Prolific And Influential Swedish Author Throws Support Behind The Pirate Party

from the it's-all-about-freedom-of-expression dept

TorrentFreak points us to the news that one of Sweden's most influential and prolific authors has written an editorial where he throws his support behind The Pirate Party and explains why. He talks about the advance of technology and how silly it is to try and stop it, and then discusses the damages done by excessive intellectual property. He discusses how copyright often gets in the way of the creative class in getting their works out there and consumed, and when that happens the interests of spreading ideas should outweigh any protective interests. And this is coming from someone who is considered one of Sweden's most prolific writers. The idea that things like The Pirate Bay needs to be stopped or there won't be incentives to create are pretty much disproved right here.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

    Amazing...

    that an opinion piece constitutes "proof."

     

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  2.  
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    Some Other Guy, May 28th, 2009 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Amazing...

    Where in the article was 'proof' mentioned?

    Proof of what?

     

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  3.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Amazing...

    that an opinion piece constitutes "proof."

    The claim is that the Pirate Bay provides a disincentive to create. Yet, some of the most well known and prolific authors are saying the opposite is true. That shows that it's not The Pirate Bay that's the disincentive, it's just bad business models.

     

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  4.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Amazing...

    "The idea that things like The Pirate Bay needs to be stopped or there won't be incentives to create are pretty much disproved right here."

    Er...there. On the other hand, I would argue that the opinion about one of the most prolific CREATORS that Copyright nazis are always hiding behind being in direct conflict WOULD constitute proof that ther WOULDN'T be a dissapearance of creativity.

     

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  5.  
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    Designerfx (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Amazing...

    considering the amount of people who have quoted opinion pieces as fact such as the RIAA what do you expect? The difference is that the opinion this time is coming from the authors directly, the very people that media constantly says are being hurt the most by piracy.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    Why the big secret?

    Is there any reason that this 'famous and influential' author remains anonymous in the summary? Or should we just be able to imbide his presense through the 'tubes'!

     

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  7.  
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    Matt Tate (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Why the big secret?

    If you clicked through to the original article instead of bitching about the absence of a name here, you'd see that the "anonymous" author is none other than Lars Gustafsson.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Why the big secret? Click the link and his name is right there!!!!

    Lars Gustafsson

    Do the research you expect of others.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Why the big secret?

    You are a moron.

    Here is a novel idea. Click o the link. The guy who wrote the piece put his name right there.

    Idiot.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Why the big secret?

    Two things:

    First, get a sense of humour.
    Second, I realised the author was mentioned in the linked article it just seemed weird that he wasm't named in the summary.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    A brief look at the career highlights of this writer pretty much make it clear that he is a natural to go for the Pirate Party.

    He is a Philosophy Ph.D, a longtime professor in the US, and a prolific writer. But this quote from wikipedia (attributed to Dictionary of Literary Biography): "While the problem of identity has been the defining theme of Gustafsson's writings, his social criticism has often vexed the Swedish cultural elite. As a result he is seen as a controversial writer in Sweden rather than as one embraced by the establishment." pretty much sums it up.

    He is a natural to support the pirate party. A man who is financially secure and no longer appeared to need income from book sales, a philosopher, and someone who is counter culture to the establishment.

    Heck, I am shocked his isn't running TPB.

    BTW, since when is Torrentfreak a reputable news source? Since perhaps you are trying to suck up to them to get link backs?

     

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  12.  
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    drewmerc (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    i dont wish to click the link so anybody wish to tell me what books he has writen (in english hopefully) i think i'll go buy one (unless pirate bay has any links)

     

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  13.  
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    Paul, May 28th, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Amazing...

    LOL
    Some of the worlds most well known and prolific authors? Are you sure you dont mean some swedish nobody who is completely unheard of outside his own living room?Funny how torrentbullshit ignores the 99.99% of content creators who DO believe in copyright and consider thepiratebay to be just a bunch of thieves.
    This isn;t a news article, it's drivel.

     

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  14.  
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    Harry F, May 28th, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Amazing...

    You mean ONE specific hippie from sweden. Not *authors*. Don't kid yourself this idiot is speaking for everyone. He is just a publicity-whore swede.

     

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  15.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Amazing...

    His Weirdness, is that you?

     

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  16.  
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    Harry F, May 28th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Re:

    agreed 100%. Torrentfreak is a pro-piracy comic for children. Its scary to think grown ups would link to it as a news source. Its a pathetic drivel-infested site that is less credible than the onion.

     

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  17.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 3:05pm

    Re:

    BTW, since when is Torrentfreak a reputable news source?

    "TorrentFreak points us to the news..."

    Read Much?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re:

    So why not just link to the news, not torrent freak? It's called link trading. It isn't surprising to know that the most popular search term for techdirt is "torrent".

    It's called sucking the teat for traffic. The story would have been just as complete with a direct link to the story rather than a link to torrent freak that links to the story. You only do convoluted things when there is a benefit to doing them that way.

     

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  19.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Either way, the question was about torrentfreak being a news source, which is clearly not what was said in the original post by Mike. It just said it pointed to the news. Bitch about link trading all you want, but don't try to make up crap to make it seem worse than it is.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Why not? The point of many of Mike's posts is to create artificial outrage, to attract a crowd of people who are likely to be outraged without closely checking the facts. Link trading like this is a way to get Mike more exposure in the torrent community, which builds his credibility amongst an audience susceptible to his message, and who are likely to be very agressive in supporting that message.

    But you know that already, right?

    He also uses some nice methods to attach words that leave the suggestion that someone else said it, rather than being his opinion.

    "The idea that things like The Pirate Bay needs to be stopped or there won't be incentives to create are pretty much disproved right here."

    Is written in a manner that suggests it is the writer saying this. The reality is that this is Mike's personal opinion. It is something presented as fact, when it is only opinion. It is subtle, but it has a last effect, especially when, 2 or 3 weeks from now, Mike links to this story saying "loss of the incentives to create has been disproved".

    Again, you knew that already, right?

     

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  21.  
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    Geof, May 28th, 2009 @ 4:00pm

    No, Mike's claim is not misleading

    "The idea that things like The Pirate Bay needs to be stopped or there won't be incentives to create are pretty much disproved right here."

    Is written in a manner that suggests it is the writer saying this. The reality is that this is Mike's personal opinion.

    No. Read the preceding sentence, in which he says "And this is coming from . . . one of Sweden's most prolific writers." There is no doubt that Mike is expressing his own opinion. You seem to have misread and jumped the gun. Mike is not being misleading at all.

    My reaction was that he was being hyperbolic (one anecdote isn't what I would usually consider proof). But then I read more closely. The position he rejects is that without strong copyright there would be no incentive to create - which is an absurd position, requiring only one example to be refuted. (There would presumably be less incentive in many cases, but that's not the same thing.) Neither is Mike attacking a straw man: I have seen many copyright extremists make exactly that claim.

     

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  22.  
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    John, May 28th, 2009 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Amazing...

    I hope you're joking, but in case you're not: a few points.

    1. Since when did either the post or the articles said anything about one of the world's most well-known and prolific authors? It only said one of Sweden's.
    2. If you don't trust torrentfreak, feel free to read his statements for yourself, if you can read Swedish or can have it translated. It was published in one of the biggest daily newspapers of the country and not something torrentfreak made up.
    3. TPB and the pirate party are NOT synonymous. One can support one without necessarily supporting the other.
    4. Gustafsson is quite well known in Sweden (and won a literary price for lifetime achievement a few days ago). As far as I know, The Pirate Party is only on the ballot in Sweden (or at least on the ballot with a fair chance of winning a seat or two in the EU parliament). Thus, even if he is only known in Sweden it's an important statement nonetheless. "Getting" an American, German, or Englishman to support the Pirate Party would be pointless since they, unless they've lived in Sweden for quite a while, wouldn't be eligible to vote for them anyway.
    5. There's a difference between copyright infringement and theft. Look it up in a legal dictionary.
    6. It wasn't intended to be a news article. It's a political statement.

     

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  23.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So why not just link to the news, not torrent freak?

    I link to wherever I found the news. I do that on any story I find from another source and always have.

    I don't expect any links back from anyone for doing so and never have.

    It's called link trading. It isn't surprising to know that the most popular search term for techdirt is "torrent".

    Uh, this is not true. I'm looking at the list of the top 20 search terms and torrent isn't any of them.

    I recognize you have a long history of telling lies on this site, but at least try to make them appear truthful. Outright lies like this one are way too easy to catch.

    It's called sucking the teat for traffic.

    What?!? No, it's called giving credit where credit is due. TorrentFreak isn't a particularly large site (we get more traffic than they do). And I never expect anyone to link to us, especially not them, since we tend not to write about the sorts of things they would link to. They mostly link to European sources on little known stories. I pretty much expect that if we've written about a story, it's considered too big for TF to then write about it.

    The story would have been just as complete with a direct link to the story rather than a link to torrent freak that links to the story.

    That would have been dishonest. It would have implied I found the story elsewhere, rather than via TF. I always link to the source from where I find a story. It's the nice thing to do.

     

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  24.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 28th, 2009 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Amazing...

    Hi Harry F. Funny, you seem to have the IDENTICAL IP address from Paul. I wonder how that works.

    Anyway...

    You mean ONE specific hippie from sweden. Not *authors*. Don't kid yourself this idiot is speaking for everyone. He is just a publicity-whore swede.

    No, authors. We've discussed others:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090429/0251114693.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/artic les/20090223/1939573875.shtml

    But the main point remains... Multiple authors have shown that they get great benefit from file sharing. So the idea that it automatically acts as a disincentive to creation is proven quite clearly.

     

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  25.  
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    fog4711, May 28th, 2009 @ 5:37pm

    Re: #12

    The anonymous coward (#12) is right.

    I am Swedish and all of my life Lars Gustafsson has been producing and publishing interesting texts. I don't always agree with him but he's no doubt a good writer and thinker. And, yes, always seen as a bit controversial but respected, at least in Sweden and presumably some people in Texas liked him enough to keep him as a professor there.

    Personally I'm not going to vote for the 'Pirate Party' but I will definitely consider professor Gustafsson's text, it was very well written, provocative and even amusing. Lars Gustafsson can't be dismissed as some 'hippie'.

     

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  26.  
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    fog4711, May 28th, 2009 @ 5:43pm

    wrong number - 11 not 12

    Oops! The correct anonymous coward is number 11, not 12. Sorry folks :-( My mistake.

     

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  27.  
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    Easily Amused, May 28th, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    Re:

    Too lazy to click the link, but willing to go buy something from him? wtf?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Amazing...

    What is "shows" or "proves" is that "some of the most well known and prolific authors are saying the opposite is true." That is all that it proves, not that "The idea that things like The Pirate Bay needs to be stopped or there won't be incentives to create are pretty much disproved right here." Essentially, this is an opinion piece by a few authors. If the opinion piece "proves" anything, it "proves" that some authors will continue to write even if their work is pirated. That is ALL that the article "proves."

    We have proven, time and again, that people will do destructive things time and time again regardless of the proof that those things are destructive. These things include texting while driving, including driving trains, buses, taxes and perhaps even airplance, smoking, and frequent, unprotected sex. Does this "prove" that any of these activities are safe? No. What it proves is that a TON (to use a word Mike Masnick likes to use) of people will do stupid things regardless of the consequences.

    Bottom line: Authors, even "some of the most well known and prolific authors," saying they are not worried about Pirate Bay or even endorse Pirate Bay is meaningless, except to those few authors. Nothing is proven by their comments.

    Now, if you wish to say something like "It is clear that some authors, including "some" of the most well known and prolific authors (though some is undefined, are we talking 0.1% of all well-known and prolific authors, or 50% of all well-known and prolific authors - if it is the latter, I suspect that might well be evidence of something) will continue to create even with the existence of Pirate Bay," sure. I agree. That is what those authors said. That does not prove or disprove that Pirate Bay is either an incentive or a disincentive to create.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 28th, 2009 @ 8:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Interesting. Amongst Alexa users, Torrent is the most common search term for your site.

    Google reports 22 references to techdirt on torrent freak. They also report more than 3000 references to torrentfreak on techdirt. You must really love them.

    Alexa also reports that their traffic is signficantly higher than yours, even with the recent run up techdirt has seen.

    But hey, I am just lying all the time. Right.

     

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  30.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 12:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Interesting. Amongst Alexa users, Torrent is the most common search term for your site.

    Google reports 22 references to techdirt on torrent freak. They also report more than 3000 references to torrentfreak on techdirt. You must really love them.

    Alexa also reports that their traffic is signficantly higher than yours, even with the recent run up techdirt has seen.

    But hey, I am just lying all the time. Right.


    Why does it not surprise me that you would rely on a site as discredited as Alexa? Alexa isn't even close to accurate.

    And, you should learn how to use search engines before you blindly rely on search # results to mean something that it doesn't mean. Be careful or others might start to realize how little you really know about the internet.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Amazing...

    Oh come on. The Pirate Bay and piracy already exist in mass numbers. Can you please provide any example of creative production that wasn't produced due to piracy?

    Mike's point is that the anti-free crowd routinely acts as if content creation will grind to a halt if something isn't done about piracy/infringement. Yet all we see is more creation.

    Now we get a famous (maybe in Sweden?) guy complaining about copyright.

    All of this proves that piracy won't stop content creation. If it did, it would have already stopped. Millions of kids still dream of being rock stars or actors. There's still more screen plays floating around Hollywood that there is willingness to make mediocre movies. There's still thousands of people with that half-written novel on their laptop.

     

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  32.  
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    Tor (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 4:39am

    It is important to see that this is not all about copyright. In Sweden the parliament recently introduced a law which forces all telecom companies to give an government authority access to all cable-bound communication that crosses Swedish borders, we have the IPRED law which gives rights holders the possibility of demanding that ISPs reveal the identity of someone behind a certain IP address, and we will soon implement the European data rentention directive which will mean that all mail and telephone traffic data as well as telephone geo-data must be stored for 6 months.

    It is these violations of civil liberaties and the power shift from the public to the state that make many support the Pirate Party.

    Btw. it's interesting to note as a contrast to this that the The Swedish Publishers' Association is one of the harshest critics of The Pirate Bay and copyright reform. Probably because of illegal audio book downloads.

    It can also be noted that the second vice president of the Pirate Party, Anna Troberg, is an author.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 5:20am

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

    I don't claim accuracy for Alexa - but there level of error is going to be similar on all sites, so I look at it only in relative terms. They show torrentfreak with a significant traffic lead on you.

    15+ years of playing with search engines Mike, I know a little bit. Give it a rest.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 5:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Amazing...

    If Mike had said what you said, that would have been fine (except where you used the word "prove" again). However, I think that is a given anyway. People will always do things regardless of incentive or consequence. But let us look, once more, at Mike's statement:

    The idea that things like The Pirate Bay needs to be stopped or there won't be incentives to create are pretty much disproved right here.

    Now, I have no idea what Mike meant when he wrote this, but I interpret this statement to mean "The same amount of incentive will exist with Pirate Bay as currently exists under the current system." I take this sentence to mean this because Mike would only trumpet this author's statements as "proof" of anything if they supported comparable amounts of incentive.

    The problem is that the author's statements are meaningless. If we have X authors incentivized to create under the current system, then any replacement system should consider whether a societally useful number of authors are incentivized under that replacement system. Let us call the "societally useful number" Y.

    Now, we do know the number of authors X, because we can measure that number. What we do not know a priori is what Y might be. Y might be greater or lesser than X, but without additional information, we do not know.

    Okay, we now have a single data point, a supposedly well known and prolific author (whom I have never heard of) stating that Pirate Bay is okay. Given the tens of thousands of authors in the world, we have to ask what the confidence level is that the words of a single author (or even 100 authors) is substantially representative of the total number of authors X. Since we know that there are somewhere around 200,000 different books published each year in the United States, and since most of those books are by unique authors, in order for there to be evidence or proof that Pirate Bay, or any other similar entity, will either harm or not harm creation of new books, we would need a random sample of the authors of those 200,000 books.

    Lars was hardly a random sample, and hardly significant. Let us say that we have the voices of 50 authors, but they are clearly non-random voice. If X = 150,000 (assuming that 50,000 books are written by authors represented in the 150,000), and 50 of those authors have stated that their incentive to create is unaffected by Pirate Bay, that leaves 99.97% of all authors without a voice.

    Logically, we can only conclude that the true number of authors who would be disincentivized to create with the existence of Pirate Bay is between 0.03% and 99.97%. This knowledge is the limit of what we can conclude because the authors making the comment regarding Pirate Bay are non-randomly chosen and, as we have seen from other surveys, might not provide the same answer depending on how the question is asked and whether the answer is being made public.

    So, what does the existence of a few "well known and prolific" authors stating that they are unworried about Pirate Bay mean? Well, all we can conclude is that at least one person (or 50 in our example) would still write even with the existence of Pirate Bay. However, this conclusion does not give us any proof that the societally optimal level of incentivization has been reached with Pirate Bay, or that it would not be reached. In fact, it is extremely dangerous to make any kind of conclusion with such limited data.

    The reason it is dangerous to make such a conclusion is because of the massive number of examples we have elsewhere for activities where regulation and behavior appear uninfluenced by each other. For example, we know it is stupid to text while driving. There is evidence that indicates that the odds of having an accident are higher while texting than being at a blood alcohol level of 0.08%. There are laws against reckless driving, which certainly texting should cause. Yet, people continue to text, and people continue to die while texting, often in single car accidents. Thus, people will continue to behave in a destructive manner regardless of the incentivization to not behave destructively, even when the incentivization can be internalized such as the continuation of your life.

    So, just because someone will still be "incentivized" to create with the existence of Pirate Bay does not prove that the existence of such sites leads to a socially optimal level of incentivization, or that it would not. All it proves is, once again, that some people, sometimes very few people, sometimes more, will continue to do what they have always done in the face of regulation and limitations, and regardless of whether the behavior is self-destructive.

    Once again, this author's statement are not proof of anything, except we know that one author will continue to write even with the existence of Pirate Bay, even if that author is uncompensated in any meaningful way. If our goal is to prove that people may behave in a potentially self-destructive fashion without understanding the consequences, then we have proof. Otherwise, we have nothing.

     

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  35.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 8:24pm

    Bah

    First of all, to anybody kvetching about "proof", he didn't say anything proves anything. He said it "disproves". Disproof of one thing isn't the same as proof of another, even an opposite.

    Second, I'd like to point out a site that has taken a stance on free IP: http://www.baen.com/library

    Plenty of authors have tried it -- and seen their back listings take on new life. Some people even buy some of the books that are available on that site, for free, in several common formats, not encumbered by DRM, registration not required.

    To me it's fascinating to read the editorials, especially the last Prime Palaver (#11) by Janis Ian, somebody who is also in the music business. You can also read it at http://www.janisian.com/article-internet_debacle.html if you'd rather.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 10:17pm

    Re: Bah

    Neither is it disproved. Limited data points do not disproof make.

     

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