Nina Paley vs. Jaron Lanier

from the take-your-pick dept

Okay, so we had said that we were just going to do one post debunking Jaron Lanier's new hatred for everything about "open culture," but WNYC recently had a nice little debate between Nina Paley and Jaron Lanier -- and the thing that amazed me is how unprepared to debate these topics Lanier appears to be. Admittedly, some of it is just that Lanier loses his train of thought a few times, but that's really not what stands out. He rarely seems to have an actual point. You can pretty much sum up his position as "but, artists need to make money and after 10 years, they haven't been able to online, so it's a failure." But that's it. Nothing in what he says explains how to change things. It's just pining for the way things used to be. And whenever he's confronted on specific points, he either falls back to saying "well, I made up that argument originally, but now I know it's wrong" without ever explaining why it's wrong, or saying "well, I'm not an absolutist, so I could maybe see how free could be helpful." His discussion about the length of copyright and whether copyright should go to kids and grandkids is quite telling. He doesn't seem to understand the issues at play, doesn't have a clear train of thought, and goes back and forth and makes totally arbitrary claims, such as, "well, I don't know, I think it's okay to pass it on to your kids, but if it's for your grand kids, okay, I guess I can see that that's starting to be too much." Why? Not clear.

The one point that really does need to be refuted is that he seems to believe that artificial scarcity somehow makes people pay. He talks about the importance of a "social contract" to have people "pay for others' brains." He says "people need to be secure that they're earning their dignity and don't need to sing for their supper every night." But that confuses a few different issues. Having the government step in and ramp up copyright laws doesn't earn anyone their dignity. Providing products that people actually want to pay for does. And that's the point that Lanier seems to miss. He tries to support the importance of "artificial scarcity" by using money as an example, saying that money only works because it's artificially scarce. But that's a total misunderstanding of money. Money works because it's a proxy for value, so it isn't actually artificially scarce at all. It's legitimately scarce, because if you print more money, the value of the money already in the system goes down (inflation) meaning that you have to pay more to get the same thing. It works because it's a proxy for that scarce value. It's not an artificial scarcity at all. He later agrees with Nina when she talks about the importance of real scarcity, but fails to recognize that real scarcity makes sense, whereas artificial scarcity is actually economically limiting.

Lanier also makes an odd claim that the old studio/label system allowed for a "middle class" of content creators. But that's really not true. For most who go through that system it's totally hit or miss, with most missing. But with new business models, we're seeing more and more people who are able to make a perfect middle class living by not having to wait for the gatekeepers. More people are making money due to their music today than ever before, and it's because they have all sorts of different ways to make money.

Nina, not surprisingly, does an excellent job responding to each of Lanier's points. He brings up the inevitable claim that "but people could take your film and do stuff with it!" and she points out that she wants that, and knows that her fans are smart enough to know the difference between her original and what others do with her film.

All in all it's a fun debate to listen to, but I have to admit that I would have found it a lot more interesting if Lanier actually sounded like he understood the topic at hand beyond the superficial level.


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  1.  
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    the rest of the world, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 12:40am

    can someone tell me please

    who gives a rats a** about Jaron Lanier? He should just take his Pan Pipes and blow it out his big fat butt.

     

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  2.  
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    Brit, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 12:59am

    While I agree with Jarod Lanier's points about respecting intellectual property, I don't actually accept his reasons for disliking the "collectivism" of the internet. So, while I won't defend Lanier's position, I will take a minute to address Mike's dismissal of intellectual property.

    "The one point that really does need to be refuted is that he seems to believe that artificial scarcity somehow makes people pay."

    The concept of "artificial scarcity" is used by the free-culture movement to suggest some sort of conspiracy to drive up prices (like DeBeer's and the diamond market). The reality is this: when digital media is everywhere, it ceases to have value. You can't sell software if getting free copies is trivial. What this means is that under "natural" conditions, the market value of digital media is zero. How do you get people to pay for something that has zero market value? You can't. But, we all know digital media is inherently valuable to people. I want software and games and music and movies. The fact that I am willing to pay for these items proves that they have an inherent value. We're caught in a conundrum because there's a big gap between the "market value" and the "inherent value" of digital media. Under "market value" conditions, creators simply can't afford the development costs needed to create new works. Enter copyright. Copyright exists to free us from the problems of "zero market value" that all digital media suffers from. It allows creators to charge something closer to the "inherent value" of a product, and use that money to fund development. In the end, society gets the product, and creators can afford to make it. Under a free-culture system, this collapses, leaving everyone poorer.

    To put it in more concrete terms:
    If a company spends $1 millon dollars to create a piece of software, and 50,000 people pay $20 to buy a copy, then this means: (1) the company can afford to create the product, (2) the fact that people are willing to pay $20 means that the value of the product *to them* is at least $20 - and it might be worth $30 or $40 in their eyes. The end result is that 50,000 pay $1 million (collectively) to get a product valued at $1.5 or $2.0 million dollars (collectively). Everyone is better off.

    Under the free-culture movement, the creator's ability to fund the creation of valuable digital media is undermined. They either spend $1 million dollars on a product and then go bankrupt because it has zero market value once it hits the internet, or the company makes a wise financial decision and doesn't even bother to create it in the first place. Now, society can't pay $20 to get a $30 or $40 product. They can't even get it for free. Everyone is worse-off.

    The free-culture movement would suggest that you sell auxiliary things - like t-shirts, tech-support, etc. The problem with that is that (a) you could already do those things under a copyright system, but under the free-culture system, you have to give away your most valuable asset and try to make it up with sales of secondary things, (b) most digital media simply isn't amenable to selling "extras", (c) when you can sell extras, you make a small fraction of what you were making before. In effect, stripping away copyright has effects similar to dropping a huge sales tax on creators -- it's harder to earn a living, and harder to justify staying in the field.

    In the end, the free-culture movement fails because it cannot setup a decent system to fund the creation of new works. Most of the people defending "free culture" either don't address this fact, complain that digital media would be more valuable to society if everyone could have free copies (without addressing the funding of those works), or they do a little hand-waving about authors getting paid with auxiliary sales or donations (which I don't believe will work for the majority of creations).

     

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    Modplan (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 1:58am

    No evidence

    The concept of "artificial scarcity" is used by the free-culture movement to suggest some sort of conspiracy to drive up prices (like DeBeer's and the diamond market). The reality is this: when digital media is everywhere, it ceases to have value. You can't sell software if getting free copies is trivial. What this means is that under "natural" conditions, the market value of digital media is zero. How do you get people to pay for something that has zero market value? You can't.


    Tell that to Red Hat, Novell and Canonical all of whom make money from software that is freely distributable.

    I suggest you take a little read around Techdirt before you post, Mike has gone over the economic principles many, many, many times.

     

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    cc, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 2:09am

    Re:

    If you can't sell the movie, sell the experience (cinema, IMAX). If you can't sell the mp3, sell the concert or a service (spotify, youtube). If you can't sell the software, sell the service (cloud computing, search, world of warcraft).

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 2:21am

    Re:

    The concept of "artificial scarcity" is used by the free-culture movement to suggest some sort of conspiracy to drive up prices (like DeBeer's and the diamond market). The reality is this: when digital media is everywhere, it ceases to have value. You can't sell software if getting free copies is trivial. What this means is that under "natural" conditions, the market value of digital media is zero.

    You are confusing price with value. Value is a part of the demand curve. Price is the intersection of supply and demand. The value of an abundant good may still be high, but if it's not scarce, you won't be able to sell it for very much. That's just economics.

    How do you get people to pay for something that has zero market value? You can't.

    Again, you are confusing price and value. And, yes, you often can get people to pay for goods by bundling them with other things.

    The free-culture movement would suggest that you sell auxiliary things - like t-shirts, tech-support, etc. The problem with that is that (a) you could already do those things under a copyright system, but under the free-culture system, you have to give away your most valuable asset and try to make it up with sales of secondary things,

    This is a blatant misunderstanding of the economics at play. The value of the abundant/infinite good is *increased* by being free, and that *increases* the value of other scarce associated items. Often significantly.

    Google gives away its search results (infinite), and that builds up the value of the attention (scarce) which it sells to advertisers.

    IBM contributes a ton to free software (infinite) and then makes a ridiculous amount of money on services (scarce).

    You say that they "could already do this" before, but that is incorrect. If done properly (and perhaps you are only familiar with those who have done it improperly), you absolutely can make more money by properly utilizing what is infinite and what is scarce.

    (b) most digital media simply isn't amenable to selling "extras",

    I keep hearing this and I think this is people saying "I'm not creative." I don't buy it. We've seen tons of examples in pretty much every kind of digital media. Claiming it's not amenable is just lazy and generally incorrect.

    (c) when you can sell extras, you make a small fraction of what you were making before.

    Only if you do it wrong.

    In the end, the free-culture movement fails because it cannot setup a decent system to fund the creation of new works.

    This is laughably incorrect. As we have seen, with the growth of free culture, more artists are making money than they were in the past, and more digital content of all kinds (software, music, movies, photos, etc.) are being created today than ever before in history. To claim that the incentive system isn't there is pure folly.

     

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    Doctor Strange, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 2:29am

    Re: Re:

    Those are interesting examples you've chosen.

    If you can't sell the movie, sell the experience (cinema, IMAX).

    If there were no copyright, why would the owners and operators of an IMAX theater pay the creators of, say, Avatar, anything to show their movies?

    If you can't sell the mp3, sell the concert or a service (spotify, youtube).

    The concert might make you some money. But how much art has YouTube created? How many MP3s? I'm not asking how much art other people have created and put on YouTube, I'm asking how much YouTube itself has created?

    If you can't sell the software, sell the service (cloud computing, search, world of warcraft).

    This works primarily because the service companies keep total control of their software in-house. Can you go download Google's search algorithms and crawlers and set up a competitor? Can you run your own World of Warcraft servers? Can you develop your own WoW expansions to compete with Cataclysm? This is just a very effective form of digital rights management backed up by intellectual property laws.

     

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    Doctor Strange, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 2:36am

    Re: Re:

    And, yes, you often can get people to pay for goods by bundling them with other things.

    As long as you retain a monopoly on the bundled things.

     

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    cc, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 2:37am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Scarce resource vs infinite resource.

    Mike is less lazy, so his post explains it better.

    Nuff said.

     

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    Doctor Strange, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 2:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Scarce resource vs infinite resource.

    Mike is less lazy, so his post explains it better.

    Nuff said.


    Oh cool we're playing the "make a cryptic statement to imply that the other person is stupid" game! I like that one! My turn!

    Artificial Scarcity, Tragedy of the Commons.

    Nuff said.

    Did I win?

     

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    cc, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 2:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No.

     

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    Doctor Strange, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 3:00am

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

    No.

    Well thank goodness it's opposite day then.

     

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  12.  
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    :), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 3:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    IMAX Theater owners would pay the production cost of a film, they need something to show and would produce themselves no?

    Just like TV stations pay for their own content no?

    Live Shows gave Madonna the biggest year of hear life financially no?

    Did you know that Madonna also sells books, apparel and any other kind of merch?

    So there you go even with music being free she can and do make a lot of money.

    One can even use the number of downloads to have an idea of how well things are going to be financially because it often show how strong the interest in something is.

    Writers could make even better if they actually sold more things.

    Copyright is even important for Copyleft as it depends on it to maintain its own rights.

    The market changed you can no longer be paid by music you have to perform you can no longer get paid automatically and do nothing you have to work and that means offering services and scarce things that can't be copied there is no going back, there is no magic bullet that will change things not even law can stop what is happening but there are ways to get paid still just not in the way some people would like and the world isn't gonna wait for them.

    One thing I can tell for sure.

    Never I will "buy" a product from anyone that puts a "Copyright" on his or her products.

    Copyleft and public domain is all that I want from now on.

    And I'm telling everyone to look for good copyleft licenses.

     

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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 3:11am

    Re:

    "The reality is this: when digital media is everywhere, it ceases to have value. You can't sell software if getting free copies is trivial. What this means is that under "natural" conditions, the market value of digital media is zero. How do you get people to pay for something that has zero market value? You can't."

    It's almost like you've never read Mike's freely available writings on the subject. You are partly right in saying you can't get people to pay for non scarce goods; you certainly can't force them to, although it has been shown that the majority of people who genuinely see value in someone's work will pay for it just to support the creator. They do so not out of a sense of charity but because they recognise the value of investment. Regardless of this you can tie in scarce goods with other non scarce goods to ensure a revenue stream, in your example software support or customisation might be two possibilities.

    To sum it up: the market value of the digital media is indeed zero but the non scarce goods open up other markets, the most obvious being that of investment in the creator.

    "Under the free-culture movement, the creator's ability to fund the creation of valuable digital media is undermined. They either spend $1 million dollars on a product and then go bankrupt because it has zero market value once it hits the internet, or the company makes a wise financial decision and doesn't even bother to create it in the first place. Now, society can't pay $20 to get a $30 or $40 product. They can't even get it for free. Everyone is worse-off."

    You mean, except when they aren't? I'm not sure what you're getting at here apart from trying to peddle a poor supposition that people who make a business out of free are destined to go bankrupt. Someone has already pointed out the examples of software companies entirely quashing this notion, I'd add sports, TV, web services (Google for example), wifi hotspots, newspapers (before the internet), not to mention all the artists who use business models centred around free.

    If your argument is about the scale then it has been debunked a few times. My favourite point on that subject is pointing out the lack of expensive films and the like isn't necessarily a bad thing. While expensive things may be considered 'nice', there is a big difference between 'I want' and 'I demand'. If people aren't willing to pay more to support a big budget venture than a competing low budget venture then that is economics at work, it is hard to believe a truly efficient market would churn out expensive coasters at the rate Hollywood does.

    "In effect, stripping away copyright has effects similar to dropping a huge sales tax on creators -- it's harder to earn a living, and harder to justify staying in the field."

    If I might add to the last bit to better explain: 'it's harder to earn a living, and harder to justify staying in the field because the market is more competitive'. No one is claiming that some people won't get forced out of business, on the contrary that is what many are willing to happen. Just because some who want to create and get paid can't without copyright doesn't justify it, you are conflating the supposition that no one can do without copyright with the fact that some people cannot do without copyright.

    "n the end, the free-culture movement fails because it cannot setup a decent system to fund the creation of new works. Most of the people defending "free culture" either don't address this fact, complain that digital media would be more valuable to society if everyone could have free copies (without addressing the funding of those works), or they do a little hand-waving about authors getting paid with auxiliary sales or donations (which I don't believe will work for the majority of creations)."

    Thus you cement your tired old arguments. No one is hand waving where I'm sitting, except to point to examples of things that back up what we're saying. I imagine if I point to services like Bandcamp, Magnatune, Jamando and Open Source software you will claim that what is produced there doesn't meet your exacting standards. Of course, if you refuse to participate then they never will.

     

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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 3:16am

    Re: Re:

    "You are confusing price with value"

    You're brave, I didn't even dare to go there! Perhaps you should charge him for the economics lesson. Judging by his views I'm sure he'd be happy to pay for the service.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 3:59am

    Re:

    In the end, the free-culture movement fails because it cannot setup a decent system to fund the creation of new works.

    The fundamental assumption that you make is that everyone is not only totally selfish but completely stupid in their selfishness.

    Thankfully we can see that in the real world this is simply not true.

    Indeed if it were true then no system of social organisation could survive and we would be worse than most animals.

    Every part of our society thrives on trust.

    In the free culture movement those who trust more are rewarded more.

    The reason is simple the "thieves" do not cost you anything anymore. They cover the cost of producing the goods that they steal by doing it themselves!

    You survive from the honest people (the majority as it turns out) who pay or contribute even though they don't have to.

    I pay (voluntarily) more money per year to the free software foundation because I want free software to exist than I would ever pay for "bought" software.

    I also contribute my own work to the pool for nothing.

    Your arguments work only with basest assumptions about humanity.

     

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    Doctor Strange, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 4:17am

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

    IMAX Theater owners would pay the production cost of a film, they need something to show and would produce themselves no?

    Why not let others produce the movies and take all the risk, and then show them for free?

    Just like TV stations pay for their own content no?

    Yes, and they pay for the content so they can show it exclusively. Which they can do, thanks to copyright.

    Live Shows gave Madonna the biggest year of hear life financially no?

    Probably. As James Taylor once said, of his top 10 sources of income, 8 of them are touring. I wonder how Madonna got so famous though, to make people want to come see her tours...hmmm...

    Did you know that Madonna also sells books, apparel and any other kind of merch?

    And CDs, yes. Well, fewer of them nowadays probably.

    So there you go even with music being free she can and do make a lot of money.

    Indeed. She sold her copyrights for fame and some money, and it worked out pretty well for her. Thanks to the devaluation of copyrights, new artists that want to do what Madonna did will instead be offered "360 deals" where they sell their copyrights AND a piece of all their merch action and touring for fame.

    Never I will "buy" a product from anyone that puts a "Copyright" on his or her products.

    Good luck with that.

    Oh, and we have your assurance that you will not have any involvement with those copyrighted products by other, less savory means also? That is, you're going to protest by actually denying yourself those things - you're not planning to just enjoy them without paying the asking price, right?

     

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    John Doe, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 4:18am

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

    He doesn't want to sing for his supper every night? I have to cut code every day for my supper. Where does it say in the Constitution that you are entitled to get rich and kick back? It says you can pursue happiness, it does not say you are guaranteed to get it.

     

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    Chill, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 4:50am

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

    I wonder how Madonna got so famous though, to make people want to come see her tours...hmmm...

    It seems you're implying that it was her records.

    Imagine how well she would have done if here records were available free to the masses with free distribution.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, I give you points for at least acknowledging that copyright is a monopoly as opposed to some sort of property right.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 6:12am

    What?

    In the end, the free-culture movement fails because it cannot setup a decent system to fund the creation of new works.

    By that logic the free culture movement should have died out years ago.

     

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    senshikaze (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    In the end, the free-culture movement fails because it cannot setup a decent system to fund the creation of new works. Most of the people defending "free culture" either don't address this fact, complain that digital media would be more valuable to society if everyone could have free copies (without addressing the funding of those works), or they do a little hand-waving about authors getting paid with auxiliary sales or donations (which I don't believe will work for the majority of creations).

    my favorite part of this? he is arguing about something that he doesn't understand past the money part.

    It isn't about the money. It never was. If money tints the way you see every little thing humans do, then you are already lost.

    There is this great thing, its called difference of opinion. Some of us like free(libre) software and while yes, most free(libre) software is free(gratis), not all of it is. I will pay for software i see a value in. I don't see a value in overpriced OS's, office suites, or most video games. In a completely free market i have the choice to spend or not to spend my money. Free(libre) software helps to make that more possible.

    I don't know what crawled up your ass and died, but you need to chill out. Money is useless.

     

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    herodotus (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 6:51am

    "Oh cool we're playing the "make a cryptic statement to imply that the other person is stupid" game! I like that one!"

    Obviously.

    But not as much as the 'make snide oversimplified generalizations anonymously' game. You excel at that one.

    Personally, I've never liked either game very much.

     

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    jjmsan (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 6:56am

    Mud

    I am tired of the tee shirt example. Could we switch to something else? I like the example of dirt. It is readily available, there is a lot of it and people still pay for it. Go to any garden store. You will see bags of dirt. They are priced and people buy them so it would seem not only can you sell things that are readily available its has been going on for a long time. Don't like dirt? How about water? When bottled water came out everyone said "Why would anyone pay for bottled water?" Yet not only is it huge industry now you have competion to sell water. We could even combine the two for "mud" which is what a lot of these arguments are as clear as. So apparently you can sell that too.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 6:57am

    The purpose of copyright

    "Copyright exists to free us from the problems of "zero market value" that all digital media suffers from."

    No, it does not. Copyright exists to benefit society by encouraging people to create stuff that will eventually get added to the cultural commons. It does this by providing a limited-term legal monopoly.

    It has nothing to do with freeing anyone from "zero market value." It was created before there existed anything like digital media and zero reproduction costs.

     

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    jenningsthecat (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Artificial scarcity DOES make people pay!

    Unfortunately, it's true, and I've mentioned this here before. DeBeers has managed to enforce an artificial scarcity in diamonds for over 120 years. It's widely known that even gem-quality diamonds aren't uncommon at all, and that DeBeers creates an unnatural scarcity in order to keep prices ridiculously high. Yet most people still buy diamond engagement rings and other diamond jewellery at stupidly inflated prices. As long as people continue to willingly pay the extortion that artificial scarcity represents, then other people like Jaron Lanier will feel justified in roping in the rubes and accepting their money.

     

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    Danny (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 7:40am

    What I learned debating nazis

    I spent much of the 1990s debating online with Holocaust deniers (alt.revisionism was ground zero.) Lanier's debating style reminds me of the class of denier who was a follower rather than a leader.

    Lanier sounds to me as though he is someone who has a deep emotional connection to the argument he is making, but is parroting someone else's logic rather than having constructed his own. He lacks a deep understanding of the argument so, when pressed, he has to fall back on phrases he internalized during his own learning; or he waffles because he really doesn't know.

    When one is debating someone like this it is unlikely one changes the debaters mind--unless one is table to tap into the emotional place that brought him to his original position. Rather one is debating more to sway the audience.

    To that end, it is important to do what Paley did: treat Lanier with respect even if as his logic is being shredded. An audience member new to the topic can be persuaded by this approach. If the debate against Lanier becomes nasty or ad hominem, the naive listener may become sympathetic to the victim.

    For that reason, the nasty ad hominems here are not helpful.

     

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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 8:19am

    Re: What I learned debating nazis

    I agree that respect is important in such discussions and applaud Nina (as always) for doing so well. I also think there is a place for a critical evaluation of the person behind an argument as well though and Mike seems to do that with as much respect as may be afforded to the subject. It's not like the guy was making an ass of himself at dinner or something, he wrote a book on his views. From what I've seen it's not like he goes out of his way to avoid pissing people off either, he uses phrases like 'digital peasants' and implies that Linux is just a rip off of Unix.

    While it may not be absolutely productive to call celebrities out when they're being idiots it is certainly to be expected and arguably justified. Here is a guy who has written a book which he expects people to pay for before reading, and you're suggesting that people shouldn't ridicule him for the views in his book? Perhaps the biggest argument is that calling him an idiot is a public service to dissuade people from buying his book.

     

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    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 8:59am

    Re: Artificial scarcity DOES make people pay!

    Artificial Scarcity and a helluva marketing campaign (excellent article by the way), but are you arguing that this is a good thing?

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Tragedy of the Commons doesn't apply to infinite goods. Or else the public domain would be rendered worthless.

     

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  30.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 11:15am

    The 25 cent record album.

    > The concept of "artificial scarcity" is used by the
    > free-culture movement to suggest some sort of conspiracy
    > to drive up prices

    No. The concept of "artificial scarcity" is used by libertarians to point out the fact that "intellectual property" is entirely dependent on governments interfering in markets. People trade scarce things even in the absence of anything resembling government. The idea that a scarce physical thing is valuable is intuitive to humans. History demonstrates this.

    On the other hand, history clearly demonstrates that "ideas as property" is highly artificial. This is why stuff gets copied when ever it can be copied. No one, not even those that fixate on morality, view it as obvious that it is wrong to copy something.

    Non-imaginary property intuitively has value because it has a significant marginal production cost. Creative works don't have any significant marginal production cost and are just devalued intuitively by anyone that can make new copies.

    "Gee, I can reproduce this for a quarter." devalues creative works.

    Oddly enough, even cutthroat competition in the marketplace devalues creative works. I have a great heaping collection of DVDs because of this.

    Sony shouldn't worry about "pirates". It should worry about it's own back catalog. This goes equally well for music as it does video.

     

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  31.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 11:19am

    What is really scarce...

    A record album is not a scarce thing. It has no value. What is scarce and has value is the talent behind the album. If you have any real talent, then you can survive the new minefield.

    Recordings are still a pale imitation of the real thing.

    Free media is nothing new. We call these things radio and TV.

     

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  32.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re:

    The biggest problem about "selling the scarce" is that many of the scarcities are very artificial indeed. The only true scarcities are things limited by personal time (in music, call it a personal appearance, the old meet and greet, whatever), or limited very specifically by a physical limitation.

    Heck, even concert tickets are artificially scarce, except for the very few acts that can fill a football stadium for a show every night of the year. Otherwise, the scarcity is created artificially by playing a smaller venue then the number of people who desire to see the shows.

    In all of this process, there is one very real scarcity that has had it's price, it's market value, and slowly it's underlying value stripped away: Original material.

    Artificial scarcity is the magician's flash paper of economics, it takes your eyes away from where the real action happens.

     

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  33.  
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    Brit, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Re: No evidence

    "Tell that to Red Hat,"

    You mean the company that sells training, customization, and tech-support? That only works when you have a complex product that requires lots of experience. You simply aren't selling those things with most software. You can't seriously suggest that Blizzard can give-away Starcraft 2, and charge for "training, customization, and tech-support". On that system, would they make anything close to 1/20th the amount of money they make on sales? Besides, Red Hat piggy-backing on the work they get for free off of Linux.

     

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  34.  
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    Brit, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    Re: The purpose of copyright

    >> "Copyright exists to free us from the problems of "zero market value" that all digital media suffers from."

    > "No, it does not. Copyright exists to benefit society by encouraging people to create stuff that will eventually get added to the cultural commons. It does this by providing a limited-term legal monopoly.

    It has nothing to do with freeing anyone from "zero market value." It was created before there existed anything like digital media and zero reproduction costs."
    ---------------------------
    Huh? I fail to see how you're disagreeing with me. By rescuing media from the "zero market value" problem it "encourages people to create stuff".

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    :), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 3:31pm

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

    Yes you have my word on that and here is why:

    Openrisc
    Openspark
    Jamendo
    Magnatune
    Locarecords
    Blender
    Gimp
    Inkscape
    GRASS
    pmdb.o rg
    archive.org
    librivox.org
    freesound.org
    instructables.com
    opencores.org
    reprap.org
    fsf.org
    gutenberg.org
    ccmixter.org
    viaopenbook
    cadyou
    opengraphics.org
    openmaterials.org
    thingiverse
    publicdomainflicks
    RED HAT
    Canonical
    GNUCash
    Gnumeric
    gEDA
    arduino
    Thousands of years of stories to draw from.


    Damn even cars I can do it for free.
    OSCAR Project

    Go to makerbot industries and see free in action making money there is no patent protections there.

     

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  36.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Heck, even concert tickets are artificially scarce, except for the very few acts that can fill a football stadium for a show every night of the year. Otherwise, the scarcity is created artificially by playing a smaller venue then the number of people who desire to see the shows."

    Yeah, and I'm an artificial boy because I was woman made.

    "In all of this process, there is one very real scarcity that has had it's price, it's market value, and slowly it's underlying value stripped away: Original material."

    I think your point was lost amongst the incoherent babble.

    "Artificial scarcity is the magician's flash paper of economics, it takes your eyes away from where the real action happens."

    There's a classic. You should put it up above your desk at troll central.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Brit, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    vivaelamor: "It's almost like you've never read Mike's freely available writings on the subject."

    Nope, I didn't, but, like most commenters, I don't think I should be expected to automatically know about some post the author wrote three years ago. If I'm expected to have read his earlier essay, then he should've linked to it.

    As for his earlier essay: I just wasn't that impressed. He says that you can give away your copyrighted work for free and then capture increased sales of scarce items, but the problem I have with the essay is this:

    (1) Mike claims that all businesses always benefit from this alternate model. This seems like a hasty over-generalization. With a sweep of his hand, Mike knows the business situation of millions of companies ranging diversely from music to books to software to movies. He's saying "I don't know about your situation, but I know the cure for what ails you".
    (2) While Mike is right about giving it away can improve sales of secondary items, he makes the bad assumption that secondary sales will compensate or more than compensate by giving away your primary work. Take my example of Blizzard giving away copies of Starcraft 2. Will they earn back those lost sales through increased sales of action figures and various other things? I highly doubt it.
    (3) If this system really does work (and I never said it couldn't work for a minority of businesses), then those businesses should be the one making the decision for themselves. I don't believe it can work, but I have the option to do it (if I choose) and I can see the results of other people doing it. One of my irritations with the free culture movement is the tendency to use these ideas as justification for piracy - as if they know better than me what's best for business (meanwhile, they're doing exactly what's in the own self-interest).
    (4) I don't much care for Mike's tendency to brand people who don't buy into his argument as "lazy" or "doing it wrong". I don't believe his system works. If I tried his system and failed, he could simply claim that I "did it wrong". I think Mike should be mindful of the fact that, in fact, a business might actually be a lot worse off with a "give it away" strategy. If that situation ever happens, Mike would be blind to the reason that business failed, and would actually rationalize it as "they did it wrong or were lazy", rather than actually perceiving that his system doesn't always work. My statement to Mike would be "How would you know if you were wrong? How would you know if you are overgeneralizing?" If he can't answer those questions, then he needs to think about that and brush up on the question of Falsifiability: "Falsifiability is an important concept in science and the philosophy of science. The concept was made popular by Karl Popper,..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

    ----

    Mike:
    "You are confusing price with value."
    No, I used the word "market value" throughout my comment. It's clear from the context that when I used "value" in that one instance, I meant "market value".

    "And, yes, you often can get people to pay for goods by bundling them with other things."
    You're not actually selling the original thing, you're selling the secondary items. I already said that.

    "The value of the abundant/infinite good is *increased* by being free, and that *increases* the value of other scarce associated items. Often significantly."
    Your assumption here is that it increases the value of secondary items in a way that more than compensates for the loss of market value of the first. This is certainly not the case for all items.

    "you absolutely can make more money by properly utilizing what is infinite and what is scarce."
    Only under certain conditions. I disagree that this is always true, which seems to be what you're suggesting. In fact, I'd say it's only true in a minority of cases.

    "I keep hearing this and I think this is people saying "I'm not creative." I don't buy it. We've seen tons of examples in pretty much every kind of digital media. Claiming it's not amenable is just lazy and generally incorrect."
    Just because we don't buy it doesn't mean were guilty of some personal flaw. Further, being able to cite specific examples of this working does not allow you to conclude that it's a good system for all companies. For example, I could find examples of people who survived car crashes because they weren't wearing their seatbelt. That does not allow you to conclude that wearing a seatbelt is better than wearing one. There are many more examples of the opposite. Similarly, just because you can cite examples of "giving it away and profiting on secondary items" does not mean that you can conclude that, as a rule, it's better to give it away and make money on secondary items.

    "(c) when you can sell extras, you make a small fraction of what you were making before."
    "Only if you do it wrong."
    I disagree. You seem to believe that your system is always better than the copyright system. Again, I'd ask you to question your assumption that it's *always* better for *everybody* to do it that way. Is there any evidence that anyone could present that would actually show you that your view doesn't work for everybody? If not, then you have an unfalsifiable hypothesis, and you are unable to actually reason your way out of your own viewpoint.

    "As we have seen, with the growth of free culture, more artists are making money than they were in the past, and more digital content of all kinds (software, music, movies, photos, etc.) are being created today than ever before in history."
    I think you're wrong when you suggest that this has anything to do with the free culture movement. It has to do with the wide availability of technology to create new stuff, lowered cost (of computers, cameras, etc), the ability to put it on the internet, the ability to sell directly through the internet, etc. I fail to see how any of that has to do with the "free culture" movement. Afterall, what percentage of that work is done with a "give it away and sell secondary items" business model? Very little. It's either amateur work that's given away for free (without any compensation), or it's done under copyright. The examples given above ("Openrisc, Openspark, Jamendo, Magnatune, Locarecords, Blender, Gimp,...") contains mostly companies I (or most everyone else) hasn't heard of. In some cases (like Blender), they were proprietary products that were open-sourced because they failed in the market.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Brit, Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 7:02pm

    Re:

    "That does not allow you to conclude that wearing a seatbelt is better than wearing one."

    I meant to write "That does not allow you to conclude that **not** wearing a seatbelt is better than wearing one."

     

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  39.  
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    Modplan (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Re: No evidence

    You mean the company that sells training, customization, and tech-support? That only works when you have a complex product that requires lots of experience. You simply aren't selling those things with most software. You can't seriously suggest that Blizzard can give-away Starcraft 2, and charge for "training, customization, and tech-support". On that system, would they make anything close to 1/20th the amount of money they make on sales? Besides, Red Hat piggy-backing on the work they get for free off of Linux.


    When did I mention Blizzard?

    And yeah, Red Hat piggybacks on Linux, despite the fact that they continue to invest and develop Linux, having created quite a hefty amount of software for it and having a large contribution to the Linux Kernel itself. There is in fact regular checks on who is the biggest contributor to Linux, and Red Hat is regularly amongst those at the top.

    Not to mention you don't just ship Linux as is. Not only do you have to actively contribute if you're a company like Red Hat who wants to create something customers will want, you also have to work at producing further patches and further stabilising the product due to the high requirements of businesses.

    On that system, would they make anything close to 1/20th the amount of money they make on sales?


    Irrelevant hypothetical. Red Hat don't charge for software, because they employ a development model that allows them to produce software cheaper than normal (which means they inherently don't have to make as much back to cover it), and don't sell software because of the same realisations Mike has talked about in this post and various others. They only have any right to make as much money as they're ever going to make, no more, no less.

    You can't seriously suggest that Blizzard can give-away Starcraft 2, and charge for "training, customization, and tech-support"


    I'm seriously suggesting that Blizzard could find other ways to monetise the game if they were to make a product that was free upfront. They already have a services based model with WoW. They charge you for ongoing service and maintenance of servers (which help to provide a consistent, good experience), along with the production of new content.

    If people are happy for pay for Starcraft 2, so be it. If they're not, you can't force them too because you're not creative enough to come up with another way to finance the creation of a large game, especially when there are models that allow you to develop cheaper. Either way, there doesn't appear to be a huge need for DRM of overly draconion copyright systems to allow them to do that, and that's the point.

     

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  40.  
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    Modplan (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 7:56pm

    You must've missed them

    Nope, I didn't, but, like most commenters, I don't think I should be expected to automatically know about some post the author wrote three years ago. If I'm expected to have read his earlier essay, then he should've linked to it.


    I guess you missed them then, seeing as they're linked on the front page.

    No one expects you too, but it's common sense and etiquette. Browsing around the other articles would have been a much better way to spend your time rather than writing out that large comment, as then you would be able to see the exact same or similar arguments presented elsewhere, and see how they were argued against or debunked. This would either out your claims to rest, or allow you to formulate a better argument that doesn't follow the same pattern as every other person who disagrees, of which the arguments have been dealt with numerous times.

     

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  41.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 22nd, 2010 @ 8:23pm

    Re:

    (4) I don't much care for Mike's tendency to brand people who don't buy into his argument as "lazy" or "doing it wrong".

    That's why I weigh in so much about music. There isn't a big enough paying audience for everyone "to do it right." Potential fans have only so much disposable income and so much available time.

    If there is a true scarce resource, it's attention. And the fans are the ones who own it, not the artists. So you end up with a situation where the artists pay the fans to listen rather than the fans paying the artists.

    So many music makers want audiences that they will spend money to reach those audiences. That's not going to change in the future. Artists are spending money on various marketing and promotional tools to find fans, often with no real idea if they will make a profit in the process.

    There is actually a lot of good music out there. And as technology allows more people make music, we may find a situation where fans say, "How much are you going to pay me to listen? What freebies can I get if I come to your show?" It's already happened with recorded music. People won't pay because they know they can get it for free.

    Musicians are going to keep giving more and more stuff away for free in hopes of engaging their fans. The fans will catch on that if they hold out, most likely nothing will be scarce. We're starting to see that with concert tickets. In the last year, people who waited until the last minute to buy tickets to shows by major stars found they could get tickets for below list price. That's kind of the beauty of the Internet. When you find out that your friends got concert tickets for less than half of what you paid, you quit paying premium prices anymore.

     

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  42.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 12:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "If there were no copyright, why would the owners and operators of an IMAX theater pay the creators of, say, Avatar, anything to show their movies?"

    Because they stand to make money from it. A lack of copyright does NOT mean that money cannot be made, it only means that there is no artificially enforced monopoly. In your example, people would still pay to see Avatar at IMAX or in 3D because it offers a much better experience than you can get at home. As cc said, sell the experience not the movie.

    "But how much art has YouTube created?"

    Depends on your definition of "art". By some standards, millions of unique and interesting products. By others, not much. Who are you to determine what constitutes "art" or not?

    "I'm asking how much YouTube itself has created?"

    Ah, in that case you're a fool. YouTube is not a platform for *creating* the movies, it's a platform for *distributing* them. By your definition, radio stations and cinemas have no use, since they don't "create art". But, they are certainly responsible for its creation, albeit indirectly.

    "Can you go download Google's search algorithms and crawlers and set up a competitor?"

    Probably, but trade secrets and other laws would have you shut down rather quickly, even if copyright didn't exist. Besides, doing so would be foolish - could you really replicate Google's ad revenue generation, server farms (speed is one of Google's assets, not something you can replicate from your bedroom) and R&D? Unlikely.

    "Can you run your own World of Warcraft servers?"

    Yes, of course you can. The value of WoW is the community, not the servers themselves, which cannot be replicated by simply running another server.

    "Can you develop your own WoW expansions to compete with Cataclysm?"

    You probably could, but you would be shut down quite quickly with trademarks and other non-copyright laws if copyright did not exist. This makes it unlikely that anyone would try, and even if they did the sheer amount of work to make an expansion of comparable quality would not make it an attractive option. It would probably be easier and cheaper to make a new MMO.

    "This is just a very effective form of digital rights management backed up by intellectual property laws."

    DRM did not come into play anywhere in any of your examples.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 12:45am

    Money is legitimately scarce I tell you!

    He tries to support the importance of "artificial scarcity" by using money as an example, saying that money only works because it's artificially scarce. But that's a total misunderstanding of money.


    It's not a misunderstanding at all, it's simply a comparison you don't like because it calls into question a lot of your highest held axioms.

    Money works because it's a proxy for value, so it isn't actually artificially scarce at all.


    In other words, unicorns fly because they have a cranial horn, which is why refrigerators don't do yoga...

    Money being a "proxy for value" does not negate THE FACT that the dollar bill is an artificially scarce governmental construct backed by a vault of spiderwebs and dust that relies on a federal monopoly-right to function. The technology to copy money is readily available and it's only getting easier even as more and more anti-copying security features ("DRM") are installed in the paper.

    The fact that inflation would occur if enough people freely copied money has no bearing on any of these facts. You call this comparison a "misunderstanding" because it conflicts with some of your "Masnick Absolutes", namely:
    1)All monopolies are bad. (shhh! no one mention trademarks!)
    2)You can't hold back the tide of technology.
    3)It is ALWAYS better to embrace infinity (or "approaching infinity" as you like to say) than to try and artificially create scarcity via monopoly rights.

    A quick search revealed this recent quote by a secret service agent: "Today's counterfeiter is able to produce counterfeit currency with basic computer training and public education. Counterfeit passing statistics are likely to increase because of several factors: these instruments of production are more readily available, the capabilities of these machines continue to improve and the techniques are more readily understood by an increasingly larger segment of the population..."

    http://www.secretservice.gov/money_technologies.shtml

    Whew! Anyone else get a little deja vu chill down the spine just now?

    And before some Ferrari-driving, cocaine-addicted, luddite dinosaur waddles over on all fours to call this the dreaded 'S' word, let me head him off at the pass and say as clearly as I can: sharing unauthorized copies of money is NOT stealing, it is counterfeiting, and there is a HUGE difference, buddy! Anyone who says differently must be some kind of greedy, anti-counterfeiting shill/nazi/slave owner who doesn't own a dictionary.

    Furthermore, having read enough of this site, I'm not entirely sure an economy based upon infinitely reproducible national tender would be such a bad thing...

    In fact, I think it would be a great thing!

    If supply and demand drove our currency to zero (as it should) there would be even more opportunity out there for smart and creative people to use its infinite nature to their advantage like never before! You could have a business that turns this abundant resource into non-abundant, beautiful origami! Or clothes! You could use it for kindling in the winter! Or to light a cigar! Or tear it up and use it for bedding! And there's already countless examples of artists incorporating money into their art pieces. The possibilities are truly endless with the right business model in place...

    And perhaps MOST importantly, if everyone was given the right, nay, LIBERTY, to break our nations immoral money-printing monopoly and freely copy our own legal tender in the sacred privacy of our own homes, Nina Paley would finally be able to make back all the money she lost on her movie!

     

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  44.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 1:51am

    Re: Money is legitimately scarce I tell you!

    Kind of an interesting spin on things. I guess people should be able to print up as much money as they wish. The more homemade money they make, the more they can spend. Never really thought about it like that, but ease of copying kind of makes it infinite, doesn't it.

     

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  45.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 5:01am

    Re: The 25 cent record album.

    The problem isn't the cost to duplicate it, it is the cost to create the first one.

    Let's say a band wants to make a new album (dozen songs). There are 5 members in this band, plus an engineer and a producer at work at different points. It takes a year to write, arrange, record, edit, mix, and produce a final product. Now, even if they are working for minimum wage, there is abot $100,000 worth of time right there.

    They make the final product, and yes, technically, you can copy it for 25 cents (actually less than that). But in the end, the scarcity, new recorded music, is still scarce. It would cost actually $100,000.25 to product the same amount of new product. Reproducing it isn't where the true costs are.

    Without a system that allows that $100,000 to be recouped (and a fair profit made), the production of new material will suffer (and according to some already has). Marginal costs are not the big end of the deal, and looking only there is why there is such a gulf between the digital freebie dreams and the real world realities of producing content.

     

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  46.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 6:07am

    Re:

    "Nope, I didn't, but, like most commenters, I don't think I should be expected to automatically know about some post the author wrote three years ago. If I'm expected to have read his earlier essay, then he should've linked to it."

    Expected? I'm sorry if the sarcasm confused you but I was pointing you to his works so you could read them not out of an expectation that you had already read them.

    "(1) Mike claims that all businesses always benefit from this alternate model. This seems like a hasty over-generalization. With a sweep of his hand, Mike knows the business situation of millions of companies ranging diversely from music to books to software to movies. He's saying "I don't know about your situation, but I know the cure for what ails you"."

    You mean sort of like saying: I don't know how high you're flying but the laws of physics apply at any altitude.

    "(2) While Mike is right about giving it away can improve sales of secondary items, he makes the bad assumption that secondary sales will compensate or more than compensate by giving away your primary work. Take my example of Blizzard giving away copies of Starcraft 2. Will they earn back those lost sales through increased sales of action figures and various other things? I highly doubt it."

    Your doubt is duly noted?

    "(3) If this system really does work (and I never said it couldn't work for a minority of businesses), then those businesses should be the one making the decision for themselves. I don't believe it can work, but I have the option to do it (if I choose) and I can see the results of other people doing it. One of my irritations with the free culture movement is the tendency to use these ideas as justification for piracy - as if they know better than me what's best for business (meanwhile, they're doing exactly what's in the own self-interest)."

    Spin the argument around and it applies far better against copyright. After all, piracy is a problem created by copyright and I've yet to see a compelling justification for copyright that prohibits unauthorised file sharing.

    "(4) I don't much care for Mike's tendency to brand people who don't buy into his argument as "lazy" or "doing it wrong". I don't believe his system works."

    Welcome to Mike's blog. Reading your own, the phrase 'glass house' comes to mind.

    "No, I used the word "market value" throughout my comment. It's clear from the context that when I used "value" in that one instance, I meant "market value"."

    I presumed you meant market price rather than market value because market value doesn't make sense in that context, hence not correcting you. If the market value is zero then there is no market. If piracy is a potential issue for a product then plainly its market value is greater than zero because there is demand for it. If the market value were zero then you'd struggle to give it away. There are some artists whose works I'd put on par with nuclear waste, subjectively of course.

     

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  47.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 6:32am

    Re: Re:

    "If there is a true scarce resource, it's attention. And the fans are the ones who own it, not the artists. So you end up with a situation where the artists pay the fans to listen rather than the fans paying the artists. "

    If the music is so unpopular that you have to pay people to listen to it then perhaps a career change is in order.

    "So many music makers want audiences that they will spend money to reach those audiences. That's not going to change in the future. Artists are spending money on various marketing and promotional tools to find fans, often with no real idea if they will make a profit in the process."

    Are you new to the internet? The cost of marketing and promotion is lower than ever. Myspace.com (free) Bandcamp.com (free), and promotion? I've found many an artist through boingboing.com which is a free blog.

    "There is actually a lot of good music out there. And as technology allows more people make music, we may find a situation where fans say, "How much are you going to pay me to listen? What freebies can I get if I come to your show?" It's already happened with recorded music. People won't pay because they know they can get it for free. "

    If someone asks me how much I'm going to pay to help with their budgeting I'll laugh at them, and I work for a charity. Do you really believe stupidity is such an issue?

    "Musicians are going to keep giving more and more stuff away for free in hopes of engaging their fans. The fans will catch on that if they hold out, most likely nothing will be scarce. We're starting to see that with concert tickets. In the last year, people who waited until the last minute to buy tickets to shows by major stars found they could get tickets for below list price. That's kind of the beauty of the Internet. When you find out that your friends got concert tickets for less than half of what you paid, you quit paying premium prices anymore."

    Except all evidence I've seen points to people being happy to spend more money now rather than wait. Take the Steam store for example, eventually the prices for everything approach £5 but the top selling items are nearly always new games being sold for £30-40.

    If people would rather wait than pay the original price so much that it is a problem then the original price may be too high. I don't see how you're going to get people to pay more than they are willing to whatever the situation. If you can't find a pricing scheme that works then it suggests don't have enough demand for the product at its current value.

     

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  48.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re: The purpose of copyright

    Copyright law came into place before reproduction costs fell to zero, and so that effect is not the reason for copyright law.

    Primarily, I'm disagreeing with you in the sense that you left out the main purpose of copyright law. The main purpose is not to protect content creators per se -- it's to benefit society by encouraging works to enter the public domain. The protection part is the carrot to get content creators to be OK with that.

     

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  49.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Are you new to the internet? The cost of marketing and promotion is lower than ever. Myspace.com (free) Bandcamp.com (free), and promotion? I've found many an artist through boingboing.com which is a free blog.

    Actually it isn't. Even with free sites, there's a time cost involved. To use those online tools effectively means putting up new content and staying in touch with fans. Even if you can make infinite copies of your content, the fans like personalized interaction and that can't be infinitely reproduced.

    What I am suggesting is that trends being what they are, people will continue to put more and more music online. And trends being what they are, people are going to use applications to make their own music. And trends being what they are, people are going to find cheaper alternatives to what they want -- including entertainment.

    I have no problem with any of that. The more people making music, the better. But the share of the pie that each person making music will collect will likely go done because the amount of time to listen to music, both online and in person, is finite. The more music created, the more the fans can reject. How many artists are they actually going to buy from?

    Popularity isn't necessarily linked to talent. So suggesting to people that the most talented people will win out isn't necessarily true. Perhaps the best marketed people will make the most money. Everyone else will, hopefully, have fun but not make a living wage with music. This just doesn't get discussed enough.

    And the reason some people still sign with labels is for that mass marketing.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Money is legitimately scarce I tell you!

    A world where money is infinte would be a better world then we have now.

     

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  51.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Money is legitimately scarce I tell you!

    Using infinite money to pay for health care would be nice. I would love for everyone to be able to afford what they need.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 4:00pm

    Just another example of an historic truth:

    Techies fear creative people.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 5:46pm

    Re:

    As a creative person I do not feat techies. For I am also a techie. And a creative person. Minor tech. All the rest is creative.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Nina Paley, Jan 23rd, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "If there is a true scarce resource, it's attention. And the fans are the ones who own it, not the artists. So you end up with a situation where the artists pay the fans to listen rather than the fans paying the artists."

    This is true, and neutrally stated, I think. Art competes with other art for attention. Artists can certainly make money in this reality, but they have to understand the attention economy as you describe. If they continue to see content as the limited resource and attention as unlimited, they will get burned.

     

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  55.  
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    vivaelamor (profile), Jan 24th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Even with free sites, there's a time cost involved. To use those online tools effectively means putting up new content and staying in touch with fans."

    I didn't say the cost of marketing and promotion is free, I said those sites are free and implied that contributed to the costs being lower than ever. I do however appreciate your clarification.

    "The more music created, the more the fans can reject. How many artists are they actually going to buy from?"

    Honestly, I understand what you're saying but it just doesn't add up. The number of people making music for money isn't likely to increase as the amount of money they get stays the same. In fact, as the system becomes more efficient at paying musicians the amount of money for musicians is likely to increase and thus the number of paid musicians is likely to increase. A hundred fold more so because you won't get the inequities in the current system brought about by businesses favouring 'popular' artists.

    "Popularity isn't necessarily linked to talent. So suggesting to people that the most talented people will win out isn't necessarily true. Perhaps the best marketed people will make the most money. Everyone else will, hopefully, have fun but not make a living wage with music. This just doesn't get discussed enough."

    You seem to be describing the current system.

    "And the reason some people still sign with labels is for that mass marketing."

    And nothing stops them doing so in a less restrictive system.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    Furthermore

    The value of the abundant/infinite good is *increased* by being free, and that *increases* the value of other scarce associated items. Often significantly.


    So what? The question is, does that increased brand exposure offset what could have been made by selling copies and licenses under copyright?

    Mikes assertion that it ALWAYS does, period, end of discussion, has been in sore need of citation for a long, long, time.

    I keep hearing this and I think this is people saying "I'm not creative." I don't buy it. We've seen tons of examples in pretty much every kind of digital media. Claiming it's not amenable is just lazy and generally incorrect.


    Ah, so a handful of exceptions are now the rule...

    Only if you do it wrong.


    Hey, just like praying!

    Little Timmy died of pneumonia?

    Well, I guess his lazy parents should have prayed harder...


    Live Shows gave Madonna the biggest year of hear life financially no?


    Yes, and where is your web 2.0 Madonna equivalent? It's been over a decade since Napster so where are all your superstars harnessing the power of free?

    (crickets chirp)

    The market changed you can no longer be paid by music you have to perform you can no longer get paid automatically and do nothing --


    Wow.

    Conceptualizing, writing, producing, creating, marketing, and finally, releasing, albums, movies, novels, and video games is not "doing nothing".

    "Doing nothing" is more like what your brain did in order to make that comment.

    although it has been shown that the majority of people who genuinely see value in someone's work will pay for it just to support the creator.


    (citation needed)

    My favourite point on that subject is pointing out the lack of expensive films and the like isn't necessarily a bad thing.


    That's not a "point", that's an opinion, and your personal opinion as to the merits of larger budgeted films debunks nothing.

    there is a big difference between 'I want' and 'I demand'.


    Hopefully there is no secret government agency in charge of monitoring "irony fluctuations" because if there is, no doubt they all just spontaneously combusted.

    Just because some who want to create and get paid can't without copyright doesn't justify it


    Uh, yes it does. That's the whole reason behind it, to create incentive so more art is created.

    And besides, just because there is a tiny minority who can create and get paid without copyright doesn't justify abolishing it for everyone else.

    Where does it say in the Constitution that you are entitled to get rich and kick back?


    Nowhere, of course, but that doesn't stop a lot of people not involved with the IP industries from doing exactly that. Do you have a problem with wealthy people in general resting on their laurels and "kicking back"?

    ...or is it only when a comparatively minuscule fraction of artists do this that you go stomping off in search of your soapbox?

    Do you think rich daddies should be allowed to let their offspring inherit wealth/businesses that they did absolutely nothing to earn/create?

    ...or is it only when a comparatively minuscule fraction of artists do this that you reach for your heart pressure medication?

    How big of a hypocrite are you?

    In a completely free market i have the choice to spend or not to spend my money.


    ...

    Who are you replying to? No one is arguing anything different. I'm not really sure what your point is, but if it's to somehow insinuate that by choosing not to spend your money you're still entitled to what is being sold without paying...well...uh...I'm afraid you're no Evil Knievel and your daring leap of logic just took a screaming nosedive to a well deserved death upon the jagged rocks of reality.

    Ergh! Metaphor headache...

    Further, being able to cite specific examples of this working does not allow you to conclude that it's a good system for all companies. For example, I could find examples of people who survived car crashes because they weren't wearing their seatbelt.


    Exactly! This is a perfect example.

     

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  57.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 24th, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't mind if you guys disagree with me. Some of the people posting on Techdirt about the great opportunities in music aren't actually involved in music themselves.

    I try to give a different perspective. People can take it for what they want.

    Here are some relevant quotes from a recent discussion of what is happening in film composing.

    The New Film Music Paradigm: Free Composers, Free Orchestras, What's Next? :: Film Music Magazine "The new paradigm for the film and television composing marketplace is based on oversupply -- the exact opposite of scarcity."

    Thanks ASCAP, But Do We Really Need More Concert Composers Competing For Films? :: Film Music Magazine: "Simply put, we already have too many people competing as composers in this marketplace, and libraries continue to eat up an increasing portion of the instrumental score market. Colleges are dumping hundreds of film scoring graduates every year into a marketplace where most don't stand a chance of earning a decent full-time living from film scoring for many years, a fact that often comes as a big shock to the graduates after they arrive in Los Angeles full of composing skills and student loans but utterly lacking in real-world 'finding work' skills and unaware of the terrible condition of the marketplace for composers today -- something I hold the music schools directly responsible for.

    Economics dictates that whenever there is an oversupply (more suppliers than jobs or demand for product), prices will fall, and that's exactly what we've seen happen over the last 15 years or so. Composer fees have dropped substantially, licensing fees are zero in many cases thanks to libraries dumping thousands of free tracks onto the marketplace, and score composers are having serious issues surviving, not to mention trying to make a decent living as a composer."

     

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  58.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 24th, 2010 @ 2:38pm

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

    I missed a comment in one of my above links that I wanted to add.

    I'm not trying to argue the rightness or wrongness of musicians not getting enough money these days. I'm just trying to point out that as more musicians seek out ways to get their music heard, there's more music to choose from and people don't have to pay to get it.

    As the comment below illustrates, in some cases people are paying to have their music heard. If you have millions of people making music and a limited amount of time on the part of fans to listen to it, they don't have to pay for the music, and it can get to the point where you have to pay them for their attention (that's the basis of the advertising model).

    Music and sports are two areas where people enjoy doing it so much that not only will they do it for free, in some cases they will pay for the privilege to participate. In sports at least the best can be determined by viewable results, so the best still tend to get well-compensated. In music, popularity doesn't necessarily go with talent, so there are a lot of other factors which may determine who makes money at this. Which is perfectly fine. But we aren't talking about the music business so much as we are talking about the sales and marketing business. That's an important distinction. If you want to be a great musician, you can practice and play. If you want to sell, you may have to be a better sales person than a musician.

    _____________

    The New Film Music Paradigm: Free Composers, Free Orchestras, What’s Next? :: Film Music Magazine
    By Joseph Renzetti on January 20th, 2010 at 10:54

    Whats next. Obviously; have the composer pay to have his score in a film. Ive already seen it around on some of these mags.

    BTW, it is and has been the way in Europe for many years.

    Start saving up now.

    Joe R

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Jan 24th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    Re: Furthermore

    So what? The question is, does that increased brand exposure offset what could have been made by selling copies and licenses under copyright?

    The argument could be made, but since there's no way to legitimately measure such an offset, it all depends on an artist's individual circumstances.

    Ah, so a handful of exceptions are now the rule...

    If a rule has a large number of exceptions, I'd tend to start rethinking which side was the "rule".

    Yes, and where is your web 2.0 Madonna equivalent? It's been over a decade since Napster so where are all your superstars harnessing the power of free?

    There's not going to be a "web 2.0 Madonna". You're thinking of old-school definitions of "superstars" and "success"; in other words, you're not a "success" as a musician unless you're a "superstar".

    Conceptualizing, writing, producing, creating, marketing, and finally, releasing, albums, movies, novels, and video games is not "doing nothing".

    Yes, that's true, but sitting on your ass and using copyright in order to draw in a paycheck IS "doing nothing".

    And besides, just because there is a tiny minority who can create and get paid without copyright doesn't justify abolishing it for everyone else.

    When copyright routinely destroys the rights of the majority in favor of that "tiny" minority (which happens to be comprised of some of the largest corporations and multimedia firms in the world), the argument could be made that it NEEDS abolishing, or at the very least a good reworking.

    Do you have a problem with wealthy people in general resting on their laurels and "kicking back"?

    I generally take issue with people who gain massive amounts of wealth without doing much of anything. Wouldn't you?

    Do you think rich daddies should be allowed to let their offspring inherit wealth/businesses that they did absolutely nothing to earn/create?

    Only if that offspring shows that they're capable of handling the wealth/business responsibly. Otherwise, let 'em make their own way.

     

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  60.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 24th, 2010 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: Furthermore

    There's not going to be a "web 2.0 Madonna". You're thinking of old-school definitions of "superstars" and "success"; in other words, you're not a "success" as a musician unless you're a "superstar".

    And I think Techdirt and others that talk about artist-to-fan models are still old school, too. The assumption is that we'll have all these working musicians with 1000 to 10,000 fans who will pay them enough to live on.

    I'm thinking further down the road to a place where we'll have millions of musicians with 5 to 100 fans. They won't be making a living at this, but they will have the tools to make their own music and be happy about it. Technology is putting more control into the hands of more people. Ultimately I don't think there will be a distinction between "artist" and "fan." We'll all be doing it, just to greater or lesser degrees.

     

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  61.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 24th, 2010 @ 3:41pm

    Hypercompetition

    I'd like to see more of this when we discuss music.

    hypercompetition definition from Financial Times Lexicon: "hypercompetition
    A situation in which there is a lot of very strong competition between companies, markets are changing very quickly, and it is easy to enter a new market, so that it is not possible for one company to keep a competitive advantage for a long time."

    FT.com / Business books - A more virulent form of hypercompetition: "You may think your business offers rare and valuable goods and services. But the chances are that, somewhere, a recent entrant or potential competitor is preparing to do something similar, for a lower price. As the author says: 'Everything becomes a commodity eventually.'"

    Welcome to Hypercompetition

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re: Furthermore

    If a rule has a large number of exceptions, I'd tend to start rethinking which side was the "rule".


    If we're talking about entertainment products, there isn't a large number of exceptions at all. Not even close.

    There's not going to be a "web 2.0 Madonna".


    Then why bring her up at all in relation to these discussions?

    Yes, that's true, but sitting on your ass and using copyright in order to draw in a paycheck IS "doing nothing".


    Would it still be "doing nothing" if you were a widget maker who made one thing and then pumped out an endless series of factory copies?

    Is it "doing nothing" when you invest in a company/stock/etc and it accrues value?

    Only if that offspring shows that they're capable of handling the wealth/business responsibly. Otherwise, let 'em make their own way.


    Nice cop-out answer.

    Previously you said, "I generally take issue with people who gain massive amounts of wealth without doing much of anything". Reading that one could easily assume you would be against inheritance on the very principle.

    Instead, all of a sudden "doing nothing" is okay so long there's some fuzzy concept of "responsibility" in place?

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 4:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Furthermore

    Then why bring her up at all in relation to these discussions?

    Because the name was used in the post I was replying to? I mean, it's not as if you couldn't see that, the post is right above mine.

    Would it still be "doing nothing" if you were a widget maker who made one thing and then pumped out an endless series of factory copies?

    Not even entirely the same situation.

    Is it "doing nothing" when you invest in a company/stock/etc and it accrues value?

    No, because one can assume you're doing research on said investment and you're keeping an eye on your investment to make sure it works out. You're actively involving yourself in the investment to ensure that it pays off.

    Reading that one could easily assume you would be against inheritance on the very principle.

    I am against inheritance in relation to just giving people a ton of money for no reason; if the inheritance is to ensure the future of a younger relative, I find that infinitely more palatable than if the inheritance is just given to the family member for no reason. And even then, I would hope that the inheritance has stipulations to ensure that if the child does not live up to the promise that being an heir to a large amount of money carries with it, the child would lose the rights to that money.

    Instead, all of a sudden "doing nothing" is okay so long there's some fuzzy concept of "responsibility" in place?

    No, "doing nothing" to make your way is never okay. My comment is intended to imply that if the offspring proves they're capable of handling their inheritance - be it wealth or a business - then they should be given access to run it themselves. BUT it should be done only if they've proven that they have the ability to manage it responsibly; if they haven't, then there should be contingency plans in place to ensure that a person/organization who is responsible gains the inheritance.

     

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  64.  
    icon
    Danny (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: What I learned debating nazis

    "Here is a guy who has written a book which he expects people to pay for before reading, and you're suggesting that people shouldn't ridicule him for the views in his book?"

    Exactly! That is what I am saying.

    Ridicule the views, don't ridicule the person.

     

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  65.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 25th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: What I learned debating nazis

    Ridicule the views, don't ridicule the person.

    Is either one an effective strategy?

    I read a lot of Techdirt comments that involve ridicule. But has that changed the laws yet? Trying to get patent/copyright/trademark laws changed involves a massive amount of political action. And something tells me that with the recent Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate political donations, those laws are even less likely to be changed.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Brit, Jan 25th, 2010 @ 9:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: No evidence

    >> "You can't seriously suggest that Blizzard can give-away Starcraft 2, and charge for "training, customization, and tech-support"

    > "I'm seriously suggesting that Blizzard could find other ways to monetise the game if they were to make a product that was free upfront. They already have a services based model with WoW."

    No. They'll dump a lot of games because the copyright-less world can't support them.

    "They charge you for ongoing service and maintenance of servers (which help to provide a consistent, good experience), along with the production of new content."

    The cost of running the servers is actually quite minimal compared to the monthly fee. Their whole revenue system relies on Blizzard's intellectual property (the server code) remaining in the hands of Blizzard. If you were entirely consistent, you'd have to say that anyone could run Blizzard's server code and can compete with them in terms of service and cost. Their competition wouldn't have Blizzard's development costs. You'd see companies like Amazon and Microsoft running WOW Servers, and undercutting Blizzard. Because Blizzard controls their server code, you can't claim that they're simply charging for running the servers. Yes, Blizzard is creating new content, but that's "digital" and therefore, worthless in your book.

    What will happen is that large segments of the software industry will simply become financial dead-ends, and companies will stop creating those applications, much to the loss of society. WOW works because they control who runs the servers and your access to those servers. In many ways, you can think of this as them finding a technical method to enforce copyright. Without copyright, you can bet that companies will stop creating software that runs on you home computer. Instead, it will reside 'in the cloud', safely away from the hands of pirates. You'll run your Microsoft Office in your browser. You'll use photoshop in your browser. You'll play your games while connected online, with the server running the game. It will be copyright enforcement via a website paywall. Don't want your files on a remote server? Too bad. This will allow companies to make software scarce, because putting bytes in people's hands automatically makes them "abundant". (And copyright law will still be used to shut-down anyone who uses leaked copies of their server software.) Yeah, you can claim that they are charging "for a service", but the reality is that they're keeping the bits out of people's hands.

    I think I've proved my point. Without copyright to protect the digital media, you're not going to drive companies to give away the digital and sell secondary items (which will bankrupt them). Instead, you'll drive them to website paywalls - which act as a technical means to enforce copyright. But, what have you gained? Nothing, because it makes everything more inconvenient for the user. Unfortunately, the alternative (selling the software to consumers, which is the better solution) has been turned into financial suicide.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Furthermore

    Because the name was used in the post I was replying to? I mean, it's not as if you couldn't see that, the post is right above mine.


    I wasn't asking why YOU brought it up. It was more of a general question as to why the hell people keep bringing her up in these discussions RE web 2.0?

    Freetards have nobody even remotely comparable to Madonna. Stop bringing her up as if it somehow validates any of your crackpot theories. It doesn't.

    Not even entirely the same situation.


    "not even entirely"

    lol

    Please explain how it isn't the same thing. They both have production costs to reproduce. They are both selling copies. Why is one "doing nothing" and the other isn't?

    Maybe use some evidence this time to explain.

    Or some logic.

    No, because one can assume you're doing research on said investment and you're keeping an eye on your investment to make sure it works out. You're actively involving yourself in the investment to ensure that it pays off.


    So you think copyrighted products aren't investments?!

    And you don't think copyrighted products have people "actively involved" in their sale and marketing?!

    You aren't even worth replying to.

    if the inheritance is to ensure the future of a younger relative, I find that infinitely more palatable than if...


    Blah, blah, blah, you're fine with someone "doing nothing" so long as they "do nothing" responsibly.

    Your belief system is fuzzier than a flock of Techdirt sheep.

     

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  68.  
    icon
    Modplan (profile), Jan 30th, 2010 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No evidence

    The cost of running the servers is actually quite minimal compared to the monthly fee. Their whole revenue system relies on Blizzard's intellectual property (the server code) remaining in the hands of Blizzard.


    No, their whole revenue is based on providing a consistent, high quality experience and continually producing new content. You do not need copyright to do that.

    If you were entirely consistent, you'd have to say that anyone could run Blizzard's server code and can compete with them in terms of service and cost


    I am entirely consistent, and I agree. Red Hat has competition from others on service and cost with essentially the same underlying system. They win out because they can continually produce a good experience, in this case defined by fixing bugs, stability, and customisation whilst continually producing new software to drive more value to both their system and others.

    Their competition wouldn't have Blizzard's development costs.


    If the cost of running servers was so cheap, why would Blizzard have substantially higher costs? They'd only have substantially higher costs either through inefficiencies in how they're running things or being unnecessarily greedy. The production of new content in itself may add costs in it's own right, but so long as it was compelling content it would only add further value meaning more subscribers to cover said cost, gaining ground against any competitors.

    You'd see companies like Amazon and Microsoft running WOW Servers, and undercutting Blizzard. Because Blizzard controls their server code, you can't claim that they're simply charging for running the servers. Yes, Blizzard is creating new content, but that's "digital" and therefore, worthless in your book.


    Good for them. If they can continue making money whilst undercutting blizzard, then that's only good for me because then there's real competition and I get $5 off per month.

    Although that's not what I said at all regarding content being "worthless". It's simply less able to seriously make someone pay upfront the amount of money previously charged in a system that only allows for finite reproduction when working with a system that allows for infinite reproduction. The content would be worthwhile, but cannot be expected to continue to justify the old price before infinite reproduction was possible. Blizzard justifies it's customers by continually providing compelling new content as well as continually good service. Amazon (why the Hell would they be doing this, they're a retailer, not content producer) nor Microsoft would not necessarily be able to effectively or completely copy that.

    Again, if people are happy to pay upfront, good for them. I still do and have many times. I simply hope they don't seriously expect every download I made of other products was genuinely a lost sale.

    What will happen is that large segments of the software industry will simply become financial dead-ends, and companies will stop creating those applications, much to the loss of society.


    Kinda like Red Hat is a dead end, or Novell is a dead end, or Alfresco is a dead end, etc etc. You predicted something with no basis, and for which I already provided examples of how it could work. For years completely free of charge software and in fact software that allows itself to be copied and reproduced has been thriving for quite some time. You must be living in a parallel universe, where my completely free of charge operating system Ubuntu, free of charge browsers and free of charge media players, free of charge games and free of charge office suite is impossible.

    Either that or I'm that one that must be living at the centre of a black hole.

    I think I've proved my point.


    It seems you haven't proven anything. You've simply reasserted something without evidence, made a prophecy which says the ability for me to type this comment is impossible unless those assertions are true and generally misappropriated where the value of various products lays.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2013 @ 7:00pm

    Really now? I don't think so!

     

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

  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2013 @ 7:11pm

    Luv you nina!!

     

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


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