property rights were for a limited time, there would be a revolt. As Far As I Know (AFAIK) property rights are not contingent on any sort of progress.

      Nowhere does it say author, inventors or their assignees. Just author and inventors. From a naive reading of this it would seem like much of the law would be unconstitutional.

      These differences make IP law and property rights seem very very different.

      I don't have a law degree so of course all I can do is use my common sense and experience, 30 years in the computer field, working for several startups and also being on my own. This is very important stuff which needs to serve the people and the inventors and authors who's works the people depend on. It does not need to and should not serve the interest of lawyers or other rent seekers.

      I look forward to your response.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 6:36am

      Re: Gee, the "smear job" seems to hold up pretty well.

      First, it's "Masnick," not "Masniak." That was rather irritating.

      Second, it seems a stretch to claim that the failure of expressive arts in a communist regime was due solely to their flawed 'rewards' program. I guarantee that expression failed because it was a communist regime, and would have failed regardless of what rewards they offered. 'Free expression' isn't really encouraged in such an environment.

      I would congradulate you on your rhetorical form, though. Except for being generally jerky, piece-meal, and unfocussed, you do a good job at appealing to emotional resonses by invoking bogiemen like Castro and Stalin, as well as the ever-popular repitition tactic, saying "he did," and "nor do you dispute" over and over again. Very nice.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Joseph Weisenthal, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 3:15pm

    Wasn't Lessig A Republican Once

    I read somewhere recently that when he was younger, Lessig was a Republican. And the impression I got is that he still holds some basic conservative/libertarian beliefs today. But I don't know much about the guy and I haven't had a chance to read the full article.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Apr 29th, 2008 @ 4:58pm

      Re: Wasn't Lessig A Republican Once

      I read somewhere recently that when he was younger, Lessig was a Republican. And the impression I got is that he still holds some basic conservative/libertarian beliefs today. But I don't know much about the guy and I haven't had a chance to read the full article.

      Yes, he was a conservative, and even clerked for Scalia.

      These days he retains some libertarian leanings, but is much more "progressive."

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    bobbknight, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 3:41pm

    Pro

    When I see the term Progressive in the title of a Think Tank, club, society, etc I immediately reach to hold onto my money.
    Because these progressives are always regressive and out to regulate what I do and how I do it.

    And the revrind wright, a humble man moving into a humble multi-million dollar house, in the very humble rich peoples section of Chicago. Wearing his humble hand died dashiki that costs more than a Brooks Brothers suit. LOL

    When you look at the Conservative/Libertarian many came from the party of Abe Lincoln. I have no use for the parties of W.E.B. DuBois and Gus Hall. Give me a true Jeffersonian any day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    astro turf

    I do not like astro turf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 5:56pm

    Mike, I think that we may be talking past each other. Do you mean that I err by treating copyrights as a form of property right or that I err by equating copyrights with rights in tangible property? There is a difference.

    If you argue that I err by treating copyrights as a form of property right, then I have shown you why Milton Friedman and I disagree. If you read Justin Hughes’ article: Copyright and Incomplete Historiographies: Of Piracy, Propertization, and Thomas Jefferson http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=934869 You will find that Friedman and I have very good reasons for rejecting such a claim.

    To make a long story short, since Blackstone, legal commentators have recognized that the sin qua non of a property right is the right to exclude. The Constitution grants Congress the power to grant authors and inventors “the exclusive right” to their inventions or writings. In the case of both copyrights and patents, Congress exercised that power by granting, to authors or inventors, respectively, exclusive rights. Copyrights are a form of property right. Even Lessig admits this: “A copyright is a kind of property.” FC at 83.

    To answer your question about air, neither Milton Friedman nor I think that it would make sense to grant transferable exclusive rights to socially valuable resources randomly, to people who played no role in creating those resources in the first place. (Jefferson, for example, wanted to offset the Copyright and Patent Clause by putting an express prohibition against the latter form of “monopoly” in the Bill of Rights.). Indeed, had you read the Friedman cite that I provided, you would have discovered that he was explaining why copyrights and patents are dissimilar to randomly bestowed trade monopolies.

    On the other, if you argue that I would err by equating copyrights with rights in personal property, I would agree. The two differ, in ways that matter and in ways that do not. Indeed, the law reminds us of this by appending helpful adjectival qualifiers like “real,” “personal,” and “intellectual” to the various subspecies of property rights. There are differences between the two. So far as I can see, none of those differences matter here.

    Let me know what you are arguing, and then I will clarify why I continue to reject Lessig’s plan for tax-funded, surveillance-fueled expression. And before you keep denying that this is what Lessig and Fisher are proposing, please review the following link:

    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/PTKChapter6.pdf

    (I know, this is only Chapter Six of Fisher's book, but when his own thought is concerned, Fisher is not so eager to give it away for free. It is, so far as I can tell, basically similar to Chapter Six of Promises to Keep.)

    For a somewhat abbreviated version, (one that will look depressingly similar to the account that I provided), review Fisher’s Supreme Court brief in Grokster at 23-24. Here is the link:

    http://www.copyright.gov/docs/mgm/fisher-law-profs.pdf

    Needless to say, the latter plays down the surveillance angle a bit. But it is quite clear about the tax-funded part.

    Thanks again. --Tom

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      MLS, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 9:26pm

      Re:

      "Let me know what you are arguing..."

      The essence of the arguments provided by many here is that there is no form of intellectual property that is properly characterized as "property, that the existence of intellectual property rights in large measure stifles creativity and innovation that does violence to "progress" as used in Article 1, that digital goods deserve, no make that demand, different treatment of non-digital goods because they are "infinite", that P2P file sharing of works protected under law is a good thing, that Grokster and Napster were wrongly decided by courts ill-informed about technology, that disclosure is not a legitimate factor within the calculus of the patent process, that business models relying on intellectual property are short sighted and ultimately doomed to failure, that the mere presence of a patent or copyright imbues the holder thereof with a monopoly that necessarily translates into market power sufficient to maintain inventions and works at artificially high levels because competition is invariably restrained, and that in large measure those with the temerity to suggest otherwise on these and other points are generally living in the dark ages.

      As to your two propounded questions, I believe that the answer is likely you have erred on both counts. Copyrights (including all other forms of what we generically term "intellectual property") are not property in any sense of the word, and that the differences between copyrights and tangible property are of no moment because the law in practice wrongfully treats them as one in the same.

      Of course, any attempt to explain what such rights specifically entail, how they differ and why the difference, is largely met with derision and comments that once more a lawyer is trying to engage in deliberate obfuscation and conscious ignorance of the massive evidence that the laws do not serve their intended purposes. In sum, they are an unnecessary evil that should forthwith be eliminated. Interestingly, few if any seem to have any problem with the concept of trade secrets, but that one information is out of the bag it should become fair game for all to use...with repetetive reference to Jefferson's 1813 letter as positive proof that they are right because it seems that he is viewed as the "Founding Father", as opposed to merely being but one of the "Founding Fathers".

      The phrase "swimming up a waterfall" readily comes to mind with each attempt to address each of the above (and more) misconceptions.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Colg, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 9:57pm

        Re: Re:

        What a beautiful set of straw men you have there.

        Three sentences so ponderously inflated with convoluted vernacular that they fall on their swords rather than bear the weight.

        You must have gotten high marks in Obfuscation 101

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Mike (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 1:30am

        Re: Re:


        As to your two propounded questions, I believe that the answer is likely you have erred on both counts. Copyrights (including all other forms of what we generically term "intellectual property") are not property in any sense of the word, and that the differences between copyrights and tangible property are of no moment because the law in practice wrongfully treats them as one in the same.


        But that is not what Tom is arguing. Tom is saying that someone who takes the position that copyright's negatives outweighs the positives is then anti-property rights.

        Do you see why this is problematic?

        Of course, any attempt to explain what such rights specifically entail, how they differ and why the difference, is largely met with derision and comments that once more a lawyer is trying to engage in deliberate obfuscation and conscious ignorance of the massive evidence that the laws do not serve their intended purposes.

        Again, not quite. Our argument is that you are arguing on "this is what the law states" which is meaningless to what we're pointing out, which is "this is what economics makes clear."

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 1:22am

      Re:

      Tom,

      I note that you don't respond to the points in your comment where I added the necessary "context" to show how your interpretation was wholly inaccurate and misleading.

      Do you mean that I err by treating copyrights as a form of property right or that I err by equating copyrights with rights in tangible property?

      You err in treating copyrights as tangible property.

      The Constitution grants Congress the power to grant authors and inventors “the exclusive right” to their inventions or writings. In the case of both copyrights and patents, Congress exercised that power by granting, to authors or inventors, respectively, exclusive rights. Copyrights are a form of property right. Even Lessig admits this: “A copyright is a kind of property.” FC at 83.

      Ah, Tom, that's also misleading. Yes, some people call it property -- but what you do in your paper is simply assume that because some people call it property or a property right that that means anyone who is for changing copyright is somehow anti-property. It's not. Not at all.

      I am 100% in favor of property rights -- for scarce goods. Why? Because that's the entire point of property rights. The sole purpose of property rights was the efficient allocation of scarce resources. Property rights make it much easier to handle the efficient distribution and allocation of those scarce, rivalrous goods.

      However, economically, this model breaks down when you have goods that are "infinite". Those goods are already efficiently distributed, since anyone who wants it can get it for free, and no one is any worse off for it. From a free market perspective, this is the optimal solution -- so there's NO NEED for property rights on such things. In fact, they hinder the free market by limiting a resource unnecessarily.

      That's not an anti-property stance at all. It's a pro-property stance. It's against the misuse of the concept of property by applying it to things that aren't property at all.

      Frankly, your position is more anti-property, because you weaken the importance of real property rights by trying to cover non-property with them.

      To answer your question about air, neither Milton Friedman nor I think that it would make sense to grant transferable exclusive rights to socially valuable resources randomly, to people who played no role in creating those resources in the first place.

      I didn't say grant it randomly. We could auction it off -- just as your employers say we should do with spectrum.

      There are differences between the two. So far as I can see, none of those differences matter here.

      Then you really need to revisit your thinking. The fact that infinite goods are infinite means that they're not property -- and to accuse Lessig of being anti-property for pointing that out is a lie.

      Let me know what you are arguing, and then I will clarify why I continue to reject Lessig’s plan for tax-funded, surveillance-fueled expression. And before you keep denying that this is what Lessig and Fisher are proposing, please review the following link:

      Once again (as I already pointed out), this was a minor point (in an appendix no less) that Lessig pointed out, along with multiple other suggestions -- and it was suggested not as the perfect solution, but as one idea to think about.

      You acknowledge none of that.

      I'm not going to defend Fisher's plan. I'm on record, since it was announced, as opposing it. I think it's a terrible plan. But it's hardly quasi-socialist. It's no more socialist than any other compulsory license programs in place.

      Are you against all of those as well?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Nick (profile), Apr 29th, 2008 @ 11:36pm

    the truth is out there

    This smear campaign, brought to you courtesy of Big incumbent Media outlets: AT&T, ClearChannel, NBC Universal, Time-Warner, Viacom, Disney, Microsoft, Sony, Verizon, Comcast, DirecTV.
    http://www.pff.org/about/supporters.html

    All of the companies Lessig points out in Free Culture, chapter Ten, "Property," sub chapter "Market: Concentration" page 164. Very interesting. It looks like someone is trying to get their revenge.

    Regrettably, also Yahoo and Google are on the list of supporters. They should now reconsider their support. Yahoo and Google, I challenge you, drop your support for PFF now!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Igor The Troll, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 11:49pm

    The Internet

    Looks like Washington Gestapo is looking to control the Web, the developers, and the publishers.

    I hope they will not be declaring Martial Law any time soon!
    Freedom of Speech, what is that? I smell Red alert! Every blogger is Bin Laden. -;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Mike, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 12:02am

    Where's the smear?

    Hi,

    I'm browsing from Sweden, maybe my upbringing here contributes to my failure to see where the smear is in saying that someone is a socialist or communist. They are two schools of political thought, just as libertarianism or what-have-you. It's only a smear if it sticks to you, and it only sticks if you agree to let it I guess.

    /Mike

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      SteveD, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 2:18am

      Re: Where's the smear?

      Inevitably in American debates it seems the winner isn't the one who can refute his opponent’s arguments, but the first person that can prove the other guy is, in fact, an Evil Left Communist who hates America.

      Given how long ago the cold war ended you'd have thought they'd find a new 'bad guy' by now. Unfortunately Bin Laden hasn't made his stance on copyright law public knowledge.

      Yet.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 2:27am

      Re: Where's the smear?

      I'm browsing from Sweden, maybe my upbringing here contributes to my failure to see where the smear is in saying that someone is a socialist or communist. They are two schools of political thought, just as libertarianism or what-have-you. It's only a smear if it sticks to you, and it only sticks if you agree to let it I guess.

      Read the paper (and Tom's replies). He equates socialism/communism with the worst abuses of Stalinism and oppressive regimes in Cuba and Vietnam.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 2:34am

    Why can't we all just get along?

    Intellectual works, as expressed in a medium, are just as much property as any material object or work.

    So, tangible or intangible, intellectual or material, doesn't affect what may be property.

    However, copyright is an unnatural and unethical privilege that suspends our natural property rights to give a commercial benefit to publishers. Copyright is an economic incentive for supposedly greater cultural production than would otherwise occur, that we are to believe compensates for the loss of the public's natural IP rights, their liberty to share and build upon the published IP they purchase.

    It's clear why the publishing cartel would sponsor a think-tank to argue for the retention of copyright, and to persist in misconstruing copyright as a natural property right (when it is nothing of the sort).

    Abolish copyright and restore everyone's intellectual property rights.

    But, don't jump from the frying pan into the fire and institute a tax to compensate publishers for the loss of their unethical commercial incentive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 7:00am

      Re: Why can't we all just get along?

      Actually, I think Mike makes a good point when he notes that property rights are instituted for the efficient distribution of scarce goods (like land, food, HD TVs...), but that intangible goods, being infinite, need no such system -- anyone who wants it can get it without reducing anyone else's possession of it.

      I can own a car; if someone else attempts to take that car, I am deprived of it. I can possess a thought, but someone else gaining that same thought does not lessen my own possession.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 4:00pm

        Re: Re: Why can't we all just get along?

        Rights aren't instituted, they're protected.

        Privileges such as copyright are instituted (that necessarily suspend one party's rights to reserve them for another).

        The idea that one loses nothing when a burglar steals copies of one's innovative designs because one still has an original copy is a tad naive.

        Try telling a software engineer that the source code they've sweated over can be copied without payment because they get to keep a copy.

        If you want a copy, pay for it. You've no right to make a copy without payment.

        That's why intellectual property is a right.

        What suspends this right is copyright, because it stops you making copies of your own property - in order to reserve this as a privilege for the publisher (assigned the work's copyright).

        This is why copyright is unethical and should be abolished.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Willton, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 10:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why can't we all just get along?

          If you want a copy, pay for it. You've no right to make a copy without payment.

          That's why intellectual property is a right.

          What suspends this right is copyright, because it stops you making copies of your own property - in order to reserve this as a privilege for the publisher (assigned the work's copyright).

          This is why copyright is unethical and should be abolished.


          Whoa, I've never seen such a misunderstanding of copyright. Crosbie, you've got it all backwards: copyright is designed to protect the author, not the publisher. Copyright gives the right to prevent another from copying a work to the author, not the publisher. See 17 U.S.C. Section 201(a).

          Now, if an author decides to assign his copyright to the publisher, however, that's his own fault.

          Copyright is not a privilege; otherwise it could be taken away from you. Copyright is a right, one that can't be taken away from an author without his permission. That's why it's called "copy (wait for it) right."

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            Crosbie Fitch (profile), May 1st, 2008 @ 1:00am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why can't we all just get along?

            Copyright is a transferable privilege that being attached to a work is initially enjoyed by the work's owner (not necessarily its author). The privilege was created to benefit publishers (since they, not mere authors, were the only ones able to assert this monopolistic privilege and benefit from it commercially - supposedly thus incentivised to publish more works than otherwise).

            If you believe copyright is an author's right rather than a privilege for publishers you should wonder why, in many jurisdictions, authors employed by publishers have their privilege of copyright 'taken away from them'.

            The privilege of copyright is so named because it suspends the 'right to copy' from the public in order to grant this as a privilege for the benefit of publishers (and allegedly for a greater benefit to the public than the right suspended from them).

            It is predictable that those who enjoy copyright would misconstrue and pretend it to be their natural right.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              SomeGuy, May 1st, 2008 @ 6:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why can't we all just get along?

              I beg to differ: copyright protects authors from publishers. It is assigned to the author at the creation of the work: you don't even have to DO anything. In "many juristictions," this right is 'taken away' from the author and given to the 'owner' as part of the contract the author has with his employer -- his employer wouldn't even OWN the content created by the author if that hadn't been agreed upon before hand. This is all taken care of in the employment contract.

              In the absense of copyright publishers would 'benefit' because they wouldn't have to pay the author to print his works. In the old days, that was economically ruinous for the author and profitable for the publisher. I'm not sure either point holds any longer in the digital age and 'print on demand' books. Everything's being decentralized.

              I tend to think copyright is a bit of a misnomer, it's not a right so much as a protection, and that protection is becoming unnecessary and increasingly-abused.

              That is why it ought to be abolished.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                Crosbie Fitch (profile), May 1st, 2008 @ 6:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why can't we all just get along?

                If copyright was a right it would be inalienable and the employer wouldn't be able to take it away from the author.

                In the absence of copyright, authors would still require payment for their works (the non-promotional ones), and even today when copyright is pretty much ineffective and unenforceable, authors still like getting paid for their work. Even authors of GPL software, where copyright is effectively neutralised, still require a salary from those who want them to develop or enhance it.

                Copyright is only protection in the sense that it protects the copyright holder's privilege of exclusive reproduction. And yes, these days it's a pretty ineffective protection against unauthorised reproduction.

                Anachronistic, unethical, ineffective, unnecessary, unenforceable, the list of reasons to abolish the white elephant that is copyright is long.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Tom Sydnor, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 4:59am

    Of Duranty, Fonda, and Lessig

    Mike, thanks for the clarification. I understand your “economics of abundance” argument; I realize that you believe deeply in it; and when we reach an issue as to which it would be relevant, I will be happy to explain why I reject it. (Hint: Economists recognize two types of scarcity, ex post and ex ante scarcity. As to any type of economic system that must endure over time, the latter is the more important.)

    But for now, suffice it to say that the “economics of abundance” cannot explain the differences between Lessig and I: We both reject it. Both Lessig and I agree that copyrights are a type of property, and we both agree that expressive works are “scarce” in a way that makes it essential to compensate those who create them. Where the “economics of abundance” are concerned, both Lessig and I are in the same dissenting camp.

    Nevertheless, I disagree very strongly with Lessig, Castro, Lenin, Stalin, and Lessig’s “Chairman Ho,” about how creators of expressive works ought to be compensated. That disagreement is the focus of my paper. So back to your comments.

    First, neither my paper nor I argue that “anyone” in favor of changing copyrights is anti-property. Indeed, that definition makes me “anti-property”: Both Lessig and I agree that some changes would be beneficial. For example, both Lessig and I agree with Lessig support some sort of “orphan works” legislation. But Lessig is not really about “improving” copyrights as a system of property rights and markets. As shown in my paper, he would rather be done with them and substitute a “government administered” reward system remarkably similar to those that have repeatedly produced disaster.

    Second, I am glad to see that you refuse to defend Lessig’s Walter-Duranty-like attempt to characterize Soviet communism as “bland.” Sadly, I note that you were willing to defend Lessig’s Jane-Fonda-like cheerleading for Vietnamese communism, in which Lessig tries to convince us that communist Vietnam provides more “effective freedom” and better “ideals” than those in the United States that Lessig expressly and incessantly denigrates.

    Look more closely at the context in which Lessig does this. It appears in Code. The central thesis of Code is that we Americans need to get our government to regulate the hell out of all aspects of the Internet. Nevertheless, for reasons fully known only to himself, Lessig somehow feels the need to digress, undermine his own regulate-the-net thesis, and praise communist Vietnam in order to assure us that IF you live in a failing, totalitarian state with “barely any infrastructure,” (his words), and IF you are very careful to avoid criticizing the unelected government that mismanaged the infrastructure into ruin, THEN, you may feel some sense of “effective freedom.”

    That is just plain stupid. Yet the tourist Lessig—ignoring the contrary verdict of the hundreds of thousands of boat people who were leaving their “tangible property” and risking their lives in order to flee Vietnam’s “effective freedom”—felt compelled to cheerlead for the communist Vietnam of the early 1990s. Almost no one else did: Even Jane Fonda had given it up by then. And on the off chance that the report cited in my paper failed to convince you of the reality-defying absurdity of Lessig’s account of the “effective freedom” of communist Vietnam and “NamNet,” here is another: Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering 155 (Ronald Deibert, et al., ed., 2008) (“Of countries filtering political content, China, Myanmar, and Vietnam blocked with the greatest breadth and depth….”).

    So let’s face facts, Mike. You may revere him, but Professor Lawrence Lessig has repeatedly gone out of his way—even at the cost of undermining his own regulate-the-net arguments—in order to try to rehabilitate some of the most economically inept, politically repressive, and murderous collectivist regimes in human history. Noting that Lessig went out of his way to paint smiley-faces on the ruins of the Berlin Wall was perfectly fair—and highly relevant.

    Third, you say that I have missed the point if I think that Lessig’s work is all about compulsory licensing. Actually, the alleged glories of compulsory licensing are one of its central, recurring themes. I’ve shown that something far worse than “compulsory licensing” is Lessig’s solution to the question of copyright and the Internet in Free Culture, here is a similar passage from page 201 of The Future of Ideas:

    “Some see these cases (in particular the MP3.com and Napster cases) as simple; I find them very hard. But whether they are simple or hard, the underlying law is not unchangeable. Congress could play a role in making sure that the power of the old does not trump innovation in the new. It could, that is, intervene to strike a balance between the right of copyright holders to be compensated and the right of innovators to innovate. The model for this intervention is something we’ve already seen: the compulsory license.”

    In case you are still unclear about why I could reasonably conclude that compulsory licensing is a central—though admittedly not exclusive—theme of Lessig’s work, here are some more citations for you to review. Future of Ideas, 109, 201-02, 254, 255, 259, 260, 296, 297, 314, 315, 331. Free Culture, 57, 58, 64, 74, 75, 77, 103, 104, 172, 173, 194, 258, 294, 295, 296, 300, 327. In short, when Lessig repeatedly says things like, “Congress should empower file sharing by recognizing a similar system of compulsory licenses,” (FOI at 255), I can reasonably choose to believe that his words accurately report his views.

    Fourth, I find your defense of Lessig’s most-people-are-witless-cows claim laughable. His words betray you. Lessig is not talking about “regulations” being controlled by “big business interests.” He is talking about how people can be expected to respond to highly imperfect attempts to affect their behavior. As he puts it “This is who we are.”

    Fifth, I am at a loss to understand why you cannot admit that Lessig claims that a resource can be “free” yet costly and controlled by the state. Lessig says, (FOI at 12), “A resource is “free” if (1) one can use it without the permission of anyone else; or (2) the permission one needs is granted neutrally.” He is clear that permission is not “granted neutrally” if it is granted or withheld by an actual individual. Who—other than the state—do you propose is to be “neutrally” granting permission? If you are unsure, I think that Promises to Keep and the incessant references to compulsory licensing in The Future of Ideas and Free Culture ought to provide some clues.

    I see nothing else warranting any response. Thanks again. --Tom

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 9:04am

      Re: Of Duranty, Fonda, and Lessig

      Hi Tom,

      I'm in a rush so I'll come back and respond more fully to this comment later, but a couple of quick points:

      Nevertheless, I disagree very strongly with Lessig, Castro, Lenin, Stalin, and Lessig’s “Chairman Ho,” about how creators of expressive works ought to be compensated.

      You have a weird, sick compulsion to fabricate. As was pointed out, Lessig's position is ridiculously different than Castro, Lenin or Stalin. Repeating that is a cheap political trick.

      You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

      Second, I am glad to see that you refuse to defend Lessig’s Walter-Duranty-like attempt to characterize Soviet communism as “bland.” Sadly, I note that you were willing to defend Lessig’s Jane-Fonda-like cheerleading for Vietnamese communism, in which Lessig tries to convince us that communist Vietnam provides more “effective freedom” and better “ideals” than those in the United States that Lessig expressly and incessantly denigrates.

      Um. You either did not read what I wrote, or are pulling another sleazy lobbyist trick. I did respond to the "bland communism" point, and I did not "defend" his cheerleading for Vietnamese communism, because he DID NOT cheerlead Vietnamese communism.

      Read what I wrote again. I merely pointed out that you explanation was taken out of context and incorrect.

      Do people actually pay you good money to lie?

      So let’s face facts, Mike. You may revere him, but Professor Lawrence Lessig has repeatedly gone out of his way—even at the cost of undermining his own regulate-the-net arguments—in order to try to rehabilitate some of the most economically inept, politically repressive, and murderous collectivist regimes in human history.

      Um. I don't revere him in the slightest. I disagree with him on many key issues, which I've made clear. But your description of his positions is simply incorrect. I may be more closely aligned to you politically and economically, but your intellectual dishonesty in smearing someone you disagree with is terrible.

      The fact that you think that I'm defending him because I revere him, when I've clearly laid out the points on which you are incorrect (which, I'll note, you don't actually respond to), just shows you're focused smearing, rather than discussing.


      Fourth, I find your defense of Lessig’s most-people-are-witless-cows claim laughable. His words betray you. Lessig is not talking about “regulations” being controlled by “big business interests.” He is talking about how people can be expected to respond to highly imperfect attempts to affect their behavior. As he puts it “This is who we are.”

      Once again, you mislead and ignore the points raised.

      I like, also, how you don't respond to the question about Bryan Caplan.

      I'll respond to your other points later, but so far, all you've shown is a remarkable talent for taking things out of context and twisting things to suit your position.

      It may be how things work in DC, but it's nauseating.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Jason Phillips (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 2:37pm

      Re: Of Duranty, Fonda, and Lessig

      Pardon the intrusion gents, but Mr. Syndor has risen my ire with this comment:
      Second, I am glad to see that you refuse to defend Lessig’s Walter-Duranty-like attempt to characterize Soviet communism as “bland.” Sadly, I note that you were willing to defend Lessig’s Jane-Fonda-like cheerleading for Vietnamese communism, in which Lessig tries to convince us that communist Vietnam provides more “effective freedom” and better “ideals” than those in the United States that Lessig expressly and incessantly denigrates.
      This is a complete misrepresentation of Lessig's analysis. His thought as related to Vietnam simply indicates that:
      1. a communist regime has less draconian copyright laws than our democracy;
      2. those who are proponents of near-infinite copyright are exploiters who would rather rely on past success to fund future failure and litigation rather than allowing a single penny of value to be passed on to the people.
      Now that sounds like communism to me.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), May 1st, 2008 @ 3:07am

      Re: Of Duranty, Fonda, and Lessig

      Ok, responding more fully to the other points.

      Mike, thanks for the clarification. I understand your “economics of abundance” argument; I realize that you believe deeply in it; and when we reach an issue as to which it would be relevant, I will be happy to explain why I reject it. (Hint: Economists recognize two types of scarcity, ex post and ex ante scarcity. As to any type of economic system that must endure over time, the latter is the more important.)

      You've made this argument before, but it actually does not impact the economics of abundance. Ex post scarcity doesn't apply to infinite goods. Ex ante scarcity does -- and that's factored into the model. An infinite good prior to production is scarce -- and thus you should expect to pay to have it created, just like any other scarce good.

      I have pointed that out over and over again. The creation of new works is a scarce good -- and traditional economics has no problem pricing scarce goods above zero.

      But for now, suffice it to say that the “economics of abundance” cannot explain the differences between Lessig and I: We both reject it.

      Fair enough, but, that's not quite the point... Throughout your piece, you conflate copyright with ALL property rights -- and don't even acknowledge that the two may be different.

      But Lessig is not really about “improving” copyrights as a system of property rights and markets. As shown in my paper, he would rather be done with them and substitute a “government administered” reward system remarkably similar to those that have repeatedly produced disaster.

      Actually... no. He suggested, as one of many possible options FOR DISCUSSION, a plan that is not at all "remarkably similar to those that have repeatedly produced disaster." It's a bad plan -- I agree. But then you incorrectly and unfairly claim that it's the equivalent of communism or socialism -- whereas any reading of Fisher's text would realize that it is not.

      Look more closely at the context in which Lessig does this. It appears in Code. The central thesis of Code is that we Americans need to get our government to regulate the hell out of all aspects of the Internet.

      This is also a blatant misreading of Code. It may fit in your black-and-white world that is apparently entirely free of nuance, but it's simply not what Code is about. Code is quite clearly about how technology is running into boundaries presented by gov't regulations, and how certain aspects need to be rethought. Then, that raises questions about how you might change those regulations.

      Btw, you pull a sneaky lobbyist trick here again -- in that you now claim that "regulations" are bad -- but when we talk about copyright regulations, suddenly those are "good."

      Funny how that works.

      Third, you say that I have missed the point if I think that Lessig’s work is all about compulsory licensing. Actually, the alleged glories of compulsory licensing are one of its central, recurring themes.

      No one denies that he brought it up as one solution, but I note that you chose not to respond to my question about all of the existing compulsory license out there. Are they socialist as well? Are they causing people to flee in boats and murder to reign down on us?

      Come on, man, at least be consistent.

      Fourth, I find your defense of Lessig’s most-people-are-witless-cows claim laughable. His words betray you. Lessig is not talking about “regulations” being controlled by “big business interests.” He is talking about how people can be expected to respond to highly imperfect attempts to affect their behavior. As he puts it “This is who we are.”

      Again do you think Bryan Caplan is a socialist? Lessig was clearly stating that people can be influenced. Do you deny that's the case? If that's not the case, why have you written your paper?

      I see nothing else warranting any response.

      So, let's see... what did you find "not warranting a response." Basically all of the obvious mistakes that you made.

      You didn't explain the out of context statements.

      You did not explain why you are against auctioning air, but in favor of auctioning spectrum.

      You did not explain how recognizing the differences between copyright and property makes one anti-property.

      You did not explain how commenting on the different aesthetic of communism vs. capitalist is praising Stalin.

      You did not explain whether you support existing compulsory licensing.

      You did not explain if you think Bryan Caplan is also a socialist.

      Basically, you did not respond to a single substantive point, but merely repeated your out of context statements.

      You're not painting a very flattering portrait of your own scholarly skills. In fact, you're not doing yourself any favors as a political hatchet man either, since the arguments are so obviously wrong to anyone who looks at the source material.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        MLS, May 1st, 2008 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re: Of Duranty, Fonda, and Lessig

        "The creation of new works is a scarce good..."

        Once a new work is created, at what later point in time does it cease to be scarce?

        "...[Y]ou conflate copyright with ALL property rights -- and don't even acknowledge that the two may be different."

        By this am I to assume that a copyright is not "property" in any sense of the word, or am I to assume that that it is a subset of "property", but with different characteristics from other forms such as "real property"?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Wesley Parish, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    "literally" - common rhetoric absurdity

    I've come up against that sort of thing in the past, and I thought it was a cheap rhetorical trick the world was better off without.

    Getting down to the nitty-gritty of the issue, is "intellectual property" a real property?

    Perhaps the question should be refocused to "what is this "real" property everybody's talking about?"

    In an article in the NZ Business Review some years ago, the writer said the thing holding NZ Maori back, when they had recovered their property from the NZ Government, was that it was land-in-common, or if you take the viewpoint that the tribes were proto-states, it was proto-state land that had not yet been parcelled up per family and used - and for all we know and should care, handed back to the proto-state until someone else had a need for it. The proto-states, until they were forcibly prevented from doing so, or otherwise pacified, held on to their land by main force.

    According to the article mentioned, the Maori tribes had to accept the idea of "private property" - ie, the idea that people could "own" stuff in perpetuity without necessarily having any real connection with it - before they would prosper.

    So, from an anthropological perspective, what is this "real property right" that is under discussion?

    It is a cultural construct, derived from state monopolies, which it would appear, derive directly from European feudal theory that all power in a given piece of territory derives directly from a sovereign who is independent of his people as regards the source of his authority and power.

    If I write something, and have based it on my own experiences and frame of mind, then I should not require the state to tell me it is mine, any more than I require the state to tell me the secretions and excrement of my body is mine. After all, the state had nothing to do with its production.

    And that is where I find the likes of this Progress & Freedom Foundation so ... fascinating, so feudal. They rely on the state implicitly to define and enforce an abstract right against others. This idea that the state has the right or duty to enforce rigid law against an activity that has traditionally - ie, throughout recorded human history, just read the latest Shakespeare Complete Works' forewords, introductions, etc, to get an idea - been freeflowing and dependent on reputation rather than force ... I find neither freedom nor progress in it.

    At the minimum, I expect the state to be an impartial arbitrator, not the feudal sovereign - but that is where the "intellectual property is "real" property" takes us.

    Oh, for what it's worth, read "Road Belong Cargo"
    http://www.amazon.com/Road-Belong-Cargo-Movement-Southern/dp/0881334588
    for the description of a world where ownership of ideas was held, and held rigidly, and notice how difficult it was for Yali to upgrade his ideas, no matter how hard he tried.

    Hate to tar you with a very very old brush, Tom, but if it sticks, enjoy it. You'll make the US the Cargo Cult Capital of the Word.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 8:22am

      Re: "literally" - common rhetoric absurdity

      Property arises out of our natural/human rights to privacy and truth. Our natural right to privacy arises out of our physical ability to hold and protect a private space and articles within it (material or intellectual). Our social sense of honour, integrity, and the permanence of facts gives rise to the right to truth, that people may create voluntary binding agreements, e.g. to exchange property (private space or articles).
      We establish the state to enforce our natural rights rather than have to rely upon our individual brute force.

      Unfortunately, a corrupt or misguided state may suspend its recognition of some of our natural rights to privilege a section of society that the state feels would consequently create a benefit to the rest of society that outweighs the value of the rights it has suspended.

      Predictably, the beneficiaries of such privileges are the ones who lobby most persuasively and argue most fervently for their creation, preservation, and extension. Meanwhile, the poor citizens who've had their rights suspended by the very state that was supposed to protect them find it difficult to do much about it.

      Fortunately, the Internet renders the privileges unenforceable, unnecessary, and irrelevant.

      Unfortunately, it takes a long time for the privileged incumbents to confront this fact.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    troye, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 8:05am

    great book

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Scott Cleland, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 8:48am

    In defense of Sydnor's understanding of freedom

    This is Scott Cleland, Chairman of NetCompetition.org, an e-furum funded by broadband interests.

    Having blogged against Professor Lessig's Orwellian doublespeak in his usage of the word "free" and others, I have to chime in with a strong defense of Tom Sydnor's outstanding deconstuction of Professor Lessig's thinking in his book "Free Culture."
    For my full comments see my post on the subject:
    http://www.precursorblog.com/node/738

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      SomeGuy, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 9:14am

      Re: In defense of Sydnor's understanding of freedom

      I was hoping your full comments would offer more insights into your position than your little blurb here. I was dissappointed.

      One thing that struck me, and it'd be nice to hear your answer, is how a thing might be defined as free and yet not exclude an individual's ability to deny or exclude use. You claim that when Lessig says this, he 'redefines' free. It may not be the cost/price definition many think of (English is notorious for having many meanings to often-used words), but a thing can hardly be considered free if I might be denied it, can it?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Crosbie Fitch (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 9:16am

      Re: In defense of Sydnor's understanding of freedom

      Scott, talking of doublespeak, you wouldn't happen to call yourself a libertarian by any chance would you?

      I take it you're a full supporter of the Progress and Freedom Foundation?

      Lessig's book 'Free Culture' may certainly be criticised for falling short of a vision for a cultural freedom unfettered by the constraints of copyright, and consequently utilisation of an inferior definition of 'free', making a poor basis for 'free culture' in the truest sense. However, such criticism cannot be credibly levelled by any member of the PFF who must avow strong support for the IP privileges of copyright and patent.

      If you truly wish to postpone copyright's imminent abolition I suggest you'd be far better off lauding Lessig's thinking, praising his works, and heavily sponsoring Creative Commons. No-one else is being so constructive in keeping copyright on the statute books.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), May 1st, 2008 @ 2:42am

      Re: In defense of Sydnor's understanding of freedom

      Having blogged against Professor Lessig's Orwellian doublespeak in his usage of the word "free" and others, I have to chime in with a strong defense of Tom Sydnor's outstanding deconstuction of Professor Lessig's thinking in his book "Free Culture."

      Scott, you don't do your own reputation any good parroting Tom's blatantly false statements. Do you want to explain how every single statement he made can be shown to be taken out of context? You fail to do anything else in your "defense" other than repeat Sydnor's false statements.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Nick (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 10:58am

    Why do I need to be an "idea serf" to the media companies that Mr. Sydnor represents? I, Masnick, Lessig, Doctorow, Von Lohman, Boldrin, Levine and others intellectuals in this space have declared: I do not want to be and IP serf, and to allow such control by the few is bad for society.

    Secondly, a compulsory licensing of IP would topple incumbent media powers that Mr. Sydnor represents while giving freer expression using IP to normal people who do not have to hire lawyers. Mr. Sydnor equates this as "tax-funding of expression with a regime of pervasive surveillance." Good one, governor! Nice spin. Are the taxes that I pay to kill innocent people overseas any less evil? I would much rather have that tax money go to insuring a wider freedom of my expression. Is the IRS not a form of surveillance?

    I'll tell you what Lessig has in common with Castro, Lenin, Stalin, Minh. They are/were seen as threats to U.S. Capitalist global agenda, and were/are being deamonized by U.S. propaganda/media conglomerates to the rest of the world for their own financial gain.

    Were they oppressive to their people? Sure. But the U.S. propaganda machine will only use this argument when it suites them. Oil in Iraq? Sadama is a tyrant. Oppression and genocide in Tibet, Myanmar, or Daufar? Sorry, no financial windfall to be had by intervening there.

    What Mr. Sydnor is attempting to do is show guilt by association of who mutually exclusive ideas: a small fee for freer expression and oppression of people. If Castro, Lenin, Stalin, Minh, could see the dangers of maximilast capitalism, but at the same time, happened to oppressed their people. Are counties like Sweden, who have the loosest IP regulations oppressing their people? I don't think so.

    To pinpoint Mr. Sydnor's intellectual dishonesty, he wants the world to believe that if you have a government that allows freer use IP and a way to compensate creators without hiring lawyers, then you must also be an oppressor of your people. Actually, the opposite is true. The sweet irony in Mr. Sydnor argument is that restrictive use of ideas and IP is the new way to oppress of people by making them pay the controlling media powers and lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      MLS, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 12:08pm

      Re:

      Pejorative comments aside, from the perspective of an attorney the essence of your agrument should be directed to the Anti-trust Division of the Department of Justice.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Jason Phillips (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 12:35pm

    Ready for my shill job Mr. Masnick:

    I'm surprised that you don't recognize Lessig's comment on DDT as a thinly veiled comparison of the music industry as the murderers of wildlife. Lessig never squares the fact the DDT worked with the reason it failed. DDTs usefulness is detracted simply because the delivery method was flawed and little oversight was involved. Vis a vis, DRM and property rights are detracted because neither does there exist a stringent enough framework of law to allow proper implementation, nor does there exist a truly detrimental punishment for those who, outside of the lawful user base, continue to flaunt their disregard for society and its laws simply to fulfill their deep hunger to be recognized for their "contribution" to piracy and theft. /sarcasm
    That aside, your insight is once again a pleasure to absorb, Mike. I'm glad to see that Tom is here too, at the very least it shows dedication; I'm eager to see how (if) this resolves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    erik jay, Apr 30th, 2008 @ 1:20pm

    DDT

    The notion that DDT is evil is ludicrous. Every African country is begging for it. Every word from Rachel Carson and her cronies since "Silent Spring" has been pure BS.

    DDT is a political victim. Try a little skepticism. It's healthy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Jason Phillips (profile), Apr 30th, 2008 @ 1:51pm

      Re: DDT

      Very true, Erik. Although I did wrap my DDT post to sarcasm (as a response to Mike's "challenge"), I am a proponent of its proper use because, in truth, it works. In proper application it prevented the deaths of countless people in Africa by helping to stop the spread of Malaria. Those who fail to recognize the unintended consequences of banning its use there are either misinformed or lying. Much in the same way that nuclear power has been derided by the U.S. public because of their lack of knowledge, so has the advantage of DDT.(7 out of 10 people I interviewed for research on nuclear power actually believed that nuclear waste was a green ooze stored in 50-gallon drums!)

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 1st, 2008 @ 6:15am

    I must say

    Thank you guys for the debate .. if it can be called that?
    I have to admit that I have not personally read through Lessig's works. I do feel that I have a good idea of their general ideas now. The trick is just to ignore Snydor.

    I somehow doubt he will be back to respond to the last one Mike. Or if he does I doubt he will really answer any new questions.

    I also like a few of the other mini discussions throughout the comments. Enlightening how some people misconstrue terms and blur lines so they can get what they want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    mjr1007, May 1st, 2008 @ 10:58am

    Good job Mike

    Mike wrote:
    You didn't explain the out of context statements.

    You did not explain why you are against auctioning air, but in favor of auctioning spectrum.

    You did not explain how recognizing the differences between copyright and property makes one anti-property.

    You did not explain how commenting on the different aesthetic of communism vs. capitalist is praising Stalin.

    You did not explain whether you support existing compulsory licensing.

    You did not explain if you think Bryan Caplan is also a socialist.

    Basically, you did not respond to a single substantive point, but merely repeated your out of context statements.

    You're not painting a very flattering portrait of your own scholarly skills. In fact, you're not doing yourself any favors as a political hatchet man either, since the arguments are so obviously wrong to anyone who looks at the source material.

    mjr1007 replied:
    Mike these are all wonderful points. It is also great to see that you actually do know how to cite and are more then willing to do so when you feel the urge.

    It's unfortunate that in our previous discussions you never felt the need. For those who don't recognize my screen name try

    Why Do Patents Tend To Cause More Harm Than Good?

    Prediction: The LTE Patent Bundle Won't Prevent LTE Patent Lawsuits

    Just some semi-random thoughts on the discussions going on here.

    I was surprised to learn that Lessig is now floating compulsory licensing as a possible solution. In private correspondence after Eldred he seemed indifferent. Of course I prefer the phrase open license to compulsory licensing but I've been unable to gain any traction with it.

    It seems to me with open/compulsory licensing you would have, as they say in the FOSS community, free as in speech but not free as in beer. It solves many of the problems associated with monopoly licensing but still allows creative people to be rewarded. Many of the other schemes either blatantly favor the multinationals or just don't take into consideration rewarding independent writers and inventors.

    The smear jobs sound very similar to me to what they were trying to do to Linus and Linux. There was a goof running around trying to sell the idea the Linus based Linux on Minix. Andy was quite vehement publicly about how this was not the case. In private correspondence he was even less kind to this goof. Yet somehow people keep trying this. I guess they figure it's worth a shot. What some people won't do to try and collect rent.

    Finally Mike's infinite goods theory. It's nice to see, at least some of the time, he's calling it abundant goods. Infinite having a pretty specific meaning and clearly this does not meet it. Anyway, the abundant goods theory has the same feel to it as the new business model proposed by Net startups during the bubble. I suspect it will have the same results. Eventually, people will have to get back to real accounting.

    The problem with recorded music is that the cost has come down so much during the last 30 years and it's just not reflected in the cost, particularly for the big name acts. On the other hand many small acts have a tough time making it. Most of my musician friends have to have day jobs or tour endlessly. Neither of which is all that appealing. For this problem caps seem like a reasonable way to go. Once someone makes a million or so it seems fair to but it in the public domain. Otherwise the cost should represent the musicians cut plus a small percentage for distribution, unlike now, which has the musician getting a small percentage, if they get anything at all. Personally I put my compositions and arrangements of traditional piece in the public domain, but then it's just a hobby to me.

    Mike's idea of just eliminating IP just doesn't seem to be a good idea for promoting research, particularly basic research. There already is a problem with commercial enterprises getting out of basic research and leaving it mostly to governments. Having worked with government agencies in this regard it strikes me as a really bad idea. The Program managers seem to be clueless as do the SETA contractors they hire, at the lowest possible bid. Of course in commercial enterprises they view any research without an immediate payback as just being an unnecessary expense. It's the independent inventors, those who just want to investigate and invent who will most likely discover the breakthroughs needed. Basic Research more then anything else is what promotes those big gains in progress.

    Anyway, just my USD 0.02 worth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2008 @ 6:00am

      Re: Good job Mike

      There's a difference between what Mike proposes and what many startups did back during the bubble. Back then, lost of start ups either (1) had an infinte ghood but nothing scarece to tie it to, or (2) tried to treat scarce goods as infinite goods. In the first case, if there's nothing scarece you're selling you run out of customers once everyone has a bit of the infinite. In the seconmd case, you have things like Petsmart giving away tons of cat litter, which is scarce and has a real cost to produce and transport.

      Mike proposes using something which is actually infinite (or abundant if you like that one better; whatever) to promote something that's actually scarce. You build up your customer base with the infionite and you make money off the scarce. It's a pretty basic concept.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        mjr1007, May 2nd, 2008 @ 8:45am

        Re: Re: Good job Mike

        An AC wrote:
        There's a difference between what Mike proposes and what many startups did back during the bubble. Back then, lost of start ups either (1) had an infinte ghood but nothing scarece to tie it to, or (2) tried to treat scarce goods as infinite goods. In the first case, if there's nothing scarece you're selling you run out of customers once everyone has a bit of the infinite. In the seconmd case, you have things like Petsmart giving away tons of cat litter, which is scarce and has a real cost to produce and transport.

        mjr1007 replied:
        It was an analogy and like most analogies it does break down. Of course you missed the point completely anyway. It wasn't the abundant/scarcity issue, it was an accounting issue. They felt they didn't have to make a profit wherever they could. It was OK to just go for market share.

        An AC wrote:
        Mike proposes using something which is actually infinite (or abundant if you like that one better; whatever) to promote something that's actually scarce. You build up your customer base with the infionite and you make money off the scarce. It's a pretty basic concept.

        Mjr1007 replied:
        Don't confuse ignorance with apathy. It's not that I don't understand Mike's spiel, it's that I don't buy it. As I tried to point out, all but the largest acts have a tough time making a living charging for their music. Most people, not all but most, would be willing to pay a reasonable price, about a tenth of what is charged today, for music, particularly if the amount an act gets for each track is capped. The disconnect is that vast amounts of money go to rent seeking execs and a few acts.

        It would be interesting to see what would happen if file sharing actually charged. That is, anyone hosting a file would collect 11 cents for a download and keep 1 cent. With the act getting the rest. The market would expand greatly, would be my best guess. Small acts could make a living and we would get some great music. There is already compulsory licensing of songs so there really isn't any reason not to cover existing songs. It's always interesting to hear an old favorite with a new style or rhythm.

        Also, just as these really aren't infinite goods so too is the marginal cost not really zero. For the over 5 billion people without a PC or Internet connection the cost might as well be infinite. For those who have already bought a computer with a hard drive, the marginal cost is still not zero. When purchasing the computer you would get a larger hard drive, more money, if you thought you were going to file share. If your hard drive fills up then you need to get another one. The cost of the Internet connection, month to month, is not zero, and the extra cost of electricity needed to spin the hard drive and run the processor faster than idle is also not zero. While it's true that in the grand scheme of things these cost are quite low, they're not zero. Calling them zero is just hyperbole, just like calling them infinite. The point here is that people are willing to spend small amounts, and many, maybe even most, would be willing to spend a little more, to ensure their favorite artist can continue to make music.

        Finally, dude, get a spell checker. I know it can be difficult to write but after finishing just run it through, you're be glad you did.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Mike (profile), May 2nd, 2008 @ 11:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Good job Mike

          It was an analogy and like most analogies it does break down. Of course you missed the point completely anyway. It wasn't the abundant/scarcity issue, it was an accounting issue. They felt they didn't have to make a profit wherever they could. It was OK to just go for market share.

          Hmm. It's quite difficult to read your original statement and conclude that it was really about accounting. The business models I discuss don't change the accounting. As the other commenter noted, the problem with the original dot com business models were that they did not recognize what to sell and what to give away. So that hurt the bottom line.

          What I'm talking about is giving away stuff that doesn't cost anything to give away and tying it to stuff that can be sold. That helps the bottom line.

          As I tried to point out, all but the largest acts have a tough time making a living charging for their music. Most people, not all but most, would be willing to pay a reasonable price, about a tenth of what is charged today, for music, particularly if the amount an act gets for each track is capped. The disconnect is that vast amounts of money go to rent seeking execs and a few acts.

          There's a big assumption that "most people" would be willing to pay. It's assuming that most acts aren't successfully giving away their music and selling something else.

          In other words, sure, right now, most people may be willing to pay some fee. But the more musicians who give away their music for free, the fewer people will be willing to pay anything.

          Supply and demand...

          It would be interesting to see what would happen if file sharing actually charged. That is, anyone hosting a file would collect 11 cents for a download and keep 1 cent. With the act getting the rest. The market would expand greatly, would be my best guess

          Sure. But why 11 cents? Why not 3 cents? What if the market expands even more? And why not 0 cents? What if the market expands even more? All I'm saying is let the market decide -- and basic economics will tell you the price will go to $0, and that will create the largest possible pie.

          Small acts could make a living and we would get some great music. There is already compulsory licensing of songs so there really isn't any reason not to cover existing songs. It's always interesting to hear an old favorite with a new style or rhythm.

          Small acts would make less under your plan than mine. The gap between $0 and $0.01 is huge in terms of actually creating the transaction -- because you've now added in a mental transaction fee. Someone needs to think about "is this worth paying anything for" as opposed to the $0, where there's no friction. People sample more music, find more of what they like, share what they like with other friends. So any good musician builds up a larger group of fans faster -- and can then monetize them by selling the various scarcities surrounding it.

          Also, just as these really aren't infinite goods so too is the marginal cost not really zero.

          This is simply an incorrect statement. The marginal cost is zero. The goods are infinite.

          For the over 5 billion people without a PC or Internet connection the cost might as well be infinite.

          No. Those are the costs required for access. Not the cost of the good. Two separate things.

          For those who have already bought a computer with a hard drive, the marginal cost is still not zero

          Yes it is.

          When purchasing the computer you would get a larger hard drive, more money, if you thought you were going to file share. If your hard drive fills up then you need to get another one. The cost of the Internet connection, month to month, is not zero, and the extra cost of electricity needed to spin the hard drive and run the processor faster than idle is also not zero.

          Those are fixed costs, not marginal costs. They do not change based on each copied file.

          Calling them zero is just hyperbole, just like calling them infinite.

          It's not hyperbole. Both are accurate statements.

          The point here is that people are willing to spend small amounts, and many, maybe even most, would be willing to spend a little more, to ensure their favorite artist can continue to make music.

          No. That's actually not the point. If artists want to try your model that's perfectly fine. But it won't last. Because more artists will recognize they get more from giving away the music and selling scarcities.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            mjr1007, May 2nd, 2008 @ 1:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Good job Mike

            Mjr1007 wrote:
            I find it very interesting which post you choses to reply to. Clearly you have no interest in defending you previous post in other articles where you cited nothing and only posted vague and useless claims. It's clear you can cite if needed be so it becomes even less defensible when you don't.

            Just to add insult to injury, Mike, did you ever publish in a peer reviewed journal any of your theories? Also have you ever taken a symbolic logic course. With regard to the last question, you obvious recognize rhetoric in other's writing, it's a shame you try to pass it off in some of your own.

            Mjr1007 earlier posted:
            It was an analogy and like most analogies it does break down. Of course you missed the point completely anyway. It wasn't the abundant/scarcity issue, it was an accounting issue. They felt they didn't have to make a profit wherever they could. It was OK to just go for market share.

            Mike replied:
            Hmm. It's quite difficult to read your original statement and conclude that it was really about accounting. The business models I discuss don't change the accounting. As the other commenter noted, the problem with the original dot com business models were that they did not recognize what to sell and what to give away. So that hurt the bottom line.

            What I'm talking about is giving away stuff that doesn't cost anything to give away and tying it to stuff that can be sold. That helps the bottom line.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            Sorry for the unclear comment. It just seemed that at the time everyone knew that running a business without making a profit seem like piss poor accounting. It didn't really matter what their business model was and there were several different types.

            Mjr1007 wrote earlier
            As I tried to point out, all but the largest acts have a tough time making a living charging for their music. Most people, not all but most, would be willing to pay a reasonable price, about a tenth of what is charged today, for music, particularly if the amount an act gets for each track is capped. The disconnect is that vast amounts of money go to rent seeking execs and a few acts.

            Mike replied:
            There's a big assumption that "most people" would be willing to pay. It's assuming that most acts aren't successfully giving away their music and selling something else.

            In other words, sure, right now, most people may be willing to pay some fee. But the more musicians who give away their music for free, the fewer people will be willing to pay anything.

            Supply and demand...

            mjr1007 replied:
            As more musicians give a way music fewer will be in the business. Which is also supply and demand. It would be a shame for only a few big acts to be left. Which brings me back to the constitution and the whole promote thing.

            Mjr1007 wrote earlier:
            It would be interesting to see what would happen if file sharing actually charged. That is, anyone hosting a file would collect 11 cents for a download and keep 1 cent. With the act getting the rest. The market would expand greatly, would be my best guess

            Mike replied:
            Sure. But why 11 cents? Why not 3 cents? What if the market expands even more? And why not 0 cents? What if the market expands even more? All I'm saying is let the market decide -- and basic economics will tell you the price will go to $0, and that will create the largest possible pie.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            The 11 cents was 1 cent for distribution and 10 cents for the acts. Which is what the current rate is AFAIK. It is also a reversal of the current systems with the companies getting 90% and the acts getting 10%.

            mjr1007 wrote earlier:
            Small acts could make a living and we would get some great music. There is already compulsory licensing of songs so there really isn't any reason not to cover existing songs. It's always interesting to hear an old favorite with a new style or rhythm.

            Mike replied:
            Small acts would make less under your plan than mine. The gap between $0 and $0.01 is huge in terms of actually creating the transaction -- because you've now added in a mental transaction fee. Someone needs to think about "is this worth paying anything for" as opposed to the $0, where there's no friction. People sample more music, find more of what they like, share what they like with other friends. So any good musician builds up a larger group of fans faster -- and can then monetize them by selling the various scarcities surrounding it.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            Other then live performances, what could be sold that isn't easily copied? T shirts and coffee mugs? With low cost OLED's one could easily see a programmable T shirt which could easily copy any other? Even earlier access could be copied as could the freemium approach. All you would have to do is have a single fan copy it, and then share it, because after all it is digital. Right now some of these things may be scarce but there seem to be little in the way of real hurdles to stop them from being copied as well.

            The one exception is live music, which personally I prefer. The studios have gotten so good at making it sound perfect that it's hard to tell that a human actually played it. Anyway, living off of live performances for small acts is a pretty tough go. It often requires full time touring which leaves little time for creating new stuff. It's a bit of a catch 22.

            This is not some rhetoric that recording execs use to boost their bonuses, I'm genuinely concerned for small acts, but it's because I know a few.

            Mjr1007 wrote earlier:
            Also, just as these really aren't infinite goods so too is the marginal cost not really zero.

            Mike replied:
            This is simply an incorrect statement. The marginal cost is zero. The goods are infinite.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            Mike do you understand what the word infinite actually means? There aren't even infinite atom in the universe. It's a very large number put it's not infinite, not even aleph-zero. This seem to be a trend with you.

            Mjr1007 wrote earlier:
            For the over 5 billion people without a PC or Internet connection the cost might as well be infinite.

            Mike replied:
            No. Those are the costs required for access. Not the cost of the good. Two separate things.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            By this I assume you mean that it's a fixed cost to be in the business of copying music. If you define everything as a fixed cost then there are no marginal cost. But if you are not in the music copying business and you just want to hear a single track the the incremental cost is pretty high. We could go round and round on this but it's just seems like once again you favor rhetoric over reason.

            Mjr1007 wrote orginally
            For those who have already bought a computer with a hard drive, the marginal cost is still not zero

            Mike replied:
            Yes it is.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            Good thoughtful answer Mike. I see now where my error was. Back to your old tricks again Mike. The less you say the less you can be held to. This is just getting sad, really really sad. Although you do seem to have stopped taking the quotes out of context. I guess I should be thankful for small favors.

            Mjr1007 wrote earlier:
            When purchasing the computer you would get a larger hard drive, more money, if you thought you were going to file share. If your hard drive fills up then you need to get another one. The cost of the Internet connection, month to month, is not zero, and the extra cost of electricity needed to spin the hard drive and run the processor faster than idle is also not zero.

            Mike replied:
            Those are fixed costs, not marginal costs. They do not change based on each copied file.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            As far as the connectivity goes you could own a computer without connectivity. The first song you want to copy would trigger the need for the connectivity. Most reasonable people would amortize the cost of the connection over the number of songs for the month, assuming a monthly connection fee, and call it a marginal cost. Again it's back to the accounting thing. Which is why I said it had the feel of the bubble accounting.

            Since the cost of storing the song on a computer actually cost more electricity for most machines then sitting idle there is a marginal cost there as well.

            Mjr1007 wrote earlier:
            Calling them zero is just hyperbole, just like calling them infinite.

            Mike replied:
            It's not hyperbole. Both are accurate statements.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            Mike here is an idea, why don't you actually look up the what infinite is and quote how something that is abundant but bounded is infinite. You will excuse me if I trust my math professors at University more then you.

            As far as the marginal cost go, it seems clear you will call them anything else and claim there is a difference. Although for the life of me I can't see how you could get out of the electricity.

            Mjr1007 wrote:
            The point here is that people are willing to spend small amounts, and many, maybe even most, would be willing to spend a little more, to ensure their favorite artist can continue to make music.

            Mike replied:
            No. That's actually not the point. If artists want to try your model that's perfectly fine. But it won't last. Because more artists will recognize they get more from giving away the music and selling scarcities.

            Mjr1007 replied:
            Thanks for telling me what my point was. It seems clear you are in a much better position to know what point I was trying to make then I ever could.

            What happened to the guy who actually reasoned and cited. I want that guy. He's much more interesting then the jerk I'm dealing with.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Mike (profile), May 2nd, 2008 @ 11:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Good job Mike

              I find it very interesting which post you choses to reply to. Clearly you have no interest in defending you previous post in other articles where you cited nothing and only posted vague and useless claims. It's clear you can cite if needed be so it becomes even less defensible when you don't.

              Not so. It's best not to make assumptions like that. I have a rather limited amount of time, so I chose which posts to respond to based on that, trying to pick out key ones specifically. I also try to focus on responding to comments that further the discussion. Too often with your comments, I feel like we are talking in circles, since we define things differently.

              Just to add insult to injury, Mike, did you ever publish in a peer reviewed journal any of your theories? Also have you ever taken a symbolic logic course. With regard to the last question, you obvious recognize rhetoric in other's writing, it's a shame you try to pass it off in some of your own.

              The answers were no and yes. I also taught logic, probability and statistics at the college level.

              Sorry for the unclear comment. It just seemed that at the time everyone knew that running a business without making a profit seem like piss poor accounting. It didn't really matter what their business model was and there were several different types.

              I think that was a different issue. At the time, companies were valued on top line only. So when that's the incentive, companies did anything to maximize the top line, even if it meant giving away $1 bills at $0.75. Yes, it was dumb, but it's quite different than what I'm talking about.

              That wasn't focused on maximizing profit. The economics I'm talking about *are* focused on that.

              As more musicians give a way music fewer will be in the business. Which is also supply and demand. It would be a shame for only a few big acts to be left. Which brings me back to the constitution and the whole promote thing.

              That's a big assumption that is not supported by what's happening in the market these days. I think (correct me if incorrect) the underpinning of your assumption is that artists giving away music make less money. But that does not appear to be the case. Those who properly structure a business model are finding they make more, because in giving away the music they increase the pie. Despite your claims that there would be fewer musicians, we're seeing more people than ever before making music and making money from music at the same time as more are simply giving away their music and monetizing it in other ways.

              So the basic assumption does not hold up.

              The 11 cents was 1 cent for distribution and 10 cents for the acts. Which is what the current rate is AFAIK. It is also a reversal of the current systems with the companies getting 90% and the acts getting 10%.

              But that doesn't answer my question. Why not 3 cents? Who's to say that 11 cents it the market clearing equillibrium? Who's to say that's the most efficient market price? I'm saying that it is not, and the basic economics shows that price is $0.

              Other then live performances, what could be sold that isn't easily copied? T shirts and coffee mugs? With low cost OLED's one could easily see a programmable T shirt which could easily copy any other? Even earlier access could be copied as could the freemium approach. All you would have to do is have a single fan copy it, and then share it, because after all it is digital. Right now some of these things may be scarce but there seem to be little in the way of real hurdles to stop them from being copied as well.

              Lots of things can be sold that are not easily copied. The ability to write a new song (look at the Artist Share model that helpd Maria Schneider make a Grammy winning album that could be downloaded free), access to the musician (look at the Jill Sobule model), access to limited edition work such as signatures (look at the Trent Reznor business model), and even other ancillary products such as a travel agency to help fans follow you on concert (the String Cheese Incident business model).

              I'm not saying that any one of these is perfect for everyone, but use them to point out that there are many different business models that aren't so easily "copied" and each of those business models pays better if you have more fans downloading and listening to your music. You expand the pie with the music, and you sell them all those scarcities.

              Mike do you understand what the word infinite actually means? There aren't even infinite atom in the universe. It's a very large number put it's not infinite

              They are effectively infinite.

              By this I assume you mean that it's a fixed cost to be in the business of copying music. If you define everything as a fixed cost then there are no marginal cost. But if you are not in the music copying business and you just want to hear a single track the the incremental cost is pretty high. We could go round and round on this but it's just seems like once again you favor rhetoric over reason.

              It's not rhetoric over reason at all. The marginal cost to copy a song (which is what we are discussing) is zero. It simply does not cost anything to copy a song.

              I believe you are defining marginal cost incorrectly. It's the cost to produce 1 more of something. Based on your definition the marginal cost to produce a car is also the cost of a factory. That's not what marginal cost is.

              Good thoughtful answer Mike. I see now where my error was. Back to your old tricks again Mike. The less you say the less you can be held to. This is just getting sad, really really sad. Although you do seem to have stopped taking the quotes out of context. I guess I should be thankful for small favors.

              There's only so much you can answer when someone makes a blatantly false answer. Marginal cost is well defined. That you choose not to follow that definition doesn't further the discussion.

              As far as the connectivity goes you could own a computer without connectivity. The first song you want to copy would trigger the need for the connectivity. Most reasonable people would amortize the cost of the connection over the number of songs for the month, assuming a monthly connection fee, and call it a marginal cost. Again it's back to the accounting thing. Which is why I said it had the feel of the bubble accounting.

              You are confusing economics with accounting. Yes, for accounting purposes you amortize costs. But you don't with economics. Again, marginal cost in economics is well defined. You are not using that definition. Again, you don't count the cost of the factory into the marginal cost of the car.

              Since the cost of storing the song on a computer actually cost more electricity for most machines then sitting idle there is a marginal cost there as well.

              That cost would be so infinitesimal to be considered zero by any reasonable person.

              Mike here is an idea, why don't you actually look up the what infinite is and quote how something that is abundant but bounded is infinite. You will excuse me if I trust my math professors at University more then you.

              Fair enough. And I will trust my economics professors more than you.

              So we are at a stalemate. It's fine with me, because history will bear out which answer is correct.

              What happened to the guy who actually reasoned and cited. I want that guy. He's much more interesting then the jerk I'm dealing with.

              Trust me. Same guy.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                identicon
                mjr1007, May 3rd, 2008 @ 9:00am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Good job Mike

                mjr1007 wrote:
                I find it very interesting which post you choses to reply to. Clearly you have no interest in defending you previous post in other articles where you cited nothing and only posted vague and useless claims. It's clear you can cite if needed be so it becomes even less defensible when you don't.

                Mike replied:
                Not so. It's best not to make assumptions like that. I have a rather limited amount of time, so I chose which posts to respond to based on that, trying to pick out key ones specifically. I also try to focus on responding to comments that further the discussion. Too often with your comments, I feel like we are talking in circles, since we define things differently.

                mjr1007 replied:
                It's not clear what's “not so”. Are you claiming that you really can't cite if mood strikes you?

                Now for talking in circles, the circle seems to be: you make rhetorical statements, I call you on it, you reply that your right I'm wrong and go read something. Typically it has to do with you representing economics as a well understood science where all are in agreement with you. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. It's not and they don't. I can see why you would feel like that doesn't further the discussion.


                mjr1007 wrote:
                Just to add insult to injury, Mike, did you ever publish in a peer reviewed journal any of your theories? Also have you ever taken a symbolic logic course. With regard to the last question, you obvious recognize rhetoric in other's writing, it's a shame you try to pass it off in some of your own.

                Mike replied:
                The answers were no and yes. I also taught logic, probability and statistics at the college level.

                mjr1007 replied:
                I find it curious that you've never to publish in a pier reviewed journal. Was it because you never submitted an article or is it because it was never accepted?

                What type of logic did you teach? Did it include quantifiers? It was clear to me after reading you excellent defense of Lessig, that you obviously can tell the difference between reason and rhetoric. Why not use that same skill on your own words?

                If you feel this is an unfair criticism then please give me an example from the volumes we have exchanged where I misspoke about your use of rhetoric.

                mjr1007 wrote:
                Sorry for the unclear comment. It just seemed that at the time everyone knew that running a business without making a profit seem like piss poor accounting. It didn't really matter what their business model was and there were several different types.

                Mike replied:
                I think that was a different issue. At the time, companies were valued on top line only. So when that's the incentive, companies did anything to maximize the top line, even if it meant giving away $1 bills at $0.75. Yes, it was dumb, but it's quite different than what I'm talking about.

                That wasn't focused on maximizing profit. The economics I'm talking about *are* focused on that.

                mjr1007 wrote:
                As more musicians give a way music fewer will be in the business. Which is also supply and demand. It would be a shame for only a few big acts to be left. Which brings me back to the constitution and the whole promote thing.

                Mike replied:
                That's a big assumption that is not supported by what's happening in the market these days. I think (correct me if incorrect) the underpinning of your assumption is that artists giving away music make less money. But that does not appear to be the case. Those who properly structure a business model are finding they make more, because in giving away the music they increase the pie. Despite your claims that there would be fewer musicians, we're seeing more people than ever before making music and making money from music at the same time as more are simply giving away their music and monetizing it in other ways.

                So the basic assumption does not hold up.

                mjr1007 replied:
                Since neither of us have cited number it seems like a bit of he said she said. If you are saying that there is more music out there then when the record companies had a strangle hold on music, then without the benefit of any hard numbers I would be inclined to agree with you. But of course these companies are rent seeking monopolist who always try to narrow the supply. That is setting a pretty low bar. My point is that there is less music out there then there could be with a reasonable copyrights and the elimination of rent seeking record companies. Just a note, not all record companies are rent seekers.

                mjr1007 wrote:
                The 11 cents was 1 cent for distribution and 10 cents for the acts. Which is what the current rate is AFAIK. It is also a reversal of the current systems with the companies getting 90% and the acts getting 10%.

                Mike replied:
                But that doesn't answer my question. Why not 3 cents? Who's to say that 11 cents it the market clearing equillibrium? Who's to say that's the most efficient market price? I'm saying that it is not, and the basic economics shows that price is $0.

                mjr1007 replied:
                Interesting that you edited out your own question. Actually it does answer your first question which was “why 11 cents”. The number was picked with absolutely no market data whatsoever. It's what is called a first level approximation or a back of the envelope calculation. It was meant to be illustrative. It maintained the acts revenue while decreasing the cost to consumers by 9X. 3 cents may very well be a better price then 11, both are far below the 99 cents per track that Itunes was charging last I looked. Again, I only buy CDs from act I've seen or know, so I haven't really kept up with the pricing.

                mjr1007 wrote:
                Other then live performances, what could be sold that isn't easily copied? T shirts and coffee mugs? With low cost OLED's one could easily see a programmable T shirt which could easily copy any other? Even earlier access could be copied as could the freemium approach. All you would have to do is have a single fan copy it, and then share it, because after all it is digital. Right now some of these things may be scarce but there seem to be little in the way of real hurdles to stop them from being copied as well.

                Mike replied:
                Lots of things can be sold that are not easily copied. The ability to write a new song (look at the Artist Share model that helpd Maria Schneider make a Grammy winning album that could be downloaded free), access to the musician (look at the Jill Sobule model), access to limited edition work such as signatures (look at the Trent Reznor business model), and even other ancillary products such as a travel agency to help fans follow you on concert (the String Cheese Incident business model).

                I'm not saying that any one of these is perfect for everyone, but use them to point out that there are many different business models that aren't so easily "copied" and each of those business models pays better if you have more fans downloading and listening to your music. You expand the pie with the music, and you sell them all those scarcities.

                mjr1007 replied:
                It's nice that you said that any one of them isn't perfect for everyone, that's definitely a start.
                Lets look at the details of your examples, first artistshare explained (from their website)

                “ArtistShare simplified: Since 2003, ArtistShare has been allowing fans to fund the projects of their favorite artists in exchange for access to the creative process, LTD Edition recordings, VIP access to recording sessions and even credit listing on the CD. Unlike other companies we build the model around the artist while providing the best fan support in the industry.” Preview a live ArtistShare fan-funded project here and see how the fans are making it happen. “

                So, let's go through this one at a time. Access to the creative process. There seemed to be some videos showing the process. Easily copied. If you actually go to a recording session, then it becomes a live performance. If they are actually saying that random fans would actually collaborate with the artist that sound like a difficult thing to do. Something that definitely would not scale. LTD editions, easily copied. If you click through on the link for the examples it seems like most of the things are easily copied. In addition there were some angel type investment with more things that could easily be copied, except for a Riesling, which could be counterfeited.

                The basic premise in this model is, fans will pay, including for just the music. It seems like there is a lot of overhead for getting people to just pay a royalty. Mike, you might try actually reading what's going on rather then just some superficial press clipping.

                Next, the Grammy winning album. You linked to your own article, which was fine. The link in the previous article was dead. You might want to run a script which checks for dead links.

                Next, Jill Sobule. Again the links to your pages were fine but the link to allthingsd.com, dead.
                From your article, prices from $25 to $10 000. The lowest level is a CD, which of course can be copied. The other levels include live performance and collaboration. A friend host some house concerts and has had mixed results. Not convinced this is a long term viable solution for many. Also, one could easily just say buying a track is helping to create the next track. This seem to distort the market just as every other mechanism does. It just does it in different ways. New doesn't necessarily me significantly different.

                Next, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (NIN). From your writing it seemed like it was all just LTD consisting of CDs, DVDs and downloads. All EASILY COPIED. What is going to stop people from buying one and sharing it with a few million of their closest friends?

                Finally String Cheese Incident. From your own writing

                “So, their route to financial success included lots of touring, but also setting up a travel agency specifically designed to help fans make trips to see them and other bands. They also heavily promote their music online. They sell downloads of their concerts, but don't put any copy protection on them, realizing that: "The more people are exposed to the music, the better it is for the band." “

                First off, lots of touring, nothing new here. Then a travel agency. Really Mike, musicians should become travel agents? Of course the cross over is obvious. And of course if this really did become more then just a niche there is no reason to believe that any of the big travel sites would come in and compete. Have you lost your fricking mind? Really Mike to expect this to be anything other then a niche is pretty tough, and even if it was scalable it's hard to see how distracting musicians from making music (by going into the travel business) promotes music, except as a side line. All you've done is give musicians a travel agent gig for their day job. What's next, having the acts take reservations while rehearsing? Mike do you, by any chance, play an instrument?

                Next, they were selling downloads of their concerts. See the point, selling music, that which you claim won't work is what you site in your own writing. Really Mike, sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry when discussing things with you.

                The problem with all of your writing is that at best it seems superficial, with absolutely no real understanding of what it takes to actually do anything. In one of your earlier post it was very telling when you said economics was the only way to measure progress. Spoke like a true economists. The only important thing is what you know, everything else is easy. As the saying goes “everything is easy for the man who doesn't have to do it.”

                mjr1007 wrote:
                Mike do you understand what the word infinite actually means? There aren't even infinite atom in the universe. It's a very large number put it's not infinite

                Mike replied:
                They are effectively infinite.

                mjr1007 replied:
                Interesting editing. You edited out Aleph-zero. Why would you do that? It was the next level of detail after infinity. It showed an actual understanding of what the word infinity actually means.

                Mike is there and ineffective infinite?

                From your answer, I can only assume the answer to my question is no you don't actually understand what infinity means or have any clue what the whole aleph notation represents.


                EDIT ALERT
                Some discussion about the difference between economics and accounting for marginal cost was deleted. I suspect there was also some difference between micro and macro economics but the point was made on both sides. It is actually one of the few examples of Mike and I actually talking past each other.

                mjr1007 wrote:
                Since the cost of storing the song on a computer actually cost more electricity for most machines then sitting idle there is a marginal cost there as well.

                Mike replied:
                That cost would be so infinitesimal to be considered zero by any reasonable person.

                mjr1007 replied:
                Just the beginning of the argument. There needs to be a whole infrastructure to support the file sharing and it needs to be an increase over the existing infrastructure. Even if you don't count the increase cost in sizing the infrastructure, there is still the actual work being done to share the files, electricity, HVAC .... Ignoring this seems like really bad accounting, but I'll take your word that economist are just really bad at accounting, Just as abundant is not infinite, small is not zero. World wide I suspect that the amount of power is actually measurable and not insignificant.

                mjr1007 wrote:
                Mike here is an idea, why don't you actually look up the what infinite is and quote how something that is abundant but bounded is infinite. You will excuse me if I trust my math professors at University more then you.

                Mike replied:
                Fair enough. And I will trust my economics professors more than you.

                mjr1007 replied:
                Once again rhetoric over reason. I'm not asking you to believe me or changing the meaning of infinite. As I said earlier it's a well defined term, just LOOK IT UP. Why don't you take me up on my challenge, cite something credible that states abundant but bounded is really infinite. Oh, right, I forgot, Mike doesn't bother to cite with me.

                There are even levels of infinity. Aleph-zero is countable infinity, aleph-one is real numbers (the power set of aleph-zero) and so on. It's a small point but troubling that you refuse to recognize even the smallest error.

                Mike wrote:
                So we are at a stalemate. It's fine with me, because history will bear out which answer is correct.

                mjr1007 replied:
                I'm not even sure that's true, because history is written by the winners, as opposed to those who are right. I wonder what history books in Europe looked like for some time after Galileo was put on trial. If you look at the history of WWII it's very different in Japan and China.


                mjr1007 wrote:
                What happened to the guy who actually reasoned and cited. I want that guy. He's much more interesting then the jerk I'm dealing with.

                Mike replied:
                Trust me. Same guy.

                mjr1007 replied:
                What are you saying here, your schizophrenic?

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                •  
                  icon
                  Mike (profile), May 4th, 2008 @ 3:21pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Good job Mike

                  I'm at a conference so don't have time to respond fully, but a few quick points:

                  It's not clear what's “not so”. Are you claiming that you really can't cite if mood strikes you?

                  No, the "not so" was in reference to the claim that I chose not to defend a certain position because (you imply) I cannot. I did so because I don't have the time -- and when I do defend my position you tend to take my points out of context, so we go around in circles.

                  I find it curious that you've never to publish in a pier reviewed journal. Was it because you never submitted an article or is it because it was never accepted?

                  Never submitted.

                  Actually it does answer your first question which was “why 11 cents”. The number was picked with absolutely no market data whatsoever. It's what is called a first level approximation or a back of the envelope calculation. It was meant to be illustrative. It maintained the acts revenue while decreasing the cost to consumers by 9X. 3 cents may very well be a better price then 11, both are far below the 99 cents per track that Itunes was charging last I looked

                  The first question was rhetorical. The point was to illustrate how silly it is for anyone to set the price. Let the market set the price. And the market will tell you the price should be zero.

                  It's nice that you said that any one of them isn't perfect for everyone, that's definitely a start.
                  Lets look at the details of your examples, first artistshare explained (from their website)


                  Going through and nitpicking isn't the point. That's why I said that none of them are perfect for everyone. The *point* is that you claimed that there were no other scarcities. I showed you a bunch of scarcities, and even showed you bands making money off of those scarcities. In other words, you were wrong. There are tons of business models that focus on giving away the infinite, and charging for the scarcities.

                  Your nitpicks miss this point over and over again. If I had more time I'd point out why you're incorrect on each one, but I'm afraid I need to run to dinner now.

                  But the point stands, despite your nitpicks: those are all business models that focus on giving away the music itself and charging for a scarcity. For every time you claim it won't work or it won't scale, someone has already proven you wrong.

                   

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  •  
                    identicon
                    mjr1007, May 4th, 2008 @ 7:44pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Good job Mike

                    Mike wrote:
                    I'm at a conference so don't have time to respond fully, but a few quick points:

                    mjr1007 wrote:
                    It's not clear what's “not so”. Are you claiming that you really can't cite if mood strikes you?

                    Mike replied:
                    No, the "not so" was in reference to the claim that I chose not to defend a certain position because (you imply) I cannot. I did so because I don't have the time -- and when I do defend my position you tend to take my points out of context, so we go around in circles.

                    mjr1007 replied::
                    Honestly, it has to take less time to actually cite something if there is in fact something to cite then to go round and round in circles. The old “not enough time” rhetoric is one of the weakest responses you could make.

                    mjr1007 wrote:
                    I find it curious that you've never to publish in a pier reviewed journal. Was it because you never submitted an article or is it because it was never accepted?

                    Mike replied:
                    Never submitted.

                    mjr1007 replied::
                    I suspect there is a good reason why you never submitted.

                    mjr1007 wrote:
                    Actually it does answer your first question which was “why 11 cents”. The number was picked with absolutely no market data whatsoever. It's what is called a first level approximation or a back of the envelope calculation. It was meant to be illustrative. It maintained the acts revenue while decreasing the cost to consumers by 9X. 3 cents may very well be a better price then 11, both are far below the 99 cents per track that Itunes was charging last I looked

                    Mike replied:
                    The first question was rhetorical. The point was to illustrate how silly it is for anyone to set the price. Let the market set the price. And the market will tell you the price should be zero.

                    mjr1007 replied::
                    Mike did you just not get the whole back of the envelope thing. It was illustrative, not definitive. Really Mike, sometimes I wonder.

                    mjr1007 wrote:
                    It's nice that you said that any one of them isn't perfect for everyone, that's definitely a start.
                    Lets look at the details of your examples, first artistshare explained (from their website)

                    Mike replied:
                    Going through and nitpicking isn't the point. That's why I said that none of them are perfect for everyone. The *point* is that you claimed that there were no other scarcities. I showed you a bunch of scarcities, and even showed you bands making money off of those scarcities. In other words, you were wrong. There are tons of business models that focus on giving away the infinite, and charging for the scarcities.

                    Your nitpicks miss this point over and over again. If I had more time I'd point out why you're incorrect on each one, but I'm afraid I need to run to dinner now.

                    But the point stands, despite your nitpicks: those are all business models that focus on giving away the music itself and charging for a scarcity. For every time you claim it won't work or it won't scale, someone has already proven you wrong.

                    mjr1007 replied::
                    Mike, your going from one weak response to another, are you really going for the nitpicking rhetoric. This is so unbelievably lame. You would never have let that jerk (IMHO) Sydnor get away with a nitpicking defense. I can't believe your trying something that weak. Really this is almost as bad as the 0300 effect.

                    OK let go through it, for those who might not see through this.

                    What you call nitpicking I call detailed analysis. As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details”.

                    The problem with your writing is give away the abundant and the charge for the scarce. Sorry just can't bring my self to call it infinite. The problem with that is all of your examples are either examples of live performances or things that are abundant. Mike, if everything is abundant then how does one ever make a living. Everything is given away. You must be using that magic wand that Schrubya keeps talking about. Your examples were just more of the same. Many of them included charging for CDs, DVDs, and downloads. All things which should be abundant. Getting the fans involved before the CD is produced, helps defray the production cost, but it doesn't explain how one goes about making a living, except by touring, which is a tough life. A small fee for the musician(s) for selling the music seems like it would help a lot of struggling folks out. You can't pay your bills with publicity, which is all giving away music does.

                    Your example of people like NIN making money was for letting fans set their price for downloads. Some payed some didn't. The point is they got lots of publicity, and lot's of money for this stunt and it doesn't seem like their going to do it again. Since they actually made money from downloads it seems not only to not prove your point but to actually disprove your point.

                    If you actually have an idea that isn't a stunt and will work state it clearly and with citations. Otherwise your just driving traffic to your site. Your beginning to sound like that Sydnor guy, only on a different topic.

                     

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    •  
                      icon
                      Mike (profile), May 4th, 2008 @ 8:11pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Good job Mike

                      I'm sorry you think that my "not enough time" is a weak response, other than the fact that it's true. I am at a conference, which had sessions all day today. I am running a multimillion dollar business. I am writing this blog. Arguing with you does not pay the bills. I don't need to justify my time for you.

                      As for the nitpicking, learn the difference between infinite (yes, they are infinite) and scarce. A CD is not infinite. It's scarce. Someone's time is not infinite, it's scarce. Access to the person is not infinite, it's scarce. Someone's signature is not infinite, it's scarce. That's the point. If you can't understand the difference, that is also not my problem.

                      At this point, we are back to the same place again. I believe I have defended my positions. I know you disagree, but honestly, the amount of time I've spent dealing with you is well beyond reasonable. Call it what you want. I feel that anyone can read my responses to you and determine whether I was forthright or not. I know you like to goad me into responding further by claiming I'm avoiding the question or giving a weak response. That is simply not true. I have explained my position -- you choose not to understand. So be it. Again, history will bear out who is correct.

                      I will not be responding to you further, as I simply cannot waste that valuable time (another scarce good, by the way).

                       

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      •  
                        identicon
                        mjr1007, May 5th, 2008 @ 8:10am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Good job Mike

                        Mike wrote:
                        I'm sorry you think that my "not enough time" is a weak response, other than the fact that it's true. I am at a conference, which had sessions all day today. I am running a multimillion dollar business. I am writing this blog. Arguing with you does not pay the bills. I don't need to justify my time for you.

                        mjr1007 wrote:
                        Nice rhetoric, just the right tone, no prior words included, would seem convincing, really. From an editor's perspective I would only change the second to last word. It should read, “I don't have to justify my time TO you”, not for you. Other then that, it was spot on.

                        The problem is that as I pointed out in the bits you deleted, “IT WOULD TAKE YOU LESS TIME TO GIVE A PROPER RESPONSE THEN THIS INSIPID NONSENSE YOU KEEP POSTING”. Since you've never make a case for what you've claimed one can only assume that you have an ulterior motive, such as driving traffic, despite protest to the contrary.

                        Mike continued to babble:
                        As for the nitpicking, learn the difference between infinite (yes, they are infinite) and scarce. A CD is not infinite. It's scarce. Someone's time is not infinite, it's scarce. Access to the person is not infinite, it's scarce. Someone's signature is not infinite, it's scarce. That's the point. If you can't understand the difference, that is also not my problem.

                        mjr1007 wrote:
                        First, no they are not infinite, since there aren't even infinite atoms in the universe and they clearly need atoms to exist. Wow, this level of stupidity and before midnight. You must really think the rest of the world won't notice. When you say CDs I assume you mean ones with music on them. Which of course means “SELLING MUSIC”. You know that thing which is to be given away. Since you like to talk about economics, without any real understanding of it, let do talk about the economics of CDs and music for a bit. There is a term in economics, maybe you've heard of it, fungible. In case you forgot Mike, fungible means interchangeable. For the vast majority of music customers we are talking about, not the over 5 billion we aren't, CDs, MP3 and other formats are, wait for it, fungible. So if one person buys a CD and puts it out on a P2P then, for most people it coping it is equivalent to buying the CD, at a very low cost, but not zero, of course. This fungibility means even CDs, or more properly the contents of the CD, are abundant. The cost of the CDs themselves, even with a copy of the graphics, are minor.

                        Access is scarce, which is why people pay more for live concerts, but touring all the time is a very tough life, as stated earlier. Signatures can easily be copied and counterfeited, so they can easily be made abundant.

                        Mike I really do understand the point, apparently you don't understand the real world and how people will copy almost anything they can, thus making scarce things plentiful.

                        Mike bemoaned:
                        At this point, we are back to the same place again. I believe I have defended my positions. I know you disagree, but honestly, the amount of time I've spent dealing with you is well beyond reasonable. Call it what you want. I feel that anyone can read my responses to you and determine whether I was forthright or not. I know you like to goad me into responding further by claiming I'm avoiding the question or giving a weak response. That is simply not true. I have explained my position -- you choose not to understand. So be it. Again, history will bear out who is correct.

                        mjr1007 wrote:
                        If Syndor had spread this kind of fertilizer around you would be all over him like, well like stink on fertilizer. Almost every example you give contradicts you premise. Most of them are of ACTS SELLING MUSIC. One of the few examples that wasn't was a travel agency, something that clearly would not scale, as explained earlier. You consistently use rhetoric instead of reason, and you never cite. You haven't defended anything, if anything, you've actually demonstrated how incredibly weak your position is. It's not that I chose not to understand, it's that I chose to understand and not merely believe what you say with an uncritical eye.

                        Mike whimpered:
                        I will not be responding to you further, as I simply cannot waste that valuable time (another scarce good, by the way).

                        mjr1007 wrote:
                        It's probably for the best. Now that you nonsensical infinity message has been unmasked for rubbish it is, it's best not to engage. After all, some prospective clients might actually read this and begin to think for themselves. But I do want to thank you for giving me the last word.

                         

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 1st, 2008 @ 1:31pm

    Re #63

    A new work that is created ceases to be scarce the instant it is recorded. From that point on it can be infinitely reproduced, which will drive its price to Zero. As has been stated elsewhere, this does not mean it has a value of Zero. It will have value a decent bit above zero, but due to the infinite reproducability (have a feeling thats not a word), its price will be driven to zero.
    Techdirt itself follows this business model. It offers technical analysis that does not exist. So companies pay to have it created. And no, I do not work for the TDIC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      MLS, May 1st, 2008 @ 4:36pm

      Re: Re #63

      I guess then it would be fair to say that if I was an author and wrote a book, then it would cease to be scarce once I finished printing my manuscript. Or, would it cease to be scarce once the initial publishing run of a limited number of bound copies of my book (say...about 1,000) are sold by my publisher to Barnes and Noble or Borders? Or, would it cease to be scarce at some later time?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Mike (profile), May 2nd, 2008 @ 1:12am

        Re: Re: Re #63

        I guess then it would be fair to say that if I was an author and wrote a book, then it would cease to be scarce once I finished printing my manuscript. Or, would it cease to be scarce once the initial publishing run of a limited number of bound copies of my book (say...about 1,000) are sold by my publisher to Barnes and Noble or Borders? Or, would it cease to be scarce at some later time?

        It ceases to be a scarce good the moment it is saved as a digital file. It is at that point that it can be copied infinitely at zero marginal cost.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2008 @ 5:55am

        Re: Re: Re #63

        The story you produce ceases to be scarece once it's in a digital form; without much trouble I can fill a 120gig hard drive with copies of a PDF.

        The Books you print *are* scarce. The Books are not infinitely reproduceable. Confusing "what you wrote" with "books" isn't helpful.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          MLS, May 2nd, 2008 @ 7:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Re #63

          "Confusing "what you wrote" with "books" isn't helpful."

          I do not think so in the context of the question I asked. What I have been struggling trying to understand is the answer to a question that underlies much of what is posted on this website. When does a work (in my question I used the example of a novel published and distributed as a bound volume) cease to be "scarce" and become "infinite".?

          Now that I understand the answer to be "once converted into a digital file", many of the comments made to this and other articles come into clearer focus.

          Given the answer, it would be helpful to understand if there is anything about converting my book into a digital file that would draw into question whether or not such a digital file should still be covered by the same copyright law that applies to a non-digital copy of my book?

          Again, I use my book example to try and avoid many of the practices associated with the entertainment and software industries, ie., those industries typically using both copyright law and restrictive licensing to control copying. In my experience most book authors and publishers rely solely on copyright law, and not on a combination of copyright and contract (licensing) law.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            Mike (profile), May 2nd, 2008 @ 10:51am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re #63

            Given the answer, it would be helpful to understand if there is anything about converting my book into a digital file that would draw into question whether or not such a digital file should still be covered by the same copyright law that applies to a non-digital copy of my book?

            To be honest, I'm not sure copyright has anything to do with it.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              MLS, May 2nd, 2008 @ 3:09pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re #63

              Let me rephrase my question. Should copyright law as applied to a scarce good (my book in printed form) apply with equal force to an infinite good (my book in digital form)? I can see no reason why copyright law should not apply with equal force in either case. Do you hold a different view, and if so what is the rationale?

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                Mike (profile), May 2nd, 2008 @ 11:11pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re #63

                Let me rephrase my question. Should copyright law as applied to a scarce good (my book in printed form) apply with equal force to an infinite good (my book in digital form)? I can see no reason why copyright law should not apply with equal force in either case. Do you hold a different view, and if so what is the rationale?

                Ah. But copyright isn't applied to the *book*. It's applied to the content itself, which is infinite.

                And, in general, I don't think copyright should be applied at all, so I don't see them as different.

                But if you were to set up a scenario where we are talking about a scarce good vs and infinite good, I would say that, yes, it makes sense that you would treat those goods differently, for a very simple reason. The entire point behind property rights is to manage the efficient allocation of resources. That is not necessary when a good is infinite, because allocation is easy: everyone who wants one gets one.

                It's different when you have a scarce good. In that scenario, allocation is different, and that's where the pricing mechanism comes into play.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                •  
                  identicon
                  MLS, May 3rd, 2008 @ 12:22pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re #63

                  FYI, I tried to keep the discussion generic so that others might be able to follow it more easily. Of course, you are correct in that copyright extends to the original "espression", and not to the medium in which the expression is embodies.

                  It is not at all clear why you do not think that copyright should be applied at all, whether the medium is a tangible good (a printed book, on a CD, or other physical object) or merely in the form of a digital file.

                  You mention "...a scenario where we are talking about a scarce good vs infinite good..." I do not understand what such a scenario would look like. A statue? A live concert performance? Other? Can you elaborate a bit to help me?

                   

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Nick (profile), May 6th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

    The new cost of doing business

    Imagine all brick-and-mortar stores charged an entrance fee, and also charged for the oxygen you used while in the store, and rent for the space you occupied in the store for the time you were there.

    Then your competitor offered all of these for free. Are they then leaving money on the table? Or are they breaking down competitive barriers to get people into your store to look at the merchandise so they might buy something from you instead of your competitor?

    Sure, you have to pay rent, you have to pay for maintenance on your door, you have to pay for garbage collection for your store so it does not stink which would require people to bring their own oxygen tanks to breath without smelling rotting trash. But these are all the normal costs of doing business.

    The small infrastructure cost of giving away things that were not previously given (infinitively copyable media) is the new cost of doing business. Leverage that to find paying customers of goods that are more scarce that you can sell at high margins.

    Sell me something I want that I can get for free, and I'll buy it. This is so simple.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Nick (profile), May 6th, 2008 @ 1:32pm

    mjr1007 and his semantic arguments

    Plentiful, abundant, infinite. Whatever you want to call it, what Mike is saying (though mjr1007 choses to argue about semantics so the argument never ends) that the margins between the cost of self-distribution of digital media over the net is so low compared to the overhead required to run a record label and duplicate physical CDs, that if you were to round the difference, it would be zero.

    The same argument could have been made when the printing press was invented. You could say now it now takes "no time at all" to print a book. It is only stated this way because before it would take a scribe weeks, months, or years to produce a single book. With the printing press it takes days or hours.

    A day is 0.0027397 of a year. Round that off, it means it takes zero years to make a book.

    A day is 0.032258 of a month. Round that off to, it means it takes zero days to make a book.

    Let's leverage this new difference to our advantage. If you choose to be a luddite instead, that is your choice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      mjr1007, May 7th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

      Re: mjr1007 and his semantic arguments

      Nick wrote:
      Plentiful, abundant, infinite. Whatever you want to call it, what Mike is saying (though mjr1007 choses to argue about semantics so the argument never ends) that the margins between the cost of self-distribution of digital media over the net is so low compared to the overhead required to run a record label and duplicate physical CDs, that if you were to round the difference, it would be zero.

      The same argument could have been made when the printing press was invented. You could say now it now takes "no time at all" to print a book. It is only stated this way because before it would take a scribe weeks, months, or years to produce a single book. With the printing press it takes days or hours.

      A day is 0.0027397 of a year. Round that off, it means it takes zero years to make a book.

      A day is 0.032258 of a month. Round that off to, it means it takes zero days to make a book.

      Let's leverage this new difference to our advantage. If you choose to be a luddite instead, that is your choice.


      mjr1007 replied:
      Nick, the whole infinity thing was, as you pointed out, a minor point. Yet for some reason Mike refuses to use standard mathematical terms correctly. I see no reason to start using terms incorrectly. It only confuses the issue.

      I find your rounding argument very interesting. Apparently Mike is not the only one who doesn't bother to think through his argument.

      You correctly point out that the printing press dropped the price of the labor of printing to a rounding error. What you missed was, "THE COST OF BOOKS DID NOT DROP TO ZERO". People were not running around saying we will give books away for free and make it up in volume or by selling tickets to authors speeches. There was a price associated with the book and it definately was NOT ZERO.

      This is actually a strong argument for automation, something I make my living at. The printing press reduced the cost of labor to the point where it no longer exceeded the cost of materials. No amount of division of labor would ever be able to do that. Smith got that part wrong. It is often the case in automation that when the primary dirver for cost is eliminated the secondary cost become the primary.

      This is exactly why I said this sounds just like the Internet bubble. You get a bunch of nuckleheads running around saying new business model, new business model and when they actually explain what it is there is no there there. Mike's examples have been to sell content, music, commentary, or video of studio work. It's all digital and can all be copied. Which means, according to his abundance theory, it should be given away.

      Is there anybody out there who actually has a viable business model for the abundance theory? If so please, please chime in.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        JJ, May 7th, 2008 @ 11:33pm

        Re: Re: mjr1007 and his semantic arguments

        > Is there anybody out there who actually has a viable business model for the abundance theory? If so please, please chime in.

        I'd say Mike does: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070503/012939.shtml

        Considering the number of success stories of folks embracing it, it seems pretty viable.

        What's your problem with it?

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          mjr1007, May 8th, 2008 @ 12:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: mjr1007 and his semantic arguments

          JJ wrote:
          Is there anybody out there who actually has a viable business model for the abundance theory? If so please, please chime in.
          I'd say Mike does: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070503/012939.shtml
          Considering the number of success stories of folks embracing it, it seems pretty viable.
          What's your problem with it?
          I'm assuming this is rhetorical since I have written pages about the problems. Little things like
          Abundant is not infinite, cheap is not free, and getting a day job not playing music is not really helping musicians who just want to play music. Once again rhetoric not reason.

          There are two issues here.
          The first is a quote from Jefferson: "an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself", hence the disclosure requirement in patents. The whole point here is to ecourage people to disclose ideas and not keep them to themselves. If they have to give the idea away for free then why bother telling others

          The second a quote from Mike: "Once created, it [the idea] costs nothing to give to someone else, and you still retain the original. In fact, economists have finally realized that this is the very key to economic growth and progress."

          Here is the problem, right here. Once created. It does not speak of the non zero cost of creating the idea or the shelf life of the idea. It's as if ideas magically appear and last forever. Like most of Mike's analysis, it is overly simplistic, dangerously inaccurate and contradictory. If it would help, try thinking of it as an idea factory and the need to create new ideas requires a revenue stream. Even Mike admits that new ideas are scarce but gives no reasonable way of sustaining the flow of them. As an example, he has no realistic idea on how to fund basic research. It's these new ideas and not a claim of new business models which creates progress. The country which gets this right will end up winning the 21st century. Following Mike's advice would put us at the bottom of the pack.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            JJ, May 9th, 2008 @ 4:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: mjr1007 and his semantic arguments

            >Abundant is not infinite, cheap is not free, and getting a day job not playing music is not really helping musicians who just want to play music. Once again rhetoric not reason.

            Actually it seems like the only rhetoric is yours. Considering the number of bands that have put this into practice, it appears that what Mike is saying goes well beyond rhetoric into reality.

            > Here is the problem, right here. Once created. It does not speak of the non zero cost of creating the idea or the shelf life of the idea. It's as if ideas magically appear and last forever. Like most of Mike's analysis, it is overly simplistic, dangerously inaccurate and contradictory. If it would help, try thinking of it as an idea factory and the need to create new ideas requires a revenue stream.

            I don't know. My reading of Mike's writings (and those he points to) suggests that it's the market that provides the business model. There seems to be plenty of evidence to support that.

            > Even Mike admits that new ideas are scarce but gives no reasonable way of sustaining the flow of them.

            Again seems like the market has solved this. Demand in the market drives it, and it's the folks behind that demand that pays for the scarce goods.

            > As an example, he has no realistic idea on how to fund basic research. It's these new ideas and not a claim of new business models which creates progress. The country which gets this right will end up winning the 21st century. Following Mike's advice would put us at the bottom of the pack.

            Boldrin & Levine's research on Italy in 1978 suggests otherwise. There was a lot more basic research going on pre-patent protection than afterwards.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              mjr1007, May 9th, 2008 @ 9:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: mjr1007 and his semantic arguments

              mjr1007 wrote:
              >Abundant is not infinite, cheap is not free, and getting a day job not playing music is not really helping musicians who just want to play music. Once again rhetoric not reason.

              JJ replied:
              Actually it seems like the only rhetoric is yours. Considering the number of bands that have put this into practice, it appears that what Mike is saying goes well beyond rhetoric into reality.

              mjr1007 replied:
              I know you are but what am I. Really, that’s the best you’ve got. Actually you’re beginning to sound like Mike. Is this really Mike under a different name? Make claims with no references and then say QED I’m right. Ignore everything stated earlier about how getting a day job to support your creative habit is not really “PROMOTING THE USEFUL ARTS AND SCIENCES”. One of the reasons I had suggested earlier on that every post should start with that. Just so people can keep their eye on the ball. Are you just retarded or do you think everyone else is?

              mjr1007 wrote:
              > Here is the problem, right here. Once created. It does not speak of the non zero cost of creating the idea or the shelf life of the idea. It's as if ideas magically appear and last forever. Like most of Mike's analysis, it is overly simplistic, dangerously inaccurate and contradictory. If it would help, try thinking of it as an idea factory and the need to create new ideas requires a revenue stream.

              JJ muttered:
              I don't know. My reading of Mike's writings (and those he points to) suggests that it's the market that provides the business model. There seems to be plenty of evidence to support that.

              Mjr1007 replied:
              Well we can agree on one thing, you really don’t know. It’s nice to see you can read, now lets go a step further and try thinking. Why don’t you actually write something worth reading. Vague generalities and references to markets is just the same old same old. Just for fun, try throwing in a citation or even just a thoughtful comment.

              mjr1007 wrote:
              > Even Mike admits that new ideas are scarce but gives no reasonable way of sustaining the flow of them.

              JJ continues to spew nonsense:
              Again seems like the market has solved this. Demand in the market drives it, and it's the folks behind that demand that pays for the scarce goods.

              mjr1007 replied:
              When ever in doubt, claim the invisible hand will solve the problem. Are you hoping to get Scrubya’s magic wand? What business would pay for Basic Research knowing that as soon as it comes out, all of your competitors will use it without paying for it. If you are such a fan of Mike’s writing why not refer back to

              “Nobel Prize Winning Economist Explains How IP Rights Are Part Of The Globalization Problem”

              http://techdirt.com/articles/20080421/024049903.shtml

              The actually article is

              http://www.cceia.org/resources/transcripts/5397.html

              In the article, the noble prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz state:
              “In the book I describe an alternative system for financing innovation. Innovation doesn't come costlessly, so you can't just say, "Let's just have people innovate." It requires incentives; it requires finance.”

              This is a quote from an article that Mike posted. Do you see how this is working now? A statement is made and then it is supported by a citation. In this case I just repeated my self but in your defense it was a different article. If you expect to be taken seriously in the adult world you are going to have to learn this very important approach to discussion.

              mjr1007 wrote:
              As an example, he has no realistic idea on how to fund basic research. It's these new ideas and not a claim of new business models which creates progress. The country which gets this right will end up winning the 21st century. Following Mike's advice would put us at the bottom of the pack.

              JJ drowned on:
              Boldrin & Levine's research on Italy in 1978 suggests otherwise. There was a lot more basic research going on pre-patent protection than afterwards.

              mjr1007 replied:
              False dichotomy, either monopoly patents or nothing. If you read Stiglitz you will see additional options. BTW, this doesn’t count as a citation. To be a real citation you need to give a quote, your opinion of their research is not worth the electron needed to render it.

              Your writing is garbage, all rhetoric and no reason. The scholarship is shoddy and the conclusions are ridiculous. So my question remains, is there anybody out there who actually has a viable business model for the abundance theory? If so please, please chime in.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), May 15th, 2008 @ 6:27am

    Re #78 MLS

    @MLS
    I applaud you for being willing to try to understand this side of the argument. Quite often we are simply met with a "you are wrong because this is just how things are right now". It is nice to have a logical civilized debate and I thank you.

    I apologize for not continuing to discuss this earlier and thank Mike for helping out. I was out on vacation for a week. And I hope you get to see the response here.

    With regards to your example, I will use a painting for mine. The Mona Lisa. The painting itself cannot be reproduced. If it is, that reproduction is simply a copy and is not the original. The original painting is priceless and has monumental value. Any replica would not be 100% the same. However, people have taken pictures of the Mona Lisa. The pictures are 100% replicatable and each copy will be 100% the same as the original picture. The pictures are digital. Although, I am going under the assumption here that the picture taken was with a digital camera, or perhaps scanned in to the computer.

    You mentioned a live performance. A live performance is another great example. Every time a band plays live, the music is never 100% the same. It cannot be duplicated. The artists themselves will also purposely change the tunes here and there to mix things up and to help differentiate between their music on CDs and the music at the concert. It is that precise reason that every single time Trent Reznor comes to town, I always pay to see him. And I pay for the best seat I can get, regardless of price, because the value to me is immense. I also have every single official Halo he has released (except 1, but that is on the way). I have ripped every single CD I have gotten (excludes Halo 12 and 22 since they are not CDs and I do not want to rip 22, which is a DVD, 12 is a double VHS set). My whole NIN collection is on my computer. When possible, I share my collection with others. I am always eager to get more people listening to NIN. These digital copies are 100% reproducable, and are infinitely available. They are digital. The concerts though, are not, and I am slowly getting more of my friends interested, and they go with me to the concert, which actually increases the value of the concert to me, even if the price only fluctuates a little bit.

    I hope these examples help some, and more so, I hope that they are good examples, as I am only a computer guy, and not a real economist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    fodder99 (profile), Jun 30th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    here here !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This