Free Doesn't Mean Unpaid

from the follow-the-money dept

One of the problems we often run into whenever we write about economics involving "free" is that someone inevitably posts a comment saying something to the effect of "but if content creators can't make any money, they won't create content." The problem is in jumping to the conclusion that "free" to the user/reader/listener/watcher means that the content creator isn't getting paid. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, most of the business models we talk about concerning embracing such "free" things points to ways that the content creators can make more money, while still allowing the consumption for free. Reader thepi points us to a blog post by author John Scalzi, who has long been a proponent of free e-books, where he explains that free to the reader doesn't mean unpaid to the author. It just means that the business model is slightly different; the money is coming from somewhere else other than the reader. For some, this may seem obvious -- but it's clearly a point of confusion that we run into frequently, so it's great that Scalzi is highlighting it.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    I dont pay . . .

    To read Techdirt . . . yet they still provide content?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 6:50am

    Nightly News is free too :) While they do not entirely created the content they harvest and tweak it.

     

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  3.  
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    Nick Burns, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 6:53am

    I've never paid Google a dime, but somehow they keep making money

     

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  4.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 6:55am

    Bookselling movies?

    What about the Rennessiance, where poets, philosophers, scientists, and artists were supported almost exclusively through a third party pension or sponsor? Perhaps we shall see a certain recurrence of the trend?

    I think people are missing one major factor in the whole "book selling" model: movies.

    how many authors/publishers have had proprietary works turned into major motion pictures since the advent of film? Even barring the recent trend of comic book adaptations and Shakespearean classics, the number is incredibly high.

    Atonement, the Girl with the Pearl Earring, Golden Compass, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, HARRY POTTER etc. etc. etc.

    And these movies make their authors MILLIONS of dollars. And then there is the ancillary products: toys, games, lunchboxes, etc., ALL of which CANNOT be pirated even.

    The expansion of eBook offerings, like the expansion of free movie content, ensures that those individuals who are valued by the public most are given the largest audience, thereby ensuring they will be tapped over the mediocre offerings of hack writers for further endorsement and film production. We are seeing this now on YouTube, where actors and comedians who would have passed into obscurity in the real world are found by talent seekers for the value of their content. eBooks do the exact same thing for printed media.
    As an added bonus, the quality of our movie scripts should increase as better and more unique writing is encouraged as opposed to formulaic horror and action by big names (I'm talking to you, Mr. Lamp-monster Steven King and Tom Clancy).

    If you will insist that this only favors a minority of authors, all you are saying is that "Only those authors whose story is entertaining enough to the public will receive such endorsements." Ergo - The MARKET will chose which authors it wants to reward with wealth for their production. Which is how the whole system is supposed to work anyhow, isn't it?

    How's that for a business model?

     

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  5.  
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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:04am

    Bunch of punks

    who do not want to pay author for a good book

    Shame on you, young idiots

    Your parents have clearly missed to educate you about some basic values in life

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:06am

    Re: Bunch of punks

    "Shame on you, young idiots"

    . . . and get off my lawn!

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:09am

    Re: Bunch of punks

    I'm fine paying for a good book. What I don't want to do is pay for a BAD book and only learn after the fact.

     

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  8.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:13am

    I'm not sure why I'm responding to someone who is simply trying to be incendiary, but your ad hominem attack is really inappropriate.

    No one is talking about stealing from authors. what we are discussing are market mechanics and how it would be possible to view the essentially infinite good (information - writing - text itself) as a vehicle to sell the scarce good (books - movies - IDEAS - author who GENERATES PROFITABLE IDEAS)

    By all means, I pay for books - my wife keeps on threatening to throw them out because we have too many for our 1 bedroom apartment.
    The key is, as you said, to "pay the author of a GOOD book" - not all books are good, and not all authors deserve payment. Big ticket authors will sell regardless, and still have million dollar contracts. It's the small guys who DESERVE to be heard that the eBook system will help - enabling publishers to gauge who is truly worthy by determining which authors are the most downloaded.

    These authors of GOOD books WILL be paid whether we buy their books or not, while the creators of poor and mediocre content will have to improve or drop out of the market.

     

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  9.  
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    HFC, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:21am

    TV

    TV has been free to viewers for as long as it's been around. Actors, writers, directors, producers, etc still get paid.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:21am

    Re:

    "No one is talking about stealing from authors"

    I dont dissagree that the point here is not about "Stealing" anything but more about discussing newer shifts in the market and how new models can better exploit them. However, I still have troubling reconciling the idea that some compensation is "morally" due for every exchange of ideas (which is esentiall what a book is). I simply do not buy the idea that art without compensation would be created. There might be alot of complicated hinderences that could also be thrown into the mix, but I have no doubt that many artists will and do create often without any though (or even hope) of monitary gain. I simply have troubling reconciling the modern ideal that monitary compensation is the only way to value anything.

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:29am

    art without compensation

    here's an example of art without compensation:
    grafitti (i mean that in a good way)
    performance artist often do it for nothing
    and sites like flickr, YouTube, and DeviantArt are awash with incredible and unique creations.

    Money isn't the incentive for those who produce truly excellent art. Art is.

     

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  12.  
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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:43am

    Re: TV

    Where do you live, punky ?

    Do you still have antenna on the roof and watch your free Sunday night movie once a week ?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:45am

    Re: Bunch of punks

    You know, I agree with Angry Dude.

    Was talking to my dad yesterday about a few things, including my little sis who is graduating soon. We decided that GenX (even me) has a pride issue. They went to school and had all this book smarts but out of college, didn't want to learn domain knowledge. They saw anyone who was "old" as a threat, and found ways to render the positions ineffective, some even pushed off-shoring the jobs.

    Now GenY is coming along, getting out of college and seeing how GenX messed a lot of things up by selling out the workforce.

    Funny.

     

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  14.  
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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:48am

    infinite goodies, scarce goodies..

    Blag, Blah, Blah

    Mikey is on his favorite topic

    Give away your creations for free and start selling T-shirts, LOOOOOTS of T-shirts to make up for the losses

    Hillarious

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:51am

    Free

    What is the difference between an eBook and the library?

     

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  16.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:54am

    angry dude

    Mike isn't saying that someone MUST do so. he is simply pointing out the ramifications of NOT doing it.
    The library didn't kill the consumer market for books. eBooks won't either, even if they are free.

    Ultimately, Mike is saying that whether or not you choose to recognize it, you content will get out there digitally, and youu can either shriek and complain and try to sue hundreds of people at subtantial cost to yourself, or you can try to find an effective method of leveraging that popularity into profit.
    When people pirate your work, it is because they see it as worthwhile, as having value. find a way to use that, not run from it.
    You don't have to.
    But don't get upset then when your lack of understanding of the market and poor acumen means you don't get that bundle of money you were wishing for.

     

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  17.  
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    Evil Mike, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    Re: infinite goodies, scarce goodies..

    Back for another lesson in debate and economics?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    Re: Bunch of punks

    Earlier this year, celebrated author Neil Gaiman made his book, American Gods, free for download in e-book reader format, PDF and I believe a .doc as well.

    The month after, his publisher saw a gain of 12% in the purchase of the "free" novel.

    So many people liked it they wanted a hard copy.

     

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  19.  
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    CVPunk, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:31am

    Re: Bunch of punks

    "Your parents have clearly missed to educate you about some basic values in life"

    By reading your posts, it appears that the your parents (and possibly the school system) have failed to do the same thing for you.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:38am

    Re: angry dude

    No, Mike is saying that if you don't do this then you are an ignorant uneducated fool. He is so conceited. Gosh, there is probably only one person more conceited than Mike. He is running for president after not even completing one term as a senator.

     

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  21.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:48am

    to angry and anon.

    can we please try to keep threads free of ad hominem attacks? really.
    If you think that Miike is wrong, prove it. otherwise, don't just attack him. He's done plenty of research to form an educated opinion. You don't have to read it, you don't have to agree with it.

    Also, bringing politics into the thread to derail it? not exactly an appropriate move. Please treat this thread, this debate, and the people involved in it with respect, sirs.

     

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  22.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re: angry dude

    It's not conceit to call someone an idiot for missing
    the blatantly obvious. Some of the people whining most
    loudly about the piracy that happens to their work are
    wildly successful despite of it and/or built their
    success on it originally (this means you Lars).

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Bunch of punks

    How is observing that GenX botched things agreeing with angry dude?

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: infinite goodies, scarce goodies..

    It'd only be a lesson if he ever listened. He's here to enable us to educate everyone else.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Re: Free

    You need to give books back to the library...?

     

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  26.  
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    Tony, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:01am

    Re: Bookselling movies?

    "And these movies make their authors MILLIONS of dollars."

    To be fair - The Lord of the Rings movies didn't make any money for Tolkien.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    What!? You're kidding me. Someone should let him know. A guy's got to eat, after all.

     

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  28.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:04am

    Re: Re: Free

    true, but what will stop you from copying a book you borrowed from the library or scanning it on to the computer? the content is made available to the public freely. The point is that if we complain that the exchange of information needs to be charged or else no information will be generated, then the rejoinder becomes that libraries didn't destroy the market for books by making them free - they encouraged the market. yes, you have to return the book, but now most libraries will let you renew your checkout online anyhow, enabling you to keep it for quite some time.

    want to read it again? check it out again.
    want to read an ebook? boot up your computer.
    the same modicum of inconvenience exists, just in a modified form.

     

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  29.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    true, not to him directly, but to the holders of rights to that intellectual property, which is what we are really arguing anyhow - that the ones who OWN the rights to the book should make MONEY on their INVESTMENT.

     

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  30.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: angry dude

    So helping people to find a working business model is conceit and impropriety?
    He is telling people that instead of fighting the tide of change and culture, ride it out - don't push against the wind, go sailing.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:15am

    Re: Bookselling movies?

    So, if you want to make a living as an artist, get a rich benefactor or hope your work translates well to the screen. Hmmm.

     

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  32.  
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    mobiGeek, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    Nor did Narnia make much for C. S. Lewis, though it may have for his estate...

     

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  33.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: TV

    Despite your random trolling here (why do you keep commenting, or even looking at this site if you're only ever going to disagree with no intelligent counterpoint?), you've actually raised two of the points that Mike does keep raising.

    Standard TV is free. Everybody has a number of channels that they can access with no direct payment to the providers of those channels. Yet, content is still produced and people are paid because the business model that traditional TV is based on does not depends on getting revenue directly from viewers. That's point one that usually gets raised here - change the business model to profit from the available revenue streams rather than trying to force the market to stick to the old ones.

    Then, your childish attempt at insulting HFC raises the other point made here. Your comment basically boils down to "ha ha you don't have cable!". Well, why should he pay for cable when TV's free to watch? The answer's obvious - less commercial breaks, more choice, less censorship. In other words, cable offers finite goods that make the service attractive despite the fact that free TV - an infinite good - is available.

    This is the exact thing that Mike keeps raising, yet you keep trolling here to try and shoot down the suggestions. For a change, why don't you try refuting what he says with an explanation of why you think it's wrong rather than randomly hurling insults and allegations? That way, you won't inadvertently support the points he's trying to make.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    No one currently involved with Tolkien's copyrights had any investment in his works.

     

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  35.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    no, if you want to make a living as an artist, make work that's good enough to generate a public interest.

    or just not care about making a living - care about the art.

     

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  36.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    so? don't nitpick - adress the actual argument - that artists who the public have chosen to value are inevitably rewarded regardless - any guess as to how many times the Harry Potter series has been pirated digitally (not by me) and yet the woman who was once living in a trailer is now worth MILLIONS based on the merit and appeal of her works.

    THAT is how the market works.

     

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  37.  
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    mobiGeek, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    First, she is worth BILLIONS. Second, that is how the market works; even though people can get her works from free, the market has directly rewarded her.

    Question: if there was no government-enforced monopoly on her works, would she be suffering in poverty today?

    This isn't a nitpick at all. The question is whether the market RESTRICTION enforced by government in the name of PROGRESS is in fact achieving its goal by continuing to reward people/companies who had nothing to do with the effort of the original works and are no longer contributing to PROGRESS?

     

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  38.  
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    mobiGeek, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    Or find a model where the artist gets paid to create the work...the same as 98% of the working world.

     

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  39.  
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    mobiGeek, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Bunch of punks

    How is your unsubstantiated rant any different than in previous generations?

    Has the world CHANGED between the generations? Yes, certainly. But that change brought in both goods as bads. Anyone claiming that we're "worse off today" has an AWFUL LOT of work ahead of them to prove that claim.

     

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  40.  
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    Jim A, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    Paid does not mean "content creator"

    Typically the content creator is paid very little for the content. The majority of the money has, traditionally, gone to the distributors, marketers, and content controllers. For example in the music business the artist gets 5-15% of the iTunes revenue (www.futureofmusic.org/itunes2.cfm) and Apple gets 35%.

    Some the digital artists this means a huge potential upside if they can discard the middle men and go directly to the consumer.

     

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  41.  
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    mobiGeek, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:41am

    Re: Bunch of punks

    Why is an author doing work without getting paid?

    Why is the author who wrote the article linked to wrong by giving his works out to the public at no cost? (Note: he isn't living off food stamps).

     

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  42.  
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    mobiGeek, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Re: infinite goodies, scarce goodies..

    Read the article, dude. The author who wrote it is wondering why people get upset (and confused as you seem to be) about him giving away his own work to others at not cost...yet he's already been paid.

    Still confused?

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: TV

    Someone IP ban him already? He doesn't even provide an opposing viewpoint well enough to be read. Its like spam.

     

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  44.  
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    A nony mouse, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:15am

    Two edged sword

    A flaw in this approach, IMHO, is that the patrons of the artist become the real customers, not the 'final recipient' of the infinite good. As with advertising-supported media, the final recipients become the "eyeballs" that are delivered to the patron in exchange for payment. The patron controls the good and calls the shots. My experience suggests this is a formula for mediocrity and homogenized, least-common-denominator art. Yes, the "eyeballs" play a marginal role in that the artist must create art that they actually want to see, but the agenda is still that of the patron.

    I would prefer exploration of approaches that more directly link the producer and recipient of a good so that a more reciprocally beneficial exchange can take place. I guess the "read the free ebook, buy the scarce T-shirt or hardcopy" approach fits this pattern, but in a roundabout way. Direct payment for the actual good produced, whether infinite or not, seems to be the most straight forward way to connect the two ends of the transaction.

    So, while this model is appealing as a way to secure payment for producing works of interest, I hope it does not become the predominant method. More appealing to me, although not without its problems, is the "donation" model used by NPR or PBS. NPR is probably a better example, because my experience has been with local affiliates that produce quality local programming. The latter is the scarce good that is worth paying for, I suppose. Local shows that nobody wants to listen to go away, while the good shows persist or move to a less popular time slot. It's not perfect, but when it works the results are quite nice.

     

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  45.  
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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Re: TV

    or yeah, now you want to censor techdirt comments..

    wonderful idea

    but we (still) have a freedom of speech in this country, don't we, punky ?

     

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  46.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    can you do something besides troll?
    I mean, really, give us at least SOME substance, rather then just goading people for the heck of it.

     

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  47.  
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    SomeGuy, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re: TV

    Once again, I stand against this. He's generally irritating, and a nusance, and rarely adds anything to the conversation aside from wildly-slung insults. But the fact of the matter is that he's ALLOWED to voice his opinion here, no matter how near-sighted or wrong-headed. The fact that his comments AREN'T removed shows that this is really a free and open forum. We aren't sensoring anyone, even that guy, and I think that's a good thing.

    Every once in a while, he spurs someone to making a well-thought argument against his mostly-baseless position, and that's good. If nothing else, he makes most of the rest of us look really well-reasoned and civilized. If he bothers you, just ignore his posts. No one's making you read them.

     

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  48.  
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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    Sure I can dude

    right now I am hacking some Perl code
    but it gets boring after a while...

     

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  49.  
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    angrier dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:33am

    Keep taking the free beer from mikey-- the guy in the dark corner of the bar.

    He doesn't want anything, he's just being nice!

     

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  50.  
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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    Thank you, thank you for your kindness

    The one thing that you forgot to mention is that unlike the rest of you I actually know what I am talking about when issues like patents or IP in general get discussed
    Have a nice day

     

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  51.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:38am

    Re: Two edged sword

    yes, the agenda is that of the patron, but what is the patrons agenda?
    a sensible one will prioritize giving the public WHAT THEY WANT. that is how the market runs [at least naturally]. I'm pretty sure that advertising-supported media is the majority of online content. Google, Yahoo, YouTube, etc. don't generate income from nowhere. are these mediocre services?

    the internet cuts down on lag time and cost of information and access to create a situation much closer to the idealized ceterus-paribus. technology makes the medium of all economic exchange (read: not just money) more efficient, equal, and effectual.

    "Direct payment for the actual good produced, whether infinite or not, seems to be the most straight forward way to connect the two ends of the transaction." - that's the point - a new business model needs to deal with the fact that the good in question is no longer the book, or music, or movie, but it's ancillary worth which displays itself in a number of ways - memes, tees, products, and ultimately OTHER EXPRESSIONS OF MEDIA. you can no longer limit ideas to a single expression of media - turning it into a tshirt isn't "roundabout" - its the reality of change.

    the written word and printing press "overthrew" public lectures, photography "bested" painting, and the digital realm "trumped" physical performance of music.
    just find another way to express it.

    smell-o-vision? anyone?

     

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  52.  
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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    another baseless comment. cute.
    again, please bring some substance, kind sir.
    or howsabout a name?

     

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  53.  
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    SomeGuy, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. angry dude could tell you his name is John Smith, and maybe it is, but that wouldn't change anything about his argument, or lack thereof.

    And angry dude: I missed that you claim to know what you're talking about. I don't believe that's been proven, and I wouldn't be two cows that it is true. But I STILL think you should be allowed to say your part. Despite, and in fact particularly because of, the fact that I disagree with you almost entirely.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:34am

    I smell shenanigans!

    Mike must know something. I just wish he'd let us in on the joke. I'm on to you!

     

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  55.  
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    Rob, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:36am

    Do you consider the creativity of one human to be infinite or scarce?

    Perhaps I've missed it but I've asked this question here and seen others ask it (in one form or another) but I've never seen a full answer. (And I'm not saying I disagree with these ideas but still this one question keeps me from embracing the concepts fully.)

    That question is: "Do you consider the creativity of one human to be infinite or scarce?"

    1. The time for one human (in one life) is not infinite. Can we agree on that?
    2. So the amount I can create in my life is finite. Can we agree on that?
    3. Let's say I create something and it takes me a year. Let's further suppose that it is something easy to reproduce using a computer. And it turns out many people desire to own it or have access to it on their computer.

    You're saying that, because this thing I created can be easily reproduced, it has no intrinsic value. The only value is the value placed upon it by the 'market' and, since it is not scarce, its value is low.

    Is that what you're saying?

    Further are you saying that it is futile for society to try to preserve or enforce any kind of intrinsic value through the law?

    SUMMARY
    So to summarize what I think your saying is that in reality the creativity of any one human has no intrinsic value. If a person wishes to profit from his/her creativity they must do it in some way that makes something about the fruits of their creativity scarce. They must create something that is not easily reproducible or they must "sell" some other thing rather than the fruit of their creativity.

    Is that a fair summary?

    By the way, when I say, "creativity of any one human has no intrinsic value", I don't mean to put any particular moral connotation on this.

    Peace,

    Rob:-]

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    " . . . right now I am hacking some Perl code"

    well at least now I understand all the anger . . . hehe

     

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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    Well, dude

    what can I do ?

    Just try to create something new AND make money on your creation in todays world
    Then come back to talk about your experiences
    Those won't be pretty, I can assure you

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Re: Do you consider the creativity of one human to be infinite or scarce?

    explanation of your question: "Do you consider the creativity of one human to be infinite or scarce?" The creativity of the individual is scarce, as well as that individuals time/attention/etc. the EXPRESSION in a DIGITAL MEDIA of that creativity is not scarce at all. The PROPOGATION of that expression as an infinite good drives UP the value of other forms of expression of the scarce good, such as the hard copy, the artists signature, ancillary products associated with the good, etc. What has worth is the limited process of creation and creativity, not the unlimited and reproducible content. SO TO SUMMARIZE: "The creativity of any one human" is the ONLY thing that has intrinsic value. the rest is just associative value based on the markets desire for the goods and services derived from this creativity. By expressing the creativity in a way that is not indefinitely reproducible, the artist makes profit. "they must do it in some way that makes something about the fruits of their creativity scarce." sort of - they must actively pick the fruit which is intrinsically scarce, rather than trying to prevent people from gazing at the tree (pardon the conceit). Overall, it's a decent summary though, just needs a bit of tweaking.

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:54am

    side note

    by the by, I think I like the term 'indefinitely reproducible' more than 'infinitely reproducible,' as it more accurately captures the essence of the issue - a good that can continue to be produced indefinitely at minimal marginal cost, not that there is intrinsically an infinite supply of the good.
    the data that forms the physical basis of any "art" can be propogated indefinitely with no overall loss, but is not infinite by any means.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    Give it up, you can't out-troll angry dude.

     

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    SomeGuy, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    Fair enough. It's nothing (particularly) personal, I just try to maintain a high-level of skepticism on the Internet. I'm sure you understand.

    As far as me personaly... I have a job I generally like which pays me enough to have some free time. Some of that free time is spent creating things and for the most part I'm not concerned with making money from them: I create simply because I create, and I do other things to put food on the table. I don't think there's anything WRONG with professional artists (I give them my money whenever I feel they've earned it), but I also don't buy the line that all creation would stop even if no one could make money from it. In the end, we'll probably always be somewhere in the middle.

     

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    SomeGuy, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Do you consider the creativity of one human to be infinite or scarce?

    First, you're confusing price and value. We were just talking about that. Go back and check it out, there's some good stuff there.

    Secondly, I would argue that an individual's creativity it probably infinite, though it'd be an interesting exercise to argue the point. You rightly point out, though, that time is finite, both how long it takes you to create a thing and how much total time you have to use before you expire. And THAT is one of the VERY key scarcities that we've said you can charge for. There seems to be a moral reluctance to have artists paid for their time, and I'm not really sure why. The thing is, if you get paid for your time, it doesn't MATTER that you can't (or don't) charge for copies of your now-infinite creation -- you've already been paid.

    The summary should be: you charge for scarities and you leverage the infinite as self-promotion. It just makes good business sense, and if you don't do it your competition will and you'll lose.

     

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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    Forgot to mention, I'm actually a programmer who's been castrated; which is why I hate the world.

    Fuck you all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    Obviously not angry dude: the style's different and he didn't call anyone a punk, dude, or idiot.

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    well, you can't now...

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    That's a separate argument altogether.
    Is there really a right to IP after the originator passes away? does the estate of CS Lewis or JRR Tolkein really have a moral right to the intellectual property forming the basis of derivative works?
    Dunno. Moral right is a suspiciously religious thing. I try to avoid arguing its non-existant absolutes.

    Should the heirs of Thomas Edison have a right to his highly beneficial (if legally suspect) series of hundreds of patents? {thousands?}
    Where do we begin to draw the line between purely intellectual property and implementable patents?

     

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    mobiGeek, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    I'm not talking about "moral rights", but legal ones. The ones established by the government for a specific purpose.

    The question I asked is whether these laws are serving their purpose or are they bastardized/abused so as to invoke the exact opposite effect?

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    How they are being implemented in fact? I don't know. Since most attention is given to when they are abused and misused, one would be given the impression that it doesn't "work" or "fulfill its intended purpose." But in reality, it's hard to display the sucess on the other hand. so I don't rightly know.

    I would say both though.
    By forcing derivatives to pay royalties, it does make sure that the actual investment of production will be geared towards goods that the market supposedly WANTS and which are FACTUALLY profitable (not just the CD's they want to sell and can't, but goods and a model that actual DO serve the market)

    I also want to bring up a point that I haven't yet heard - it may be a bit of innovation (***IP patent pending***): By providing legal pressure and restricting the flow of derivative goods from a central idea, the "hydraulic pressure" of creativity is forced to find a new outlet.

    Basically, if everyone could pirate the same source material without repercussions for ther derivative, then there would be little incentive to stepping outside of more traditional model. By using copyright to "staunch the flow of creativity," they are inadvertently and invariably causing it to spring up somewhere else.

    And the market will follow the goods and innovation it values most.

     

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    Nasch, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    Re: side note

    I think "arbitrary" is a better word because "indefinite" implies only a time scale. What's being communicated is that not only can the good be reproduced over any period of time, but also that any number of copies can be made. Strictly speaking, you can't make an infinite number of copies of a work - you'd never finish because the copying process takes more than zero time. But pick any number that's less than infinity (IOW an arbitrary finite number), and you could make that many copies. Therefore, arbitrarily reproducible.

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: side note

    I was thinking more along the lines of linear propogation - the book itself can be arbitrarily reproduced by a publishing company, but the text can be indefinitely propogated over the internet by any stream of people who have a copy. that is the crucial point of the "infinite good" - that supply is structured in such a way as to be unlimited in comparison to demand.

    you can't say there is an arbitrary amount of sunlight, but there is an indefinite amount (as of right now - until we are consumed by the evil solar panel monarchy)
    You could call a could arbitrarily reproducible, but that is a trait that is basically true of any good - the market just mediates at what point an arbitrary could will reach equilibrium.
    'indefinite' is a useful term because of its transcendence and the concept of progression, which are the essential concepts distinguishing IP in the digital age.

     

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    angry dude, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    "Is there really a right to IP after the originator passes away?"

    Sure, there is legal as well as moral right of your family members to own your IP if you pass away, just like any other property

    Otherwise we would have a lot of prematurely dead IP creators...

    In fact, being granted an important patent or having written a widely succesful novel would be equivalent to receiving a death sentence
    This is the world we live in, dude
    Gotta love it

     

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    DanC, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    Sure, there is legal as well as moral right of your family members to own your IP if you pass away, just like any other property

    Can't argue that there's a legal right, but the "moral right" to inherit IP is highly questionable. How does passing copyright onto the descendants promote the progress? The original creator can hardly be encouraged to create more works after they've passed on.

    And as has been pointed out to you frequently, IP is hardly similar to "any other property." It's treated differently for a reason.

     

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    DanC, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TV

    The one thing that you forgot to mention is that unlike the rest of you I actually know what I am talking about when issues like patents or IP in general get discussed

    And yet you never provide any reasoning or evidence for your arguments, and resort to pathetic ad hominem attacks, lies, or russian insults when questioned on it. All we ever get from you is "trust me, I know how the world really works."

    You've made it abundantly clear that you in fact have a fairly limited grasp of intellectual property concepts.

     

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    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Do you consider the creativity of one human to be infinite or scarce?

    The ability to created is definitely a scarcity. It takes time and talent to create works.

    What's infinite is the content once it's been created. If it can be represented digitally and the marginal cost of reproduction is next to nothing, then it's an abundant good.

    Content creation is definitely a scarcity though. One of the business models often discussed here is based on that precisely. If you have the ability to create content that people value and want more of, it makes more sense to leverage the abundance of the content you've already created (i.e. let people share the digital files, share them yourself) in order to promote your ability to create content, to raise interest and even raise money for the creation of new content.

    Some musicians have taken advantage of this business model already, like Jill Sobule, Maria Schneider and the band Marillion.

    They must create something that is not easily reproducible or they must "sell" some other thing rather than the fruit of their creativity.

    No, not at all. I mean, it's definitely a good idea to recognize the scarcities in the "other things" surrounding your creativity, but the the ability to create content in the first place is one of the most important (if not the most important) scarcities to recognize. You can (and should) sell that too.



    You're saying that, because this thing I created can be easily reproduced, it has no intrinsic value. The only value is the value placed upon it by the 'market' and, since it is not scarce, its value is low.

    Also, don't confuse value and price. Value is only one of the factors that determines price and the two don't have to correlate (value oxygen?). The price of digital goods is low because the marginal cost of reproduction is low. Value is something different.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 4:35pm

    I'm not even sure angry dude's a person... I think a bunch of blog-troll-comments got together and somehow became self-aware. That's the only reason I can think of that he'd repeatedly do exactly what we tell him he does without changing tack or actually (heaven forbid) providing evidnce.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: TV

    OK, but most people who watch TV are paying for the service, and antennas will soon stop working anyway. I agree his tone was uncalled for, but the point is, what we usually think of when we say TV simply isn't free.

    The better analogy, and one worked to death around here, is radio: the closest thing to free (for the consumer) that we have right now, I think.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re: Two edged sword

    the written word and printing press "overthrew" public lectures, photography "bested" painting, and the digital realm "trumped" physical performance of music.

    Not at all. In popularity? Perhaps. But what has that ever had to do with "art"?

    a new business model needs to deal with the fact that the good in question is no longer the book, or music, or movie, but it's ancillary worth which displays itself in a number of ways

    The value of a book is in its content, not the typeface or the book jacket ... and so, not the t-shirt with the author's face printed on it. I have to have to have to reject any arguments to the contrary as shallow and foolish.

    I get that some people argue that one way to generate income from content is to sell related, ancillary, "scarce" goods, but that doesn't mean that the true value no longer lies in the original content. The value hasn't somehow been shifted to the ancillary, it's what drives the ancillary.

    This may sound like nit-picking, but I think it's a vitally important point to preserve if there's to be any hope of getting the two sides to listen to one another.

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 6:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Two edged sword

    Not at all. In popularity? Perhaps. But what has that ever had to do with "art"?
    thank you. that was my point.
    The value of a book is in its content, not the typeface or the book jacket ... and so, not the t-shirt with the author's face printed on it. I have to have to have to reject any arguments to the contrary as shallow and foolish.
    I didn't say VALUE, i said GOOD. The intrinsic value belongs to the creative process, as I said earlier. Freeing the content of the creative process allows its expressions to become more valuable - a book by a popular author is [generally] more collectible and has more 'value' than an unknown one.

    I get that some people argue that one way to generate income from content is to sell related, ancillary, "scarce" goods, but that doesn't mean that the true value no longer lies in the original content. The value hasn't somehow been shifted to the ancillary, it's what drives the ancillary.
    Again, this is EXACTLY what I said earlier in the post you seem to be criticizing.
    Read:SO TO SUMMARIZE: "The creativity of any one human" is the ONLY thing that has intrinsic value.

    The remaining value is derived from the public/market response to the creative work of the individual.

    This may sound like nit-picking, but I think it's a vitally important point to preserve if there's to be any hope of getting the two sides to listen to one another.
    I concur. Please read what I have to say BEFORE jumping on to a uncontexted sentence.

    Regardless, I like what you have to say, and I thank you for forcing me to condense and clarify the essential points of my ideas.

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:04pm

    webcomics

    this is brilliant:
    http://www.goblinscomic.com/tf85.html
    This is a webcomic I stumbled upon and have read off and on (more off):
    The artist has figured a means of generating income for free content: the fate of the character in a particular series of comics is dependent upon public donations: if the viewers donate enough money to the author to enable him to continue producing the comic (an openly predetermined amount of money) by a set date, then the character survives that particular challenge. Otherwise, he is killed by the devious traps endangering him.

    Additionally, the creators encourage participation through adding riddles and puzzles the readers have to solve to progress the story. It's a brilliant means of enabling the creator of cree content to profit by appealing to the public's sense of value as an influence upon the work directly.

     

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    A nony mouse, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:56pm

    Re: webcomics

    Indeed. I like the idea. This is a better variant of what I was trying to express about public radio (NPR). Allow the interested patron (used here to designate what we normally call "consumer" rather than the typical usage) to support continued creation of the work of interest via direct donation. This particular example is wonderful in that it invites the reader to take a direct interest in the story rather than passively donating to get "more of that radio program I like". The time frame is a bit daunting because it doesn't give latecomers or those who discovered the story after the deadline much of a chance to cause the story to continue. But that's not such a big deal because the author might be enticed to continue if there is enough interest. I'm not sure this model works for anything other than a limited subset of creative works, though. This kind of gimmick could get boring fairly quickly. But there's a lot of wiggle room with this approach. The solicitation for donations could be for another complete work in a series, for example, rather than continuation of an ongoing plot.

     

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    Mike (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Do you consider the creativity of one human to be infinite or scarce?

    Blaise did an awesome job explaining this in his response below, but I'll take a stab (knowing that I'm repeating some of Blaise's explanation):

    That question is: "Do you consider the creativity of one human to be infinite or scarce?"

    There are a few questions implicit in that: the ability of a single person to create is a scarcity. But their creations, once made, are often infinite.

    1. The time for one human (in one life) is not infinite. Can we agree on that?

    Yes, indeed.

    2. So the amount I can create in my life is finite. Can we agree on that?

    Yes, indeed.

    3. Let's say I create something and it takes me a year. Let's further suppose that it is something easy to reproduce using a computer. And it turns out many people desire to own it or have access to it on their computer.

    That's not a question. :)

    You're saying that, because this thing I created can be easily reproduced, it has no intrinsic value.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Not at all. It may have plenty of value, but value and price are two different things. DO NOT assume that a price of zero means a value of zero.

    The only value is the value placed upon it by the 'market' and, since it is not scarce, its value is low.

    No, again you are confusing price and value. Value is how the buyer determines if the price is worth it. Having a price of zero absolutely does not mean that it has a value of zero. You value plenty of things you get for free I imagine.

    So to summarize what I think your saying is that in reality the creativity of any one human has no intrinsic value. If a person wishes to profit from his/her creativity they must do it in some way that makes something about the fruits of their creativity scarce. They must create something that is not easily reproducible or they must "sell" some other thing rather than the fruit of their creativity.

    Again, not at all. I believe it often has tremendous value, but part of that value is in INCREASING the value of scarce goods -- over which the price will be greater than zero.

    And, no, they shouldn't do something to make the fruit of their labors scarce, they just need to recognize what is NATURALLY scarce, and which of those NATURALLY scarce things are made more valuable by the infinite output of their content.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2008 @ 5:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    By "staunching the flow" they are forcing everyone to reinvent the wheel. Imagine what the world would be like if no two car manufacturers could use the same hinge-based door design. Imagine if one had wheels, one had treads, and one had a million tiny legs. It's just dumb.

     

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    SomeGuy, Aug 27th, 2008 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    I hate to agree with angry dude, but... Royalties aren't meant to encourage the creation of MORE works. They're there to encourage the creation of the work they're attached to. "Give us a novel/song/invention, and we'll pay you for the next (life+75) years." The idea is that creators are creating because they know they'll get a steady stream of income from it. And at the very least, and decent human being wants to ;provide for their family after they die -- so, yes, passing that cashflow onto your progeny after you die is part of the incentive.

    Now, I would argue that it's wrong-headed thinking that leads us to believe that no content would be created without perpetual royalties, or that the HARM that such royalties do does not outweigh the good they bring, but...

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 27th, 2008 @ 6:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    I was referring to IP, not copyright - by staunching the flow of creative ART flowing from a particular formula, you encourage it to pop up elsewhere.
    Imagine if one had wheels, one had treads, and one had a million tiny legs. It's just dumb.
    not at all: is that not encouraging innovation in the market place? are you saying that the present hinge design for the car door is the ONLY ONE that could possibly work or make sense?

    but again, I was referring to the creation of ART (the text of the novel), not the creation of GOODS (the physical book).

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 27th, 2008 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    AGAIN
    See:
    YouTube, DeviantArt, Gutenberg Press, BLOGS
    Movies/music, art/drawing, all forms of literary expression

    The idea is that creators are creating because they know they'll get a steady stream of income from it.
    The majority of people posting on these open public formats aren't looking or expecting to make ANY sort of income; they want to express themselves and would like public recognition - an opening to an audience or critiques for improvement. PROFIT IS NOT THE EXCLUSIVE REASON FOR CREATING ART.

    Nor should it be - the market will automatically reward that which it values through the process of ecouraging GOOD ART to be produced.

    The majority of art created nowadays is done without direct monetary incentive.

     

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    SomeGuy, Aug 27th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    Well, if we're taslking about content rather than products (and I believe that is the realm of copyright, which is itself a form of IP aklong with patents) I would be inclined to argue that keeping someone from expressing their ideas in the way they would choose simply discourages that idea from every being expressed. People are not infinitely creative, and a really good idea is worth nothing if the only expression it's originator can find is disallowed by IP law.

     

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    Isaac K (profile), Aug 27th, 2008 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bookselling movies?

    we aren't preventing the expression, just the commercialization without proper dues (again, most art isn't created for commercial purposes; see above)

    There is leeway in copyright to express ideas that are SIMILAR, one just cannot rip-off obviously from pre-existing content. if a person is discouraged enough that it prevents his parroting of of a creative source, eh. no real loss there.
    People are not infinitely creative, and a really good idea is worth nothing if the only expression it's originator can find is disallowed by IP law.
    If it is disallowed by (properly applied) IP law, and there is NO OTHER POSSIBLE EXPRESSION of the idea than to copycat someone elses, then it clearly isn't creative to begin with. Find enough of a difference to make it a unique work.

    That's the point. Copyright isn't about enabling the commercialization of art, it's about enabling and encouraging the blossoming of GOOD art, not just a recreation of someone elses.

     

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    Carolyn Jewel, Aug 28th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    Um, I think some of you are missing the point

    Scalzi did not say that he gives away ALL his writing. In fact, he says he makes sure that he gets paid for his writing. Not by selling T-shirts or signing movie deals. He finds publishers who pay him for his writing.

    He's not arguing for free books all the time. He's saying there's a place for limited free content. And I'd venture to say most writers agree with that statement. Most of the writers I know understand that quite well.

    As to claims about lots of books getting made into movies: Isaac K has it exactly backward. It is extremely rare for a book to be made into a movie. Extremely. But it's not so uncommon for a movie to be based on a book. Far more books are published than movies made. And even having a film made doesn't guarantee the author comes out ahead. You don't have to look much further than Tony Hillerman for that.

    Anyone who believes that authors could actually make a living selling not their writing but stuff related to their writing simply doesn't understand how the business works. You can't compare music to books. They're not the same. The consumer experience isn't the same. No one downloads, say, an ebook, reads it and rushes out to buy a t-shirt or a CD to commemorate and relive the experience. A reader who wants to relive the experience rereads the book.

     

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  89.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2008 @ 5:40am

    Re: Um, I think some of you are missing the point

    A reader who wants to relive the experience rereads the book.

    And a book is a scarce good the the author can sell. The same way a musician can sell a CD, if they make it worth buying. (Many more people already think a book is worth buying, as opposed to people who think CDs are worth buying, so authors have a leg up there.) Authors also have an advantage in that books signed by the author are already considered to be valuable -- not generally so for musicians, though I think that's changing.

    The point is, the content can be freely available and you'll still be able to sell the physical goods associated with it -- in this case books. Several authors have already noted that having a free ebook available increased sales of actual books that had the same content.

     

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

  90.  
    identicon
    georgesdelatour, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 1:05am

    With TV the product being manufactured and sold is not the TV show. It's you - the audience. TV companies sell you and your eyeballs to advertisers.

    Musicians used to sell their music to their audience. But now the audience can get the music without paying, the musicians must sell their listeners' ears to third parties. Commercial radio always did this, of course.

    Now there will be a stronger incentive for musicians to write songs that attract the audience the advertisers want to sell to. An audience with a high disposable income. I wonder how that will change music, for better or worse...

     

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


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