That Mythical 'Information Wants To Be Free' Crowd

from the help-us-out-here dept

Jay Rosen is doing a brilliant job highlighting the rather silly trend among folks who think they're "debunking" the economics of free to build up complete strawmen often identified as "the information wants to be free crowd." However, as Rosen notes, none of those critics ever links to anyone in particular or defines who they're arguing against or what it is they actually said. There's a good reason for that, of course. Usually those folks are arguing against a myth. They don't want to argue against the actual economics or what folks who understand where free fits into the wider economic landscape are actually saying. They want to throw up a punching bag (usually something along the lines of "everything must be free!") which they can knock down without anyone punching back. But that's not because they're right, but because they're arguing against a myth. No one claims everything (even information) must be free. Most (and in this group I include folks like Kevin Kelly, Chris Anderson, Stewart Brand and others) are simply pointing to the basic economic forces on information. If you don't understand what those forces are, then you will be overwhelmed by them. But simply claiming that any one in that group is saying that everything must be free is flat out wrong.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    senshikaze (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 11:33am

    What do you define as "information"?

    I do believe human knowledge should be free. Having the secrets to the world locked up to where only a select chosen can see it is wrong.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 11:52am

    The application of 19th century economics to explain 21st century systems. I am sure there isn't anything to be learned in the last 200 years.

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 11:57am

    Re:

    The thing is, the statement about information wanting to be free was never intended as a moral assessment in the way it's being taken now. 'Information' in the context of the original idea really means anything that does not rely on a scarce physical form to be disseminated (so 'information' covers just about everything that describes an idea - words, imagery, music, etc.)

    But the statement was never "information wants to be free, and we should support that!" or "we want information to be free, and we are wording it cleverly" - it was a description of the undeniable nature of information: that it spreads without lessening itself, and that it cannot be "unlearned".

    So the statement "information wants to be free" should be read the same way one would read "water wants to flow down hill" - as an observation of the situation, not an opinion about it.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    Re:

    Age != Irrelevance.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Nina Paley, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Content is free

    Content is free. Containers are not.

    I like money. That's why I sell containers.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Content is free

    Except according to the "FREE!" people, your container is irrelevant. Your content is free, and infinite. You cannot sell it. Move on to selling t-shirts and autographed pictures of you holding your camera, because that's the only money left in content production.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    Derek Reed (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re: Content is free

    And t-shirts and autographed pictures aren't containers for a brand/artist/content?

    Even if the "FREE!" people said the container is irrelevant (who did?), and even though the content is free and infinite (it is), there is still clearly a market for containers (as you said).

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    kyle clements (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:30pm

    When Stewart Brand first made his now famous quote, he included a second sentence that is often ignored today.

    "Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. ... That tension will not go away"

    If I have an object, and I give you that object, I no longer have it. it's a zero-sum situation, for one to gain, another must lose. Information is not at all like that. Bits are not atoms. But people want to treat them as if they were.

    Secrets want to be told, and they quickly snowball out of control. Trying to contain them is like pushing water uphill with a stick. Its a losing battle, but not everyone has figured that out yet.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Content is free

    I see you're still setting up those strawmen.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    Re:

    Cows are so outdated as a form of food.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:42pm

    Mythical? Really? Spend any time around Slashdot in the late 90s?

    You've confused strawmen with the vanquished and the extinct.

     

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

  12.  
    icon
    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:43pm

    Re:

    We really need a better analogy. If it's a fairly sturdy stick and the water is frozen it's not a difficult thing to do.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Chill, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Content is free

    Congratulations on being the very type of person this blog post was criticizing. You are debating a position that no one takes, but you want people to think that others who disagree with you believe in something they don't say they believe in.

    Also, the containers here hold the free content. You get free stuff, that stuff drives up demand for the containers, thus, a chance for profit. That is economics. Selling a finite good. But, the finite 'container' here is useful for the free goods.

    think of it this way: a band gives away free downloads for an album. You like it, you talk about it, give them exposure, they get more fans that way that spend their money on the finite goods (tickets, loooots of t-shirts, meet the band opportunity, etc). BUT, what you might not think about is that you need a container for these infinite goods you have, your free music. You might want to give it to a friend via USB stick or CD, or maybe even upload fro your hard drive to the internet, where they download it to their hard drive. So you see, the infinite *FREE!* goods sell finite goods.

    There you have it. Free of charge. And you are purchasing internet access and a device to read this, thanks for your participation :)

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Stephen B, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:46pm

    Free as in Freedom or Free as in Free Beer

    I think the word "free" is what causes the confusion. "Information wants to be free" to me means out in the open as opposed to secret. You may still have to pay to get it, but at least you can get it.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    kyle clements (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re:

    well, frozen water could be like content that is trapped inside a container, so my analogy still works ;)

    All it takes is one clever user to melt it, and the content is set free.

    (ok, yes, that was a bit of a stretch...)

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Nick Novitski, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Discussion of this subject is incomplete without mentioning the hilarious misnomer: "freemunists."

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'll buy that. Maybe the analogy just needs to be expanded.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Free as in Freedom or Free as in Free Beer

    I use the word 'libre' because it means exactly 'free as in freedom' and has nothing to do with cost.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Scientology Bob, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 1:16pm

    Re:

    Well, if you knew too much before you were ready, it would kill you.

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Re:

    "it was a description of the undeniable nature of information: that it spreads without lessening itself, and that it cannot be "unlearned"."

    There lies the problem for the IP maximalists. They want information to be "Property" and not "Knowledge". Everything done to IP law in the last 40+ years is an attempt at locking up knowledge and information. Not that that will every happen, we humans (Lawyers not included in the definition of humans) are curious and sneaky little monkeys that want to know everything.

    "information wants to be free" ... information has no will of its own, so it should be .... "People want access to all of human knowledge and want to spread that knowlegde around".... The first one is catchier though

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Naw just defrosted .... ;)

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    DS, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What if the water is frozen to the end of a stick like a Popsicle?

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Content is free

    I like money. That's why I sell containers.

    ...just not enough to pay back your content-production costs.

    Which makes it seems like you like LOSING money.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Michael Long, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    First, you assume that I actually WANT a bunch of t-shirts or to attend concerts. I don't. What I want is the music (or the movie, or the software, or the book).

    Selling me a bunch of crap simply in order to pay for people to produce what I originally wanted in the first place is counter-intuitive at best, and resource intensive at worst. (Not to mention asinine.)

    Second, buying a USB stick or CDRW or hard drive certainly helps the USB stick or CD or hard drive manufacturers, but does nothing for the artists, authors, or developers who created the work in the first place. (Unless, of course, you want to go the Canadian route and add a surtax to every storage medium?)

    And pretty soon you also have all of the USB sticks and HDs you need anyway. A single TB HD can in no way, shape, or form properly subsidize the creation of all of the content it can hold.

    So much for finite goods.

    And finally, visit, say, Slashdot sometime. Plenty of the "information wants to be free" crowd hangs out there, and they do say it. At every opportunity. If you think it's "mythical" just do a Google search.

    The problem lies in the word "information". Sure, "information" may want be free, but that's just code. Saying "information" makes it sound noble. But what they're really saying is that they want all of their ENTERTAINMENT to be free.

    There's a large torrent crowd there that wants, and expects, free music, free movies, free shows, free books, free games, and free software. Tell 'em they can't have it and they get pissy. Talk DRM and they'll immediately talk circumvention. Talk about ISP monitoring and they'll immediately talk about encryption and darknets. Talk about ads and they'll immediately talk about ad blockers.

    Talk about paying a buck a song and they'll complain it's not "fair". Talk about a quarter or a dime or a nickel, and someone else will complain that at a nickle a pop that terabyte drive would cost $25,000 to fill, and how is that "fair".

    They want to pay nothing. Period. And they'll piggyback on any scarce-goods finite-model you want to discuss, hoping that someone else--anyone else--will subsidize their entitlements.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Content is free

    You're the most uncreative person I've ever had the displeasure of reading.

    Let me guess, you're a lawyer, right?

    It's a good thing copyright will be rendered obsolete in the near future. But what do I know? I'm only an artist who gifts their work into the public domain and I still haven't staved to death so I must be doing something right.

    All I represent is one example of many. Creative people will be fine, in the future.

    I wish you the best. Good luck.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    "They want to pay nothing. Period."

    I know you don't like facts to get in the way of a good straw man, but you might want to at least spend 30 seconds looking for some.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re: Content is free

    Yeah, but we're all GAINING art. The horror! Now I've gone and given myself a case of the vapors. Heavens to Betsy!

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    No, t-shirts and autographed pictures are the non-desired objects that those who think try to push value onto, where little consumer demand exists. People value things like music, movies, TV shows... they don't value t-shirts of the same anywhere near as much. They aren't containers, they are at best place markers, where token support can be shown by the guilty after having "shared" the content.

    The market for containers is small compared to the market for actual content, the only reason content is "FREE!" right now is because of aggressive digital shoplifting. The artists and the producers didn't choose to make their content free or infinite, others without the rights did.

    Oddly, remove the content, and all those extra items become meaningless, because people don't particularly value t-shirts of nothing and autographs of nobodies.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Michael Long, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Bits

    "Bits are not atoms. But people want to treat them as if they were."

    If all you want is a collection of bits, I'll sell you a hard drive full of randomized sectors. But you don't want "bits". You want bits that have been organized into music and movies and books and software.

    And that "organization" didn't happen accidentally. Someone spent a lot of time and effort and money doing so.

    Even in the physical world, the costs of manufacturing and shipping and selling a CD or DVD containing software or a movie is still just a fraction of the original content creation costs.

    In other words, the "distribution" costs are irrelevant.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    But what do I know? I'm only an artist who gifts their work into the public domain...


    Can it really be called a "gift" if no one wants it?

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Michael Long, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    There's not a large torrent crowd (the implied "they") on Slashdot? There's not a group of people who post "information wants to be free" on every copyright thread there?

    I did the Google search I suggested. Did you?

    Sorry, no straw man, have the facts, and I even have the t-shirt (though I didn't want it).

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Michael Long, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    If you consider 50-cent and Miley Cyrus to be art, we should all be horrified.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    You're asshole is showing.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    The problem lies in the word "information". Sure, "information" may want be free, but that's just code. Saying "information" makes it sound noble. But what they're really saying is that they want all of their ENTERTAINMENT to be free.

    There's a large torrent crowd there that wants, and expects, free music, free movies, free shows, free books, free games, and free software. Tell 'em they can't have it and they get pissy. Talk DRM and they'll immediately talk circumvention. Talk about ISP monitoring and they'll immediately talk about encryption and darknets. Talk about ads and they'll immediately talk about ad blockers.

    Talk about paying a buck a song and they'll complain it's not "fair". Talk about a quarter or a dime or a nickel, and someone else will complain that at a nickle a pop that terabyte drive would cost $25,000 to fill, and how is that "fair".

    They want to pay nothing. Period. And they'll piggyback on any scarce-goods finite-model you want to discuss, hoping that someone else--anyone else--will subsidize their entitlements.


    VERY well said.

    And I invite anyone to peruse the torrentfreak.com archives for even more examples of this zealotry after they've finished with slashdot's.

    There are a lot of people who have this mindset. Calling it "mythical" is ridiculous.

     

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

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Very rarely are "people" art but I was using Nina Paley as the example. She's the one who the AC was referencing.

    Unless you don't think she's an artist? That's one bold assertion.

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    SteelWolf (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    You're proving the point. Without the content, all of those extra items ARE meaningless. It's the (free) content that makes them valuable.

     

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

  37.  
    icon
    SteelWolf (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Incorrect. The "torrent crowd" simply refuses to pay for something they are already getting for free - namely, digital copies of content. These very same people are paying for things they perceive as being worth money.

    Even if these people were true freeloaders as you claim, it's irrelevant since your entertainment industries continue to do booming business without their money.

     

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

  38.  
    icon
    SteelWolf (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    I must have missed it, all I saw was a head. :P

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Yeah, but we're all GAINING art.


    At the EXPENSE of artists.

    Nina will never make back the 300k it took to make her movie.

    Sort of makes you wonder when she'll release her next movie, doesn't it?

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Only she can answer that question. Does she want to make another movie?

    "At the EXPENSE of artists."

    At least the artists are dealing with these issues themselves, instead of at the expense of the content industries.

     

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

  41.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And thus the original statement, which was in fact using the premise that "information wants to be free" alongside the reasons why "information wants to be expensive" in order to offer a meaningful analysis of the different forces and interests at work, so that society can decide how many fake property rights they want to assign to "information".

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Fsm, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Bingo.

    Industries need to figure out how to add value to what they are selling or else people are just going to download the equivalent of them. Neat packaging and/or inserts just aren't cutting it anymore.

     

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

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    It's the (free) content that makes them valuable.

    It makes them passingly valuable, but not as valuable as the content itself. It's a true joke, it's sort of covering up the reality (widespread theft of content) and trying to make it look useful. In the long run, people don't buy that man t-shirts.

    Let's look at it in NIN terms: Trent released what, 17 or 18 items before he went "FREE!". I suspect many top end fans are like me, and own a real copy purchased of every item released. Now, I look in my closet, and I don't own a single NIN t-shirt, nor do I have any great indication to want one. Further, even the most hardered fan is unlikely to buy multiple t-shirts, perhaps not much more than 2. So he trades 18 record sales for 2 tshirt sales? Worse yet, the t-shirts would likely have been purchased anyway at concert, so in fact he traded 18 record sales for, well, nothing (appropriate, considering his label name).

    Now, like it or not, the money that would have been spent on those 18 records doesn't magically re-appear somewhere else inthe music chain. It turns into something else, likely not even entertainment related, and certainly not where Trent would make money off of it.

    So the content made some t-shirt "valuable", but not valuable enough to make up for what is lost on the other side. So in the end, it's trading dollars for dimes.

     

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

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Re: Free as in Freedom or Free as in Free Beer

    Explain that to Mike. He needs to understand.

     

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

  45.  
    icon
    jjmsan (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Are you saying you commission music? Because if you don't than the music you want already exists and will continue to do so whether you pay for it or not. So essentially you are not paying for it. You use a generic term that defines a huge genre and then use it to debunk specific arguments. That is the basis of a strawman argument and is what you are doing.

     

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

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 4:07pm

    Re: Re: Content is free

    Ding, we have a winner. This is a perfect example, all the giving away of the movie isn't going to dredge up $300,000 to recoup the money spent the last time out, let alone raise enough money to do it all again.

    I guess artists just write off production costs as annoying real world issues that detract from their art. Reality bites.

     

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

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 4:11pm

    Re: Re: Bits

    And how much did you pay for the car?

    Enough to cover the R&D costs that went into creating the first marketable model?

    Or was it the price that the rest of the market has set for it?

     

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

  48.  
    icon
    lux (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 4:42pm

    Um, wait.

    Isn't this a bit of a strawman as well??
    Who or what group is claiming that another group says everything should be free. There isn't, both for the former and latter.

     

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

  49.  
    icon
    Nina Paley (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 4:51pm

    How'd it get up to $300,000?

    That's interesting, the budget's never been that high before. Are you a Hollywood accountant?

     

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

  50.  
    icon
    kyle clements (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Bits

    Re: Michael Long
    "If all you want is a collection of bits, I'll sell you a hard drive full of randomized sectors. But you don't want "bits". You want bits that have been organized into music and movies and books and software."

    Your argument misses the point entirely.

    From a computer's point of view, it doesn't matter if the data is random noise, or the most expensive content ever produced. Both can be copied at zero cost.
    I can't walk into a store, pick up a DVD, click Ctrl+C and be on my way.

    Physical goods are finite. Digital goods are infinite.

    The jump to digital content changed everything, except their business model, and that business model is now colliding with reality.

    I'm not arguing this is a good thing. For some people this situation really sucks. I'm arguing that this is reality. Content is being copied. Freely. Rather than having their business adapt and meet the desires of their customers, they're trying to force the world to adapt to their business model. I believe that approach is backwards.

    That is my argument.

    Feel free to set up another straw man and knock it down if you wish, or, show me why my belief is mistaken.

     

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

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    "it's sort of covering up the reality (widespread theft of content)"

    Except infringement is not theft. We've been over this before.

     

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

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 5:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Except accusing someone of copyright infringement does not have the same moral heft as accusing someone of theft, or stealing, or terrorism.

    Theft is also mentioned in some of the oldest written texts we have. Copyright? That government-enforced monopoly?

    You can see why they choose their words very carefully.

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    And also Trent Reznor calls it stealing so why don't we change all the world's laws on copyright to better align to what Trent Reznor has to say?

    He should also call manslaughter the same thing as murder. They're the same thing, right? That's how it gets played out in a court of law, right?

     

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

  54.  
    icon
    herodotus (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:07pm

    "First, you assume that I actually WANT a bunch of t-shirts or to attend concerts. I don't. What I want is the music (or the movie, or the software, or the book)."

    Is someone asking you to? Are people not selling CDs anymore?

    "Selling me a bunch of crap simply in order to pay for people to produce what I originally wanted in the first place is counter-intuitive at best, and resource intensive at worst. (Not to mention asinine.)"

    I don't think that it's really about you. You already buy these things. It's about getting something from the people who don't buy them, like getting lemonade from lemons. Those freeloading bastards who download, say, music can help create hype concerning said music. Without hype of some sort, no one will come to see your shows, in fact no one will buy anything from you, because who the fuck are you?

    Hype can be monetized, anonymity can't.

    "So much for finite goods."

    Well OK, you don't like to go see concerts, you said that, but you realize that other people do go to see them, right? I mean, I certainly do, and there are certainly other people there when I do. Plus, I know all kinds of other people who go to shows ALL OF THE TIME. Which bands do they go to see? That's right, the ones with lots of hype surrounding them, because those are the ones they have heard of.

    And yes, T-Shirts are stupid, but there are people who wear them almost exclusively (I know this because I used to be one of them). These are people who will pay YOU to advertise YOUR BAND. How is that not a good thing?


    "And finally, visit, say, Slashdot sometime. Plenty of the "information wants to be free" crowd hangs out there, and they do say it. At every opportunity. If you think it's "mythical" just do a Google search."

    So you are saying that every time someone refers to the 'information just wants to be free crowd' they are talking about Slashdot? Are Linux nerds really so influential that Rupert Murdoch and Ken Davis are talking about them?

    Sure there are people who say 'information wants to be free'. There are also people who don't say it, but who are constantly accused of saying it anyway, because 'well...you know that's what they are thinking....'. I think that the latter group probably gets a little tired of this.

    "They want to pay nothing. Period. And they'll piggyback on any scarce-goods finite-model you want to discuss, hoping that someone else--anyone else--will subsidize their entitlements."

    This obviously bothers you, but I am not sure what could actually stop it. It's like stopping the flow of illegals from Mexico. People get so damn mad about illegals taking American jobs, and spend so much time and money trying to stop them. And they just keep failing. And I am glad that they do, because some of the best workers I have known in my life were here illegally.

    'Freeloaders', however defined, are a constant. They will always be there. There will always be a perfectly good reason to get really mad about them. The question is, why would you want to?

    If the only business that you can imagine running requires the elimination of freeloading, you probably shouldn't be in business. And yes, I know, 'no one is trying to eliminate it, just to reduce it to a reasonable level...' but that 'reasonable level' changes all of the time. Remember 'home taping is killing music'? Wouldn't the recording industries just love to go back to the time when cassette tapes were the infringer's tool of choice? Was that a reasonable level?

     

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

  55.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Now, I look in my closet, and I don't own a single NIN t-shirt, nor do I have any great indication to want one.

    So don't. No one is forcing you to do so.

    But plenty of people are. And the whole point is figuring out ways to offer you what you do want.

    Further, even the most hardered fan is unlikely to buy multiple t-shirts, perhaps not much more than 2. So he trades 18 record sales for 2 tshirt sales?

    Someone hasn't been paying attention (yet again). In going through the data on those who try these business models, the average transaction price is WAY HIGHER. Topspin shared with me data on their artists that are doing this, and the average sale price across all their artists is nearly double the price of a CD, and with some artists the *average* transaction price is over $100.

    In other words, despite your totally unsourced claim that people will spend less on an artist they like, the *actual data* shows they spend more. Oops.

    Now, like it or not, the money that would have been spent on those 18 records doesn't magically re-appear somewhere else inthe music chain.

    Except every study of the industry has shown that it does! In fact, that's why we've seen multiple reports on how the overall music ecosystem is growing. People are spending more than they ever have in the past on music and music related offerings.

    Data again proves you wrong.

    It turns into something else, likely not even entertainment related, and certainly not where Trent would make money off of it.

    And yet, Trent and many of the other artists trying these models have noted that they've made significantly more than they did under the old model.

    I don't quite understand your regular fight against actual reality.

    So the content made some t-shirt "valuable", but not valuable enough to make up for what is lost on the other side. So in the end, it's trading dollars for dimes.

    In your mind, perhaps. In reality? Not so much. Glad I live here. Good luck in your world.

     

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

  56.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Um, wait.

    "Isn't this a bit of a strawman as well?? "

    No. RTFA.

     

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

  57.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    First, you assume that I actually WANT a bunch of t-shirts or to attend concerts. I don't. What I want is the music (or the movie, or the software, or the book).

    So you get the movie, software or book. And you can get it for less. Why are you complaining again?

    No one is assuming that you want the t-shirt or the concerts. If you don't want them, don't pay for them. Not sure what your complaint is.

    Selling me a bunch of crap simply in order to pay for people to produce what I originally wanted in the first place is counter-intuitive at best, and resource intensive at worst. (Not to mention asinine.)

    Is it? Do you watch TV? Do you use Google? Both of them work on the same principle. Are they counter-intuitive and asinine? I think not.

    So much for finite goods.

    You seem to be rather confused -- which is odd, because I distinctly remember explaining this to you in the past. Scarce goods are not just tangible goods. Other scarce goods include attention and access. Those aren't tangible, but they are scarce. To ignore them is to ignore, well, a huge segment of the functioning economy.

    I assume you don't want to do that, do you?

    And finally, visit, say, Slashdot sometime. Plenty of the "information wants to be free" crowd hangs out there, and they do say it. At every opportunity. If you think it's "mythical" just do a Google search.

    Heh. No one is saying that the phrase isn't used. The point, which appears to have gone way over your head, is that the people who mock those who say that phrase mock a strawman. They don't mock what is actually meant by those who say that.

    There's a large torrent crowd there that wants, and expects, free music, free movies, free shows, free books, free games, and free software. Tell 'em they can't have it and they get pissy. Talk DRM and they'll immediately talk circumvention. Talk about ISP monitoring and they'll immediately talk about encryption and darknets. Talk about ads and they'll immediately talk about ad blockers.

    Sure. Not sure what that has to do with what we're discussing, but I agree on all of the above.

    They want to pay nothing. Period.

    For infinite goods, yes. You know what. I want to pay nothing for GM cars. Why? Because I don't find them worth buying. The same is true of everyone you just mocked above. They don't want to buy because they don't find them worth buying.

    Sell them something worth buying and they will. And that's the point.

    Which you missed.

    Totally.

    Again.

     

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

  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:31pm

    Re: How'd it get up to $300,000?

    That's interesting, the budget's never been that high before. Are you a Hollywood accountant?


    According to your movie's own wikipedia entry which cites your own numbers from your own blog, the budget was $290,000.

    Although elsewhere (http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/news/2008/04/sita?currentPage=all) I notice you claim it "only" cost $200,000 which makes your "Hollywood Accountant" remark more than a little ironic given your own, straight-from-the-horses-mouth, budgetary discrepancies.

    In any case, the difference between all your claimed budgets is irrelevant. You've made back what so far? $50k? And the abundance of that from charity?

    At what point do you imagine you'll make the OTHER $240,000 still missing from your bank account and be able to finally crawl up out of the red?

    At what point do you imagine you'll be able to release your next film?

    My guess is "never" and "no time soon" respectively.

    And that's not even taking into account the need for profit (assuming you believe your time to be worth anything). According to you, you started working on this project in 2002 (http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/news/2008/04/sita?currentPage=all) Which means it took you almost eight years of work to lose more than two hundred thousand dollars.

    How much do you think your time is worth? Because currently your time is worth considerably LESS than a penny.

    As a fellow filmmaker, I think that's a travesty.

    It would be great if your experiment worked. It would be great if the innate altruism of our species could be relied on for business endeavors instead of the current "I can, therefore I will" ethos that pervade every corner of the internet. Nobody WANTS to give away the vast majority of their project's earnings to middle men. There isn't a musician, filmmaker or artist alive who ENJOYS continually getting the short end of the stick. No director enjoys the studio superseding their will and hiring an actor against their will or telling them they have to cut twenty five minutes out of the running time. No screenwriter enjoys a a bunch of baby faced junior execs fresh out of college telling them how to tell their stories in meetings. We ALL wish there was an infrastructure and a business model to sell directly to the fans...but unfortunately, as you and many others have proved with your own failed attempts, neither the infrastructure nor the business model currently exists and until it does most of us would rather have the short end of the stick than the shitty end of the stick.

    Make no mistake, you're holding the shitty end of the stick.

     

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

  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Re: How'd it get up to $300,000?

    Well, I'm convinced. Artists are nothing but big, fat failures and I think it would be wise to ignore the internet and these past ten years and go back to the way it was in the 20th Century.

    Thanks! You've shown me that being raped thrice as hard by a bunch of middlepeople is much better than being raped only twice as hard by your own fans.

    Artists shouldn't control their own product! Not if they want to make any real money. I have seen the error of my ways! Take me back, middlepeople! Please take me back.

    Hold me.

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re: How'd it get up to $300,000?

    By the way, I don't know any films that were made by the great Anonymous Coward? Where are your finacials? How successful are you?

    It seems only fair to try and compare your success with hers.

     

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

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    I suspect many top end fans are like me,

    Oh, so we're going on suspicions now, are we? Well, I suspect you're a pedophile.

     

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

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    with some artists the *average* transaction price is over $100.

    In other words, despite your totally unsourced claim that people will spend less on an artist they like, the *actual data* shows they spend more. Oops.


    There you go again Mike. SOME arists, not all. Even then, even with $100 gross, net is closer to $60, with is the price of 4 CDs, not 18. What SOME artists get isn't what ALL artists get.

    In your mind, perhaps. In reality? Not so much. Glad I live here. Good luck in your world.

    It's the old basic economics Mike. You are so blown away by SOME artists getting high t-shirt sales that you forget how many units a big selling CD can move. You forget how much money is make on residuals, on licensing, etc. You forget that it is the music that makes the concerts possible, not the other way around. The thing people value, that they can take home and enjoy over and over again is the music, and save for piracy, people have shown over and over again for a very long time (and to this day) that they will pay for music.

    I think much of this stuff is in your mind, along with some of the dittoheads posting here.

     

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

  63.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    There you go again Mike. SOME arists, not all.

    No, this is across all of the artists on the platform.

    Even then, even with $100 gross, net is closer to $60, with is the price of 4 CDs, not 18. What SOME artists get isn't what ALL artists get.

    Heh. Once again: per *transaction*. Since you seemed to miss it last time, one more time: *per transaction*. No one buys all 18 albums at once. Most likely they buy one. And each time a new album comes out they buy another. In this case, the bands can keep coming up with stuff that fans want to buy, and people do buy.

    It's the old basic economics Mike. You are so blown away by SOME artists getting high t-shirt sales that you forget how many units a big selling CD can move.

    Huh? Not at all. You seem to have confused what I wrote. I mean, I now get that you do this on purpose on nearly every post (what a pitiful life you must lead to find that worthwhile), but really.

    You forget how much money is make on residuals, on licensing, etc.

    Huh? We weren't talking about that at all. Why bring it up?

    You forget that it is the music that makes the concerts possible, not the other way around.

    Huh? Again, dude, reading comprehension time: we've been saying all along (in fact, someone point it out to you in this very thread) that the music is central to all of this. It's the music that makes those things valuable. And you disputed it.

    Now you agree? Damn. You're so full of it that you can't even keep your own story straight in a single thread. Hilarious.

    The thing people value, that they can take home and enjoy over and over again is the music, and save for piracy, people have shown over and over again for a very long time (and to this day) that they will pay for music.

    If that were true, why is there any problem at all?

     

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

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re:

    actuly he ice would break or slip around it if u made one wrong move

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    its a gift even if the person dosnt want it inless it was give with the intent to annoy the person

     

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

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    thats not art its a drug of buying whatever tv tells u to

     

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

  67.  
    icon
    monkyyy (profile), Dec 1st, 2009 @ 8:16pm

    info wants to be free
    people want it to be expensive or exulsive to few

    how much longer till enslaving info cost more then u can make it work

     

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

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2009 @ 8:25pm

    "It's not free as in free beer but free as in free speech."

    Words to live by.

     

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

  69.  
    identicon
    Chill, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 4:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Notice in my post I said the "Band" gave away their music, never did I mention piracy HURR DURR DURR

    If people can (and have been) using FREE! as a part of their business model successfully, then why criticize them for it or try to stop it? Why stifle it? Are you afraid of people being successful and making money in a different way than before? Why not sell looooots of t-shirts?

    I ask you this: if people can make a business model successful using free content, what's the problem?

     

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

  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 5:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Human knowledge and human entertainment are not the same thing. Attempting to stretch like that is a laughable idea. No "IP maximalists" are out there beating school children to make them forget the 3 times multiplication tables.

    Further, and this is just as important, those "IP maximalists" you refer to have little interest in keeping things private, as it serves no business purpose. If you make a movie, you want people to want to see the movie. The only different is that "information free" people feel that a movie, once made, is some sort of public property that is free, without restrictions, and cannot be controlled in any manner by the creator.

    You are trying to hard to slam "IP maximalists" that you fail to think of the implications of your point of view. Look past the end of your nose!

     

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

  71.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You are correct in that they want to make a profit. They want to do this forever off the same works, remove fair use, and live in the good old days when they were the monopoly.

    You are not looking at the unintended consequences of the IP maximalist view point. It locks up content, prevents the promotion and Progress of Science and useful Arts, expands to an unlimited Time to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. If that sound familiar it should, I changed a coulpe words from the copy right clause of the constitution. It is truely amazing how just a few words can change everything.

    The IP maximalists have begun erroding the flavor and spirit of the constitution on a bunch of levels. Monopolies are granted in two cases by the constitution, the authors of Books, and of useful inventions, "for limited times". "Excessive fines" are a constant every time RIAA goes to court. $80,000 USD for every one dollar song being shared. "Cruel and unusual punishments" this one I only bring up because I listened to a Yoko Ono song yesterday and my ears are still bleeding.... Big Ole GRIN

     

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

  72.  
    icon
    Nina Paley (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 8:25am

    As a fellow filmmaker, I think that's a travesty.

    I appreciate your concern, Anonymous Coward. I've made far more money sharing "Sita" than I would have gotten through conventional distribution and locking up the work under copyright. Still, you seem quite angry (enough to get numbers wrong not once but twice) that I haven't made ENOUGH. According to you, I deserve MORE! Luckily, you can do something about that: send me money. Thousands of others have. It's far more effective than whining anonymously on Techdirt. Of course if your point is that "this can never work because people are assholes," then I'll have to doubt the sincerity of your concern for me, or that you are in any way a "fellow".

     

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

  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    Re: As a fellow filmmaker, I think that's a travesty.

    Still, you seem quite angry (enough to get numbers wrong not once but twice)


    The numbers I've used are the ones you provided (discrepancies and all). If they're wrong, it's because you lied about them.

    According to you, I deserve MORE!


    I think you provided a lot more value to people than they provided back to you, yes.

    And no, this outcome doesn't surprise me at all.

    Freeloaders will freeload just as bees will buzz.

    Surprise!

    Luckily, you can do something about that: send me money.


    I would be more inclined to do just that were you not selfishly trying to take away your fellow creator's rights by campaigning for the abolishment of copyright (this, despite the fact that even if you'd been licensed the Annette Hanshaw recordings for FREE you STILL would have lost a small fortune)

    I would be a fool to support (even indirectly such as the case here) my own debasement via the stripping of my own legal rights in favor of your patchouli collectivism.

    I do however wish you better luck on your next film, should you ever be able to make one.

     

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

  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, but there is no indication that anyone wants to lock anything up "forever". Patents are 17 years (shorter in many cases) and that isn't going anywhere. Writings? If you are bored, write your own. There is nothing in IP law that will stop you from writing something new. There is no roadblock, except to block you from enjoying or profiting from someone else's work without fair recompense.

    $80,000 isn't an excessive fine (example Jammie Thomas) because it is easy to see where her one copy could have been turned literally into millions of copies. There is no way to be certain, but the punishment has to be significant enough not to encourage the act it is trying to discourage. If the penalty was $1, would it discourage anyone? Nope. It would encourage them, because they know that the maximum risk for sharing 500 songs for 20 years online would still only be $500. What a bargain!

    Understand that the songs Jammie Thomas "shared" are probably still being re-shared today originating from her copies, and no matter what the penalty, the harm continues to be done.

    There is nothing maximalist, except that the harm continues.

     

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

  75.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:22pm

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

    There is nothing in IP law that will stop you from writing something new

    I would look up "The Wind Done Gone" and "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye" if I were you.

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 3:46pm

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

    I would look up "The Wind Done Gone" and "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye" if I were you.


    "There is no roadblock, except to block you from enjoying or profiting from someone else's work without fair recompense."
    "There is no roadblock, except to block you from enjoying or profiting from someone else's work without fair recompense."
    "There is no roadblock, except to block you from enjoying or profiting from someone else's work without fair recompense."
    "There is no roadblock, except to block you from enjoying or profiting from someone else's work without fair recompense."
    "There is no roadblock, except to block you from enjoying or profiting from someone else's work without fair recompense."
    "There is no roadblock, except to block you from enjoying or profiting from someone else's work without fair recompense."

    etc

     

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

  77.  
    icon
    Nina Paley (profile), Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: As a fellow filmmaker, I think that's a travesty.

    My numbers are here:
    http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/11/23/how-to-make-55000-by-giving-away-your-work/tab/comment s/
    no permalink, sorry (my correction is in the middle somewhere). Also sorry the journalist got some facts wrong; happens all the time, correcting everything is an uphill battle, but I do try. You may be surprised to know I don't write Wikipedia.

    I am not trying to take away anyone's copyright. My official position on copyright is here:
    http://blog.ninapaley.com/2009/03/18/my-official-position-on-copyright/

    If you and other creators want to shoot yourself in the feet, more power to you. It only helps my work. If I were really selfish, I'd advocate for copyright, just like our good friends the Big Media companies do. Good luck, "fellow filmmaker" who apparently is doing so poorly it needs to stay anonymous.

     

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

  78.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Content is free

    Either you can't read or you replied to the wrong post, as none of your drivel even attempted to address the fact that "they" are perfectly happy to pay something.

     

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

  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2009 @ 6:18pm

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

    Well, I'm convinced.

     

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

  80.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 10:21am

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

    But those books do not profit by copying someone else's work, they profit by expanding on someone else's IDEA. If you are not yet familiar with the difference between an idea and its execution (and if you consider one line repeated in bold over and over a compelling argument) then I suggest you educate yourself some more before joining the conversation.

     

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

  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 3rd, 2009 @ 8:03pm

    Marcus, Marcus, Marcus,

    But those books do not profit by copying someone else's work, they profit by expanding on someone else's IDEA.


    LOL!

    Marcus, you MUST be joking...

    Specific characters with specific names, physical traits, and personalities who exist inside a specific plot, location, and time are the DEFINITION of "expressions".

    Not "ideas".

    Gone with the Wind is NOT an "idea".

    Catcher in the Rye is NOT an "idea".

    You, however, ARE an idiot.

    If you are not yet familiar with the difference between an idea and its execution


    ...

    I'm beginning to think you're pulling my leg. There's too much irony in your comment for it to have been a legitimate reply.

    Bravo, if that's the case.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This