When Ideas Are Easy And Execution Is Hard... It Makes Sense To Share Your Ideas

from the be-open,-be-good dept

We've been hitting on the theme that ideas are easy, while execution is hard for a while now -- and a friend pointed me to a worthwhile blog post by Brad Burnham, an experienced venture capitalist, now a partner with Union Square Ventures. Burnham muses that the successful entrepreneurs he's backed tended to be the ones who were the most open about their ideas, not just with him, but with everyone. What it really comes back to is this idea that ideas are easy and execution is difficult. The entrepreneur who is living and breathing the idea (and has probably already tested out a bunch of different related ideas) is likely to gain a lot more from the conversation with an outsider (even a potential competitor) than that other person is going to gain from talking to the entrepreneur. While there is an old-school mentality that you need to keep things secret, history has shown that that tends not to be the best way to grow a successful business. When you do that, you end up making all sorts of mistakes that a few conversations may have helped you avoid.

An interesting parallel to this debate is the discussion we had last year about noncompetes. What the research there has shown is that a big part of the reason for Silicon Valley's success is the fact that noncompete agreements are unenforceable in California. What happened, then, was much more job-hopping, and a much faster dispersion not just of ideas, but of problem solving and innovation across the industry. In AnnaLee Saxenian's book that kicked off this debate, she noted that Silicon Valley culture was such that many engineers here spent plenty of time discussing their biggest challenges with direct competitors, just to get better ideas -- believing that solving the big problems would work out better in the end for everyone, and that holding back ideas didn't solve anything. Amusingly, in that case, Burnham's partner at Union Square Ventures, Fred Wilson, took the other side: favoring noncompetes (though, I get the feeling Wilson's changing his mind as the evidence has been presented).

This also, by the way, goes completely against the theory (chiefly propagated by supporters of a stronger patent system) that without patents, the world would devolve into an innovation-free zone where trade secrecy ruled. That seems unlikely to happen, based on exactly what Burnham and others have noticed. Keeping an idea secret not only is unlikely to be effective, it can often stifle the necessary development. Thus, it will be the companies that are more open and free with their ideas that dominate the market. The key reason why, of course, goes back to what we talked about at the beginning. Ideas are certainly important, but it's execution that's the key to success -- and being more free in sharing your ideas will often help you execute better.

Burnham also asks about whether or not it's possible to "model" this openness -- and I think it is. In fact, in many ways it matches the infinite goods economic model we've been discussing, with the ideas representing the infinite goods, and the execution being the main scarcity. So, in the same way that freeing up music helps expand the opportunities for every other area of the music business, opening up your idea is likely to open up many huge new opportunities for the entrepreneur in how to execute successfully. If you really want to model it mathematically, you could probably build something based on the economic models that made Paul Romer famous (and should eventually net him a Nobel prize), but that might be overkill for what Burnham is looking for. However, if you're familiar with Romer's work, applying it to this scenario should make you see how much more powerful sharing ideas can be vs. keeping them secret. It's not just a small edge -- it can be a huge difference. I've been working on a few simpler models myself that I'm hoping to share (openly and freely!) soon enough, in the hopes that others can improve on them.


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    angry dude, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    horseshit again

    a big pile of it from MIkey

     

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    Jason, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 1:24pm

    I agree completely that "ideas are easy, execution is hard." I think any writer of fictional works (short stories, novels, comics, scripts, whatever) will also agree. I think they will also tell you that's *exactly* why they need copyright protection of the *execution* (NOT of their ideas).

    Most scriptwriters I've spoken to freely share and discuss their ideas for scripts, getting reactions, gathering other ideas, etc. This input is invaluable, much in the same way you describe Silicon Valley.

    However, the screenplay itself (or the story, or the novel, whatever) *is* the execution. The screenplay itself *is* what's hard. The screenplay *is* the "scarce good" to return to your former infinite/scarce model.

    This seems to be the point you won't concede or understand, though you kinda prove it with this post.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:26pm

      Re:

      I agree completely that "ideas are easy, execution is hard." I think any writer of fictional works (short stories, novels, comics, scripts, whatever) will also agree. I think they will also tell you that's *exactly* why they need copyright protection of the *execution* (NOT of their ideas).

      Interesting point, though I disagree (not surprisingly). You seem to be assuming that at some point it does make sense to "protect" some aspect of the model, and that's not a point I agree with or that the evidence supports.

      However, the screenplay itself (or the story, or the novel, whatever) *is* the execution. The screenplay itself *is* what's hard. The screenplay *is* the "scarce good" to return to your former infinite/scarce model.


      First off, the screenplay is not scarce -- it's content. And content, by its nature, is not scarce.

      And the point is that you can use that fact to your advantage. There are so many crappy screenplays out there floating around, that if you can *prove* you have a good screenplay (and that's done by turning it into a topnotch movie), then you'll be in demand for future screenplay work (and that *work*) is the scarce good.

      So, I fail to see how this argument supports copyright at all. I'd say it does the reverse.

       

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        Jason, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 3:04pm

        Re: Re:

        Interesting point, though I disagree (not surprisingly).

        Got a good reason to disagree with what you admit is an interesting point?

        You seem to be assuming that at some point it does make sense to "protect" some aspect of the model, and that's not a point I agree with or that the evidence supports.

        The protection is of the thing that you admit is difficult: the execution. Also, I've been scanning this blog for a few weeks now: where's the evidence you keep claiming exists? You never specifically provide it.

        First off, the screenplay is not scarce -- it's content. And content, by its nature, is not scarce.

        All "content" is not equal, though you seem to think so. You imply that one bowl of content is just as good as any other bowl of content. That's simply not the case, as your next point proves. If all screenplays were "just content" (and therefore equal), then there'd be no way to *prove* that you have a good screenplay ... because they'd all be the same. Also, there'd be no need to pay someone who previously produced good content, because, according to your logic, screenplays (i.e. content) aren't scarce ... so why pay?

        Your quip about most screenplays being crap, however, demonstrates how scarce a good screenplay is.

        A screenplay is a very specific arrangement of "content" ... not random goop in a bowl. That specific arrangement is precisely what's scarce and is precisely what's being "executed."

        After all, there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, so you could also say that all screenplays are just letters (which are completely free for anyone to use). The freedom of letters does not guarantee good screenplays, novels, etc., though. It's all about the arrangement ... the execution.

        As a side note, a screenplay is an execution and a movie is an execution based on that earlier execution (the screenplay). One doesn't prove the other. Plenty of bad movies are made from good screenplays.

        Also, recognize that the point I'm making isn't limited to screenplays. Novels, stories, comics, etc. are all "executions." If everyone was writing novels, and all or most of those were excellent, then I might buy the claim that "novels aren't scarce" and maybe even let you slide with "novels are just content." But that's clearly not the case.

        People don't pay for things that are easily and naturally abundant. Like hand-clapping. Or air. They pay for things that are difficult to execute: like a good novel.

        Finally, why would anyone pay me to create another screenplay if they could get other screenplays for free ... because they're all just content, floating around out there without protection, waiting to be snatched up, all equal.

        Your arguments are circular and extremely unconvincing.

        You imply that ideas should be freely shared and that what should be capitalized is the hard part: the execution. When I say that a novel is an execution and the thing that a writer must capitalize on, you say "interesting point, but I disagree."

         

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          Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 3:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Got a good reason to disagree with what you admit is an interesting point?

          That would be the rest of the comment that I wrote after that statement.

          The protection is of the thing that you admit is difficult: the execution.

          No. It's got nothing to do with "protection." Why do you think execution needs protection? It doesn't. If you execute well and continue to execute well, you don't need "protection." You get business by continuing to execute well.

          Protectionism is the exact opposite of what we want to encourage. Protectionism leads to less innovation and less competition. It slows down innovation and decreases the size of markets.

          Also, I've been scanning this blog for a few weeks now: where's the evidence you keep claiming exists? You never specifically provide it.

          As I answered above, try following the links. Or, if you are too lazy to do that, go read the research by Levine and Boldrin, Bessen & Meurer, Maskin, Moser, Schiff, Romer and plenty of others. I've pointed out each in the past. The fact that you chose not to look it up isn't my fault and doesn't mean that the research doesn't exist. There are search engines for a reason.

          If I had to repeatedly point out the research I've pointed out in the past just to satisfy every new person who shows up, this would be a mighty boring site.

          All "content" is not equal, though you seem to think so.

          I've said no such thing. In fact, I agree that not all content is equal. For you to suggest I have said otherwise is simply wrong.

          If all screenplays were "just content" (and therefore equal), then there'd be no way to *prove* that you have a good screenplay ... because they'd all be the same. Also, there'd be no need to pay someone who previously produced good content, because, according to your logic, screenplays (i.e. content) aren't scarce ... so why pay?

          Again, I said no such thing about all content being equal, so there's no reason to reply to your strawman here.

          Look, honestly, if you want to debate this, please respond to what I actually said. Not the strawman you wish I said.

          Also, recognize that the point I'm making isn't limited to screenplays. Novels, stories, comics, etc. are all "executions." If everyone was writing novels, and all or most of those were excellent, then I might buy the claim that "novels aren't scarce" and maybe even let you slide with "novels are just content." But that's clearly not the case.

          Again, even if those are all executions, that doesn't give you any reason to "protect."

          Making automobiles is execution, but we all agree (or at least I hope we do), that protectionist policies hurt the auto industry.

          Finally, why would anyone pay me to create another screenplay if they could get other screenplays for free ... because they're all just content, floating around out there without protection, waiting to be snatched up, all equal.

          Again, with the strawman.

          Your arguments are circular and extremely unconvincing.

          And yours is based on a false strawman. And I fail to see how it's unconvincing when so many people are embracing it and finding success. That's the most convincing of all.

          You imply that ideas should be freely shared and that what should be capitalized is the hard part: the execution. When I say that a novel is an execution and the thing that a writer must capitalize on, you say "interesting point, but I disagree."

          Because you're not talking about capitalizing on the execution. You're talking about capitalizing on PROTECTIONISM.

           

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          SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 7:38am

          Re: Re: Re:

          All "content" is not equal, though you seem to think so. You imply that one bowl of content is just as good as any other bowl of content.

          No, Mike said all content is infinite, not equal. Once initially produced, the screen play can be reproduced again and again at a marginal cost which approaches zero. This is true of the most ambrosial content as well as crappy content. Good content may be relatively rare, but it's still infinite.

          Also, there'd be no need to pay someone who previously produced good content, because, according to your logic, screenplays (i.e. content) aren't scarce ... so why pay?

          It might be argued that you don't pay someone who previously produced good content, you pay someone to compel them to produce new good content for you. And you can predict, to some extent, who is most likely to produce good content in the future based on who has produced good content in the past.

          If all screenplays were "just content" (and therefore equal), then there'd be no way to *prove* that you have a good screenplay ...

          I think there's a problem with this. A screenplay is an idea. Maybe it's a good idea, maybe it's a bad idea, but it's an idea. Instead of proving you have a good idea (I think Mike erred in suggesting that) the goal is to prove that you can successfully execute from this idea -- a screenplay is not execution, a movie is not execution. Execution is an action, not a product. Making the movie is the execution. If you execute well, you produce a good movie.

          It's worth noting here that a screenplay is itself the result of some other execution, taking content and ideas and arranging them appropriately. It's not the end product we all think of (the movie), but it is a product of execution.

          Nor is a novel, comic, story, etc an execution. They are the end products of execution. They are just content. The execution is writing the novel, constructing the story, composing the comic. The execution produces the new content. Content is infinite, but being able to create new content -- particularly if you want to limit it to "good" content (as I'm sure we all want to) -- is a scarce resource.

          You seem to take issue with "just content." I don't mean that as a perjorative, nor do I think Mike does. There's nothing wrong with being 'just content.' Classic literature doesn't lose value for being 'just content.' It's brilliant and valuable and enriches our lives, but it is essentially 'just content.' Don't be upset by that.

          People do not pay for things simply because they're difficult to produce. A hamburger is not difficult to produce, but we all pay for them. Otherwise fast food would be out of business. Nothing they do is difficult, but the service they provide has value. It also has costs, and those costs are part of what drives the price we must pay. Part of Mike's point is that, once produced, the costs attached to reproducing content approach zero. One ought rightly be paid appropriately for the costs asdsociated with producing NEW content, but that doesn't have much bearing on content that's already been produced.

           

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            Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 8:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Thanks for the response, Some Guy. A few reactions...

            Execution is an action, not a product. Making the movie is the execution. If you execute well, you produce a good movie.

            Just a small point, but this isn't necessarily so. You can execute brilliantly and still, for a variety of reasons, end up with a crappy movie.

            You seem to take issue with "just content." I don't mean that as a perjorative, nor do I think Mike does. There's nothing wrong with being 'just content.' Classic literature doesn't lose value for being 'just content.' It's brilliant and valuable and enriches our lives, but it is essentially 'just content.' Don't be upset by that.

            OK, point taken. However ...

            the service they provide has value. It also has costs, and those costs are part of what drives the price we must pay.

            What's the other part? Because, the way I'm understanding Mike so far, he argues that the ONLY thing that drives the price is the cost of production. In other words, the "value" has no bearing on price, only production (or reproduction) costs.

            One ought rightly be paid appropriately for the costs asdsociated with producing NEW content, but that doesn't have much bearing on content that's already been produced.

            Why would anyone pay someone to produce new content when the content that's produced has, by the definition put forth so far, no monetary value? What am I missing here?

             

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              SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:21am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Hey Jason,

              Right off I dispute your first point. Can you present me with any reason (from your variety) that a movie would be crappy that isn't tied to a mistake in execution? I suppose it depends on what you consider the execution of movie making, but I'm pretty sure that the actors you hire, the direction you have, the budgetting in place, the SFX used, etc, all fall under the "execution" bits. If you choose an actor who executes badly, your choice in picking them was a mistake, so your execution is not flawless. Can this sort of thing be helped? Probably not, but that doesn't change the the fact that better execution produces a better end product.

              What's the other part? To pricing and stuff? Well, I'm surely not an economist. I'm just a tech guy who tries to apply some common sense to the bits I pick up around here. I'm sure things like materials and resource costs (including time, etc) play a part. For example, a book has extra material costs attached to it. So does a hamburger. That all gets calculated into the costs, along with other bits of supply and demand and competition and loss leaders and other complexities of economics I don't understand.

              The point that Mike makes, though, is that it's an economic fact that price gets driven towards marginal costs -- that is, the cost to produce the n+1st item. A book and a hamburger has a certain material cost no matter HOW MANY you make. Not so with these non-scarce or "infinite" goods. Once I have, say, a digital recording of a song, it costs almost nothing to make 100,000,000 copies compared to 100,000 copies. The marginal cost of infinite goods is zero, so the price that the market will tend to is zero. So long as it's true that price tends towards marginal cost, an axiom I have to take Mike's word on, since I'm not an economist.

              Value may have a bearing on price, but it's definitely an indirect impact. Some of the most valuable things in the world -- air, water, sunlight -- have no price. But value does tend to impact the demand for a thing. High deman d versus supply drive up the cost of a thing, but this becomes meaningless when there's an infinite supply.

              Now then, why would you pay someone to produce content? That's a staggering question. Do you WANT the content? As I've noted (and Mike before me), unproduced content is scarce. You can't get the next book by Stephen King unless Stephen King writes a book. It just won't happen. The way I understand it is by analogy to my own line of work: I get paid, more or less, for my time. My time is limited and valuable, both to me (I like swimming, boating, and reading) and my employer (apparently I can solve certain interesting problems for them). I'm willing to part with my time in service to them in exchange for my wage. I think the same can be said for Mr. King, or any other content producer before they've produced content. You pay him because you want the new content produced, which requires him time and ability, which are rather limited resources.

              Now then, this doesn't mean that all artists need to become sell-outs. I don't tell my boss what they want to hear, I tell them the answer.

              What's more, though, is that while you "can't" charge for infinte goods, you CAN tie them to scarce good that you can charge for, and the infinite goods make the scarece goods more valuable.

              Let's take music. The obvious scarce good is concert seats. You only have, say, 10,000. If only 8,000 people want to see your show, meh. You charge cost plus a little. But if you have 100,000 people who all want one of those 10,000 seats, you now have a MUCH higher demand/supply ratio, and as noted that drives price up. You get more demand for a concert by getting more fans, you get more fans by getting more exposure, and you can get more exposure by giving away the unlimited resource of your music.

              I'm going on and on and on, and all of this is stuff Mike's already talked about at great length. I REALLY recommend you go back and find his other posts on the economics of free and the way the music industry is and can be doing things. I think it all makes a lot of sense and, though there are a lot of detractors, I've yet to be convinced otherwise.

               

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                Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:49am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I suppose it depends on what you consider the execution of movie making

                I suppose we're clashing on "ideal" vs. "actual" execution. This is a minor point anyway, so not worth arguing (IMHO).

                Once I have, say, a digital recording of a song, it costs almost nothing to make 100,000,000 copies compared to 100,000 copies.

                Yes, I understand that perfectly. But where did you get that copy of a song? What this skips over is the cost to the musician to create that song in the first place and the value (aesthetic, entertainment, or otherwise) associated with that song.

                Some of the most valuable things in the world -- air, water, sunlight -- have no price. But value does tend to impact the demand for a thing. High demand versus supply drive up the cost of a thing, but this becomes meaningless when there's an infinite supply.

                Air, water, and sunlight are not produced or created by anyone, so they serve as horrible analogies. And when production is involved (water filtration and deliver, for example) then price is attached.

                The limited supply, as I continue to maintain, is the created art. This is a primary dividing point, it seems. Mike et al. define supply as "the availability of a copy of a thing" (which, in digital form, is near-infinite). On the other hand, I define supply as "the availability of the thing itself" (i.e., the specific novel, the specific song, etc.). There is not an infinite supply of novels or novelists, songs or musicians, etc. What the artist sells, what the artist has to offer, is his/her art. By refusing to place the cost in the art itself, and instead placing it only in the copy of the art, you deny the artist the chance to make any gain economically from his/her best offering: the art. Which, after all, does indeed have value.

                If someone is producing something that has genuine value to the society, why should they be denied the ability to receive financial reward from, and *directly* from, that thing? Economy alone does not, should not, dictate how a society functions. That's one reason we have laws. If economy alone was our only guiding principle, we would quickly consume ourselves (and have been doing a good job at that anyway, despite efforts to the contrary).

                Now then, why would you pay someone to produce content?

                Your restatement of my question eliminates the key point of my original question: Why pay someone to produce new content when the content that's produced has, by the definition put forth so far, no monetary value?

                Stephen King might be able to get people to pay him *before* he produces a work, but even that would be difficult. I like many of his novels, but I'm not going to pay him for one before he even creates it. And how many authors have wide enough appeal for that kind of model to work? Even Hollywood, which often throws money around wildly, won't pay for an unwritten script.

                The obvious scarce good is concert seats.

                Assuming the musician wants to tour. Since your model would deny them the chance to make any money from the thing they actually produce (music), they're forced to tour or sell T-shirts or what have you. Even if the musician chooses to go this route, how does this help painters, novelists, photographers, etc.? Again, my complaint is that this model denies the artist even the opportunity to make money directly from that which he/she produces. In essence, it says: we really like what you make, but we're not going to give you any money unless you do something else, too. Dance, monkey, dance!

                 

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                  John Wilson, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:32am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  The obvious scarce good is concert seats.

                  Assuming the musician wants to tour. Since your model would deny them the chance to make any money from the thing they actually produce (music), they're forced to tour or sell T-shirts or what have you. You make the false assumption that a recording contract and resulting distribution of plastic discs necessarily means the musician gets paid by the company they're signed to. As often as not a new musician or band signed to a contract will lose money on their first recording after being billed for promotion, administration and so on. Unless they do gig the musician in question makes little money in this most common scenario. Concert tickets, tshirts, and what have we are their money completely. Seen this way the recording is, in fact, a promotional vehicle for the musician. As has been pointed out when the cost of reproduction of that recording approaches zero the value of that as a scarce good declines appropriately. What used to be a symbiotic relationship between record companies and (some, very few) musicians has ceased to exist due to technological change. So the musician is forced, in some ways, to fall back on how they made money before the recording industry existed. They gig. Anyone seriously interested in making a living from music better be prepared to gig anyway or simply retire to a private room somewhere claiming "I'm an artist dammit and I don't think I should have to actually work. Pay me!"

                  ...how does this help painters, novelists, photographers, etc.? Again, my complaint is that this model denies the artist even the opportunity to make money directly from that which he/she produces.

                  Sales of their work? I understand that in your world that shouldn't happen but it does now and will continue to do so. Copyright exists to protect a particular expression of an idea for a limited time to incent an artist to produce a particular expression of a given idea. Limited does not mean in perpetuity as is rapidly becoming the case in the United States.

                  In essence, it says: we really like what you make, but we're not going to give you any money unless you do something else, too. Dance, monkey, dance!

                  I suppose that's intended as some sort of insult. Doesn't hold much water though. We all do the "dance, monkey, dance" thing as a regular occurence should we wish to stay employed or self-employed. It's the way of the world.I'm as good as my last piece of work. I may get paid more should I do my work exceptionally though I still have to keep that slender thread in mind and not get lazy.

                  You seem to want to put artists in a special place where the rest of us don't exist which is something I seriously don't agree with unless you're one who believes in art-for-art's sake.

                  So yes, in the end, to use your misplaced pejorative it does come down to "dance, monkey, dance". Paint another picture, make another sculpture, take another excellent photograph, write another book or poem or screenplay, write another song or symphony or stage play. Don't expect me to keep paying you for the last one forever. At least until I get paid for my last bit of work forever and I know that isn't happening.

                  The technology that appears to undermine what is currently cast as intellectual property and the economics that accompanies that also brings with it opportunity to capitalize on it just as long as you don't stay mired in the gone forever past. Denial, which is what you're indulging in doesn't change reality.

                  ttfn

                  John

                   

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                    Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:06am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "I'm an artist dammit and I don't think I should have to actually work. Pay me!"

                    This attitude is part of the problem. No one's saying artists should get paid for "not working." No one is even saying artists *should* get paid for what they produce, regardless of its value. I'm arguing that an artist should have the potential to generate income from the product he/she creates: namely, the art.

                    Secondly, the perception that artists "don't actually work" only shows clearly that you have little to no understanding of what's involved in creating art.

                    Sales of their work? I understand that in your world that shouldn't happen but it does now and will continue to do so. Copyright exists to protect a particular expression of an idea for a limited time to incent an artist to produce a particular expression of a given idea. Limited does not mean in perpetuity as is rapidly becoming the case in the United States.

                    I don't see how this is a counter-argument. It sounds pretty close to what I've been saying, actually. I agree with every sentence in that quote.

                    Paint another picture, make another sculpture, take another excellent photograph, write another book or poem or screenplay, write another song or symphony or stage play. Don't expect me to keep paying you for the last one forever.

                    Again, you're completely misunderstanding my point on the one hand, and making my point on the other.

                    If you're not going to pay me, at all, ever, for my painting, sculpture, picture, whatever, then your point is nonsense. If you believe that I'm saying you should pay me forever for my last work, then you're deliberately misunderstanding me. I'm saying, if you find value in my painting (etc.), pay me for it (once, and only once). If I produce another painting in which you find value, pay me for that one, too (once, and only once). If you find no value in my work, feel free to ignore me and never pay me a cent.

                    Denial, which is what you're indulging in, doesn't change reality.

                    Thanks for the helpful discussion.

                     

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                    SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:10pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    It's inaccurate to claim that value falls as costs drop. PRICE varies along with costs, but value is cionstant.

                     

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                  SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:06pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  But where did you get that copy of a song? What this skips over is the cost to the musician to create that song in the first place and the value (aesthetic, entertainment, or otherwise) associated with that song.

                  If you'll note, I addressed that later in my comment. Uncreated works are scarce, and you pay for those. How? Mike gives a few ideas, Jill Sobule and Trent Reznor have tried others. But the point is, once produced the content is infinite and the economics are different.

                  Air, water, and sunlight are not produced or created by anyone, so they serve as horrible analogies.

                  No, you were talking about paying for things because of value and I gave you things of value that no one pays for. if you'd like to add conditions onto our discussion that's fine, but it's helpful to have that before I comment rather than after. In the case of paying for filtered water that's because the filtering is a process which requires certain non-infinite resources, like time and machinery. In X time I can have X gallons of filtered water, and that sets the supply to be balanced against the demand.

                  Mike et al. define supply as "the availability of a copy of a thing" (which, in digital form, is near-infinite). On the other hand, I define supply as "the availability of the thing itself" (i.e., the specific novel, the specific song, etc.). There is not an infinite supply of novels or novelists, songs or musicians, etc.

                  I'm... not exactly sure where you're drawing the line in the definitions. Go to http://www.gutenberg.org/ and you'll see scores of infinitely-copyable novels. I invite you to take a few. The supply is the supply, how many there are to be had. Now, even if "The Stand" is an original work... I mean, the supply isn't "one." More to Mike's point, though, "The Stand" and Mr. King compete with other novals and novalists. This isn't about forcing Mr. King into a certain modle, this is about warning him that if he doesn't, someone else will and they'll yank the market out from under him. If you're a Rock musician how can you expect to sell music when your competition is giving it away? How can you expect to keep up your fan base when you put up artificial restrictions on becoming a fan?

                  If someone is producing something that has genuine value to the society, why should they be denied the ability to receive financial reward from, and *directly* from, that thing?

                  I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Or rather, I have suspicions this sets us up for disagreement later on in your reply. I am not m orally obligated to support someone simply because they produce. Should crappy artists be supported just because they're artists? Should I be required to buy sandwiches from the local deli just because they were produced? If you can find a modle to peddle your wares in the market, be my guest, but I see no reason why I should support you just because.

                  Your restatement of my question eliminates the key point of my original question.

                  I'm sorry, I thought that key point was implied in my response. Yes, I'm talking about why you would pay someone if the thing they're producing can't be sold directly. And the answer is that unproduced content is scarce but, once produced, becomes an infinite good which can be used to increase the value and demasnd for scarce goods. Did you choose not to read my response after you decided I was misreprisenting something?

                  Assuming the musician wants to tour.

                  No, that's the obvious good regardless of whether they want to tour or not. I don't even make music and it's obvious to me. If you don't want to tour then you just need to find something else scarce to sell. Other options exist, but this is still the obvious one.

                  Since your model would deny them the chance to make any money from the thing they actually produce (music), they're forced to tour or sell T-shirts or what have you.

                  This isn't my modle: I'm a tech guy, not an economist. And it doesn't DENY or FORCE them to do anything. It's their choice. But it's a choice that others have, too, and it's a choice that presents an artist with greater exposure and the potential of a stronger fan following and higher sales. What musican doesn't want that?

                  Even if the musician chooses to go this route, how does this help painters, novelists, photographers, etc.?

                  These guys already have scarce good to sell, namely paintings, books, and their own individual skill. Anyone can take a picture, but not anyone can that THAT picture, and if you don't pay me I won't take it. And it doesn't DENY anyone from making money 'directly' off their product. How is a touring band not making money off their music? Just because they have to keep performing? How is Trent Reznor not making money off of his Ghosts offering? Ghosts is under a liscence that lets it be shared by anyone who wants to, and he managed to sell vynil in 2008!

                  Economy alone does not, should not, dictate how a society functions. That's one reason we have laws.

                  I disagree fundamentally, in the name of the free market. You would have the government distort the market to the detriment of content consumers. The modles Mike brings up here don't require governmental involvment and lend themselves to a market where producers and consumers are better off.

                  In essence, it says: we really like what you make, but we're not going to give you any money unless you do something else, too. Dance, monkey, dance!

                  You insult me by implying I have such disdain for artists. If I demand that the monkey dance, then you demand entitlement. An artist is not entitled to anything just because they choose to create. I've already pointed out ways they can make money from what they produce without the need for government interference.

                   

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                    Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    if you don't pay me I won't take it.

                    And once it's taken, then it can be infinitely distributed at no cost. Right?

                    So why take a picture if no one is already paying me to do so? Why write a novel if no one is already paying me to do so?

                    Should I write a novel in the hope that someone *might* like my novel enough that they might pay me to make *another* one? That's ludicrous.

                    And why would I pay anyone to write a novel? The result might suck, and then I'm out of money. Much smarter to pay for the novel once it's created and deemed valuable. Which is the current system.

                     

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                      Noah Callaway, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:45pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      And once it's taken, then it can be infinitely distributed at no cost. Right?

                      Correct.

                      So why take a picture if no one is already paying me to do so?

                      I can think of several reasons one might take the picture:
                      -A nature magazine realizes that its product (the magazine) can be made much more valuable to its readers by having high quality photos inside the magazine. Thus, the magazine contracts you to take the photos. The photos may be fully available to anyone after you take it (the magazine, the internet, etc), but the magazine gains value by having the high quality photographs available. So they are willing to pay someone to take those high quality photographs.

                      -A natural desire to create. Maybe you really like photography?

                      -A fashion company wants to increase its "brand presence," so it contracts photographers to take high quality photographs of women wearing its dresses, and publishes the photographs in advertisements and online.

                      -After taking many photographs you are a highly respected photographer; With many prominent people paying attention to what you do you can sell scarce products (shirts(?), high quality prints, compiled books of your photographs).

                      These are just some reasons you might take photographs (and in many cases earn money doing it!), even though the photos themselves are infinitely redistributable. I'm sure there are more possibilities out there, these are just some off the top of my head.

                      And why would I pay anyone to write a novel?

                      Again, there are reasons to pay for the creation of an infinite good. A book publisher might recognize that selling books on paper will remain popular, even if its available online. I don't know if you've tried to read books online, but it's a real pain! I'd much rather read lots of text on paper. Printing it off myself is only economically viable for a few pages; for hundreds of pages of text I'd be much better off buying a printed book from the publisher.

                      If the publisher needs another high quality book written, and you've written books that sold well in the past, why not pay you to write another?

                      Maybe I'm a company that wants to advertise in a new way, so I talk to some authors who want to get paid to write a book. I pay them to write the book they want to write as long as they include my brand in some way (you'd probably want to insure inclusion of the brand doesn't hurt the narrative of the story and fits seamlessly into the world the author is writing. If I'm McDonald's I don't want to do a sci-fi book where the McDonald's corporation is a benevolent ruler of the universe; I might talk to someone doing a detective thriller and see if they can work a prominent "scene" to take place at a McDonald's restaurant).

                      I think there's lots of unexplored space, and I'm sure I haven't scratched the surface of possibilities.

                       

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                      SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:02am

                      Right off, I don't know how new authors 'break into' the business. Or new photographers, or new painters, etc. My understanding, at least with bands and authors, is that you already have something and then you pitch it to someone in the hopes that they like what they see, sign you on, whatever. It's all very arcane to me.

                      When I got my job, I presented my employer with my credentials and he decided I fit the need he had.

                      My point is, what does an author or musician right now do before they're discovered? I don't imagine they currently jump right into the business, untested. And THAT is why you would take a picture without anyone paying you, or write a novel despite not having a backer, or make economic analysis without having someone paying you for it, directly, right now. You build up a reputation, you get credentials. And thanks to current technology, that's a lot EASIER to do. Write something up, publish it as a pdf, and send it all over the internet for people to read. If they like you, they'll want more. If they like you enough, they'll start paying you for more. And especially with authors, once you have a fan base you can start actually publishing real books. It's BETTER for the artist because it's easier to get into the market. Yes, all you old work is freely available for people to use. But when people note you're skill they'll want new content from you despite that. No one wants to publish the same pictures everyone else has.

                      Right now, that's what authors do: they write something HOPING to get published. They send manuscripts off to publisher after publisher hoping someone likes it enough to not reject it. And what do they do in the mean time? what's proposed here is no more ludicrous than what happens now -- except now publishers aren't the gatekeepers. Artists can go straight to the audience, via the Internet, and the audience can then say what it is they like, and what they want more of. Then the artist can go to the publishers and say, "people want this as a real book; publish it."

                      (More importantly, though, is that the artist connects directly with his fans, so if an unscrupulous publisher prints a readily available book without cutting the author in on the deal, the author can go to his fans and let them know not to buy from the cheat.)

                      And why would I pay anyone to write a novel? The result might suck, and then I'm out of money.

                      Right now, how do you buy books? Honestly. No one reads a book through before buying it. No one goes to the library, reads an entire novel series, and then decides they like it and buy the books. Instead, they go to the bookstore, find an author who's reputation they know, or who's title or blurb or genre interests them, and buys it mostly sight-unseen. If the results suck, you're out of money. In the new scheme, though, distributing full books online for free is encouraged and -- as Mike has pointed out -- such offerings increase sale of ACTUAL books. Using the leverage that freely distributed content gives you allows you to build your reputation and exposure, and that can only be good for artists.

                      Much smarter to pay for the novel once it's created and deemed valuable. Which is the current system.

                      I dispute that this is the current modle. It can't be, because a book can't be "deamed valuable" until it's been published, and by then the author has already signed on with somebody. Money has changed hands, or at least a contract has been signed promising the future exchange of money. Maybe you, personally, aren't backing an unknown author, but someone is. A more reasonable question isn't "why would I pay an unknown to write a novel," but rather, "would I pay an author I already like to write another novel?" And I think the answer is generally "yes."

                       

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                        Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:29am

                        Re:

                        Still, this reduces the work of creating a novel to advertising. If payment is based only on encouraging the creation of the *next* novel, then the first novel must be viewed as purely PR, with no hope of receiving any financial gain from the first.

                        Some novelists spend 5+ years on a first novel. Most spend 2+ years per novel. Some novelists only produce one novel. This model is, in general, not encouraging for novelists.

                        However, there may be other models that aren't based in copyright but that are appealing to novelists, but I don't know of one yet. I'm not saying there could never be a good alternative model for novelists, I'm just saying the one offered here is not.

                         

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                          MLS, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 8:17am

                          Re: Re:

                          I guess the message here is to get out of the "creative works" business altogether because under the proferred "business model" those who pursue "art for art's sake" are to be viewed as control freaks who want to rest on their laurels, all to the detriment of an enlightened society.

                          Now, some will say to keep you novel in bound volume form and sell it as a scarce resource. Unfortunately, as a natural consequence of the views presented here third parties may copy that scarce resource with impunity and offer it to the "novel reading world", including selling it in bound volume form. You would, however, have one advantage over such third parties. The bound volumes you are able to sell would bear your name and, hence, be "official". As for digital copies, you can likely include your name in the metadata so that they too are "official".

                          I have to wonder how Ernest Hemingway would have fared under such a system?

                           

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                            Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:26am

                            Re: Re: Re:

                            If you're just pursuing art for art's sake, why are you so concerned for your pay check? I believe that's called 'selling out,' dude.

                             

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                            angry dude, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 10:06am

                            Re: Re: Re:

                            Ernest Hemingway would have to switch from Daiquiri or Absinthe to samogon under Mike's proposed IP regime or rather lack of it...

                             

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                            Mike (profile), Jun 6th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

                            Re: Re: Re:

                            I guess the message here is to get out of the "creative works" business altogether because under the proferred "business model" those who pursue "art for art's sake" are to be viewed as control freaks who want to rest on their laurels, all to the detriment of an enlightened society.

                            MLS, you confuse me. You don't respond to the points we raise over and over again, and then you come out and say something like the above statement.

                            So, first you complain that artists won't make enough money to survive. Then we show you how they can make enough money to more than survive... and your response is... but now artists won't make art for art's sake?

                            What would possibly make you think that? What about the model we have described makes it any less likely that people can make art for art's sake? Again, what we have described is a system that makes that even *more* likely.

                             

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                          SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:22am

                          Re: Re:

                          If you only write one novel, you are not a career novalist. Hoping to make your living on one novel when that isn't your career is... a bit much. If you're writing novels because it'll get you money, rather than because you have something to say or you feel your work has literary or social value, you're a hack of the class I despise. If more hacks are discourage from glutting the market, more the better, I say.

                          True talent can and will be rewarded. You're arguing for people getting paid who very likely shouldn't be under any modle.

                          Even at that, though, you're missing a very crucial piece, at least for writers. Books sell. Physical, bound, actual books sell, and sell well -- and it's been shown that offering the content free makes the book sell better. That first novel you write probably goes straight from MSWord to pdf to the internet, but before too long people are going to want the real book. And you can still make money off the real book, even (and especially) after it's already free online.

                           

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                            Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:38am

                            Re: Re: Re:

                            What's a "career novelist"? This misses the point entirely. The point is simply this: if a novel is considered significant, appealing, entertaining (etc.) enough by a large number of people, then the creator of that novel should be able to generate financial reward for that novel, regardless if its the first or the eighty-fifth novel s/he has written.

                            And no, Anonymous, this isn't "selling out," this is financial incentive. There are other incentives as well. (Mike's model is focused exclusively on the financial incentives, btw.) Selling out is writing what someone wants to hear because they're paying you (i.e., I liked your previous novel, I'll pay you to write another!)

                            Finally, the "bound book" argument is pointless. We're arguing principles here. When (not if) bound volumes are no longer viable and digital copies are the norm, this argument won't help us.

                             

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                            MLS, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 10:13am

                            Re: Re: Re:

                            A point overlooked in this discussion is that under the system being advocated, one where copyright no longer exists, the novelist would most certainly find his/her bound volumes in direct competition with identical bound volumes published by others.

                             

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                              SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 10:19am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              Not identical. They wouldn't have his seal of approval. Even without copyright you can get someone for false advertising etc. And fans will care about who's aiding the author and who's ripping him off.

                               

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                                MLS, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 10:36am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                Yes...identical. As for avoiding claims of misrepresentation, they are so easily taken care of by a simple notice that for all practical purposes the "official" version stands on no better competitive ground than the "non-official" version.

                                 

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                                Nope, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 10:44am

                                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                Seal of approval ... seriously? Isn't Mike's argument based on the idea that if I can get the same product cheaper though another source, I will?

                                That's a lot of faith to put on consumers ... particularly when you consider those same consumers are, as we speak, happily buying cheap bootlegs or downloading free copies.

                                And ripping off artists seems not to bother those who are currently downloading illegal copies (in the full knowledge that those actions will not help the artist, as most don't currently have some alternative model in place).

                                 

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                                  Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 12:11pm

                                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                  Isn't Mike's argument based on the idea that if I can get the same product cheaper though another source, I will?

                                  No, it's based off of the balance of economic forces. If you're talking about the success of piracy over the RIAA, it's because the pirates are currently offering more value for less cost, and the RIAA is constantly looking for ways to limit the value of their products. It's been noted recently (in the dynamics between Yahoo! mail and Gmail) that just because something is free doesn't mean competition ends.

                                  The rest of your comment hinges on the exagerated reports of piracy, ignore the beneficial effects that stem from it, and discount any kind of 'brand loyalty' or the possibility of mere consumers becoming actual fans of the artist through exposure.

                                   

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                                    Nope, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 1:56pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                                    "more value for less cost" is another way of saying: if the value is equal (i.e., an identical copy), then I'll go for the cheaper version. In other words, if I can get the same product cheaper through another source, I will. So your "no" is wrong.

                                    The rest of my comment doesn't rely on any reports, b/c I didn't cite any. I'm just saying, we have proof that people will do what is more advantageous to them if they can, regardless of its impact on the artist. So to build a model that depends on people doing otherwise (i.e., depends on the good will of the consumer) is foolish.

                                    I don't think Mike's model depends on the good will of the consumer, but the comment I responded to does.

                                     

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                              Mike (profile), Jun 6th, 2008 @ 12:50pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              A point overlooked in this discussion is that under the system being advocated, one where copyright no longer exists, the novelist would most certainly find his/her bound volumes in direct competition with identical bound volumes published by others.

                              Not overlooked by us. If you read the research done by Levine and Boldrin (again, those well respected economists that you insulted as being "a joke") they did a nice study on this exact thing.

                              They looked at the release of popular government documents that were sold as books, such as the 9/11 report and the Iraq study group report. In those cases, since they're gov't documents, there is no copyright whatsoever. However, the gov't did contract with one publisher to be the official publisher of the "book" which quickly became a best seller. It didn't take long for copycats to show up -- but the official version kept outselling the others, and turned out to be quite profitable for the original publisher.

                              Pesky evidence.

                               

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                    Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I disagree fundamentally, in the name of the free market. You would have the government distort the market to the detriment of content consumers.

                    I don't believe economics should be the only deciding force in society, as a general principle. As I said, there are plenty of things that would work great in a free market but that would be disastrous for the society. You ignored that point earlier.

                    It may be that copyright is not one of those things, but that doesn't counter the principle.

                    The modles Mike brings up here don't require governmental involvment and lend themselves to a market where producers and consumers are better off.

                    I hope this is true, sincerely. I don't yet understand how, because I'm not yet convinced by the arguments, but I'm working on it.

                    As should be clear by now, I am primarily concerned that artists and other content creators have strong economic incentive to create (provided that what they create is deemed valuable by others ... not just because they create). I think it's too easy to let the pendulum swing to the side of the consumer if we're not careful (the other side of entitlement: I want it, it's infinitely easy to copy it, so I should be able to just have it for free, no matter how difficult it was to produce the original and no matter how much value I find in it).

                    I also don't want to see creators ripped off by others who use their work wholesale (without any substantive transformation) and without credit (a concern that's about more than economics: i.e., the situated context of information, the research and historical implications, etc.)

                    Other than those concerns, I have no personal preference for one economic model over another ... I could truly care less.

                     

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    Carl Morris, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 1:26pm

    ad-supported toilet paper

    How about ad-supported toilet paper? No one likes paying for tissues... so give them away for free with something to read printed on.. The idea came to me at an appropriately lax moment.

    Put your brand into motion! Obviously certain advertisers are more appropriate than others. There is great upsell potential for the bathroom product catching impressions as prospects are literally in bathroom mode. You can have this idea for free.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 7:40am

      Re: ad-supported toilet paper

      Tissue paper is not infinite. It costs things to produce. It's a physical something. If you give it away, you will go broke.

      Though, the idea of having ads on bathroom paper seems amusingly appropriate to me...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:14am

        Re: Re: ad-supported toilet paper

        Though, the idea of having ads on bathroom paper seems amusingly appropriate to me...

        Hmmmm. Captive Audience.

         

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    Adam Fisk, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 1:28pm

    right on again

    It's interesting that "angry dude" won't identify who he actually is. My guess is he's not identifying himself because he has some interest in your article not being true. Does "angry dude" == "patent troll"? Quite possibly.

    I'm always amazed when I find myself in NDI land -- amazed that startups are wasting their precious time on them. That time is far better spent coding, working out the marketing plan, etc etc -- aka executing. The reason people often deal with NDIs is because they don't have confidence in their ability to out-execute the competition. In that case, you're in the wrong business anyway. The people who can't execute resort to loopholes in the system like trolling for patents that undermine the process of innovation.

    I feel the need to defend you, Mike, because I agree with you so damn strongly and object to these constant attacks. I'm also friendly with Brad Burnham and a great deal of respect for both him and Andrew Parker over at USV.

    Stay strong.

    -Adam Fisk

     

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      SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 7:46am

      Re: right on again

      I don't think it's important who angry dude is, really. His arguments will stand or fall based on their own merits regardless of if he's an unemployed construction worker or the CEO of a multi-billion dollar technology firm. One would HOPE that the CEO would have better arguments than the construction worker, but that's hardly the point. What he says depends very little for it's veracity on who he is.

       

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        angry dude, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 8:22am

        Re: Re: right on again

        Huh

        I already told everybody that I own a US patent

        So yes, I am a "patent troll" in the definition of those corporate patent "fairness" guys, just like any small garage inventor out there

        We are nothing but trolls for them, just a nuisance to get rid of once and for all (Hint: see the Patent "Reform" Act of 2005, then 2006, then 2007 going to 2008 and now apparently dead, at least for now...)

        Fortunately we still have honest judges and impartial juries in this country who can see the real picture through all of the korporate bullcrap like "evil patent trolls", innocent multinational corporations etc.

         

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          SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:23am

          Re: Re: Re: right on again

          I don't think it's important who angry dude is, really. His arguments will stand or fall based on their own merits regardless of if he's an unemployed construction worker or the CEO of a multi-billion dollar technology firm. One would HOPE that the CEO would have better arguments than the construction worker, but that's hardly the point. What he says depends very little for it's veracity on who he is.

           

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          dieta pritikin, Nov 28th, 2011 @ 10:06am

          Re: Re: Re: right on again

          should not be to you troll express an opinion. Indeed, some people are more virulent, but otherwise it seems fair to put you flat out opinion.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 1:56pm

    Folks, it wouldn't surprise me if angry dude was actually on Techdirt's payroll.
    He systematically laughs at the ideas written here without giving any coherent counter argument; by doing so, he makes the opposition look foolish. Plus, he stirs debate, which generates more comments, more traffic, and more money for Techdirt...
    In the end, he's a net positive for this website's owners.

     

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    Nick (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:00pm

    Venture Hacks posted on this topic recently as well. It is an idea (pun intended) that is spreading through the VC community. They all probably knew this already, but when you talk about investing resources in ideas all day, it is great, concise sound bite for VCs.

     

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    Bass Ackwards, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:02pm

    Mike puts cart before horse

    Mike, one reason employees are able to move around freely in Silicon Valley is because of an intellectual property system. The intellectual property grant allows the employer to own the tangible results of the employee's labor. The employee can move on to a second employer, and the first employer will not care that the employee is taking the employee's knowledge with him.
    Alternatively, if the first employer could not own the past tangible results of the employee's labor, the first employer would certainly care about, and would devise ways to prevent, the employee from moving to a second employer.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

      Re: Mike puts cart before horse

      Mike, one reason employees are able to move around freely in Silicon Valley is because of an intellectual property system.

      That's actually not the case. If you look at the details of what happened, it wasn't because of IP that all this happened, because ideas were being freely shared across companies. They were then competing on the *output* in the marketplace.

      So, it looks like you may have gotten it backwards.

      Alternatively, if the first employer could not own the past tangible results of the employee's labor, the first employer would certainly care about, and would devise ways to prevent, the employee from moving to a second employer.

      But, again, that's not what happened. Especially in the software industry, where patents weren't even allowed until very recently.

       

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      Anonymous of Course, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:50pm

      Re: Mike puts cart before horse

      Sorry, slavery was abolished. Try again.

       

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    The system, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:44pm

    Just cause pattents are being abused...

    Doesn't mean they're invalid. Remember, patents are supposed to be 'non-obvious' and finite in length. We've gotten away from that over the years and thats where the problems start. I worked for an automation company that dealt with rather strait forward but still difficult problems. We had some relatively innovative ideas that weren't seen anywhere else in industry. One of them got stolen and a company sprouted up in cali with one of our ideas. We no longer sell that product because we get under bid. And the minor modifications they made qualified them for a patent.


    Patents are supposed to protect intellectuals from being abused by people with resources. It levels the playing field by giving them a bargaining chip. If I patent my idea I can approach GE or Ford or whoever and show it to them without the fear of getting stolen and they can see exactly what they're paying for before they buy it. It allows for pre-evaluation, instead of post, and that helps spur innovation as well by allowing sensible business decisions to be made up front.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:52pm

      Re: Just cause pattents are being abused...

      Doesn't mean they're invalid

      But the research has shown time and time again that they don't do what they're supposed to. They don't increase innovation. They don't level the playing field.

      I worked for an automation company that dealt with rather strait forward but still difficult problems. We had some relatively innovative ideas that weren't seen anywhere else in industry. One of them got stolen and a company sprouted up in cali with one of our ideas. We no longer sell that product because we get under bid. And the minor modifications they made qualified them for a patent.

      Why didn't you innovate back and compete against them?

      If they did a better job supplying the market, isn't that a good thing?

      Patents are supposed to protect intellectuals from being abused by people with resources.

      No. Patents are supposed to be about creating incentives to innovate.

      It levels the playing field by giving them a bargaining chip.

      The research suggests the opposite actually. In places where patents are prevalent you tend to see larger "conglomerate" companies and fewer upstart competitors. In places where there aren't patents, you see a lot more competition with many different firms. So what you call "leveling the playing field" is usually handing that playing field over to the big guys.

      If I patent my idea I can approach GE or Ford or whoever and show it to them without the fear of getting stolen and they can see exactly what they're paying for before they buy it. It allows for pre-evaluation, instead of post, and that helps spur innovation as well by allowing sensible business decisions to be made up front.

      Again, you're putting way too much weight on the idea, over the execution. And you claim that it "helps spur innovation" but the research says exactly the opposite. We've already discussed how Bessen & Meurer went through all of the available economic research, and found no indication that patents increase innovation, and plenty to suggest that it does the opposite.

       

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    Bass Ackwards, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:45pm

    Mike still puts cart before horse

    Mike, imagine two worlds:

    1. World with intellectual property system.
    2. World without intellectual property system.

    In which world do you think it would be easier for an employee to change employers?

    I think it is #1. The intellectual property grant allows the employer to own the tangible results of the employee's labor. The employee can move on to a second employer, and the first employer will not care that the employee is taking the employee's knowledge with him.

    In #2, the first employer cannot own the prior tangible results of the employee's labor. The first employer would certainly care about, and would devise ways to prevent, the employee from moving to a second employer.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 2:55pm

      Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

      Mike, imagine two worlds:

      1. World with intellectual property system.
      2. World without intellectual property system.

      In which world do you think it would be easier for an employee to change employers?


      We don't have to "imagine" any such thing, because we have real world examples we can look at. And the evidence suggests what what you "think" is not what actually happened. Ideas spread freely from company to company in Silicon Valley. Part of the problem is that you only focus on the "loss" to the company losing the employee, and not the "gain" to companies gaining employees. It's that cross fertilization of ideas that resulted in the necessary innovation to make those companies huge.

      You seem to be assuming a false world where companies *could* stop employees from leaving.

      So your thought experiment is incorrect, and borne out by actual historical evidence.

       

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        Jason, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 3:01pm

        Re: Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

        Can you please stop teasing with statements like "we have real world examples" without actually giving any real world examples?! Either argue from principle or provide the facts and evidence you claim support your conclusions.

         

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          Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 3:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

          Can you please stop teasing with statements like "we have real world examples" without actually giving any real world examples?! Either argue from principle or provide the facts and evidence you claim support your conclusions.

          You see the things with blue lines under them? They're links.

          They provide the evidence I was discussing.

          The fact that you choose not to follow the links or read the evidence does not mean it's not there.

          It's not "teasing," it's not repeating the same thing over and over again.

           

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            Jason, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 3:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

            Sarcasm is useful, but only in service to actually answering a question or meeting a challenge.

            I can read links all day, but that's not what interests me, and it's not what's interesting in an argument. The way to make an argument is to make a claim, then provide specific evidence that you believe supports that claim, then to make explicit the manner(s) in which the evidence you cite supports the claim you're making.

            If you don't do this, you don't provide others with any successful way to enter the discussion with any hope of grounding it in the evidence. We must see the specific items that *you* see relevant to the specific claims and arguments *you* are making. In other words, the more you let us into your head, the better and more focused the discussion can be.

            When you repeatedly refuse to do that and just point vaguely at a set of resources, you don't help your argument and you don't encourage evidence-based discussion.

             

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              Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 4:34pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

              I can read links all day, but that's not what interests me, and it's not what's interesting in an argument. The way to make an argument is to make a claim, then provide specific evidence that you believe supports that claim, then to make explicit the manner(s) in which the evidence you cite supports the claim you're making.

              Which I have done. You insist I have not. So we are at a crossroads.

              When you repeatedly refuse to do that and just point vaguely at a set of resources, you don't help your argument and you don't encourage evidence-based discussion.

              I guess I just don't see why you think I haven't done what you're asking for.

              What evidence have I not provided?

               

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                Jason, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 6:37pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

                In reading the article linked to Paul Romer, I find this quote:

                If ... [a poor nation] offers incentives for privately held ideas to be put to use within its borders (for example, by protecting foreign patents, copyrights, and licenses, and by permitting direct investment by foreign firms), its citizens can soon work in state-of-the-art productive activities.

                It seems Paul is supporting IP ... something you seem not to support. Am I misunderstanding something?

                Whether I'm right or wrong in my reading of Romer, this reinforces the point I made earlier about arguing from evidence, and this is precisely the problem with just linking to an article and calling that "evidence."

                I don't mean to be overly pedantic here, but you'd have to ask questions of yourself like this in order to use that article as "evidence": What exactly in the Romer article is the reader supposed to see as evidence that supports my claim? How do I understand whatever it is that I call the reader's attention to? Why should my readers understand it in the same way? Why do I believe it actually supports my claim? How can I best communicate that to my readers?

                Unless you make those moves, your arguments will be weaker and open for the criticism that they're not supported with specific evidence. And, after all, the burden is on you, as you're the one making the argument.

                 

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                  Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 7:39pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

                  It seems Paul is supporting IP ... something you seem not to support. Am I misunderstanding something?

                  No, you are absolutely correct. This is where Romer and I diverge -- but I'll note that I believe his economic models are correct in showing how much growth is created by infinite goods.

                  I think where he's wrong is in coming up with the *conclusion* out of his model, that this means IP makes sense.

                  His economic models show how infinite goods increase market size, and I believe his conclusion from that is wrong. He believes that to create more of those infinite goods, you first should create incentives, a la an IP system. Yet, if you combine his models and what they say (infinite goods lead to growth) with the other research showing that IP systems do not create more infinite goods -- then you show that his conclusion (IP is needed) does not come naturally from his models.

                   

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                  Nasch, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 5:26pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

                  Didn't you just demonstrate that in reading the linked article, it was obvious what parts support Mike's argument and what parts don't? That you're capable of thinking it out on your own? And thus Mike doesn't need to spoon feed you after all?

                   

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                    Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:13pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mike still puts cart before horse

                    Mike's the one making the argument. If you're going to make an argument, you should do so clearly and effectively, to the best of your ability. Anything less is intellectual laziness (though, sometimes time constraints force that upon us ... granted).

                    The point is, without doing the work of clearly defining your evidence and explaining its relevance, you leave yourself open to misinterpretation and will ultimately have only yourself to blame.

                     

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    Jason, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 3:42pm

    As I answered above, try following the links. Or, if you are too lazy to do that, go read the research

    See my earlier comment on this.

    If I had to repeatedly point out the research I've pointed out in the past just to satisfy every new person who shows up, this would be a mighty boring site.

    True, but you could do so briefly and then point to an earlier post/comment *you* made that explains your point further.

    there's no reason to reply to your strawman here

    I'm working on the implications of your statements. To me, saying a screenplay is "just content" clearly implies (whether you recognize it or not) that there's no unique value to a screenplay.

    Because you're not talking about capitalizing on the execution. You're talking about capitalizing on PROTECTIONISM.

    How does a novelist capitalize on the execution of a novel *other than* capitalizing on the thing that he/she executes: namely, the novel? This is where you lose me.

    If you choose to answer, please consider that a writer can't crank out a novel every few days. Many take years to create.

    And please don't answer with "market your ability to write" because that's no kind of answer. All that says in essence is: you can't make money by creating novels, you can only make money by becoming a writer-for-hire (journalist, technical writer, copywriter, etc.) and using your novels as a marketing/PR tool.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 5:08pm

      Re:

      True, but you could do so briefly and then point to an earlier post/comment *you* made that explains your point further.

      Which I have done. Do you see why this is getting circular for me?

      What, specifically, do you feel I haven't shown in terms of evidence?

      I'm working on the implications of your statements. To me, saying a screenplay is "just content" clearly implies (whether you recognize it or not) that there's no unique value to a screenplay.

      Hmm. Well, can you point out where I said that screenplays are "just content" using the pejorative "just" that you repeatedly use? I have described screenplays as *content* because they *are* content. And the economics that impact them are as content, which is, as I've described an infinite good.

      But just because something is infinite, it doesn't mean there's no value to it. In fact, just the opposite (again, as I've made clear, despite your strawman to the contrary: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080121/19180527.shtml)

      But the problem is that price and value are two separate things. And price is driven by the nature of the good -- and an infinite good is driven to a price of zero, even if it's quite valuable.

      How does a novelist capitalize on the execution of a novel *other than* capitalizing on the thing that he/she executes: namely, the novel? This is where you lose me.

      He capitalizes on the *scarce goods* that are connected to the novel. That could be the *writing* of the novel (i.e., getting someone to pay for the writing of the novel) or it could be the tangible book itself, or it could be the attention (a scarce good) that the novel draws. There are many such ways.

      If you choose to answer, please consider that a writer can't crank out a novel every few days. Many take years to create.

      Indeed. And that *creation* is a scarce good. So, as I noted, you can sell that creation.

      And please don't answer with "market your ability to write" because that's no kind of answer. All that says in essence is: you can't make money by creating novels, you can only make money by becoming a writer-for-hire (journalist, technical writer, copywriter, etc.) and using your novels as a marketing/PR tool.

      It's tough to discuss things with you when you put artificial limits on what is "allowed." Unfortunately, economics doesn't work that way.

      What you say above is like saying "tell me how the horse carriage maker makes money, and don't say 'make automobiles' because that's no kind of answer."

      The business model changes, whether you like it or not. That's just basic economics. But historically no such shift has ever happened where the end result wasn't a larger opportunity if you properly define the market.

       

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        Jason, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 6:36pm

        Re: Re:

        OK, Mike ... I'll ease off. Truth is, I really do want to learn about this issue, not just prove my own point. And I would really like to believe that we can make content "free" and still support artists and the creation of art as well as, if not better than, the current system. Truly, I think that would be awesome. I'm just nowhere near convinced on that point, and I'm not going to roll over easily. I recognize that I'm demanding a lot of convincing from those who are arguing that we need to completely overhaul or eliminate IP law. Such drastic changes will require A LOT of clear and convincing arguments to ever have any hope of working, so I think the burden is on you and those who agree with you. I do appreciate and applaud your attempts ... even if I'm not yet convinced. I also recognize you don't owe me anything personally, so the time you take to continue to answer my comments is appreciated. (I also recognize that you take the time for the sake of the argument as a whole, not just for me ;)

        That said, here's where I'm still stuck:

        ...an infinite good is driven to a price of zero, even if it's quite valuable.

        As you say: air is an example. I get that. My problem is, I don't see art as an infinite good. That is what you're saying, right? If so, why do you say that? (Point me places if you've spelled this out somewhere else, or if you know of someone who's made the argument well.) I don't equate art with air. No one needs to "produce" air. Not so for art.

        He capitalizes on the *scarce goods* that are connected to the novel. That could be the *writing* of the novel (i.e., getting someone to pay for the writing of the novel) or it could be the tangible book itself, or it could be the attention (a scarce good) that the novel draws. There are many such ways.

        Again, you turn the novelist into something else. What novelists do is create novels. To demand they do something more or something else isn't a solution, it just changes the question. Also, it's an admission that, without IP, there is no true market for novels and no economic hope for those who wish to sell them. Also, who will pay for the writing of a novel if, by your own admission: novel = content = infinite = zero cost? And the tangible book argument only works until paper is no longer more appealing than digital, and it doesn't work at all for music or film. And attention, while it's nice, doesn't pay the bills.

        It's tough to discuss things with you when you put artificial limits on what is "allowed."

        It's not an artificial limit, it's a heading-off of arguments that I don't recognize as valid ... and still don't (see above).

        What you say above is like saying "tell me how the horse carriage maker makes money, and don't say 'make automobiles' because that's no kind of answer."

        Perhaps this reveals our major point of disagreement, and I've raised it before. The implication of this statement in the context of the novel is that "the novel" as a form of artistic expression is no longer economically viable in the same way that horse-and-buggies are no longer economically viable. Is that what you're saying? Is that what you believe? In other words, then, the novel is extinct as far as economics is concerned ... ?

        Again, if the analogy was "don't write novels on stone tablets" because the market isn't there for stone-tablet novels, I'd agree with you. If I were saying "tell me how the 8-track producer makes money, and don't say 'make CDs' because that's no kind of answer," then I'd concede that you have a point. But that's not what I'm saying.

        What do you think is the essence, the main point, that I'm not getting that, if I could get it, would help me see things your way? I'm trying, but I'm definitely not there yet.

         

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          Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 7:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          OK, Mike ... I'll ease off. Truth is, I really do want to learn about this issue, not just prove my own point. And I would really like to believe that we can make content "free" and still support artists and the creation of art as well as, if not better than, the current system. Truly, I think that would be awesome. I'm just nowhere near convinced on that point, and I'm not going to roll over easily.

          Fair enough. And, equally, each of these debates is interesting and useful to me as well. Though, honestly, sometimes the amount of time I spend in these discussions, combined with writing up other posts *and* doing my day job of running the business, leaves me with not enough time to finish up the research that will hopefully help convince you (and others) of these points. At some point, in some way, I need to find the time to do that. But in the meantime, these debates do help me recognize the points over which I haven't succeeded in convincing people.

          As you say: air is an example. I get that. My problem is, I don't see art as an infinite good. That is what you're saying, right? If so, why do you say that? (Point me places if you've spelled this out somewhere else, or if you know of someone who's made the argument well.) I don't equate art with air. No one needs to "produce" air. Not so for art.

          Yes, that is what I'm saying. I'm saying that once produced, content (if in a digital format) can be infinitely reproduced, at no marginal cost. This isn't a value statement. It's a factual statement based on the fundamental nature of content.

          As for your last sentence, that no one needs to produce art, you are entirely correct. But what the free market shows is that if there's demand for a product, there will also be business models to support that product being made.

          One of the disconnects that I think is going on here is the insistence that once content is given away for free there's no money to be made. But that's not what we have said. We've merely been pointing out the economic realities that lead to different (and in most cases, better) business models.

          Again, you turn the novelist into something else.

          I don't see how. Read what I wrote again. That's still entirely based on the person being a novelist. If you mean that the novelist may need to do some other things to support that effort, I don't see how that's different than today. Do you consider doing a book tour "something else" than being a novelist? After all, that's not writing, but it's in support of the novelist's business model. So, yes, there may be some "other things" but it's in support of the business model of being a novelist.

          To demand they do something more or something else isn't a solution

          Really? Why? And it's not "demanding." It's simply explaining the economic reality -- just as the economic reality for carriage makers was to make automobiles or go out of business. Was anyone "demanding" they make automobiles? No. The economics dictated the result.

          Also, it's an admission that, without IP, there is no true market for novels and no economic hope for those who wish to sell them.

          Yikes. Again, I said no such thing. I guess I'm confused here, because you are building a strawman.

          Also, who will pay for the writing of a novel if, by your own admission: novel = content = infinite = zero cost?

          Whoever can benefit from it. And there may be many such people. It could be fans of the author who pay for the next book to get written (a la the model that Jill Sobule and Maria Schneider have used, that we've talked about on this site to create music). It could be a company that wants to support an author. It could be a company that comes up with a totally new business model that makes giving away that content for free worthwhile (for example -- and this is ONE example so don't assume that I'm saying this will be the across the board solution -- perhaps a novel that highlights a certain location could be paid for by a local business that knows a successful novel will increase tourism). The point is that there are plenty of models that will evolve because the demand is there.

          And, honestly, speaking of novelists, do you know how many novlists actually are "full time" novelists? Most have other jobs, because being a novelist (unless you're one of the big ones) doesn't pay very well at all.

          And the tangible book argument only works until paper is no longer more appealing than digital, and it doesn't work at all for music or film.

          Music and film are even easier. We've already pointed to very specific business model cases that work for both. With music, there are tons of obvious scarce goods from concerts to exclusive access. Again, as mentioned, look at the case studies of Trent Reznor, Jill Sobule and Maria Schneider. The music (the infinite good) makes the scarce good (the artist and their ability to create and perform) valuable.

          As for movies, again, the issue there is selling the movie experience. As the founder of Loews stated, "we're not selling movies, we're selling seats." Going to the movies has always been a social experience. Make the social experience good and people will pay to go out and see movies on a big screen with their friends. The movie (the infinite good) makes the scarce good (the seats) valuable.

          And attention, while it's nice, doesn't pay the bills.

          Tell that to Google. They've built a $130 billion business by getting your attention. That pays a lot of bills.

          Perhaps this reveals our major point of disagreement, and I've raised it before. The implication of this statement in the context of the novel is that "the novel" as a form of artistic expression is no longer economically viable in the same way that horse-and-buggies are no longer economically viable.

          Not quite, and I'm sorry if this was confusing. The novel (as in the content) is still viable. It's the *business model* of just selling content that becomes unviable.

          Again, if the analogy was "don't write novels on stone tablets" because the market isn't there for stone-tablet novels, I'd agree with you. If I were saying "tell me how the 8-track producer makes money, and don't say 'make CDs' because that's no kind of answer," then I'd concede that you have a point. But that's not what I'm saying.


          Okay, then I'm confused. Because I don't see how this is any different than the examples you wrote above.

          What do you think is the essence, the main point, that I'm not getting that, if I could get it, would help me see things your way? I'm trying, but I'm definitely not there yet.

          I think, perhaps, the tricky part is the fact that the content is being separated from the media -- and historically we've automatically merged them into a single product -- so "the book" is both the bound paper and the content, and separating the two seems strange, and it's difficult to understand that the price was based on the paper, even though the value is in the content. Right?

          But when you move that valuable content to a medium that isn't scarce, such as the internet, then the economics gets screwy, and I agree that it's not as easy to see the obvious business model.

          But, the reality is that the content and the medium have always been separate, and the business model has always been to connect an infinite good (content) to a scarce good (the media). And, even in this scary new world of an infinite media, there are other scarce goods that you can attach the content to successfully.

          The second disconnect, and this is one that I'm working hard to show, but it's tricky, is that even if you see *some* of those new scarce goods, whether or not that market is really bigger.

          There are two potential answers to this:

          1. It doesn't matter. If the original market for the product disappears, then your choice will be no market or the new market. I think this is a point worth making, but I don't think it really answers the question.

          2. And this is the tricky one to show (though I'm working on it), is that with a little economic modeling, you find that injecting an infinite good into a market, it *always* expands the overall market in some way. And that's where Romer's work comes in handy (and I'll address your Romer question separately in another comment).

           

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          JonB, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 8:11pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          As you say: air is an example. I get that. My problem is, I don't see art as an infinite good. That is what you're saying, right? If so, why do you say that? (Point me places if you've spelled this out somewhere else, or if you know of someone who's made the argument well.) I don't equate art with air. No one needs to "produce" air. Not so for art.

          I think that you are confusing the execution with the product. A hand-painted work vs. a machine printed work is very different. One is scarce, the other is not. It is the same thing with writing, but in this case, once the writing is set down in a reproducible language, it can then be transcribed into many different formats which people will more or less equally accept.

          Basically, the concept is that the artist, when dealing with a company, they have full control over what they will write, and that is the valuable resource. Or, if they have written a new work, it is in the fact that no one else has that same story available.

          I am a professional inventor, and run into similar issues. Technically, it is easy for companies to rip-off a concept, but they will get black-listed and never see any other new concepts from other inventors within the community. At the same time, my value that I bring is that I have the knowledge to execute the ideas that I present, so I tend to be able to make deals for a higher royalty rate than others that just create interesting ideas.

          In the case of writing, before the work is out in the open, it effectively is a scarce good at the time. Once it has been published, they are no longer in control of it directly, and it can be considered an infinite good.

           

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    Bass Ackwards, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 4:04pm

    Mike continues to put cart before horse

    Mike, the California law prohibiting noncompetes (Business and Professions Code 16600) does not exist in a vacuum. The cases interpreting it have arrived at their results in part because employers have other legal means (for example, intellectual property grants) at their disposal. In the absence of intellectual property grants, the cases interpreting BPC 16600 would strike a different balance.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 4th, 2008 @ 5:10pm

      Re: Mike continues to put cart before horse

      Mike, the California law prohibiting noncompetes (Business and Professions Code 16600) does not exist in a vacuum. The cases interpreting it have arrived at their results in part because employers have other legal means (for example, intellectual property grants) at their disposal. In the absence of intellectual property grants, the cases interpreting BPC 16600 would strike a different balance.

      Fascinating. You know how the courts would have ruled in absence of IP laws? How do you do that?

      But, more importantly, as as *practical* matter, if you look at how the region grew, it was not dependent on IP laws, as you claim. The fact that people shifted jobs and took their ideas with them, and their ability to execute is exactly what created the growth in the industry -- not any sort of IP laws.

       

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    cram, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 5:51pm

    no more horse carriages

    And for heaven's sake, Mike...please stop using the bad analogy of horse carriages for your tirades against protection.

    I don't know why you continue to harbour the notion that writing songs or novels is somehow no more difficult than making horse carriages. And as I have said before, automobiles replaced the horse carriage, CDs replaced vinyls, but Metallica haven't replaced the Beatles. So, the horse carriage analogy is not spot on, as you would insist.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 1:35pm

      Re: no more horse carriages

      frankly, I don't know why you (and many others like you) insist that how difficult something is to make/create has much (I'm even tempted to say anything) to do with anything...

      What purpose serves the level of difficulty argument anyway? Surely (I know you didn't say this, it's not a strawman, just an assumption on my part in absence of further clarification on your part) you can't mean that for example:

      (using the difficulty argument) a musician capable of writing an excellent song (ie hit) every month should be selling each song at approx. 1/12 of the price a musician who only manages to write 1 excellent song (ie hit) a year?

       

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        Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re: no more horse carriages

        Well, the market already reflects the amount of difficulty involved in the production of a thing. Generally speaking: the more complex a thing, the more difficult it is to create, the more skill required in making that thing, the higher the cost. So I don't see how you don't see this.

        And certainly, I wouldn't say you could compare the difficulty a musician faces in creating a song with the difficulty of another musician creating a song. You could compare the difficulty of creating a song with the difficulty of creating a musical, though. Or the difficulty of writing a poem with the difficulty of writing a novel.

        So I'm not sure what your point is here.

         

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    Bass Ackwards, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 5:58pm

    Fascinating. You know how the courts would have ruled in absence of IP laws? How do you do that?

    You read a case and see where it says "we are balancing the rights of employers vs employees". Then you read where it says "one factor favoring employers is the existence of intellectual property rights". Then you wonder how the court would have decided if it had not relied on that factor.

    But, more importantly, as as *practical* matter, if you look at how the region grew, it was not dependent on IP laws, as you claim. The fact that people shifted jobs and took their ideas with them, and their ability to execute is exactly what created the growth in the industry -- not any sort of IP laws.

    I don't claim the growth was dependent on IP laws. I accept your statement that the growth was dependent upon job changing. My claim is that the presence of IP laws was one factor in the California courts making noncompetes unenforceable.

     

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    cram, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 6:07pm

    "He capitalizes on the *scarce goods* that are connected to the novel. That could be the *writing* of the novel (i.e., getting someone to pay for the writing of the novel) or it could be the tangible book itself, or it could be the attention (a scarce good) that the novel draws. There are many such ways."

    I don't see what's new here. Writers have always been signing deals with publishers, who in turn print and sell the tangible book, ths "scarce good," and create a buzz around the book to generate attention that is monetizable.

    Are you saying that once an author puts out a novel/screenplay, anyone should be free to adapt it to any other medium without compensating the creator (which means anyone can make a Harry Potter movie without paying Rowling a dime)? Or that anyone should be free to print and sell tangible versions of the creation and keep all the proceeds (as is being done with the Bible and Shakespeare, to cite two most famous examples)?

    I was under the impression one of the reasons copyright exists is to protect the creator precisely from such acts.

     

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    Matt, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 6:51pm

    Wow... this is getting heated

    I see that Patents are causing headaches in the legal system and stifling businesses with so many lawsuits... but what about protecting the little guy? Is it because the patent system has to be so specific? That is one question.

    I guess an example I can think of where openness has been good -while not directly related to employees could your ideas be thought of like this...

    With the EEE PC launch in the last 6months we've seen almost 10 other major companies jump on board with their 'own' UMPC... What seems to be keeping everyone talking about the Asus and the EEE range seems to be the speed at which they're developing their products -I guess in a similar way that the Apple did with the Ipod range. The reason they're ahead of the pack is the continued ingenuity in their products and their ability to service the market demands.

    just my 2 cents

     

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      JonB, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 8:29pm

      Re: Wow... this is getting heated


      I see that Patents are causing headaches in the legal system and stifling businesses with so many lawsuits... but what about protecting the little guy? Is it because the patent system has to be so specific? That is one question.


      In most cases, the little guy's strength is in speed, and much of that speed can be lost when relying on the protection of a patent.


      I'm a professional inventor, and I'm actually able to be more productive and profitable not relying on patents. Now, some of my customers prefer to file for patents to cover the products that they are making using the licensed concepts. In most cases, it just isn't worthwhile. The costs and time required to file and defend a patent are not small.


      The downside of it is that then they have costs sunk into a specific implementation of something, and then they don't want to move on to something better.


      For the little guy, the cost (in time and money) to get and defend a patent are quite large. In reality, why not keep on innovating, using that same time and money? If a company comes out with an innovative product, and continues to produce innovative things, they will be in a strong position to capture a market share. The only problem comes when mixing into a heavily entrenched market where all the existing players defend the space legally instead of competing.

       

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    Jason, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 8:11pm

    Trying to Avoid Strawmen

    Though, honestly, sometimes the amount of time I spend in these discussions, combined with writing up other posts *and* doing my day job of running the business, leaves me with not enough time to finish up the research that will hopefully help convince you (and others) of these points.

    Almost like you should be getting paid to produce all this content, huh? Wink, wink, jab, jab ;)

    OK, here's the heart of the issue, then:

    I think, perhaps, the tricky part is the fact that the content is being separated from the media -- and historically we've automatically merged them into a single product -- so "the book" is both the bound paper and the content, and separating the two seems strange, and it's difficult to understand that the price was based on the paper, even though the value is in the content.

    I have some problems with this, but before I try to go any further, can I get a straight answer from you on a few questions? I'm not trying to trick you. I haven't even thought through the implications of the various possible answers. I'm just trying to get the best grip I can on what you actually believe so I can avoid building more strawmen!

    1) Do you believe artists (of all types) should have the *potential* (depending on the size of the audience to which they appeal) to make a good living from their art?

    2) Do you believe individuals should (yes, an ethical term) help to financially support the creation of content they find valuable (for whatever reason: entertaining, informative, etc.)?

    3) Are you saying that the cost of physical production, and only that, should determine the cost of the content (and in the case of digital content, since the cost of production is near zero, then the price should be near or at zero)?

    4) Do you agree that a specific novel, specific song, specific work of art, etc. is, as a thing in itself, a scarce good? In other words, the originally created work of art, not digital copies of it.

    Thanks

     

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      Noah Callaway, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 8:23pm

      Re: Re: Re:

      As you say: air is an example. I get that. My problem is, I don't see art as an infinite good. That is what you're saying, right? If so, why do you say that? (Point me places if you've spelled this out somewhere else, or if you know of someone who's made the argument well.) I don't equate art with air. No one needs to "produce" air. Not so for art.

      I think there's a distinction between the creation of the art, and the art itself. Once it has been created the art becomes an infinite good (well, digital art does; digital copies of tangible art is also infinite, though it's easy to argue that a picture of the Mona Lisa, or a 3D model of the Statue of David lose a lot in translation).

      I think you could make an argument that an artist can get paid for their time (for example, working on commission for an art-lover or a huge fan; a musician performing a live concert that requires paid admission; a novelist writing a fantastic book, then asking for donations before he will write or release a sequel), while the content ends up being distributed for free.

      The implication of this statement in the context of the novel is that "the novel" as a form of artistic expression is no longer economically viable in the same way that horse-and-buggies are no longer economically viable. Is that what you're saying? Is that what you believe? In other words, then, the novel is extinct as far as economics is concerned ... ?

      Obviously I cannot speak to what Mike believes, but I'll throw in my two cents. Certainly there's nothing that requires a form of artistic expression to be economically viable (I know I can't get anyone to pay me for my art [if you can call it that], but I create it anyway). I mean, there's no law of nature that says if you write a fantastic book, film a brilliant movie, or paint your masterpiece you'll get a dime. Many famous artists weren't appreciated (respectfully or financially) until long after they passed away.

      That said, I think if you produce anything that's wildly popular, you'll find a way to make a buck of two out of it.

       

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      Noah Callaway, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 8:26pm

      Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

      Almost like you should be getting paid to produce all this content, huh? Wink, wink, jab, jab ;)


      I'm willing to be Techdirt is a profitable venture and Mike *does* make money off of it. He also gives all that content away for free, further proving that it's possible to give infinite goods away while still making money from the effort...

       

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      Xanthir, FCD, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 9:01pm

      Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

      Heh, I'll try to answer for Mike. I've been following his words on this sort of thing for some time. Let his own words be definitive, of course.

      1) Of course they should have the potential. As long as your business isn't illegal or something similar, you should always have the potential to succeed. Of course, potential doesn't put food in your mouth, if you waste it.

      2) Yes; ethically, you should support those who make things you find worthwhile. Note, though, that I don't believe ethics requires you to support them financially in the manner or degree to which *they* request - if someone said they deserved $1000 from everyone who listened to their music, I'd rightfully tell them to fuck off.

      3) Not that it *should* (that's an ethical imperative), but that it *will*. The cost of any good drops to the cost of producing it over time, as people learn how to undercut their competitors and still make money. When something is free to produce, then, the price will generally drop to free as well. One can still try to charge, but there is no guarantee that people will want to pay when they have other providers all around giving away something similar. One can see this operating in the music market right now - iTunes kicked things off with $.99 downloads, but newer legal offerings are charging less than that just because they can. It's not a loss leader, because the price isn't below cost - they can just operate at a lower margin.

      4) When you say 'a work of art... as itself', what exactly are you referring to? With something like a painting, the original is certainly a scarce good - by definition, there's only one. Physical reproductions are scarce, because they cost money to make. The actual content is infinite, because you can reproduce it for (effectively) free. It seems like you're trying to refer to the abstract concept of the artwork, which isn't an actual thing that can be sold.

       

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      Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:41am

      Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

      Hey Jason,

      A bunch of other commenters did an awesome job giving answers to your questions (and gave me some time to do some work), but just so you don't think I'm ignoring you...

      1) Do you believe artists (of all types) should have the *potential* (depending on the size of the audience to which they appeal) to make a good living from their art?

      Absolutely.

      2) Do you believe individuals should (yes, an ethical term) help to financially support the creation of content they find valuable (for whatever reason: entertaining, informative, etc.)?

      You may find this hard to believe, but I really don't have an opinion one way or the other on the "should" factor. I believe that if content creators off scarce goods of value, individuals who get benefit from it *will* financially support them.

      But I have trouble with the idea that if you gain any value, you automatically "should" support them. There are tons of things that we all gain value from every day, but which we don't support financially. I won't make any assumptions about whether or not you gain any value from this site, but some people do, and they don't support us financially. And that's fine. Because the fact that they gain value from this site leads to other ways for us to get paid.

      3) Are you saying that the cost of physical production, and only that, should determine the cost of the content (and in the case of digital content, since the cost of production is near zero, then the price should be near or at zero)??

      Again with the "should." It's got nothing to do with should. No, I'm saying that it's an economic reality that over time costs *will* get pushed towards marginal cost.

      Secondly, I'm saying that if you understand that trend, there are ways to get ahead of it, and actually come out better off for it.

      4) Do you agree that a specific novel, specific song, specific work of art, etc. is, as a thing in itself, a scarce good? In other words, the originally created work of art, not digital copies of it.

      No. I believe that the act of creating content is a scarce good, but the content, once created -- assuming that it's in digital form, is no longer a scarce good.

      I should note, by the way, that it's a rather fundamental idea that if you have an abundant resource, that's GOOD for everyone, because that abundant resource becomes an input to grow other industries. So, that's why I have so much trouble with arguments that rely on the idea that abundance is bad.

       

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        Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 6:06am

        Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

        A bunch of other commenters did an awesome job giving answers to your questions

        Erm, actually, just one ...

        OK, cheap shot. Sorry. Seriously, though, thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. Here are my thoughts if you or your readers are still interested.

        Question 1: good, we agree.

        Question 2: Your example of finding value in TechDirt while not supporting it financially makes sense. Still, you choose to make the work publicly and freely available and aren't asking for payment as a condition of viewing the work. The important point, for me, is that this is *your choice* and not a choice that someone else is forcing on you.

        Question 3: People have always paid for more than just the physical production cost of an item. Do you think the public really believed it cost $15 to burn a CD?

        This relates to two other arguments you've put forth. I think both get me closer to identifying the fundamental disagreement. (I see discovery of that fundamental disagreement as the first step toward genuine progress in this debate.)

        1) People don't pay for air, despite its value.

        If I'm reading you right, you're suggesting that *value* and *price* are not necessarily linked at all. Air is your ultimate example of this.

        My disagreement is that you equate air (which no one produces) with art (which is produced). Look at water, for example. It's both extremely valuable and very abundant. And people pay for it. They pay for it because it must be produced (filtered, treated, etc.), whether it's a monthly fee to the utilities service or individual fees for bottled water.

        More problematic: it's much easier to process water than to produce art, so even this is a bad analogy.

        It makes no sense to claim that price isn't linked to value, at least in part. What other example besides air can you give where this is true? I buy one piece of furniture over another because, though both serve a very basic function in terms of utility, one is more *valuable* to me for various reasons (design integrity, aesthetic appeal, etc.). I buy the writings of one author and not of another because one creates more *valuable* literature than the other (at least, in my assessment of value).

        You also say this, though:

        what the free market shows is that if there's demand for a product, there will also be business models to support that product being made ... One of the disconnects that I think is going on here is the insistence that once content is given away for free there's no money to be made. But that's not what we have said. We've merely been pointing out the economic realities that lead to different (and in most cases, better) business models.

        I hope you're right about this. I still think that "once *content* is given away for free" there is no money to be made from that content. Though I have a problem with using the term *content* to describe a novel or poem, as I've argued elsewhere.

        2) I should note, by the way, that it's a rather fundamental idea that if you have an abundant resource, that's GOOD for everyone, because that abundant resource becomes an input to grow other industries. So, that's why I have so much trouble with arguments that rely on the idea that abundance is bad.

        Art, novels, screenplays, etc. are not "abundant resource[s]" that can be used as an "input to grow other industries." This is where I get angry in our debate, though I keep trying to control my emotions. These statements imply and are predicated upon an assumption that artistic creations are abundant resources. I know you will object that the digital copies of those creations are what you're saying is abundant, but I disagree with your logic. You can't disconnect copies of a thing from the original creation of that thing. (And note, I'm not talking about ideas or recipes here ... I'm talking about fixed expressions.)

        ... deep breath ...

        So, in that last paragraph, perhaps I've identified the thing that I must work through before I can go any further with this argument. Any help? Or do you think I'm hopeless?

         

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          angry dude, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 7:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

          "Question 2: Your example of finding value in TechDirt while not supporting it financially makes sense. Still, you choose to make the work publicly and freely available and aren't asking for payment as a condition of viewing the work. The important point, for me, is that this is *your choice* and not a choice that someone else is forcing on you."

          Huh ?

          Everybody and his dog knows that Mikey is a PR hack for the Coalition for Patent "Fairness"

          As part of his job he is required to post anti-patent horseshit on this shitty blog to create a grass-root support in lemming population for the patent "reforming" efforts by big miltinational corporations

          So no, it's not by his choice
          And nobody would pay to read his shit anyway

           

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            SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

            More to the point, everyone and his dog knows that Mike's not telling anyone they CAN'T do this or that with their content. What he is saying is that (1) the market won't support it, (2) your competition with take advantage of this even if you don't, and you'll lose, and (3) even if it's your choice, we shouldn't have laws that artificially prop up one business modle over the other.

             

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            Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

            I recognize it's totally pointless to reply to angry dude in any serious manner, but because he amuses me so much, I'll play ball.

            Everybody and his dog knows that Mikey is a PR hack for the Coalition for Patent "Fairness"

            Which is exactly why I disagree with pretty much their entire stance on patent reform, right? Also, as has been made clear to angry dude every time he brings this up, I do not, have not and will never work in PR.

            Angry dude has admitted in the past that he knows he's lying about this, but he can't help himself, because he is unable to come up with a coherent argument.

            As part of his job he is required to post anti-patent horseshit on this shitty blog to create a grass-root support in lemming population for the patent "reforming" efforts by big miltinational corporations

            Uh huh. Which is why I wrote why patent reform is a bad thing and point it out when many of these companies do stupid things with patents.

            I mean, seriously, angry dude. If you're going to make up lies, at least make up lies that *sound* reasonable.

             

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          Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen


          Question 2: Your example of finding value in TechDirt while not supporting it financially makes sense. Still, you choose to make the work publicly and freely available and aren't asking for payment as a condition of viewing the work. The important point, for me, is that this is *your choice* and not a choice that someone else is forcing on you.


          Strawman... And I'm not *forcing* this model on anyone either.

          Question 3: People have always paid for more than just the physical production cost of an item. Do you think the public really believed it cost $15 to burn a CD?

          And how's that been working out for the industry these days?

          The point isn't that it happens immediately, but it happens over time, and mispricing your goods will put you in a world of hurt when people discover the new business model.

          If I'm reading you right, you're suggesting that *value* and *price* are not necessarily linked at all. Air is your ultimate example of this.

          It's not that they're totally delinked, but that they are different. I'm not sure how much economics background you have, but if you're looking at the supply and demand curve, *value* is a part of the demand curve. But *price* is the intersection of supply and demand. That is, value determines whether or not you will buy at the allotted price. If the value is greater than the price, then you will buy.

          I assume that when you buy goods, you don't necessarily value them at exactly the price you paid. In fact, I'd bet that most of the time you're happy with your purchases because you value them above what you paid.

          Value doesn't equal price. Value just determines the demand curve. Price is set by the intersection of supply and demand. So if there's a ton of supply, then price will quite often be below value for most individuals.

          My disagreement is that you equate air (which no one produces) with art (which is produced). Look at water, for example. It's both extremely valuable and very abundant. And people pay for it. They pay for it because it must be produced (filtered, treated, etc.), whether it's a monthly fee to the utilities service or individual fees for bottled water.


          Right. They're paying for the *scarcity* of clean, filtered water -- and in many cases they're paying for the *scarcity* of *convenient water*.

          It makes no sense to claim that price isn't linked to value, at least in part.

          I never claimed they weren't linked. I said they were different -- and I explained why above.

          Art, novels, screenplays, etc. are not "abundant resource[s]" that can be used as an "input to grow other industries."

          But they are. I mean... I recognize this gets you upset, but they are. There's simply no way to say that they aren't.

          These statements imply and are predicated upon an assumption that artistic creations are abundant resources. I know you will object that the digital copies of those creations are what you're saying is abundant, but I disagree with your logic. You can't disconnect copies of a thing from the original creation of that thing

          Again, no one is disconnecting the copies from the original creation. As I pointed out, the original creation *is* a scarce good. The *problem* is that you're trying to pay for that scarce good by selling the infinite good. That's backwards. You sell the scarce good.

          So, in that last paragraph, perhaps I've identified the thing that I must work through before I can go any further with this argument. Any help? Or do you think I'm hopeless?

          Heh. No one's "hopeless." As an exercise, try breaking down the different components (benefits) found in any product, and realizing how some of them are infinite and some of them are scarce. And you'll start to recognize that this isn't really anything "new." Effectively, all throughout history, people have used infinite goods to make scarce goods more valuable. This is tougher than it seems, because most people automatically lump together the entire product -- which is where the trouble comes in.

           

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            Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

            Can you help me understand how these two things don't directly contradict each other?

            First, you say that art, novels, screenplays, etc. are abundant resources.

            (But they are. I mean... I recognize this gets you upset, but they are. There's simply no way to say that they aren't.)

            Then you say: the original creation *is* a scarce good.

            How can a novel be both an abundant resource and a scarce good? If I'm being obtuse here, it's not intentional.

             

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              Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:33am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

              How can a novel be both an abundant resource and a scarce good? If I'm being obtuse here, it's not intentional.

              *Once created* it is an infinite good. Prior to creation, it is a scarce good.

              The act of creating it changes the nature of the good.

               

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              cadouri craciun, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 10:00am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

              ideas can be okay as long as you do not even back for a second. can not always be at your highest level, sure.

               

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      SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:30am

      Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

      Ethically, no, I don't believe I am obligated by moral justice to support someone who produces content I find valuable. that being said, my admiration for such a producer often drives me to supporting them, because we all need to make a buck and talent, I think, deserves a little recognition. It offends me, though, when I'm *forced* to help a guy out; if there were a law saying I *had* to support artists I liked (and it could be enforced), I would be ery put out.

      A good counter example, timly enough, is Metallica. I think their music (at least the old stuff) is very valuable. But ever since Napster I've had zero admiration for the band, despite their talents. I haven't given them any of my money since.

       

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        Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:52am

        Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

        Ethically, no, I don't believe I am obligated by moral justice to support someone who produces content I find valuable.

        Then we are at an impasse.

         

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          Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:34am

          Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

          >>Ethically, no, I don't believe I am obligated by moral justice to support someone who produces content I find valuable.

          Then we are at an impasse.


          Jason. If you honestly believe that people are obligated by moral justice to support someone who produces content you find valuable, then why are you not paying the websites that you visit?

           

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            Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:53am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

            If you honestly believe that people are obligated by moral justice to support someone who produces content you find valuable, then why are you not paying the websites that you visit?

            I should have been more clear. If a content creator produces content that I find valuable, and asks for payment for that content, then I feel ethically obligated to either 1) make the payment or 2) ignore the content.

            For example, if your website required login, and login required a registration fee, and I found your site valuable, then I feel ethically that I should register, pay the fee, and login to access your site. If I find a way to circumvent the registration, I feel that would be ethically wrong.

             

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              Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

              For example, if your website required login, and login required a registration fee, and I found your site valuable, then I feel ethically that I should register, pay the fee, and login to access your site. If I find a way to circumvent the registration, I feel that would be ethically wrong.

              Sure. And no one is saying otherwise. Again, you seem to be trying to twist what we are saying into justifying unauthorized sharing, and then arguing against that. I am not doing that.

               

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                Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:03pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

                Sure. And no one is saying otherwise. Again, you seem to be trying to twist what we are saying into justifying unauthorized sharing, and then arguing against that. I am not doing that.

                I'm not *trying* to twist anything. I'm trying to reach an understanding. There's no need to attribute a deceptive motive to me.

                If we abolish the legal recourse for content creators to charge for access to their content (i.e., copyright), which is what I understand you to be arguing for (the abolition of copyright), then how is that any different from someone who circumvents a request for payment from the content creator?

                If you get your way and copyright is abolished, you will, in fact, have taken that option from content creators. How is that any different?

                 

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              SomeGuy, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

              and asks for payment for that content

              If you're going to add conditions again after I've commented: yes, I agree that if an artist asks for payment I will either (1) pay or (2) not accept the content. That's very different than asking if I think there's a moral imperative to support creators just because they create.

               

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                Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 12:22pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

                I never said "just because they create," though you argue that in your other response, too. From the beginning, I qualified my statement with creations that you find valuable.

                I also apologized earlier for not being clear when I failed to add the condition that the creator is asking for payment. An oversight, not an intentional deception.

                 

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                  SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 5:50am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

                  I guess I don't see much of a difference between "you are morally obligated to support someone who creates" and "you are morally obligated to support someone who creates items you find valuable." They collapse into the same "you are morally obligated to..." form.

                  Now, if the agreement is content for money, then yeah, I think it's wrong to take the content without giving the money, but I don't see that as the point. assuming you do try to maintain that sort of a modle, the point is that you will lose when your competition drops those barriers. When it's harder to have access to your content than to your competition's content you will become insignificant, no matter how talented you are.

                  As you say elsewhere, you're concerned with artists being taken advantage of. I'm concerned with artists limiting themselves and others out of (what I consider mostly-unfounded) fear of being taken advantage of.

                   

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                    Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:03am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

                    As you say elsewhere, you're concerned with artists being taken advantage of. I'm concerned with artists limiting themselves and others out of (what I consider mostly-unfounded) fear of being taken advantage of.

                    Fair enough.

                    When I encounter things like this -- two ends of a spectrum -- finding a balance seems like the only sensible solution, not picking one end or the other.

                     

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                      SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:12am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

                      finding a balance seems like the only sensible solution, not picking one end or the other.

                      You're assuming here that the modle we're talking about is at "the other end" of this spectrum. It's not. If it were, it would have artists being taken advantage of left and right. That's not the case in theory, and it hasn't proven to be the case in practice.

                       

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                        Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:25am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

                        You're assuming here that the modle we're talking about is at "the other end" of this spectrum. It's not. If it were, it would have artists being taken advantage of left and right. That's not the case in theory, and it hasn't proven to be the case in practice.

                        You're right, SomeGuy ... that is my concern. Also, I do not think that my concern for the creators should overturn or out-balance concerns for society. Which is why I'm seeking balance.

                        Also, to be perfectly honest, I am suspicious of the claim that people are concerned about the good of society. (Not suspicious of you, or of anyone in particular in this discussion, just in general at a global level). I mean, I think most people abstractly agree that the good of society is an important thing, but I worry that the truth is closer to: I'm concerned about not having the right to have whatever I want without being forced to pay for it. Similarly, I also suspect that some folk on the other side of the argument are more interested in their "right" to make a butt-load of cash than the fair treatment of creators and fair methods for encouraging the sharing of creations.

                        I think by now all (or nearly all) of my cards are on the table. I don't know what else to say at this point, and I'll be curious to see how this current culture war progresses.

                        My battle cry: balance.

                         

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                          SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:49am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trying to Avoid Strawmen

                          My main concern, really, can be summed up by two cases: YouTube and "Harry Potter and the Mystical Crystal." YouTube is a great place for real fans to promote the things they like, with music videos and short films and long rambling unpunctuated fanatical rants. I think that's a good thing. I also this that there are probably lots of kids right now who have been inspired by Rowling to start imagining and creating stories and really exploring the world she's shown them. I think that's a good thing, too. But they're both endangered by copyright. No one will ever write "Harry Potter and the Mystical Crystal," and I think society is worse off for that fact.

                          My concern with your concern is that it's (possibly, not assuming anything about you) based on an irrational sense that something's not fair. It's not fair if I do something and someone else takes it and does better. It's not fair if someone uses something that I made in something that they made.

                          I do think an artist should be rewarded for their efforts and their contributions. I don't think it's right for them to get a slice over every use of that contribution. I think the modles presented here present a much brighter outlook for these derivative works that I mention, and Mike is constantly pointing to how it makes things better for the artist, too.

                           

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                            Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:59am

                            Too many Re:s!

                            But they're both endangered by copyright.

                            As copyright law is currently constructed, I think you're right. I also agree with the concerns you list here and find both examples to be "good things."

                            It's not fair if I do something and someone else takes it and does better. It's not fair if someone uses something that I made in something that they made.

                            It's totally fair if you execute an idea better than I do. It's also totally fair if you build on what I do to create something else (whether that's better, worse, or whatever). Again, I agree that both are problems with current fair use limitations.

                            I do think an artist should be rewarded for their efforts and their contributions.

                            Good, me too.

                            I don't think it's right for them to get a slice over every use of that contribution.

                            This is still tricky for me, I think. My instinct is: I agree. However, I immediately want to qualify that with "except for citation credit." But consider this:

                            One of the kids you mention earlier, inspired by Rowling, writes some other fantasy novel. It's not very well-written, but the story is good and the ideas are exciting. Some corporation, that has resources and experience in spades over the kid, takes that work and makes a multi-million-dollar movie from it. In your opinion, what, if anything, is the responsibility of that corporation towards that kid?

                            I think the modles presented here present a much brighter outlook for these derivative works that I mention, and Mike is constantly pointing to how it makes things better for the artist, too.

                            I hope this is true. Sincerely.

                            Turns out, you and I may be closer in our views than it appeared at first.

                             

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                              SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 10:13am

                              Re: Too many Re:s!

                              Re: Too many Re:s!

                              Amen to that! We agree again. Astonishing.

                              However, I immediately want to qualify that with "except for citation credit." But consider this:

                              I agree, it's only right and just to say where you get your input from. I have a lot of respect for someonme who says, "I got this idea from X," and learning that someone actively avoided creditting sources in a direct attempty to take undue credit for work that's not theirs damages the reputation of the perpetrator in my eyes.

                              That being said, it regards to your example... First off, I think it's a bit weighted, talking about a corporation vs some kid. Pathos makes me more inclined toward the kid that the impersonal corporate entity. But I think the hard facts are that the corporation doesn't owe the kid anything more than "based on a book by Joey Schmoe" in the credits. Because of what I've said above, the corp would be dumb to leave this out (especially considering the pathos I mentioned), and would probably be smart to offer the kid some kind of a deal. But making a story into a movie is no small thing, and even if the dialog and storyline were taken directly from the kids story (unlikely, judging from past adapted-to-film books), it's still only a small part of what the movie IS. And especially considering you transformed a poorly-written kid's story into a moving, pointed, socially-valuable motion picture... -shrugs-

                              I think it's an extreme example, but I hold to my position.

                               

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                                Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 10:32am

                                Re: Re: Too many Re:s!

                                I think it's an extreme example, but I hold to my position.

                                Yes, admittedly extreme in order to call attention to the implications of the model. Still, I don't think "based on the book by" is enough ... but I feel the need to wait for another discussion and do some more research before I can say more, I guess.

                                Cheers!

                                 

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                                Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 11:12am

                                PS

                                it's only right and just

                                Still, this would require law to enact/enforce. It's clear that there are many things that are right and just but that people don't do unless there's law to enforce it. Which brings us right back to the problem, I suppose.

                                Sigh ... tired now, though!

                                 

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                                  SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 12:15pm

                                  Re: PS

                                  Still, this would require law to enact/enforce.

                                  -laughs- Oh, I'd disagree on that, too. There's a lot more to social behaviors and the like than what law forces us to do. In Rainbows, for example, shows how people will pay for a thing (in a tip-like fashion) even what a thing is given away for 'free.' Even aside from that, we're talking about reputation here: and if you get a reputation that you don't credit your sources and you rip people off, that's going to affect you negatively.

                                  But I'm tired, too.

                                   

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                                    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

                                    Re: Re: PS

                                    Let me get this straight. You are not a nice guy if you do not credit the person who created the content, but you are a nice guy if you compete with the creator selling nothing more than copies of his/her creative content as long as you give the person credit.

                                     

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    MLS, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 10:53pm

    Angry Dude has it right...

    The word "offal" comes to mind, but it seems such an understatement, as I read both the article and many of the associated comments.

    It appears many are prepared to accept at face value that all creative works, once reduced to digital form, are fungible. Does anyone seriously believe this?

    Of course, all of this wrapped up neatly in terms like "infinite goods", "price trends to zero since marginal costs of production are virtually zero", "copyright stifles creativity (I stay away from innovation in the sense that I see it typically applying to the area embraced by patent law), ""free" will set you free by letting you attach "scare" goods to the free ones", "copyright law is an anachronism", etc., etc. ad nauseum.

    Reality check time. One who labors to create a creative work does not do so on a whim, motivated solely by the enlightenment it will provide society. Personally, I have never had a client who is an author, fine art photographer, musician, screenplay writer, and others engaged in preparing creative works who believes that greater societal good is accomplished by leaving the creator in dire financial straits. It seems ludicrous, infinite goods analysis notwithstanding, that a content creator, once his/her specific content foes "digital", should be content to look for other ways to make a buck. It conveniently overlooks the fact, and seems more like an after the fact rationalization, that "theft" (yes, "theft"...the drivel about "property notwithstanding") is an immutable fact and that content creators should simply turn the other cheek by either finding an arts patron to pay for their creative efforts, get another job to pay the bills, or start "touring" for things like book signings...assuming the book is even published in bound, paper copy.

    The internet is a good "transportation" medium by which to get product into the hands of end users. To say that by doing so they must now adopt a business model along the lines that spew forth as this site's mantra totally misses the point raised by Jason. Call it artificial scarcity. Call it government protectionism. Call it whatever may be the "rationale de jour" for the day. This issue, and the proposed business models in large measure (not all...but in large measure nonetheless) arises only because many of the so-called younger generation have never had to work for a living and see nothing wrong are too damn cheap to pay for something that they know good and well is a copy that was released to the world without the permission of the content creator.

    Economic analysis is all well and good. And, yes, when a specific article of content is willing released by its creator is pursuit of a business model as advocated here, then that is the content creator's choice. But, what about when the creator says "No, I prefer to determine how it is released and how many copies to release." Call him her a "cro-magnon" person pursuing a less than optimal business model, but keep in mind that this is his/her choice. It is not yours to make.

    Personally, I want strong copyright law in place. Otherwise, persons such as Jason are left in the lurch. To buy into many of the arguments presented on this site does significant violence to "progress" as that term is used in the US Constitution. It has been stated many times that progress is measured by much more than mere economic progress. Of course, here it tend to fall on deaf ears, seemingly because it runs counter to how this site chooses to define the word. Fortunately, those seeking to limit the constitutional phrase are in the distinct minority and will likely remain so well into the future.

    Jason, write your books, sell them however you believe best gets them to market for your financial benefit, and then hold with justified disdain anyone who tries to get a copy without your permission. It is your book, and only the arrogant would even try and suggest they should be able to get copies for free because economic theory says so.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:01am

      Re: Angry Dude has it right...

      MLS, it really fascinates me that you make the same strawman arguments, despite it being pointed out to you repeatedly that we haven't said what you think we're saying. You're so focused on morality that you simply refuse to recognize reality.

      I've asked you this before, and you didn't answer, so I'll try again. Which situation is more moral:

      (a) A market where the content producer ends up being well paid, even though 99% of all people who consume his or her work do it in an unpaid fashion.

      or

      (b) A market where the content producer makes very little money, but every one who consumes the content pays.

      In situations (a) you have a win-win. Situation (b) is a lose-lose. Yet, in your book, situation (b) is more moral. And I have trouble with that, because to me, you're saying that the more moral position is that everyone is worse off.

      Can you please clarify?

      It appears many are prepared to accept at face value that all creative works, once reduced to digital form, are fungible. Does anyone seriously believe this?

      This is a strawman that we discussed above. I never said that, and I certainly didn't imply that. In fact, I've implied the opposite. The works of content can have great value.

      Of course, all of this wrapped up neatly in terms like "infinite goods", "price trends to zero since marginal costs of production are virtually zero", "copyright stifles creativity (I stay away from innovation in the sense that I see it typically applying to the area embraced by patent law), ""free" will set you free by letting you attach "scare" goods to the free ones", "copyright law is an anachronism", etc., etc. ad nauseum.


      MLS, you repeatedly accuse us of discussing legal issues with no real understanding of the law. Yet, when we try to explain economic issues to you, you mock us.

      It's difficult to take you seriously when you do things like that.

      Reality check time. One who labors to create a creative work does not do so on a whim, motivated solely by the enlightenment it will provide society.

      Yes, reality check time. I have never even come close to suggesting that people do things on a whim, motivated solely by the enlightenment it will provide society. In fact, I have been quite clear (and I don't know why you ignore this) that what I'm talking about is a better *BUSINESS MODEL* by which these folks can make more money.

      Personally, I have never had a client who is an author, fine art photographer, musician, screenplay writer, and others engaged in preparing creative works who believes that greater societal good is accomplished by leaving the creator in dire financial straits.

      Again, you make the same false assumption. This has been pointed out to you. Repeatedly. Yet you continue to pretend that we have said this. I don't know what to tell you other than you're arguing against a strawman.

      It seems ludicrous, infinite goods analysis notwithstanding, that a content creator, once his/her specific content foes "digital", should be content to look for other ways to make a buck.

      Yes, how dare we actually apply economic analysis to a market and suggest how that market will change.

      Did it seem ludicrous to you when horse & buggy makers had to change their business model to survive in the face of automobiles?

      Did it seem ludicrous to you when telephones allowed direct dial and operators had to find new jobs?

      Do you wish neither advancement happened, along with all of the economic opportunity both resulted in?

      So why do you think it's so strange to suggest that the changing market factors will require somewhat different business models -- but that those business models will allow more opportunity to profit?

      It conveniently overlooks the fact, and seems more like an after the fact rationalization, that "theft" (yes, "theft"...the drivel about "property notwithstanding") is an immutable fact and that content creators should simply turn the other cheek by either finding an arts patron to pay for their creative efforts, get another job to pay the bills, or start "touring" for things like book signings...assuming the book is even published in bound, paper copy.

      Again, another strawman. This has nothing to do with infringement (which, again, is not theft). It's merely a question of better business models. The fact that many artists are embracing this and finding success in doing so is further proof that it is not "theft" at all. No one embraces "theft." But if they can embrace using infinite goods to make money, isn't that a good thing?

      The internet is a good "transportation" medium by which to get product into the hands of end users. To say that by doing so they must now adopt a business model along the lines that spew forth as this site's mantra totally misses the point raised by Jason.

      There you go with the morality stuff again. We're not saying they "must" adopt these new business models. They can choose not to and then discover their market disappear. That's a choice. We're not trying to force a new business model on anyone. The *market* is.

      Do you dislike market forces so much that you don't recognize that markets change and with it, business models change?

      Call it artificial scarcity. Call it government protectionism. Call it whatever may be the "rationale de jour" for the day. This issue, and the proposed business models in large measure (not all...but in large measure nonetheless) arises only because many of the so-called younger generation have never had to work for a living and see nothing wrong are too damn cheap to pay for something that they know good and well is a copy that was released to the world without the permission of the content creator.

      Yeah, it's those damn kids and their crazy horseless carriages! Bah humbug.

      Seriously, MLS, I don't know how many ways we have to explain to you that the economics here have nothing to do with infringement, but it weakens your argument every time you pull this out (and casting aspersions on people's motives for explaining these economics is really sad, frankly).

      Is it so hard for you to disagree with someone without insulting them as "never having to work for a living." As someone who puts in 20 hour days quite often working for a living, let me say: get over yourself.

      Economic analysis is all well and good. And, yes, when a specific article of content is willing released by its creator is pursuit of a business model as advocated here, then that is the content creator's choice. But, what about when the creator says "No, I prefer to determine how it is released and how many copies to release." Call him her a "cro-magnon" person pursuing a less than optimal business model, but keep in mind that this is his/her choice. It is not yours to make.

      And another strawman. We have never said that it is our choice to make, so I don't know what you're arguing with.

      But are we so wrong for pointing out why that model will fail if the content creator sticks with it?

      Personally, I want strong copyright law in place. Otherwise, persons such as Jason are left in the lurch.

      Yeah, it would be awful if he had opportunities to make more money.

      To buy into many of the arguments presented on this site does significant violence to "progress" as that term is used in the US Constitution

      Yeah. Economic growth and more opportunity for everyone. That's a true bastardization of "progress" isn't it?

      It has been stated many times that progress is measured by much more than mere economic progress. Of course, here it tend to fall on deaf ears, seemingly because it runs counter to how this site chooses to define the word.

      Again, can you explain how the world in which everyone is better off is not progress? Can you explain how the world in which everyone is worse off is progress? That would help me understand this "non-economic" progress that you seem so keen on.

      Fortunately, those seeking to limit the constitutional phrase are in the distinct minority and will likely remain so well into the future.

      We'll see about that.

      Jason, write your books, sell them however you believe best gets them to market for your financial benefit, and then hold with justified disdain anyone who tries to get a copy without your permission. It is your book, and only the arrogant would even try and suggest they should be able to get copies for free because economic theory says so.

      Again, MLS, please stop with the strawman. We have never said that we should be able to get copies for free just because economic theory says so. What we're saying is directed *at* Jason to explain how he could *benefit* by giving away that content for free.

      MLS, this has all been pointed out to you before. Yet, here you are again, pretending that we have said stuff we have not, and throwing in a few choice insults as well. It's rather unbecoming, and each time you do so, it makes you less and less credible.

       

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        MLS, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:13am

        Re: Re: Angry Dude has it right...

        Mr. Masnick.

        You keep castigating me with your two question hypo denominationg questions 1 and 2. Your answer is No. 1 should be the goal as society is best served in economic/monetary terms. I keep answering that No. 2 is the morally just outcome because in my view it respects the rights of the individual, including individuals who may choose to follow a path different from the economic models to which you subscribe.

        To accept your economic model is, ignoring at this point the distinction between real and intangible property, tantamount to stating that you agree with the analysis in Kelo v. City of New London where the economic good of society overshadows the private interests of property owners.

        A constant stream of invective is directed towards so-called "Pharma" and its reliance on patent law as an integral part of its "business model". In my experience having dealt extensively with some of the "Pharma" companies, not one of them have ever come even remotely close to suggesting that your business models hold promise for company growth and sustainability as an ongoing concern. Quite the contrary. They invest copious amounts of money on potential products, with but a few eventually leading to one that has medical efficacy and present the opportunity, because of patent law, to hopefully recoup their investment and realize a return on that investment.

        Let's get rid of patent law altogether since as your repeatedly assert it stifles innovation. What then? Trade secrets loom as a powerful tool to achieve via this alternate legal means the opportunites afforded by patent law. The patent law mandate of public disclosure does have the benefit of informing others in the industry of a drug believed to be efficacious in the treatment of disease. The same most certainly cannot be said of retaining the associated information as a trade secret, and particularly if the successful manufacture of the drug is process/method dependent.

        You stubbornly cling to the notion that "progress" under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, properly construed, demands a construction that it be measured in terms of economic progress, and then profer your business models as reflective of what that term should mean. In contrast, I repeatedly point out that "progress" has a much broader meaning, one that reflects much more is involved than just economics. Your view tends toward the view reflected by the majority opinion in Kelo, whereas mine tends toward the view of the 4 Justices comprising the minority view. I was not surprised in the least at the almost universal negative reaction to that decision and its political fallout.

        I admit, of course, that the new ways of doing business you advocate do make a lot of sense in many cases. Where we diverge is I do not extrapolate from such cases that such models are almost a requirement lest people find themselves in the market for "buggy whips".

        In all candor, there are many times here on your site where I have to wonder if the "world of artistic endeavor" is totally foreign to many who comment, so many of whom seem wrapped up in the world of technology and little else other than torrent downloads for freebies comprising artistic endeavor.

        Jason asks very fair questions. It seems a shame that most of the responses are in essence telling him he is a part of a dying breed. Even Thomas Jefferson would find such responses troubling.

        Just so you do not think we are almost on totally opposite sides of the fence, I do agree that copyright law has morphed from a relatively straightforward concept into something that turns the phrase "limited times" on its head. I do not agree that patent law has undergone such a cardinal change. The former bears little, if any, resemblance to the original Copyright Act of 1790, whereas the latter in significant measure tracks the original Patent Act of 1790.

        One final comment. You constantly refer to the work of some economists as proof positive that you are on the right track. However, I note the absence of any reference to the work of other economists who opine the opposite. It would be nice if just for once you noted these opposing views and then provided a coherent argument why you believe they are incorrect. Now that would be an interesting discussion, a real debate concerning opposing points of view. It seems to me the closest you have come to doing this is talking about Romer's work. You agree when he says something you like, but then disagree when he says something you do not. I do not see this as an intellectually approach. I do not presume to know the answers in this complex area where the law and economics overlap. I only wish you were similarly inclined to admit that you too do not know all the answers.

         

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          MLS, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 9:24am

          Re: Re: Re: Angry Dude has it right...

          "intellectually approach" should read "intellectually honest approach".

          Please excuse typos throughout my comment. I make no claim to being a touch typist who misspells nary a word.

           

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          Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:29am

          Re: Re: Re: Angry Dude has it right...

          You keep castigating me with your two question hypo denominationg questions 1 and 2. Your answer is No. 1 should be the goal as society is best served in economic/monetary terms. I keep answering that No. 2 is the morally just outcome because in my view it respects the rights of the individual, including individuals who may choose to follow a path different from the economic models to which you subscribe.

          Then I can't help you. I simply cannot see how any sentient person could favor a scenario in which everyone, including the content creator, are worse off -- and claim that's a more moral result.

          Honestly, you make no sense to me whatsoever.

          The idea that you would consider a result in which even the content creator you claim to represent is worse off as being more "moral" is, frankly, sickening.

          You have a warped moral sense.

          To accept your economic model is, ignoring at this point the distinction between real and intangible property, tantamount to stating that you agree with the analysis in Kelo v. City of New London where the economic good of society overshadows the private interests of property owners.

          Um. Wow. Stretch the truth much? Not at all. First of all, I have been quite clear about the difference between infinite and scarce goods and the property rights associated with them. How you can continue to ignore that is beyond me.

          Second, you still seem to assume that I am somehow saying that the good of society outweighs the good of the individual. I am saying no such thing. I am saying that a result in which the individual is better off seems like a better, more moral system to me. Especially if it *also* means that society is better off.

          A constant stream of invective is directed towards so-called "Pharma" and its reliance on patent law as an integral part of its "business model". In my experience having dealt extensively with some of the "Pharma" companies, not one of them have ever come even remotely close to suggesting that your business models hold promise for company growth and sustainability as an ongoing concern. Quite the contrary. They invest copious amounts of money on potential products, with but a few eventually leading to one that has medical efficacy and present the opportunity, because of patent law, to hopefully recoup their investment and realize a return on that investment.

          That's like asking the horse & carraige makers what they think of the automobile industry. The problem is that you focus on the product (pharmaceuticals) rather than the actual industry (health).

          I'll be getting into this in more detail in a future post, but the amount of real healthcare improvement *held back* because of the pharmaceutical industry's focus on patents -- and how much economic opportunity has been LOST to healthcare companies because of this is simply stunning when you look at the numbers.

          Let's get rid of patent law altogether since as your repeatedly assert it stifles innovation. What then? Trade secrets loom as a powerful tool to achieve via this alternate legal means the opportunites afforded by patent law.

          Which part of the above article did you totally not read? If someone focuses on trade secrets, they are *less* likely to succeed. That's the point. This article shows how bogus this statement you make is. Sure, some companies will keep ideas as a trade secret.. and the end result is their competitors will beat them silly.

          The patent law mandate of public disclosure does have the benefit of informing others in the industry of a drug believed to be efficacious in the treatment of disease. The same most certainly cannot be said of retaining the associated information as a trade secret, and particularly if the successful manufacture of the drug is process/method dependent.

          Yes, that's why Italy, which had no patents for pharma, had a thriving pharma industry coming up with all sorts of useful new compounds. According to you, that would be impossible. But, you're wrong.

          You stubbornly cling to the notion that "progress" under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, properly construed, demands a construction that it be measured in terms of economic progress, and then profer your business models as reflective of what that term should mean. In contrast, I repeatedly point out that "progress" has a much broader meaning, one that reflects much more is involved than just economics.

          Again, I ask you the same question I have asked you before, which you refuse to answer. If everyone is better off, how is that not progress? And if everyone is worse off, how can you claim that it is progress?


          Jason asks very fair questions. It seems a shame that most of the responses are in essence telling him he is a part of a dying breed. Even Thomas Jefferson would find such responses troubling.


          And we have been answering his fair questions, explaining the economics. If the model he's talking about *is* a dying breed, wouldn't it be troublesome if we didn't tell him that?

          That seems a lot more unethical to me than anything you've discussed.

          You think we should tell the horse & buggy makers not to worry about cars? Bizarre. That, to me, is highly unethical.

          One final comment. You constantly refer to the work of some economists as proof positive that you are on the right track. However, I note the absence of any reference to the work of other economists who opine the opposite. It would be nice if just for once you noted these opposing views and then provided a coherent argument why you believe they are incorrect. Now that would be an interesting discussion, a real debate concerning opposing points of view. It seems to me the closest you have come to doing this is talking about Romer's work. You agree when he says something you like, but then disagree when he says something you do not. I do not see this as an intellectually approach. I do not presume to know the answers in this complex area where the law and economics overlap. I only wish you were similarly inclined to admit that you too do not know all the answers.

          The trouble is there are very few economists who disagree. But I will get into just such a discussion in the near future.

          As for Romer, you misunderstand my point. It's not that I agree with him when he says something I like and disagree with him when he says something I do not. You need to clarify *what* he is saying.

          His economic *model* is correct. The *conclusions* he draws from it are incorrect. That's not cherry picking, as you imply. He's right... he just read his own results incorrectly.

          And, I never said I know all the answers either, but you seem to be of the opinion that I can't possibly know all the answers until I agree with you. And until you convince me with more than saying that the moral solution is one where everyone is worse off, that's simply not going to happen.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:58pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Angry Dude has it right...

            "Then I can't help you. I simply cannot see how any sentient person could favor a scenario in which everyone, including the content creator, are worse off -- and claim that's a more moral result.

            Honestly, you make no sense to me whatsoever.

            The idea that you would consider a result in which even the content creator you claim to represent is worse off as being more "moral" is, frankly, sickening.

            You have a warped moral sense."

            If, as you say, I am not a sentient person, have a warped moral sense, and my views concerning what is moral are sickening, then it seems not only have I struck a raw nerve, but have also brought you out of your "economics is the correct path" shell and given at least some meaning to a recent comment that opposing views are many times unwelcome on this site.

            Sorry, but to me the economically optimal outcome is not necessarily the morally optimal outcome. I believe that society is defined by much more than just economic theories. This is not to say that they are irrelevant. They are quite helpful; however, in my view they represent but one data point in crafting social policy.

             

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              Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 4:20pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Angry Dude has it right...

              MLS (I'm assuming this comment was from MLS, based on what you said), please reread what I wrote.

              You claim that you have "brought me out" of my economics shell, but that is incorrect. You clearly have trouble understanding the most basic fact pattern here.

              I presented you with two scenarios. One in which everyone was better off, and the second in which everyone was worse off, to make a point about why morality isn't even a question here. In the situation where everyone (including the content creator) is better off, it doesn't seem like there's *any* argument for why morality is an issue.

              Yet, you claim that the situation in which everyone (including the content creator) is worse off is morally superior.

              I am not against discussing morality. I just had thought that people would recognize that morality need not come into play in such a situation. When someone says that a situation where everyone is worse off is more moral, I have to question that person's morality.

              I will note, again, that you fail to explain why you find that situation more moral.

              As for saying that "opposing views are unwelcome on this site" and getting upset with me for questioning your morality, are you serious?

              For the last couple of months, you have been posting here on a near daily basis, questioning my morality, my education and my intelligence. You have falsely accused me of never having had to work for a living, of having no knowledge of what I am talking about and having no moral compass.

              And yet, when I logically explain to you why I want a world in which everyone (including the content creator) is better off and you insist that you want a world where everyone is worse off, you get upset with me for questioning your morality?

              And then you question *my* willingness to have opposing viewpoints? This from the guy who accuses my positions on this as "offal" and (in saying that angry dude has it right) a "pile of horseshit" -- both of which I left on the site for everyone to see.

              Seriously, MLS, you really need to take a step back and think about what you're saying.

              I have no problem with people posting opposing viewpoints. That's why I have this open forum. But you have to be willing to respond credibly. When you try to defend a position in which everyone is worse off, while insulting me, my life, my ideas and my morality, at least have the common decency to allow me to question your morality as well -- and not do so in some vague unsubstantiated manner, but one where I point out logically exactly what I am questioning.


              Sorry, but to me the economically optimal outcome is not necessarily the morally optimal outcome. I believe that society is defined by much more than just economic theories. This is not to say that they are irrelevant. They are quite helpful; however, in my view they represent but one data point in crafting social policy.


              You keep saying this. Yet, we keep pointing out to you that the scenario we are discussing is one where everyone is better off. I can't see how you can complain about such a situation -- and yet you just insist that it is somehow immoral.

              If you cannot support why it is immoral then I have to question your thought process here. I can explain why I believe my position is perfectly moral -- and I have: it's because everyone is better off.

              Can you explain to me why it is more moral to have everyone worse off?

               

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      Yosi, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:46am

      Re: Angry Dude has it right...

      Lots of words, almost no meaning. I always amused by people who see US as "whole world" and don't see what happen outside of your walled copyrighted garden.
      Music and films was (and continue) to be created in places without moronic US-style copyright and DMCA laws.
      Get rid of yours and see magic happen.

       

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    cram, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 1:59am

    Hi Mike

    "So, that's why I have so much trouble with arguments that rely on the idea that abundance is bad."

    I think those people have a problem not so much with abundance as they do with not being able to exert some form of control over that abundance and profiting from that control.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 2:04am

      Re:


      I think those people have a problem not so much with abundance as they do with not being able to exert some form of control over that abundance and profiting from that control.


      Sure. But any business model that relies on "control" over abundance means limiting that abundance. So the answer is not to worry about control, but focus on the business models that let you use that abundance to your benefit -- in such a way that control even seems counterproductive.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 7:37am

    "While there is an old-school mentality that you need to keep things secret, history has shown that that tends not to be the best way to grow a successful business."

    "Growing" (execution) a business is totally different from creating the "idea". So, your opinion is not applicable to the "idea" part (it is still best to keep an idea secret until you can secure the proper IP rights to it). But it would probably benefit the execution part to be open about your "execution" plans and get comments from others.

    "When you do that, you end up making all sorts of mistakes that a few conversations may have helped you avoid."

    What "mistake" can you have with just the idea? Not much. However, many "mistakes" can occur when you try to grow/execute a business and market that idea. So, here it would be a benefit to be open with people and discuss your marketing plans and get comments on them.

    So, once again mike, you try to apply that secrets are not good to both the idea and execution parts, when it really only applies to the execution part.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:10am

      Re:

      "Growing" (execution) a business is totally different from creating the "idea". So, your opinion is not applicable to the "idea" part (it is still best to keep an idea secret until you can secure the proper IP rights to it). But it would probably benefit the execution part to be open about your "execution" plans and get comments from others.

      Not at all. Did you read the original article? The idea is merely the recipe for the execution. And if that recipe is bad, the execution will fail. So what Burnham made clear is that sharing the idea widely is important -- especially if you know that you are best prepared to execute on it.

       

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    Jason, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    Why not just do it?

    In fact, I have been quite clear (and I don't know why you ignore this) that what I'm talking about is a better *BUSINESS MODEL* by which these folks can make more money.

    OK, so ... if your model is really better, then won't the best approach be to just develop the business model and get some folks (who are already sympathetic to it) to start using it, instead of attacking the legal and philosophical issues, even indirectly? If it's truly effective, it will take over the market on its own, right? Then that would achieve your goal.

    Also, this would allow people to adopt this business model by choice, instead of causing them to feel threatened with "taking away" their copyright.

    If I saw a model working as well as or better than current models that was based on giving the primary product away (i.e., I'm giving away my novel, which is the primary thing I'm producing), then I'd probably give it a try. The more people for whom it worked, the more popular the model would become.

    Then you'll achieve your goal without ever having to fight a legal/philosophical battle, and you'll have numerous real-world examples to point to.

    So, is this happening? And if so, why waste time with this argument? Instead, spend it on developing this model and let those who wish to give it a try to test it out and see the results for themselves.

    Again, though, it would be *by choice* (and thus without resistance), instead of arguing for the abolition of an entire sector of the legal system.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 11:15am

      Re: Why not just do it?

      OK, so ... if your model is really better, then won't the best approach be to just develop the business model and get some folks (who are already sympathetic to it) to start using it, instead of attacking the legal and philosophical issues, even indirectly? If it's truly effective, it will take over the market on its own, right? Then that would achieve your goal.

      Indeed. And, in fact, I do advocate that content creators do exactly that.

      The *problem* is that the legal system actually often gets in the way of doing that. It does this in two ways: first by making it ever harder and harder to actually be creative if it involves any bit of content from someone else (see Bridgeport Music to see an example of why).

      Second, it provides a crutch. I.e., it makes it so easy to keep using the simple business model that people are more afraid to experiment with better business models.

      This worries me, because other countries are less reliant on that crutch, and I fear that as we rely on the crutch and make it worse and worse, we lose our leadership in the world as the best place to create content.

      If I saw a model working as well as or better than current models that was based on giving the primary product away (i.e., I'm giving away my novel, which is the primary thing I'm producing), then I'd probably give it a try. The more people for whom it worked, the more popular the model would become.

      Indeed. Which is why I point out such examples whenever I see them.

      So, is this happening? And if so, why waste time with this argument? Instead, spend it on developing this model and let those who wish to give it a try to test it out and see the results for themselves.

      That is what I'm doing. But considering the abuses that copyright also lead to, I see no reason not to point those out as well.

      Again, though, it would be *by choice* (and thus without resistance), instead of arguing for the abolition of an entire sector of the legal system.

      Yup. I am arguing for people to recognize this by choice. But part of getting them to realize this is to point out how the system is abused in unfair ways that make life worse for content creators.

       

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    cram, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 7:29pm

    repeating question

    Hi Mike

    I know you've been pretty busy sparring with Jason. I'd like to know what your take is on a copyright-related question that I raised earlier in this thread.

    Are you saying that once an author puts out a novel/screenplay, anyone should be free to adapt it to any other medium without financially compensating the creator (which means anyone can make a Harry Potter movie without paying Rowling a dime)? Or that anyone should be free to print and sell scarce good versions of the creation and keep all the proceeds (as is being done with the Bible and Shakespeare, to cite the two most famous examples)?

    I was under the impression one of the reasons copyright exists is precisely to protect the creator from such acts. Do you accept that copyright serves that purpose? Do you agree that we need copyright for this, if for nothing else?

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:26pm

      Re: repeating question

      I know you've been pretty busy sparring with Jason. I'd like to know what your take is on a copyright-related question that I raised earlier in this thread.

      Sorry. I missed that question when you first asked it.

      Are you saying that once an author puts out a novel/screenplay, anyone should be free to adapt it to any other medium without financially compensating the creator (which means anyone can make a Harry Potter movie without paying Rowling a dime)? Or that anyone should be free to print and sell scarce good versions of the creation and keep all the proceeds (as is being done with the Bible and Shakespeare, to cite the two most famous examples)?

      Again with the "should". I'm not saying "should" anything. I'm saying that you don't need copyright to deal with this situation. If others decide to make a derivative work, that should not be seen as a problem. The original creator can attach his or her name to the *official* work, however, which will increase it's credibility.

      But, if multiple people are making derivative works off of your works, that would be fantastic. That means that more people really want your work to be known. But, if I were making, say, a Harry Potter movie, I'd want to hire JK Rowling to assist, to not just make it "authentic" but also to have her input in the movie making process.

      Btw, you might want to take a look at what both Jonathan Lethem and Paulo Coelho are doing with their books and encouraging people to make movies with them. Both are experimenting in this area (though, it's more toe in the water experimenting than full jumping in at this point).

      I was under the impression one of the reasons copyright exists is precisely to protect the creator from such acts. Do you accept that copyright serves that purpose? Do you agree that we need copyright for this, if for nothing else?

      Actually, in many ways I think this is the worst abuse of copyright: in preventing others from creating their own creative works built on the genius of others. Almost any creative work is a derivative work of some kind. Limiting what kind of derivative works creative people can make is troublesome.

       

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    cram, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 10:35pm

    Hi Mike

    Thanks for your take.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 2:54am

    Re: repeating question

    I can see how a world of no copyright would be a concern to an individual. An individual content creator might not get compensated as it is now if copyright were to be abolished. However, the industry/world as a whole would be a better world since others could improve on the original creators' works - fashion is probably a good example of a non-copyright industry that thrives on people improving/modifying other people's works. So, some individual content creators might lose out or have to work harder to stand out among the derivative works.

    But Mike, of course you are saying 'should' something. It's plain to see in your sentence below. If you are advocating something, there is a 'should' implied.

    "Again with the "should". I'm not saying "should" anything. I'm saying that you don't need copyright to deal with this situation. If others decide to make a derivative work, that should not be seen as a problem. The original creator can attach his or her name to the *official* work, however, which will increase it's credibility."

     

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      SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:09am

      Re: Re: repeating question

      Mike is saying that derivative works are not a problem, and we don't need Copyright to deal with the situation. Being "official" has value, and being a knock-off ruins your credibility. He's not saying people should be able to do anything in particular. He's saying that we don't need this extra legislation to handle it, which is important because it's been noted elsewhere that this additional legislation is causing problems. It's unnecessary and detrimental: best to get rid of it.

       

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        Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:25am

        Re: Re: Re: repeating question

        Being "official" has value, and being a knock-off ruins your credibility.

        This is an argument about "should" as well. Being official *should* have value, and being a knock-off *should* ruin your credibility ... but it doesn't necessarily need to be so. This becomes more likely the less-well-known the original creator is.

         

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          Nasch, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Re: repeating question

          This is an argument about "should" as well. Being official *should* have value, and being a knock-off *should* ruin your credibility ... but it doesn't necessarily need to be so. This becomes more likely the less-well-known the original creator is.

          No, it is not an argument about "should". You're putting words in his mouth. He is not saying being official should add value, he is saying it does add value. You may disagree with this observation, but don't make it into something it isn't. If you disagree, argue based on the facts. Convince us why the public would just as soon read "Harry Potter and the Mystical Diamond" by somebody they've never heard of, rather than the next Harry Potter book by JK Rowling.

          Even if you're right, and nobody cares which version is by the original creator, it could still be better for society if everyone could make derivative works without restriction. There would be more content, more content that people want, and (IMO) more money to be made from that content overall. Why should our society be intent on artificially concentrating revenue in the hands of the original creator, rather than producing a situation that is at minimum better for society, and better for every creator except that one, and potentially not even worse for them (if they appropriately take advantage of the market)? I know you think it's more important that the original artist gets protected than that everyone can benefit more fully from their creation, but my question is... why? Is it simply self-interest, or is there a more sophisticated explanation?

           

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            Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 8:48am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: repeating question

            He is not saying being official should add value, he is saying it does add value.

            He's assuming that will be the case, and that assumption is based on the notion that it *should* be the case (presumably, because there's some innate value in an official version, which is also questionable). I'm just saying, there are lots of assumptions beneath that statement that need to be unpacked if they are to be adequately argued.

            I know you think it's more important that the original artist gets protected than that everyone can benefit more fully from their creation, but my question is... why? Is it simply self-interest, or is there a more sophisticated explanation?

            I don't think it's *more* important, I think it's *equally* important, and it's not based on self-interest, but on creator-interest.

            Let's back up a moment:

            I fully agree that society should benefit, as widely as possible, from the ideas and creations of others. (Reminder: copyright law is only concerned with the specific creations/expressions of ideas, not the ideas themselves).

            - In order to solicit those creations from the creators, however, there needs to be some incentive. An economic model that predicts the creator might make money from the creation is not, contrary to claims here, strong enough for all creators. After all, that chance exists under the current model. What does provide incentives to freely share creations is the assurance that those creations will not be appropriated wholesale by others and used for other purposes (at least for a limited time).

            - I further agree that this period of protection is currently absurdly long. I also agree that the transference of this protection from the creator to corporations has been disastrous.

            - Also, society benefiting, as widely as possible, from the creations of others is not the same as others capitalizing on the idea of others' creations with no obligation to the original creators (which is what a system with no form of copyright whatsoever would permit).


            I fully agree that other creators should be able to create transformative works from the works of others.

            - A derivative work is not a transformative work. (The current law reads: "a derivative work must be different enough from the original to be regarded as a "new work" or must contain a substantial amount of new material. Making minor changes or additions of little substance to a preexisting work will not qualify the work as a new version for copyright purposes. The new material must be original and copyrightable in itself.") Nor do I think it should be. If you do little to substantively transform a work, you should not be able to claim any real "creative" contribution.

            - The current case law is, unfortunately, stacked against transformative work and unfairly restricts "fair use," IMHO. This calls for radical reform, but I don't see how it calls for abolition. That's throwing the baby out with the bath water, to me.

            So, in summary, the current laws surrounding copyright are, I fully admit, skewed in favor of corporations (under the guise of favoring the creator). The laws need to be radically revised to attempt to restore a balance between the benefit to society and the incentives to the creator. Completely abandoning copyright doesn't do that, however. It's reactionary, and it only serves to top the scale to the other side. In a society of conflicting groups, balance is the best we can hope to achieve when all interested groups have legitimate claims and concerns.

             

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              Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 8:54am

              CORRECTIONS

              Also, society benefiting, as widely as possible, from the creations of others is not the same as others capitalizing on the idea of others' creations with no obligation to the original creators (which is what a system with no form of copyright whatsoever would permit).

              It's reactionary, and it only serves to top tip the scale to the other side.

               

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                Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 8:57am

                Re: CORRECTIONS

                Crap ... *del* code didn't work.

                In the first corrected sentence, "the idea of" should not be there. So, it should read: Also, society benefiting, as widely as possible, from the creations of others is not the same as others capitalizing on others' creations with no obligation to the original creators (which is what a system with no form of copyright whatsoever would permit).

                In the second, "top" should be "tip"

                Sorry

                 

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              SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: repeating question

              I'm just saying, there are lots of assumptions beneath that statement that need to be unpacked if they are to be adequately argued.

              This has been shown. I don't have time or resources here to reproduce the relevant material for you, but I've mentioned authorized vs unauthorized books and guides elsewhere. That's a good starting point. i'm not talking "should," I'm talking "is."

              Reminder: copyright law is only concerned with the specific creations/expressions of ideas, not the ideas themselves

              I defy you to try writing a book involving Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Or, hell, their kids. It won't happen with today's copyright.

              The laws need to be radically revised to attempt to restore a balance between the benefit to society and the incentives to the creator. Completely abandoning copyright doesn't do that, however. It's reactionary, and it only serves to top the scale to the other side.

              For once, I agree: copyright needs major change. Where you're skeptical that tossing it out will help, though, I am skeptical that any similar system will be noticably better. One think you have to recognize with the way the Internet is taking us: EVERYONE is becoming a creator. That is decidedly not a parameter in the old environment that copyright was built on. It changes a lot.

               

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                Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:44am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: repeating question

                I don't see how the fact that "everyone is becoming a creator" impacts anything. Just because everyone is "creating" doesn't mean there's a demand (or even interest) in everything that's being created.

                "Charlie Bit Me" may have great appeal, but it adds little/nothing to society on the one hand and could generate little/no financial demand on the other (people aren't going to pay for it except with mouse-clicks).

                Still, if a major movie corporation somehow lifted "Charlie Bit Me" and incorporated it into a multi-million dollar movie that had high appeal, great demand, and important social impact, are you arguing that the corporation owes nothing (financially or otherwise) to the "creators" of "Charlie Bit Me"?

                 

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                Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:47am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: repeating question

                I defy you to try writing a book involving Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Or, hell, their kids. It won't happen with today's copyright.

                Umm ... Harry, Hermione, and Ron are fixed expressions, hence the limitation.

                 

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            SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: repeating question

            I actually would be interested in "Harry Potter and the Mystical Diamond." Rowling's story is over , but why should the public be denied continued stories about beloved characters just because one writer is out of material?

             

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          SomeGuy, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 9:15am

          Re: Re: Re: Re: repeating question

          I submit that you're wrong, and I further submit that Mike has pointed to historical evidence that you're wrong (such as official encyclopedias and guides and the like vs unauthorized editions), but I'm getting tired of this discussion. As Mike about the websites that copy wholecloth from TechDirt and how well that works out for them.

           

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    John, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 7:36am

    Sharing Ideas

    To Carl Morris - The ad supported toilet paper idea is a good one, I remember in the 50's and 60's spending many hours overall musing about who it might have been who had the same/similar idea at my school in the UK, which had the paper printed with "Middlesex County Council - Now Wash Your Hands".
    Regarding the actual topic though, I have for many years invented things, and attempted to get others (companies) to look at them. The result is generally the arrival by mail of a telephone book sized legal document package that signs away all claims that I have. The other response is no response, companies just don't have ideas as part of what they are doing. They will not even respond when I want to pay for electronic circuits to be designed, and I ask for quotes, or even just ask if they do that type of work. Corporations as a whole are too introverted to have good visions, but they are good at saying that they have those same visions.
    As for me just making the ideas public, you have given me food for thought, but what incentive do I have then for spending any serious design thought time on future products, not that I have ever recouped design time remuneration in the past. At the same time, many good ideas will probably go to the grave with me. The interesting thing is that most ideas that I kept 'secret' in the past appear about ten years later as a development by the particular suited company, such as the 'Chrysler minivan' I designed using an Austin Maxi floorpan and drivetrain, that was in the early 70's, I believe, when in the US there was a hot rod van craze, and I lived in the UK where gas prices restrained the running of larger vehicles.
    Overall I don't think the sharing idea will work though, because companies prefer to use their 'own' designs, it is a control issue, maybe.

     

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    identicon
    Jason, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    For another post ...

    Hey Mike ... I don't know if you take requests, but I'll throw one out anyway.

    Would you mind sketching out how your developing thoughts on all this would apply specifically to novelists? I assume you saw the Krugman op-ed in the NYT today. I mean, I can imagine people paying to see a speech/live reading by someone who writes really important nonfiction books (maybe ... but aren't those things usually free?), but I just cannot imagine more than a very few fiction writers getting any kind of turnout for something like that. Certainly not enough to generate any real income.

    So, in the future, once novels go all/mostly digital (so that discounts the "printed book" argument), what can novelists use to generate income in your proposed model? The only other answer I've heard is: become a writer-for-hire. Which is also unsatisfying.

    Anyway, if you're looking for a topic and have free time (ha!) it would be interesting to hear your thoughts more fully (rather than in a comment). If not, I totally understand.

    Peace

     

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    •  
      icon
      Mike (profile), Jun 6th, 2008 @ 2:09pm

      Re: For another post ...

      Would you mind sketching out how your developing thoughts on all this would apply specifically to novelists?

      Will eventually do a post on it... it's on the list of posts to do...

       

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    Ellen25uS, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 5:25am

    Re

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    como hacer crecer el cabello, Dec 26th, 2011 @ 5:35pm

    sr

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    Como enamorar a una amiga, Dec 31st, 2011 @ 11:35pm

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    grandmaster bushido brown, Jan 4th, 2012 @ 8:32pm

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    Trabajos manuales desde casa, Jan 8th, 2012 @ 12:15pm

    sr

    The rest of my comment doesn't rely on any reports, b/c I didn't cite any. I'm just saying, we have proof that people will do what is more advantageous to them if they can, regardless of its impact on the artist.

     

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    dietas rapidas, Jan 14th, 2012 @ 7:56pm

    I don't think "based on the book by" is enough ... but I feel the need to wait for another discussion and do some more research before I can say more

     

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    preuniversitarios en Santiago centro, Feb 6th, 2012 @ 6:01pm

    sr

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