Is That The Best Cato Can Do In Defense Of Copyright?

from the yikes dept

We've been covering the Cato Institute's online debate over the future of copyright, which began with a detailed explanation of how copyright has been stretched so far that it has broken, followed by a partial defense of modified copyright law where copyright would only be applied to commercial use. While I disagreed with the second piece, both were well written and thought provoking. You knew one of the pieces in the series had to be a defense of copyright, and that role seems to have fallen to Doug Lichtman, law professor at UCLA, and I'm rather disappointed. There are eloquent and interesting defenses of copyright out there -- but this is not one. Lichtman basically attacks the first piece as being wishful thinking, claiming that it would be wrong to "put copyright in the corner" but can't come up with a good reason why.

Instead, Lichtman basically complains that he personally can't come up with good business models that would come around in the absence of copyright. The thing is, no one's asking him to do so -- they're saying that the market can and will come up with those business models, as it inevitably does. So, his weak attempts to pick apart the business models suggested in the first piece in the series fall flat and are easily responded to. For example, Lichtman claims that since Rasmus Fleischer skipped over movie industry business models, it means there really aren't any -- other than mockingly suggesting something silly: selling action figures from movies, and notes that no one would buy action figures for "A Beautiful Mind."

But just because Lichtman can only think of a bad business model for the movie industry, it doesn't mean that there aren't business models that don't rely on copyright. For example, while he just assumes that you can't sell movie tickets anymore -- that's not true at all. We've listed out plenty of ideas on ways to make the movie-going experience worth paying for -- and we're sure, given a world without copyright, many others would quickly pop up, as the history of free markets tends to show.

Lichtman really should have been able to come up with a better response than "but... but... but... I can't think of any way to make money without copyright." It says a lot more about Lichtman than it does about copyright.

Lichtman then claims that Rasmus Fleischer's piece suffers from a flaw that the models he describes work for some content, but not for others. But that's missing the point. Fleischer's point is that a variety of business models do pop up -- and, even better, new business models pop up to support content not currently being created. When Lichtman brushes off Fleisher by saying: "Fleischer is not merely interested in allowing alternative models like free peer-to-peer distribution to compete with traditional approaches; he wants to take away the traditional options and leave intact only his favorite alternatives," he again is missing the point. Fleischer is not saying leave only his favorites intact. He's saying get rid of the artificial system set up by government to support one favorite model -- and then let any model show up.

In the end, Lichtman's defense of copyright comes across as similar to defenses of protectionist anti-trade policies: claiming that taking away the protectionist barriers will hurt an existing business model -- while ignoring all of the new business models and more free and open markets that result. History has shown time and time again, that removing such artificial protectionist barriers ends up being better for the overall market -- including both producers and consumers. I would think the burden should be on Lichtman to explain why this time is different. Unfortunately, he does not shed any light in that direction.


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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 1:56pm

    A failure of imagination

    What we have here is a failure of imagination.

    I'm not saying it's easy to imagine a world without copyright, but it is possible:
    http://www.digitalproductions.co.uk/index.php?id=130

    The question isn't so much "Should we or shouldn't we have copyright?", but "Oh dear, copyright is broken. How shall we survive without it?"

    Of course another solution is to pretend it's eternally 1984 - when the Internet wasn't so much of a problem and CD burners weren't quite so common.

     

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    eleete, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 1:59pm

    Back and Forth, Back and Forth

    Does anyone have a suggestion to voice the concerns of those of us wishing for Less stringent copyright laws ? Having blogs to go vent on (which are duly ignored by our politicians, unless the lobbyists have simply deafened them), while stress reducing, is not a solution. We can go back and forth on this for the next century (as we have for the last). But I would like to brainstorm some highly creative ideas to address the injustices, expand Fair Use (what a concept) and a way to bring things into the public domain that is congruent with today's market and distribution systems. It simply Should Not be a welfare system for the sake of the previous century's antiquated business model. And, Please don't tell me to write my congressman, as he has already been written to by lobbyists, on large numbered checks.
    eleete

     

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      Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:17pm

      Re: Back and Forth, Back and Forth

      Competing with lobbyists and compensating authors for the delivery of their work into the public domain (without needing copyright) can be achieved with the same mechanism.

      Such a mechanism would enable a large number of people to put their money on the table, to be paid to certain persons only should certain publicly visible things occur, e.g. the passing of certain legislation or the publication of a particular creative work (a piece of GPL software say).

      We might imagine that such a mechanism, that enabled a market in such contingencies, would operate as a web service, perhaps at http://contingencymarket.com ?

      That's my suggestion - if you're looking for less stringency.

       

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    Michael, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:05pm

    Common problem

    This is a common issue with anyone who tries to defend any sort of public good. They simply can't come up with a way the market could solve said problem, therefore (?) the gov't must intervene. There are a ton of complex market interactions every day. If we would have asked people in the past how such things would have been accomplished with the market, they likely would have lacked an answer. Think of where we would be if the market wasn't handling many of the things it does.

     

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    Anonymouse, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:24pm

    The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

    One of the reasons the current media system is so out of control is exactly because of market pressures. Market pressures (read, lots of money) that have compelled government agencies to enact legislation on the part of those who have the money. This is exactly why a "let the markets take care of the problem" approach will NOT work. We do need government legislation (not just market action), but legislation that is concerned with the good of the society, not the good of the wealthy.

    Ending copyright and letting markets decide will not work. In the short term, many things may turn over. Given some time, however, those who profit will once again find ways to control the others.

    This is why we need a democracy that functions like a democracy, with an informed public, enacting legislation to counter-act such forces in the interest of the public good.

    This is not happening now, nor will it happen by simply abolishing copyright law and letting the market "decide."

    Get some historical context on these issues and stop looking only at the future ... future-vision has not yet been perfected.

     

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      Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:42pm

      Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

      Anonymouse wrote:

      One of the reasons the current media system is so out of control is exactly because of market pressures. Market pressures (read, lots of money) that have compelled government agencies to enact legislation on the part of those who have the money. This is exactly why a "let the markets take care of the problem" approach will NOT work.

      Yes it will work--eventually. Where do you think those companies got all that money from? From successfully exploiting market forces in the past. Which they're failing to continue to do now. So they're squandering their money trying to shore up their existing business model, and failing. It doesn't matter how many laws get passed, they will eventually go bust, because the laws are largely getting ignored.

      Yes, it may take a while, and in the meantime we get an accumulation of unlucky victims of those unjust laws, but the number of those victims is no deterrent to the inexorable operation of market forces. King Cnut cannot legislate against the tide.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:51pm

        Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

        "...unjust laws."

        Does this mean such laws would be "just" if they let you make illegal copies to your heart's content?

        I guess we should also trash antitrust law and a whole host of other laws that have been enacted pertaining to unfair business practices.

         

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          Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 20th, 2008 @ 4:26am

          Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

          Does this mean such laws would be "just" if they let you make illegal copies to your heart's content?

          How can a law let you make illegal copies? Wouldn't that make the copies legal?

          Seriously though, that's an important point. Copyright infringement is only unethical insofar as it's illegal. There's nothing inherently unethical about copying and we have the freedom to change the law with respect to copyright infringement.

           

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            Rob, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 1:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

            No. It is unethical to take something from someone without their permission. The ethics is what spawned the law, not the other way around.

             

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              Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 26th, 2008 @ 12:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

              Copyright infringement, by definition, is not "taking something from someone else." It's copying.

              Copying means making a copy. Meaning, the owner retains their copy.

              Copyright infringement is wrong, yes, because it infringes copyright. Copyright infringement is not wrong because it takes something away from someone without their permission, because it doesn't.

              It's copying or using something from someone without their permission. Everyone does that all the time. It's just that we've decided to restrict that freedom on some things for a limited time through copyright (and patent) law in order to provide an incentive to authors (/inventors).

              There's nothing inherently wrong with using or copying something from someone without their permission.

               

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                Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 26th, 2008 @ 2:01am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

                This needs a little more care.

                There's nothing inherently wrong with copying or making any use of an intellectual work you have legitimately obtained - and as long as such use doesn't violate the rights of others.

                Copyright is not a right but a privilege that suspends the right to make copies or certain uses such as public performance.

                Therefore copying a CD you have purchased doesn't violate anyone else's rights only the copyright holder's privilege to suspend your right to make copies.

                Even without copyright, you still have no right to make copies of someone else's intellectual property without their permission, e.g. taking a CD burner into someone else's house and ripping their CD collection whilst they're not looking.

                This is the difference between copyright infringement and IP theft. It's predictable why the RIAA/MPAA would like the two concepts conflated because one is clearly wrong whereas the other is perfectly natural, however, they are distinct actions.

                 

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                  Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 26th, 2008 @ 7:55am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

                  Yes, my mistake. "Something" ought to be "idea" or "intellectual work" (a something in the context of this discussion).

                  I meant to refer to using or building on the creative ideas of others.

                   

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                    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 26th, 2008 @ 8:32am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

                    Using or building upon the creative ideas of others still requires that you have obtained those ideas legitimately, i.e. those ideas have been legitimately communicated to you.

                    It generally safe to say you can use, share or build upon the (voluntarily) published intellectual works, writings, inventions, and ideas of others.

                    If someone invites you into their garage, where they've shown you a neat idea of theirs, they have brought you into their confidence. You are nevertheless at liberty to break that confidence and share or build upon their otherwise unpublished ideas.

                    However, if you have not been invited, and break into the garage in the middle of the night and then share or build upon those unpublished ideas - you have thus illegitimately obtained - this is IP theft and is inherently wrong.

                    The US constitution is not in error. Authors and inventors do have a self-evident exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries, that should be secured for their limited natural lifetime.

                    See Constitutional Sanction.

                     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:52pm

      Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

      This is exactly why a "let the markets take care of the problem" approach will NOT work. We do need government legislation (not just market action), but legislation that is concerned with the good of the society, not the good of the wealthy.

      If that were actually possible or what happened, I might agree with you. But the problem is that most legislation these days is actually written by the wealthy corporations to favor themselves -- not for the good of society.

      And so many laws that are actually designed to "benefit society" have unintended consequences that do the exact opposite.

      You claim that the free market creates problems, but you don't give any examples.

      Ending copyright and letting markets decide will not work. In the short term, many things may turn over. Given some time, however, those who profit will once again find ways to control the others.

      Why do you say that? History suggests otherwise.

      This is not happening now, nor will it happen by simply abolishing copyright law and letting the market "decide."

      You say that but provide no evidence.


      Get some historical context on these issues and stop looking only at the future ... future-vision has not yet been perfected.


      Um. I've pointed to a ton of "historical context" on these issues, including much of it that shows that the market does solve these problems just fine.

      What "historical context" are you talking about?

       

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        Anonymouse, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 4:38am

        Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

        But the problem is that most legislation these days is actually written by the wealthy corporations to favor themselves -- not for the good of society.

        I agree ... which is why I wrote that in my original comment (did you read the whole thing?).

        And so many laws that are actually designed to "benefit society" have unintended consequences that do the exact opposite.

        Yes, which is why we need a continual review of the law, and why the courts exist. The fact that this happens, however, is not a good argument for abolishing law altogether.

        You claim that the free market creates problems, but you don't give any examples.

        Are you being intentionally difficult? The "free market" means a market driven by money, the greatest accumulators of which will become those who lobby (with their wallets) for regulations that benefit them. That's what the current state is, that's what it will always be, UNLESS we have a free press and rightly-functioning democracy in place to prevent such action through LEGISLATION.

        My point is, no "one thing" will work to solve these "problems." Copyright law won't fix it. Abolishing copyright and letting the market decide won't fix it. The only thing that will work is an informed and acting citizenry pushing for legislation that truly balances the rights of the few and the good of the many.

        A market-only approach, blind to other factors, is just as dangerous as any other.

        For examples, look at the state of corporate media/journalism.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 5:05am

          Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

          Uh, the reason we have bad laws in the first place because of the fact that the government is easily prone to rent-seeking.

          The best way to fix this is to get the government OUT of legislating unnecessary monopolies and forbid many other legislations such as "incentive" packages? So corporations have one less avenue to do their rent-seeking.

          It require not legislation but consumer vigilances and a very strong free market.

           

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            Anonymouse, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 6:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

            It require not legislation but consumer vigilances and a very strong free market.

            So, we're back to "the market (i.e., money) can fix all our problems" are we?

             

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          Mike (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:50am

          Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

          I agree ... which is why I wrote that in my original comment (did you read the whole thing?).

          I did. I just can't figure out how you believe the solution to bad regulation is more regulation. Don't you realize it will be just as bad?

          Are you being intentionally difficult? The "free market" means a market driven by money, the greatest accumulators of which will become those who lobby (with their wallets) for regulations that benefit them.

          Which is why we're saying deregulate. If the moneyed interests can't get regulations in their favor, then the problem goes away.

          That's what the current state is, that's what it will always be, UNLESS we have a free press and rightly-functioning democracy in place to prevent such action through LEGISLATION.

          I don't know how to respond to this. It makes no sense. Corporations are abusing the legislative process, so the answer is more legislation for them to abuse?

          Bizarre.

          My point is, no "one thing" will work to solve these "problems." Copyright law won't fix it. Abolishing copyright and letting the market decide won't fix it. The only thing that will work is an informed and acting citizenry pushing for legislation that truly balances the rights of the few and the good of the many.


          Ah, you believe in the myth of balance. There is no "balance" that needs to be worked out. A free market that ends up benefiting everyone through growth doesn't need balance. It needs any attempt at "balance" to get the hell out of the way. Balance is just another way of shrinking a market and making everyone worse off by pretending you know how to make everyone better off.

          A market-only approach, blind to other factors, is just as dangerous as any other.

          Except, of course, in the real world.

           

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            Anonymouse, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 8:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

            Corporations are abusing the legislative process, so the answer is more legislation for them to abuse?

            No, the answer is to improve the legislation so that corporations cannot abuse it. The only alternative to improved legislation is no legislation. No legislation (i.e., chaos) isn't helpful. A society without law, depending purely on economics/market forces, will soon be ripe for the rich to exploit.

            We're being exploited because we've lost sight of the balance intended by the Constitution. Your answer, then, is to rid ourselves of such pesky limitations as the Constitution, balance, etc? How enlightened!

            Except, of course, in the real world.

            Please show me a well-functioning society where economics is the only driving force.

             

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              Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 8:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

              The US Constitution does not actually require copyright or patent.

              I argue in Constitutional Sanction that there are clear ways to protect an author's natural exclusive rights to their writings, or of an inventor to their designs, without abridging anyone's right to free speech.

              Professor Lawrence Lessig once attempted to show that copyright conflicted with the right to free speech.
              See http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2002/10/55612
              and http://www.supremecourtus.gov/docket/01-618.htm

              I'd argue that copyright was in complete conflict with the constitution the very moment it applies to a published work.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:21am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

                I'd argue that copyright was in complete conflict with the constitution the very moment it applies to a published work.

                How does copyright have any relevance to anything EXCEPT to published works?

                 

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                  Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:54am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

                  Copyright has been defended in the past on the basis that it is a remedial extension of the natural IP rights that self-evidently apply to unpublished works, i.e. that if you have a natural right to prevent anyone copying a private work, why should this right dissipate upon the moment of publication?

                  It's a semantic confusion.

                  If you keep your work exclusively to yourself then plainly you retain a natural monopoly to it, whereas if you give a copy to another, then, plainly it is no longer exclusive.

                  You'll have to refer to the legislation in your jurisdiction to find out how you protect your unpublished works against unauthorised copying, i.e. what legal remedies are available. It's a bit of a murky area, given 99% of everyone's attention is on preventing the copying of published works (which as we know is not only unethical, but impossible).

                  In the US, copyright applies from the moment a creative work is fixed in a medium (not from the moment of publication), and will be the primary means of redress in the event of IP theft, so I doubt that there's much mileage in making any appeal to the protection of a more fundamental natural IP right. Which is obviously back to front. There should be no penalty for ripping a published CD to an iPod, but huge penalties for burgling a musician's recording studio and ripping the digital master to their as yet unpublished single.

                   

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              Mike (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:06am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

              A society without law, depending purely on economics/market forces, will soon be ripe for the rich to exploit.

              I have nothing against consumer protection laws that protect against such abuses -- but I've yet to see a reasonable explanation for company protection laws.

              As for examples of how corporations function in absence of IP laws, there are multiple studies, and they suggest the opposite of what you found. If you look through the studies done on the Netherlands without patents, Switzerland without most types of patents and Italy without pharmaceutical patents -- you find the opposite of what you claim. Rather than a system abused by the rich, you tend to have many more small competitive companies building up a thriving industry.

              It's only *after* the laws change (often due to lobbying from those firms) that gives them IP protectionism that large conglomerates form.

              In other words, without the IP, it's a more competitive market. IP just becomes a tool for the rich to abuse.

              Sort of the opposite of what you claim would happen.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:15am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

                So, if this is true of patents, do you think this is also true of copyright? The market for drugs (which cannot be "digital") and the market for copyright (which includes digital content) aren't the same.

                Just asking.

                 

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      Karl Schipul, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 8:52am

      Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

      Your comment does not make much sense. You say that if there are no copyright laws (or at least those which are weakly enforced), that allegedly some big market players will dominate. Well, sir, in real life, it really seems like the opposite is true. You have to think about the beneficiaries of copyright laws, namely, major publishing companies, large record companies, television stations, cable companies, video game companies, etc.

      This is clearly demonstrably true. Just look at all those kids who get sued over downloading music files. Just look at the musicians who get screwed with intricately written contracts and copyright laws that clearly benefit the record companies.

      It is easy to see who benefits and who gets screwed. I like how you try to make strict copyright laws (with strong enforcement) appear egalitarian and anti-elitist. You are a very clever statist. However, you don't fool me, nor do you fool many of the young people who have grown up in the digital age.

       

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        Anonymouse, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:13am

        Re: Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

        You say that if there are no copyright laws (or at least those which are weakly enforced), that allegedly some big market players will dominate. Well, sir, in real life, it really seems like the opposite is true.

        You're right on both counts (which is what I said ... read more carefully). With current law = abuse. Without law = abuse. So, the necessary reaction is a revision of the law to address the abuses.

        I like how you try to make strict copyright laws (with strong enforcement) appear egalitarian and anti-elitist.

        I'm doing no such thing. Read more carefully.

        If anything, I'm arguing for laws that favor the public good and more greatly restrict corporate influence.

        I'm simply asserting that a "no law, let the market decide everything" approach will be just as damaging in the long run as what we currently have. Therefore, a better approach is to revise laws that limit the effect that corporations (or any other individual/group with significant financial influence) can have on "ip" so that the public good is protected. Without laws, protection of the public good is not possible or likely.

         

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      Freedom Calhoun, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 10:36am

      Re: The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good

      You comment doesn't make sense as it is a straw man argument.

      A Free Market is warped by paid for government protectionism, so somehow that makes Free Markets bad?

      What does one have to do with the other? How does a government mandated protected market have anything to do with a free market?

      Please sort out your own understanding of the terms and the argument before you start dropping condescending one liners.

      Future vision might not be perfected, but hindsight has been, and you may want to work on yours.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:32pm

    Movie Industry without Copyright

    I have yet to see a proposal for the movie/Hollywood industry without copyright. What do you propose they do?

    My imagination must be failing because I can't conceive of methods that generate remotely similar amounts of revenue. Keep in mind how expensive movies are to create.

    I can for see ways in which the industry can cut cost, allowing for decreased revenue business models to take hold. But those are a ways off.

     

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      Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:43pm

      Re: Movie Industry without Copyright

      Movie on one side, people who want to see it on the other.

      Producers who have film, want money.
      Audience who have money, want film.

      Art for money, money for art.

      How can you doubt that an equitable exchange is possible?

      That doubt is the sound of your imagination failing.

       

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      Mike (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:54pm

      Re: Movie Industry without Copyright

      I have yet to see a proposal for the movie/Hollywood industry without copyright. What do you propose they do?

      There's a link in the original post that shows one possible model.

      But the simple fact is that the movie industry is selling *seats* to an *event* and as such they can keep doing that. That doesn't rely on copyright. They just need to make the event worthwhile.

      As for "Keep in mind how expensive movies are to create" we've gone into GREAT detail as to what a bogus complaint that is. Movie costs are greatly inflated, and there's little incentive to actually make them cheaper. Yet, if the model changed and there was incentive to be more efficient at making a movie, you'd see more creative efforts to get costs under control in ways that won't negatively impact movie quality.

       

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        Anonymouse, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 4:42am

        Re: Re: Movie Industry without Copyright

        But the simple fact is that the movie industry is selling *seats* to an *event* and as such they can keep doing that. That doesn't rely on copyright. They just need to make the event worthwhile.

        This is only helpful if the theaters send the profits (after construction costs, heating/ac, food, service staff, etc.) back to the production company, and the production company distributes those profits to the involved parties, etc. Much of this depends on copyright, sales of rights, and licensing of rights to function. Then there's the difficulty of maintaining profits from ticket sales alone.

        Yet, if the model changed and there was incentive to be more efficient at making a movie, you'd see more creative efforts to get costs under control in ways that won't negatively impact movie quality.

        This may be true, but it has no bearing on whether or not copyright is a good idea. Watch the sloppy logic.

         

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          Mike (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 8:02am

          Re: Re: Re: Movie Industry without Copyright

          This is only helpful if the theaters send the profits (after construction costs, heating/ac, food, service staff, etc.) back to the production company, and the production company distributes those profits to the involved parties, etc. Much of this depends on copyright, sales of rights, and licensing of rights to function. Then there's the difficulty of maintaining profits from ticket sales alone.

          It doesn't depend on copyright. These days it does because copyright is there. But in the absence of copyright, other models will rise up. Movie theaters will need to ensure that good movies are being made in order to sell more tickets to seats, so they have every incentive in the world to help fund those movies.

          This may be true, but it has no bearing on whether or not copyright is a good idea. Watch the sloppy logic.

          Actually, it has a ton of bearing on whether or not copyright is a good idea. After all, the whole point of copyright is to provide incentive to create content. If the process is more efficient and better without copyright, then doesn't it stand to reason that copyright should be removed?

           

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          mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 8:18am

          Re: Re: Re: Movie Industry without Copyright

          Much of this depends on copyright, sales of rights, and licensing of rights...

          Distribution of profits does not "depend on copyright"; if I get what you are saying it would depend on a contract law (i.e. both parties sign into a contract).

          Then there's the difficulty of maintaining profits from ticket sales alone.

          First, there is no one saying that ticket sales is the only way to make money.

          Second, you are focused on the currently (broken) model that media companies and artists need to make obscenely large profits from their works. Why is this? Why can't movie directors, producers, writers, actors, ... make enough money from the proceeds of their works to put a roof over their heads, food in their families' bellies and be comfortable?

          Abolishing copyright might affect the ability of top actors from making millions of dollars for relatively small amount of work. But the opportunities for anyone else to make a living will increase dramatically. More works can be produced on less money and have much less stressful business models.

          The argument that this would then exclude the ability to create Big Budget movies (note: not necessarily good movies, just expensive ones) is coming from people who don't understand how to execute on a market demand. If people actually want a hundred-million dollar movie, then someone will figure out how to produce and monetize it.

           

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            Jason, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 8:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Movie Industry without Copyright

            Why can't movie directors, producers, writers, actors, ... make enough money from the proceeds of their works to put a roof over their heads, food in their families' bellies and be comfortable?

            I think that would be wonderful. Workers in these industries should indeed be able to live a relatively comfortable life, but it need not guarantee millions for anyone.

            I'm not convinced this will/can work without copyright, though. I'm not saying I'm convinced it won't work, either. I'm still trying to get my head around it. Do you know of any substantive explanations (beyond a blog post) or real-world examples?

             

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              mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 11:48am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Movie Industry without Copyright

              Do you know of any examples showing that a world without copyright can't work?

              I think a volume of information on the economics of "free, open, fair and competitive marketplaces" exists. Copyright does not exist in such a marketplace.

              So are you claiming that "free and open markets" cannot exist? They don't work?

               

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            cram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 11:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Movie Industry without Copyright

            Hi mobiGeek

            "Distribution of profits does not "depend on copyright"; if I get what you are saying it would depend on a contract law (i.e. both parties sign into a contract)."

            The qustion of signing a contract doesn't arise when a creative work is in public domain.

            "Then there's the difficulty of maintaining profits from ticket sales alone.

            First, there is no one saying that ticket sales is the only way to make money."

            Wow, all along you guys keep saying companies sell the movie experience, not the movie. And now this! It may not be the only way to make money, but it certainly accounts for a large chunk of revenues. As do TV rights, which revenue stream will also disappear if copyright goes.

            "Second, you are focused on the currently (broken) model that media companies and artists need to make obscenely large profits from their works. Why is this? Why can't movie directors, producers, writers, actors, ... make enough money from the proceeds of their works to put a roof over their heads, food in their families' bellies and be comfortable?"

            Because the creative business is such. It's not like wriitng code for a living. It's not something anyone with average intelligence can be trained for. It's not something people can do at the same level of consistency for decades. It's fraught with a lot of uncertainty, as you're only as good as your last film. Look at Kevin Costner today; what a sad spectacle. If he hadn't made his millions early on, what state would he be in now?

            "Abolishing copyright might affect the ability of top actors from making millions of dollars for relatively small amount of work. But the opportunities for anyone else to make a living will increase dramatically."

            How? Film production is an expensive business, even if you are not shelling out millions in fees to the top stars. The people with deep pockets would be willing to invest in it only if they are assured of returns. They would be willing to run the risk of the public not lapping up their product, but who'd want to sink money into a project whose final outcome would be free for all, to consume and to commercially exploit?

            "The argument that this would then exclude the ability to create Big Budget movies (note: not necessarily good movies, just expensive ones) is coming from people who don't understand how to execute on a market demand. If people actually want a hundred-million dollar movie, then someone will figure out how to produce and monetize it."

            Someone will figure out? You want an existing model to be discarded simply because you believe someone somewhere will figure out something that may or may not work for him, and may or may not work for everyone? Do you have any idea how difficult it is to raise money for such projects?

             

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    Jake, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:47pm

    He's got a point about the movie industry, actually. To a greater extent than almost any other industry, their infinite goods is more valuable than any scarce goods they could conceivably sell on the back of it, and their alternatives are pretty limited.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:55pm

      Re:

      He's got a point about the movie industry, actually. To a greater extent than almost any other industry, their infinite goods is more valuable than any scarce goods they could conceivably sell on the back of it, and their alternatives are pretty limited.

      Huh? The movie industry has ALWAYS worked off the basis of selling scarce goods: *experience* and *seats*.

      That doesn't change.

       

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        Jake, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 4:06pm

        Re:

        Maybe you live somewhere with better cinemas, but the only time I ever buy a cinema ticket is when the film looks good enough to be worth tolerating the experience. In fairness to the film studios, very little of what makes the experience so bad these days -chiefly cinemas built out in huge retail parks miles from anywhere, which charge a ruinous sum for the popcorn and sodas and aren't always prompt about ejecting patrons who make a disturbance- is out of their hands, but it doesn't change the fact that from my point of view, their product loses little or no value if it's being consumed via BitTorrent than in my local multiplex. I suspect I'm not alone in this viewpoint.

         

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          mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 8:06pm

          Re: Re:

          You are proof that there is a market for someone to build a great theatre experience. If the experience was comfortable, clean, friendly, luxurious (or a simulation thereof), etc... then you'd likely frequent the movies?

          So someone in your area is missing out on a great competitive opportunity. However, they may be missing out because of exclusive, copyright-protected, contracts that your existing theatres have with the movie distributors.

          Again, revoke the copyright and the consumers win (better experience, more frequent visits)...meaning that the producers win (assuming they aren't putting out crap).

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 3:10pm

    What is truly fascinating is how increasing irrelevant copyrights are becoming simply because technology makes any digital content an infinite good that can be replicated and distributed by anyone. The industry can bribe gov't to get more draconian copyright laws, they can introduce more DRM technologies, they can monitor internet packets, and throttle file sharing technologies, but it will all be to no avail.

    Today you can buy portable self-contained storage in gigabyte capacities (iPod for example). In a few more years we will see terabytes on a portable device. What are these industries going to do when you can take your 5 terabyte 'iPod' to a flea market then copy every movie, TV show, song or book you ever wanted to it? No internet, no digital trail, no IP addresses, just two devises swapping terabytes of data. Don't think it can happen? Go look, its going on today.

    That reality dictates that these industries have to adjust to new revenue models because there's no way you can stop or thwart the technology that enables it. Your digital content is infinite and therefore nearly free to consumers. You will have to get value from your content in some other way.

     

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    Rose M. Welch, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 3:42pm

    Movie tickets.

    Oh, my God. I visted a Warner theatre last Saturday and pay 18.00 a ticket (standard is half that) to sit in an awesome seat that was more like a recliner. I pressed a button on the chair to summon a waiter when I felt like I needed a drink or a snack or dinner. Although I ate dinner in the diner adjacent to the lobby of the theatre. So between dinner, drinks, and tickets, we paid a ton of money to be there and had an awesome time, and plan to vist every time we feel like seeing a movie...

    And those tickets are sold out a week in advance, even though you have to show up personally at the box office to get them. So somebody is selling movie tickets. Just not the dinosaurs.

     

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    Ima Fish, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 7:25pm

    no one's asking him to do so -- they're saying that the market can and will come up with those business models, as it inevitably does.

    Mike, you didn't go far enough. The "solution" to the death of copyright is not that some new business model will be created out of the ashes of copyright. It simply does not matter whether or not a viable business model is ever created. That's because it should never be the government's job to ensure the creation or to ensure the protection of business models.

    By arguing that a business model will develop, you're falling into their trap that there needs to be one in the first place and that the industry needs to be protected. There doesn't and it doesn't. People stopped buying horse buggy whips, and yet we survived without that business model. We'll survive without a viable business model for the music industry too.

     

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      Willton, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 8:28pm

      Re:

      Mike, you didn't go far enough. The "solution" to the death of copyright is not that some new business model will be created out of the ashes of copyright. It simply does not matter whether or not a viable business model is ever created. That's because it should never be the government's job to ensure the creation or to ensure the protection of business models.
      No, but the government has a legitimate interest in promoting culture and "the Progress of Science and useful Arts." Killing off copyright law entirely seriously undercuts that interest.

      By arguing that a business model will develop, you're falling into their trap that there needs to be one in the first place and that the industry needs to be protected. There doesn't and it doesn't. People stopped buying horse buggy whips, and yet we survived without that business model. We'll survive without a viable business model for the music industry too.
      I suppose we will, but will we be better for it? Is it really a good idea to have the nation's music culture suffer by killing off the music industry? Is it really a good idea to make the music profession more unattractive by killing off the music industry?

       

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        Mike (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:57pm

        Re: Re:

        I suppose we will, but will we be better for it? Is it really a good idea to have the nation's music culture suffer by killing off the music industry? Is it really a good idea to make the music profession more unattractive by killing off the music industry?

        Um, what? Can you explain how the music industry is being killed off? As we detailed last week, as copyright is increasingly ignored, the music industry is doing BETTER than ever before in history. Every single part of the industry is moving upwards -- except for the sale of plastic discs.

         

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        Ima Fish, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 5:20am

        Re: Re:

        "Is it really a good idea to have the nation's music culture suffer by killing off the music industry? Is it really a good idea to make the music profession more unattractive by killing off the music industry?"

        I don't care whether it is a good idea or not. But I do know one thing, it should not be the government/s job to make any profession more attractive.

        And with the way the content industry is acting, it is not longer our music culture. Every time we try to share in the music culture by using our fair use rights the music industry comes after us.

        The only way music could become our culture would be by talking away the government granted monopoly of copyright from the music industry.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 5:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Every time we try to share in the music culture by using our fair use rights the music industry comes after us.

          I'm not picking a side here, but it appears you don't understand what "fair use rights" entail. You might wanna look that up.

           

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            Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 6:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You start off with a natural right to do what the heck you want with the intellectual property you purchase.

            Part of that right (copying, performing, etc.) is then suspended by the state in order to grant a transferable commercial privilege for the benefit of publishers (initially attached to the original work).

            This privilege is then moderated such that should someone be prosecuted for infringement they may claim a defense of 'fair use' for de minimis, insignificant, harmless, or 'more socially beneficial' infringements. 'Fair use' is not a right or privilege, but a matter of judicial arbitration.

            Truly fair use (in the literal sense) would be the restoration of your natural intellectual property rights to do what you want with the IP you've created or purchased as long as that didn't unfairly impact on someone else's natural rights. There would certainly be no mercantile privilege of copyright or patent that unfairly suspended your rights.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 6:47am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Your explanation is clear and concise, Crosbie. I have a question, though (seriously, not snarky):

              You say: You start off with a natural right to do what the heck you want with the intellectual property you purchase.

              I'm guessing from previous comments that you don't think people should be purchasing "ip" right?

              Also, if there were no copyright (or similar) law, why would anyone purchase "ip" ... except as a voluntary "thank you" to the creator/contributor?

              Just curious about your thoughts here.

               

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                Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:43am

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

                You may recall Richard Stallman saying: '"Free software" is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of "free" as in "free speech," not as in "free beer."'.

                So, of course, I most assuredly do believe people should be purchasing intellectual property, and should indeed be prosecuted if they steal it.

                As for voluntary payment as opposed to compulsory payment, you should bear in mind that all bargains are supposed to be voluntary. This is the whole point of a free market; that people come together to offer each other what they have with a view to obtaining that which they don't have in voluntary exchange.

                One of those things that prevents markets from being free and fair are enforced unnatural monopolies, especially state enforced monopolies such as copyright or patent.

                Check out Against Intellectual Monopoly for a more in depth explanation as to why whilst copyright may have been highly appealing to printers and the state 300 years ago, it was not actually ethical, warranted or necessary - merely expeditious. It is no longer even expeditious today (unless you are a totalitarian/police state).

                So, without copyright, people purchase IP because they don't have it, want it, and are willing to exchange money in exchange. Once they have it, it's their IP and they can do what they want with it. It works just like material property. It's just a lot easier and cheaper to reproduce and distribute. Naturally, some artists are going to require a large number of their audience to commit to a collective purchase for their more valuable works. Conversely, many artists may already be sufficiently patronised by large audiences (given their goodwill) that they don't need any prior commitment.

                 

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                  mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 6:59pm

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

                  people should be purchasing intellectual property, and should indeed be prosecuted if they steal it

                  But people can't steal IP. They can make an unauthorized copy of it, thus infringing on the IP holders' licensing terms (if any), but they aren't stealing anything because no one is deprived of anything by the making of that copy.

                   

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                    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 19th, 2008 @ 2:59am

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

                    That is a facile argument.

                    Removing IP from someone's private domain without authorisation is theft.

                    Ignoring a copyright holder's privilege by making a copy of your own property is not theft, but infringement.

                    Let's not conflate infringement with theft - this is what the RIAA/MPAA loves to do.

                    If you are against copyright, similarly, do not conflate the two. Theft of IP remains a crime even if there's no copyright to prohibit copying of purchased IP.

                    See http://www.againstmonopoly.org/index.php?perm=685 for more discussion.

                     

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    Jason (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 7:42pm

    c'mon he did it on a bet

    You know somebody bet this guy that he wouldn't quote Dirty Dancing.

    Nobody puts copyright in a corner!

     

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    Adam, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 8:47pm

    Music

    I do not beilieve the music profession would suffer at all. There are thousands of musicians, much better than what you hear on the radio, that don't get paid near what a signed band does. Yes all musicians need compensation, but there are other ways of achieving that compensation. Many decent bands can't get out there because a few companies run the music industry. It is almost impossible for an unknown band to get airtime on a commercial radio station. I am all for killing the music industry. Let's chop it's head right off.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:30pm

    I believe I have broken the "techdirt corde". If you say something that generally agrees with Masnick and Company...well that is good and indicative of progressive thinking. If you say something that generally does not agree with Mascnick and Company...well that is not good and indicative of regressive thinking.

    It is sad that so many who frequent this site and comment on its articles haven't a clue why copyright law even exists, and appear to be of the mindset that if they can get it for free without paying then they are simply exercising their God-given right to set information "free" because that is good for society (even though what seems to be their view of societal good is getting a freebie from the hard work done by the person who created an original work in the first place).

    Why am I left with the feeling that many of those screaming "free, free, free" likely went through high school and college cutting corners on tests, terms papers, and original research?

    By the way, copyright law has not recently become "criminalized". Such sanctions have been a part of the law for many, many years, but are tightly constricted and apply to only the most egregious violations of law. Those who may disagree are simply misinformed.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 10:03pm

      Re:

      I believe I have broken the "techdirt corde". If you say something that generally agrees with Masnick and Company...well that is good and indicative of progressive thinking. If you say something that generally does not agree with Mascnick and Company...well that is not good and indicative of regressive thinking.


      Not at all. However, I will express my opinion on things, and then back it up with evidence.

      If you have evidence to the contrary, please post it. But if all you've got to say is that I tend to support opinions that are supported by the facts, and disagree with those that are not supported by the facts... well, then, I have to agree.

      I'm sorry if that upsets you.

      It is sad that so many who frequent this site and comment on its articles haven't a clue why copyright law even exists

      Hmm. If they frequent the site, then they know why copyright exists, because we've gone into a detailed explanation of its history.

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080220/020252302.shtml
      http://www.techdirt.com/artic les/20071230/233138.shtml

      appear to be of the mindset that if they can get it for free without paying then they are simply exercising their God-given right to set information "free" because that is good for society (even though what seems to be their view of societal good is getting a freebie from the hard work done by the person who created an original work in the first place).

      Well, that would be something if that were the position we advocated, but it is not.

      We are talking from the position of content creators and why its in *their* benefit to not enforce the copyright on their own works.

      But, why argue against what we actually say when you've got a handy strawman?

      Why am I left with the feeling that many of those screaming "free, free, free" likely went through high school and college cutting corners on tests, terms papers, and original research?

      Perhaps because you want to accuse us of saying something we haven't -- which would be lying, which is worse than cheating, isn't it?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:32am

        Re: Re:

        Two very basic points that appear to govern the tone, tenor and content of articles posted for comment.

        First, your continuing attribution of intellectual property laws in large part to Jefferson is terribly misleading. He had his opinions, but then again so did all the other drafters of our Constitution. Jefferson did not "invent" patent and copyright law. In fact, if memory serves me he was not even involved with its drafting since at the time he was serving as an ambassador in Europe.

        Second, you seem prone to take quotes completely out of context, and then get all upset that the partial quote calls your site's motives and honesty into question. Here is a thought. Quote the entire comment. Had you done so in this instance you would have noted that it was not directed to you or your site.

         

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          mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:27pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'd quote the parts of your post I want to respond to, but then I'd be attacked for taking things out of context, so let's just say that I'm responding to the second point since you haven't linked to anything supporting your first point.

          I think that Mike did a great job quoting from your post. Your initial post was ambiguous in mentioning the "techdirt corde" (sic). It is not at all clear whether that refers to the articles posted by Mike et al. (which you go on to talk about) or the comments posted by others. I feel that Mike's response was spot on, from his point of view of the ambiguity.

          And Mike is quite right that you are laying out a strawman, regardless of whether it is about the articles or the comments.

          The majority here (the "techdirt coders") are NOT advocating breaking the law. They/we are advocating that the law be rectified (or dropped entirely) for a few reasons, but the main one being that it will lead to a win-win situation for the overwhelming majority of the population, content producers as well as consumers.

          The reasoning is sound, clearly stated, and supported by both economic theory and real-world examples.

          However, a good portion of the arguments against the "code" end up being logical fallacies: misdirection, ad hominem, ad nauseam, strawman, red herring, etc... I have yet to see a well reasoned retort, though MLS did look like he was building to one a few months ago (IMO, he's regressed since).

          So please, provide a modicum of supporting evidence for the idea that us "coders" are corner-cutters or that we feel that violating a content creator's rights is valid. We don't.

          Just because we feel that content creator's should want their infinitely reproducible content distributed without limitation does not in any way imply that we advocate violating their rights under the law. Just because we want the law modified to remove artificial restrictions from consumers doesn't mean that we advocate infringing existing laws.

           

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    José Roberto, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 9:58pm

    Music Industry

    I hope the music industry dies a slow, cold death. Then perhaps we'll be able to listen to good music again.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 10:00pm

    "History suggests otherwise."

    Merely FYI, the word "history" embraces so much more than what has happened since the day you were born.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 10:30pm

      Re:

      Merely FYI, the word "history" embraces so much more than what has happened since the day you were born

      I'm assuming this is a weak attempt at an insult?

      If it's not and intended to be serious, then please check your facts. We have covered the history of content creation going back centuries, and pointed to plenty of evidence concerning what happens to content creation in the absence of copyright (hint: it actually works out great).

      You are free to try to refute the evidence. Tossing weak attempts at insults in my direction won't get you very far in terms of actually convincing anyone of anything.

       

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    Doug Lichtman, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 10:58pm

    Strawmen?

    Mike -

    Thanks for the fun post; but your "response" seems to have almost nothing to do with my original essay. Did you even read my piece? For instance, do you really think that my point about movies is that "there really aren't any" business models beyond the conventional one? I can't imagine that your reading comprehension is *that* bad.

    You have a good forum here and an audience of interested and thoughtful readers. It's a shame that you waste all that potential by writing posts like this one today.

    Doug Lichtman

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 11:46pm

      Re: Strawmen?

      Hi Doug,


      Thanks for the fun post; but your "response" seems to have almost nothing to do with my original essay. Did you even read my piece?


      Read it multiple times, because I kept trying to figure out where the substance was.

      For instance, do you really think that my point about movies is that "there really aren't any" business models beyond the conventional one? I can't imagine that your reading comprehension is *that* bad.

      Talk about reading comprehension... :) That's not what I said. I said that you complained that you couldn't come up with a business model that worked for "all" movies. But that's not true. What you *meant* was that you couldn't come up with business models for all movies that are made today.

      And my response is twofold:

      (1) Just because you can't, it doesn't mean they don't exist and...
      (2) The existing business model doesn't support a ton of movies that can't be made *because* of copyright. Why aren't you upset about those movies?

      You only are worried about what we have today that would disappear, rather than what we don't have today because of these unnecessary laws.

      You have a good forum here and an audience of interested and thoughtful readers. It's a shame that you waste all that potential by writing posts like this one today.

      If you have a substantive criticism, I'd love to hear it.

       

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    cram, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 10:59pm

    movies

    Hi Mike

    "But just because Lichtman can only think of a bad business model for the movie industry, it doesn't mean that there aren't business models that don't rely on copyright."

    There may be business models that don't rely on copyright, but what about the current business model that DOES rely on copyright and IS a good model? Before you pounce on me and say the industry is wailing about losses, let me state that the movie industry does have huge problems but they are not all copyright-related.

    There are so many other issues that the industry needs to fix (make less expensive, more entertaining/engaging/intelligent films, for starters). Doing away with copyright will only add to their problems. Distribution companies should also look at releasing a greater variety of foreign films, in the theaters and on DVD.

    "For example, while he just assumes that you can't sell movie tickets anymore -- that's not true at all. We've listed out plenty of ideas on ways to make the movie-going experience worth paying for -- and we're sure, given a world without copyright, many others would quickly pop up, as the history of free markets tends to show."

    Do you realize that in a world without copyright, any theater can screen any movie, old or new, make money of it and not pay the producer a dime? How does that help the movie industry (I refer to the production companies)?

    If there's no copyright, anyone can use a franchise to sell all sorts of merchandise, OSTs, etc (the scarce goods you love to talk about). Won't that lead to huge losses to the content creators?

    And what about international rights? I'm sure you know how big Hollywood movies are all over the world. Selling international rights fetches considerable income for Hollywood companies. Why do you expect them to let go of that?

    "Lichtman really should have been able to come up with a better response than "but... but... but... I can't think of any way to make money without copyright." It says a lot more about Lichtman than it does about copyright."

    A lot of people would like to make money with copyright, because it's a proven model. Why do you think they would prefer to try something that assures losses?

    "When Lichtman brushes off Fleisher by saying: "Fleischer is not merely interested in allowing alternative models like free peer-to-peer distribution to compete with traditional approaches; he wants to take away the traditional options and leave intact only his favorite alternatives," he again is missing the point."

    No, he's not missing the point. When you talk of removal of copyright, it is replacing one model with another. It's one thing to say free software will pose a threat to proprietary software, and quite anothe to say the concept of proprietary software has to be abolished (which in essence is what those clamouring for removal of copyright are seeking).

    "Fleischer is not saying leave only his favorites intact. He's saying get rid of the artificial system set up by government to support one favorite model -- and then let any model show up."

    Why did the government decide to support this model? Because it's a fair one. One that rewards the creator and allows him control over his content.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 12:45am

      Re: movies

      There may be business models that don't rely on copyright, but what about the current business model that DOES rely on copyright and IS a good model?

      That's a good and important question -- and one I've tried to answer, but perhaps not clearly enough.

      Any sort of protectionist system creates *a* business model that's good for *someone*. And that's part of the problem. Those someones always want that business model to stay -- just as sugar monopolists want to keep their sugar monopoly.

      But history and economics have always shown that removing those protectionist barriers *always* creates larger markets, more opportunities for profit and *more* of the product in question -- all while creating happier customers.

      Why? Because in removing protectionism, innovation occurs in many different areas to improve the product and improve the process. That creates new incentives and cheaper, more efficiently made product. That's a good thing.

      So, the reason I say what I say is because history and economics shows that a gov't enforced monopoly is NEVER the best business model for a market.

      There are so many other issues that the industry needs to fix (make less expensive, more entertaining/engaging/intelligent films, for starters). Doing away with copyright will only add to their problems.

      I disagree. It would make them focus in on business models that work -- which would include tackling all of those points you made. They need the real incentive to do that. Right now, copyright is a crutch that lets them avoid fixing those problems.

      Do you realize that in a world without copyright, any theater can screen any movie, old or new, make money of it and not pay the producer a dime? How does that help the movie industry (I refer to the production companies)?

      The content is promotion -- that's a good thing if others want to help promote your product. There are business models that take care of the "problem" you see (which appears to me as an opportunity). Why not offer incentives to come see the *authorized* version of the movie. Just off the top of my head I could come up with a variety of ideas for that: offer ticketholders to the authorized version a free "entry" into a sweepstakes to appear in a sequel or to meet a star of the movie.

      Again, the point is that models exist. And the market can and will discover them. The gov't shouldn't.


      If there's no copyright, anyone can use a franchise to sell all sorts of merchandise, OSTs, etc (the scarce goods you love to talk about). Won't that lead to huge losses to the content creators?


      Official versions have value. History has shown that over and over again.

      As for pure counterfeits that pretend to be authorized versions, anti-fraud (consumer protection) rules can take care of those.

      And what about international rights? I'm sure you know how big Hollywood movies are all over the world. Selling international rights fetches considerable income for Hollywood companies. Why do you expect them to let go of that?

      Uh... the new business models will work internationally too. Why wouldn't they?

      A lot of people would like to make money with copyright, because it's a proven model. Why do you think they would prefer to try something that assures losses?

      Why would the new model assure losses. It wouldn't.

      Cram, you confuse me. We have these debates every few days, and at the end you always say that you now get it -- and then a few days you're back asking the same questions.

      When you talk of removal of copyright, it is replacing one model with another.

      No. It's saying we should take away the artificial, market-limiting gov't monopoly system, and let the free market determine the most efficient business models.

      There's a difference.

      Why did the government decide to support this model? Because it's a fair one. One that rewards the creator and allows him control over his content.

      People would say the same thing about mercantilist protectionist policies, tariffs and subsidies -- and yet time and time and time again history has shown that the gov't was wrong. Often horribly wrong.

       

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      mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:39pm

      Re: movies

      Do you realize that in a world without copyright, any theater can screen any movie, old or new, make money of it and not pay the producer a dime?

      Yep, can happen. And just how does that movie theatre make money a year or so from now, when there are no new movies to show?

      And why does copyright have to exist for this? Why can't the tenents of a regular contract control the sharing of revenues (note: current copyright does not have anything to do with the sharing of revenue from ticket sales).

      There are many ways to have in which the existing infrastructure will still be supported even with copyright taken out of the equation.

       

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        cram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:57pm

        Re: Re: movies

        Hi mobiGeek

        "Do you realize that in a world without copyright, any theater can screen any movie, old or new, make money of it and not pay the producer a dime?
        Yep, can happen. And just how does that movie theatre make money a year or so from now, when there are no new movies to show? "

        I don't understand. How will there be "no new movies a year or so from now?"

        "And why does copyright have to exist for this? Why can't the tenents of a regular contract control the sharing of revenues (note: current copyright does not have anything to do with the sharing of revenue from ticket sales)."

        Well, if copyright does not exist, everything is in public domain (please correct me if I am wrong). Where's the question of sharing revenues with the creator? Also, the moment a film releases, any TV channel can pick it up and telecast it, without having to pay the company a dime. Is that OK with you?

        "There are many ways to have in which the existing infrastructure will still be supported even with copyright taken out of the equation."

        How? Can you provide any examples of what those many ways could be?

         

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          mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 10:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: movies

          How will there be "no new movies a year or so from now?"

          You are saying that without copyright that theatres would simply copy the movies and keep all profits. So there's no incentive to make new movies (and no money from previous films to make them).

          So now theatre owners have put themselves out of business.

          Where's the question of sharing revenues with the creator?

          How about a contract that says: share your revenues with me and I'll make more movies. No need for copyright there.

          What's the incentive for a theatre that signs such a revenue-sharing contract to release the movie?

          Also, the moment a film releases, any TV channel can pick it up and telecast it, without having to pay the company a dime.

          From where do these individuals get this copy of the movie? Why would the producer or the theatre release copies of the movie into the wild?

          Even if copies were released, they still don't resolve the fact that watching movies on a computer or TV or even home theatre does not duplicate the experience of going to a public theatre.

          Can you provide any examples of what those many ways could be?

          Make the theatre experience something that simply cannot be duplicated at home. People will come to experience the movie, not just watch it.

           

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    trollificus (profile), Jun 17th, 2008 @ 11:56pm

    Hot rumors

    Did somebody say I could get John Nash action figures?

     

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    cram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 1:06am

    Thanks

    Hi Mike

    Thanks for your response.

    "And what about international rights? I'm sure you know how big Hollywood movies are all over the world. Selling international rights fetches considerable income for Hollywood companies. Why do you expect them to let go of that?

    Uh... the new business models will work internationally too. Why wouldn't they?"

    I don't think they would, because movie halls all over the world would screen the latest Hollywood movies without having to pay the studios anything. Isn't that a clear loss for the companies? Right now the figure runs into hundreds of millions.

    "Cram, you confuse me. We have these debates every few days, and at the end you always say that you now get it -- and then a few days you're back asking the same questions."

    :-) I'll try and clarify my stance here. I am in agreement with you on the free model part - free as in free for personal, individual consumption, but not when it comes to free for commercial exploitation. That's why I try to argue in favour of copyright.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 3:43am

      Re: Thanks

      "I don't think they would, because movie halls all over the world would screen the latest Hollywood movies without having to pay the studios anything. Isn't that a clear loss for the companies? Right now the figure runs into hundreds of millions."

      What the hell are you talking about exactly?

      Studios would retain the rights in countries where copyright still exists. Eventually, assuming the US model proved successful, other countries might adopt that model. Until then, copyright laws in those countries would apply - i.e. highly protected in Europe not really protected in the East.

      Besides, their current model - often forcing people in other parts of the world to wait anything from 3 - 12 months for a release of a movie - often *encourages* piracy to begin with. Why wait when you can download a US DVD rip?

       

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        cram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 4:56am

        Re: Re: Thanks

        Hi Paul

        How is that possible? If a company forsakes copyright protection in the US, it cannot seek to be covered by copyright laws in other countries. I don't think you can have it both ways - you know, copyleft in the US and copyright in the US. Anyway, Mike's point is that copyright should go away; I guess he wants that to happen universally.

        "Besides, their current model - often forcing people in other parts of the world to wait anything from 3 - 12 months for a release of a movie - often *encourages* piracy to begin with. Why wait when you can download a US DVD rip?"

        So the flaw in the current model is not releasing simultaneously, not pricing DVDs afforably, not marketing their films overseas substantuiially, etc. It has nothing to do with copyright, nor can doing away with copyright solve it.

         

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          Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 20th, 2008 @ 4:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Thanks

          If a company forsakes copyright protection in the US, it cannot seek to be covered by copyright laws in other countries. I don't think you can have it both ways - you know, copyleft in the US and copyright in the US.

          Just a side note (apologies if I'm stating the obvious): copyleft is not simply the absence of copyright. Copyleft is the practice using copyright to remove copyright restrictions on a work and all its derivatives.

          There are free (libre) licenses which are not copyleft licenses. The public domain is not copyleft either. There are ways to forsake copyright protection that don't involve copyleft.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyleft

           

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      Mike (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:52am

      Re: Thanks

      I don't think they would, because movie halls all over the world would screen the latest Hollywood movies without having to pay the studios anything. Isn't that a clear loss for the companies? Right now the figure runs into hundreds of millions.

      That's only a loss if they don't replace it with other models that are more lucrative.

       

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      mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:46pm

      Re: Thanks

      I don't think they would, because movie halls all over the world would screen the latest Hollywood movies without having to pay the studios anything

      | But this is happening now, not because of lack of copyright in other parts of the world, but because of the dependence of copyright where it exists. Because of copyright, the industry execs don't worry about any other type of business models...ones that would give theatre owners in those other countries incentives to participate in revenue sharing, etc.

      Instead, industry execs spend time lobbying for increases in expanding their artificial restrictions.

       

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    cram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 1:23am

    one more point

    "Why not offer incentives to come see the *authorized* version of the movie?"

    I ask you: Why do we need more than one version of a movie? How does it benefit the consumer? If at all anyone benefits, it's the theater owner who'd gain the most, by simply raking in all the money without having to share it with the studio.

    I don't see a compelling need for companies to be forced to offer incentives to watch the "authorized" version.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:54am

      Re: one more point

      I ask you: Why do we need more than one version of a movie? How does it benefit the consumer? If at all anyone benefits, it's the theater owner who'd gain the most, by simply raking in all the money without having to share it with the studio.

      Competition does amazing things both for the market and for customers. What's wrong with competition?

      I don't see a compelling need for companies to be forced to offer incentives to watch the "authorized" version.

      Just as I don't see a compelling need for limiting an infinite resource and making it more difficult for creative people to be creative by giving monopolies to individuals.

      As for being "forced" to offer incentives, that's ridiculous. Right now, do you think movie studios are "forced" to show movies and charge for them. What you see as being "forced" to do, I see as simply a good business model.

      No one is forced to do anything.

       

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    cram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 1:59am

    more

    Hi Mike

    As I keep rereading your response, I find that there are more points of disagreement.

    "Any sort of protectionist system creates *a* business model that's good for *someone*. And that's part of the problem. Those someones always want that business model to stay -- just as sugar monopolists want to keep their sugar monopoly."

    Part of the problem? For who? And how is this a protectionist system? Do movie producers get some special subsidy or tax rebate? Are only a few companies allowed to make movies? Are foreign companies barred from getting into the movie business? Are foreign movies banned from being released in the US market? What kind of protectionism are you talking about? How does it compare with a sugar monopoly?

    The only thing a company gets is protection over content it laboured to produce at considerable cost. And you want that to be taken away!

    "But history and economics have always shown that removing those protectionist barriers *always* creates larger markets, more opportunities for profit and *more* of the product in question -- all while creating happier customers."

    In this case, more of the product doesn't translate into more profits for creator; it certainly means more profits for third parties who won't have to pay the creator.

    "Why? Because in removing protectionism, innovation occurs in many different areas to improve the product and improve the process. That creates new incentives and cheaper, more efficiently made product. That's a good thing."

    Movies can still be made efficiently if only studio managements recognize the need for fresh ideas, spot good storytellers, give them enough financial incentive, give artists more freedom, try and focus on the storytelling than the bullshit CGI, etc, etc...none of which need the abolition of copyright.

    "The content is promotion -- that's a good thing if others want to help promote your product. There are business models that take care of the "problem" you see (which appears to me as an opportunity)."

    How is it a good thing when 100 million people all over the world are watching my movie, in theaters, with not a single dime coming back to me?

    Of course, promotion's great for a movie, when people are talking about, reviewing it, blogging about...not when they are actually screening the product and making money off it. That kind of promotion doesn't help the movie makers.

     

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      Mike (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 7:59am

      Re: more


      Part of the problem? For who?


      For everyone. A less efficient market means a smaller market. That means less overall profit. Less overall social benefit.

      And how is this a protectionist system?

      Copyright grants a gov't monopoly, which is, by its definition protectionism.

      Do movie producers get some special subsidy or tax rebate?

      They get a monopoly over the content.

      How does it compare with a sugar monopoly?

      Just as with a sugar monopoly, only one person (or company) gets to control the entire market for the product. No one else is able to improve upon it or make it more efficient.

      In this case, more of the product doesn't translate into more profits for creator; it certainly means more profits for third parties who won't have to pay the creator.

      It does mean more profits for those who implement good business models. The fact that it might *also* create more profits for 3rd parties is a positive externality.

      Movies can still be made efficiently if only studio managements recognize the need for fresh ideas, spot good storytellers, give them enough financial incentive, give artists more freedom, try and focus on the storytelling than the bullshit CGI, etc, etc...none of which need the abolition of copyright.

      Sure it does. Without copyright, all of those things would become much more important -- which is the key point. Competition in the market would drive a better product.


      How is it a good thing when 100 million people all over the world are watching my movie, in theaters, with not a single dime coming back to me?


      You make a false assumption that not a single dime comes back to you. You keep doing that every time we have these discussions.

      Which part of "you implement new business models" didn't make sense?

       

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    UncleSim, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 2:05am

    Say What, Anonymouse?

    Quoting "The Market Doesn't Care About the Public Good by Anonymouse on Jun 17th, 2008 @ 2:24pm
    Market pressures (read, lots of money) that have compelled government agencies to enact legislation on the part of those who have the money. This is exactly why a "let the markets take care of the problem" approach will NOT work. We do need government legislation (not just market action), but legislation that is concerned with the good of the society, not the good of the wealthy."

    You are calling on the broken part of the system to fix the part that works.

    Yours is a description of fascist government, not 'market pressures'. Moneyed interests may pressure government to pass legislation in their favor, but they are hardly 'compelled' to pass it. Anyone is allowed to ask, but those with responsibility over resources make their own decisions.

    If you can get someone unselfish and humbly servile elected to powerful office, maybe he can withstand the pressures that 'compelled' government to cave to those moneyed interests. Until then, I'm counting everyone looking out for themselves first, especially officeholders and their employees.

    If you're counting on something else, you'll probably be disappointed.

     

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      Anonymouse, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 4:59am

      Re: Say What, Anonymouse?

      Quote 1: Yours is a description of fascist government, not 'market pressures'.

      I'm arguing for a more involved citizenry and legislation that curtails corporate power. How is that fascist? Extreme capitalism is just a fascist government ruled by the winning corporations. A truly "free" market, with no government intervention (such as, outlawing monopolies, ahem) would give us that world.

      Quote 2: Moneyed interests may pressure government to pass legislation in their favor, but they are hardly 'compelled' to pass it. Anyone is allowed to ask, but those with responsibility over resources make their own decisions.

      Wow. What naive rock have you been living under?

      Quote 3: If you can get someone unselfish and humbly servile elected to powerful office, maybe he can withstand the pressures that 'compelled' government to cave to those moneyed interests. Until then, I'm counting everyone looking out for themselves first, especially officeholders and their employees.

      Please read Quote 2 and Quote 3. Perhaps you forgot to include something between the two that makes them read as something other than a complete contradiction?

      If you're counting on something else, you'll probably be disappointed.

      I do agree that, left to themselves, people tend to be concerned only for their self interest. In fact, that corporations act this way is the basis of my argument. So you've apparently misunderstood me completely.

      As for what I'm counting on, it's the same thing the founders of this nation were counting on: democracy (not oligarchy or aristocracy).

       

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    Doug Lichtman, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    Substance

    Mike -

    It'd be great to engage in a conversation on substance, as I think you and I agree on more than might be apparent. For instance, I too worry about copyright law to the extent it blocks out new business models, and I too think copyright law at a minimum needs to change in light of all the new technologies and opportunities now at hand. Where we disagree, and where we could possibly have a really worthwhile conversation, are on issues like whether there is a way to allow copyright to keep doing the good work it has done in the past while still allowing for these new opportunities (I think yes) and on whether there is a meaningful difference between "commercial" and "non-commercial" infringement (I think the impact and scope of the infringement are much more important than the detail of whether someone is making money or getting some other positive feedback from the infringing act).

    If you'd like to reach out via email, I'd certainly be happy to talk with you about maybe setting up a conversation between us here or elsewhere on these issues. My sense is that you have a lot of interesting points to make and we could have a worthwhile conversation. I resisted your original post because it felt more about being snarky/dismissive toward my views rather than wanting to really engage in the dialogue. If I misread your tone, apologies. But regardless, if you are attracted to the "let's talk about substance, respectfully and thoughtfully" style -- and you are, I think -- then let's find a way to do it. (Indeed, I was hoping the CATO event would be like that, but now I'm not so sure. The posts, even including mine, are more playful than substantive, which has charms but maybe isn't what everyone needed most.)

    Reach out if you want.

    Doug Lichtman

     

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    Jayel Aheram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 9:59am

    Copyright is a State-Granted Monopoly

    A lot of things have been said about consumer rights and I commend Mike Masnick et al for almost getting it right. Often, the debate is framed around the concept that the original content creators have perpetual rights that extend beyond the original content they create. It extends to copies of that content and even to mediums that display that content and derivatives created from the original. In short, some distributors of original content creators (RIAA and MPAA) are laying claim not just to their original content, but the culture as a whole.

    It is about consumer rights, but it is not merely about being able to download free music or make infinite copies to share with your friends or any other thing DRM or the DMCA prevents consumers from doing. It is a lot more basic than that. It is about private property rights.

    Not intellectual property. I am talking about stuff. The computers, the iPods, the TiVos, our own bodies.

    Current copyright laws are in direct conflict with individual private property rights. Content creators might own their content (as in, they can claim original authorship), but as soon as the voluntary transaction takes place between the content creator and the buyer, the ownership of the copy passes between the original content creator (or the distributor) to the buyer. Or at least, it should be.

    RIAA and MPAA would like us to believe that the mere presence of their content in our stuff is my ceding rights to my own property or that they have co-ownership to everything they sell us.

     

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    Karl Schipul, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 10:36am

    Copyright laws, how beneficial?

    "With current law = abuse. Without law = abuse. So, the necessary reaction is a revision of the law to address the abuses."

    I agree with the first sentence. The second? You will have to elaborate. You probably meant that it was abuse by 15 year olds who download too many songs. I will have to see an extremely good argument for me to be convinced that there will need to be strong laws to prevent the second kind of 'abuse'.

    "I like how you try to make strict copyright laws (with strong enforcement) appear egalitarian and anti-elitist. -- me"

    "I'm doing no such thing. Read more carefully. -- you"

    This is the writing in question that I was referring to (from post #5):

    "We do need government legislation (not just market action), but legislation that is concerned with the good of the society, not the good of the wealthy."

    This is what I was responding to. Did you write this post?


    "If anything, I'm arguing for laws that favor the public good and more greatly restrict corporate influence."

    That is a nice theory. But you have to understand that laws do not necessarily make bad things go away. One has to take into consideration that for a law to be effective, it has to fit at least a few requirements.

    1. The law must be understood by those whom it is directed at.
    2. If said law were to be broken, it must be reasonably simple enough to enforce.
    3. Even if the law passes requirements 1 and 2, one then has to take into consideration the possible unintended consequences that the passing of the law might possibly cause.

     

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    Jason, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 10:52am

    What's your solution?

    There seem to be a few options suggested in this thread so far. Which position do you support?

    1) Abolish all IP law and let the free market sort it out
    2) Revise IP law to restrict corporate abuse and expand fair use
    3) Revise copyright law to address commercial vs. non-commercial (or minor vs. major) uses differently
    4) Do nothing

    What options am I missing?
    Which is your favorite and why?

     

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    Karl Schipul, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 11:04am

    Solution?

    I do not think that I can confidently state which is my preferred position due to the fact that my knowledge of corporate and copyright laws are limited.

    However, I think that simply adding new laws will not really make things any better (except for those who help to write the laws, assuming that special interests are involved).

    It also seems like there are simply too many laws on the books as it is. If there were an optimal number and set of laws regarding copyrights, it just does not seem like we are even close to such a situation.

    If there are too many laws for the relevant people to understand, how can they be efficiently and effectively enforced? Or, in an even worse scenario, if only a few powerful judges, lawyers and accountants understand the law, it can most certainly be a situation which is quite ripe for abuse by the powerful, especially if said public officials were in the pockets of the largest copyright holders.

     

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    malfunct, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 2:57pm

    Movie Tickets

    Is it just me or does the value of a movie ticket have nearly nothing to do with the movie itself? I buy a movie ticket for the experience of being in a movie theater and would pay the same price even if all of the movies in theaters had been sent to my mailbox on high quality blu-ray disks for free well before being released in the theaters. Are people really that clueless? I buy cd's even though the music is on Sirius radio too. Of course you already understand this and have said the same in past articals I just wish that people trying to steal more and more value from the products they want me to buy would realize it too.

     

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      Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 18th, 2008 @ 3:43pm

      Re: Movie Tickets

      Quite. Cinemas can already show Big Buck Bunny and charge people money to see it - even though people can already download it for free.

      The idea is, that cinemas will eventually go "Hang on a mo! This is really rather good. We need more films like this that let us show them whenever we want and charge what we want. Who do we pay to produce more?"

      Moreover, it's not just the cinemas that will want more, the fans of the films will also patronise the film makers to produce more great movies.

      There are cases when fans of TV series have petitioned the producers to produce more episodes.

      All you need are the mechanisms that enable audiences to pay artists. The mechanisms that enabled publishers to charge audiences (and give a tad back to the artist) no longer work.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Karl Schipul, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Movie Tickets

    "Is it just me or does the value of a movie ticket have nearly nothing to do with the movie itself?"

    No, it's not just you, it is supply and demand.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    cram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 10:25pm

    Hi Mike

    "And how is this a protectionist system?

    Copyright grants a gov't monopoly, which is, by its definition protectionism."

    Companies have monopoly over brand names, people have a monopoly over property...are these also protectionism? If they are, how is it a bad thing?

    "Do movie producers get some special subsidy or tax rebate?

    They get a monopoly over the content."

    And what's wrong with that? Why do you think an artist should not be allowed monopoly over that content (I refer to commercial exploitation).

    "How does it compare with a sugar monopoly?

    Just as with a sugar monopoly, only one person (or company) gets to control the entire market for the product. No one else is able to improve upon it or make it more efficient."

    But here we are talking about hundreds of thousands of individual entities. The situation's not comparable with sugar, where there's only product and one that everyone consumes.

    "In this case, more of the product doesn't translate into more profits for creator; it certainly means more profits for third parties who won't have to pay the creator.

    It does mean more profits for those who implement good business models. The fact that it might *also* create more profits for 3rd parties is a positive externality."

    It does mean more profits? How can you be so sure when nothing's been proven, except the current model which works fine. I disagree with the second statement; how is allowing someone else profit from my hard work and talent a positive externality? Positive for who? How?

    "Movies can still be made efficiently if only studio managements recognize the need for fresh ideas, spot good storytellers, give them enough financial incentive, give artists more freedom, try and focus on the storytelling than the bullshit CGI, etc, etc...none of which need the abolition of copyright.

    Sure it does. Without copyright, all of those things would become much more important -- which is the key point. Competition in the market would drive a better product."

    There is already competition in the market, between one film and another. You are advocating a scenario where many people compete with each other using the same content, a lot like publishers of Shakespeare competing with each other currently.

    "How is it a good thing when 100 million people all over the world are watching my movie, in theaters, with not a single dime coming back to me?

    You make a false assumption that not a single dime comes back to you. You keep doing that every time we have these discussions."

    And you make a false assumption that this won't happen. I keep doing this every time because you don't wan't to even consider that possibility, which in my opinion is not a remote one but one that will most likely happen.

    "Which part of "you implement new business models" didn't make sense?"

    All of it; it doesn't make sense at all, in the context of movies. It's easy to say, implement new business models, make a lot more money than ever before. How? Now are you gonna say leave it to the market, which will throw up new models? That would be very convenient.

    What kind of a business model is possible in a market where every movie is in public domain? What are the main revenue streams for a movie? Ticket sales, merchadise sales, DVD sales, OST sales, television rights, international screening rights. If copyright goes, how is a company that sinks several million dollars into a film to make a profit or at least break even?

    Also, a movie's greatest asset is its immediacy. More people want to catch a film within days or at the max, a couple of weeks after it releases, especially in the case of hyped-up, big-budget stuff. That's another scarcity producers and theater owners like to exploit, which they wouldn't be able to in the absence of copyright.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      mobiGeek, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 10:59pm

      Re:

      What kind of a business model is possible in a market where every movie is in public domain

      Well, just to name one: in movie advertising.

      Another: a great viewing experience; that is, the movie producer and the movie player (cinemas) have to work together to provide a rich consumer experience that they won't get by just "watching" the movie at home or on their mobile devices.

      Yet another: raise money from people before the movie is made (akin to selling season tickets to stage productions, orchestras, operas, sports teams, etc...).

      Yet yet another: movie release sponsorships; most movies make their box-office money in the first few weeks of release (many get pulled after this)...so allow sponsors (corporations, educational institutions, churches, etc...) to host/pay for the first few showings of the movie (captive audiences).

      Yet yet yet another: unique paraphernalia (movie props, unique clothing designs, etc...)

      Notice that many of the above suggestions are already in use. Abolishment of copyright might change the balance of some of those models. For example, in-movie advertising might become more expensive (i.e. movie producers can command a better price).

      But the thing to get out of your head is that these new models must support the current movie industry environment. Nothing gives producers/directors/actors a "right" to make obscene amounts of money for relatively little work. Abolishing copyrights almost certainly would put pressures on producers to dramatically reduce production costs, thereby bringing salaries more inline with us mere mortals living outside of tinsel town.

      I make the very bold claim that this would be a good thing for everyone in the long run.

       

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      Mike (profile), Jun 21st, 2008 @ 8:24am

      Re:

      Companies have monopoly over brand names, people have a monopoly over property...are these also protectionism? If they are, how is it a bad thing?


      No, those are not monopolies. Hopefully I can explain the difference.

      First, the question of people and property -- those are property rights. That's for scarce property, noting who has control over that scarce produce so that there can be more efficient allocation. With scarce property, if multiple people want it, it needs to be clear who owns it, otherwise you get people fighting over a limited pie.

      With infinite goods, there's no scarcity to fight over. Everyone who wants something can have it without any loss to society.

      So you give property rights over scarce goods for better, more efficient allocation. But with infinite goods, there's no need for better, more efficient allocation, because if anyone wants one of something they can have it.

      When it comes to brand names, first of all, there is no monopoly. You can get a trademark, but that's not a monopoly either. It's for consumer protection, so that consumers don't think that a product is made by a different company than it really is.


      And what's wrong with that? Why do you think an artist should not be allowed monopoly over that content (I refer to commercial exploitation).


      Oh so many problems. You're limiting a resource. With every other product, once you sell it, the buyer is free to do what they want with it, commercially or not. Yet, with content, that's not true at all. And, when you realize how much content is really built off of the works of earlier content, limiting content is effectively massively shrinking a pool of natural resources -- shrinking our markets, our economy and the opportunity and incentive to create.

      In other words, it's the exact opposite of what we want to happen.

      But here we are talking about hundreds of thousands of individual entities. The situation's not comparable with sugar, where there's only product and one that everyone consumes.

      No, we're talking about the monopoly on each bit of content. Each one limiting a resource.

      It does mean more profits? How can you be so sure when nothing's been proven, except the current model which works fine.

      Just look at the history of protectionist markets vs. free markets. The more open markets always mean more opportunity and more profit in the end. That's because a free market will always be more efficient in the end, and will do a better job delivering what customers want. When you have protectionist policies, companies are incented to create what's protected -- which may not be what the market demands. It distorts the market in inefficient ways, which leads to a loss of opportunity and less profit.

      As for the current model "working fine" take a look around you and you'll notice it's not working so fine. Begin to look at all the works of creative content that CANNOT be created thanks to these laws. You're ignoring the massive amount of content that has been lost due to these laws. It's a crying shame.

      I disagree with the second statement; how is allowing someone else profit from my hard work and talent a positive externality? Positive for who? How?

      If you can make more profit by creating content, but others can *also* make some more profit, and more consumers can enjoy the content, there are positive externalities for the others who made money off of your content and the consumers who enjoyed it.

      There is already competition in the market, between one film and another. You are advocating a scenario where many people compete with each other using the same content, a lot like publishers of Shakespeare competing with each other currently.

      And those publishers competing in publishing Shakespeare are doing an amazing job with creative attempts to make their version more valuable and more worth buying than others. What's wrong with that?

      And you make a false assumption that this won't happen. I keep doing this every time because you don't wan't to even consider that possibility, which in my opinion is not a remote one but one that will most likely happen.

      With all the historical evidence out there, it's not a false assumption. It's a known fact.

      All of it; it doesn't make sense at all, in the context of movies. It's easy to say, implement new business models, make a lot more money than ever before. How? Now are you gonna say leave it to the market, which will throw up new models? That would be very convenient.

      Throughout history, that's what every protectionist has said. And every single one of them has been wrong. What makes you so sure you're right this time, despite every example in history of the benefits of moving from a protectionist to an open market?

      Also, a movie's greatest asset is its immediacy. More people want to catch a film within days or at the max, a couple of weeks after it releases, especially in the case of hyped-up, big-budget stuff. That's another scarcity producers and theater owners like to exploit, which they wouldn't be able to in the absence of copyright.

      That actually is an ADVANTAGE to the creator of the movie because they have access to it before everyone else, and can set stuff up in a way to encourage everyone to see their version of it.

      Witness the study done on the sales of the 9/11 commission report. That's not copyrighted (gov't docs can't be). But one publishing house bought the "rights" to publish it first. Other publishers very quickly copied that original publisher, but the original publisher's version still outside all the others by a wide margin.

      According to you, that wouldn't happen. But it did.

       

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

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    identicon
    cram, Jun 18th, 2008 @ 10:35pm

    more thoughts

    Hi again, Mike

    "I ask you: Why do we need more than one version of a movie? How does it benefit the consumer? If at all anyone benefits, it's the theater owner who'd gain the most, by simply raking in all the money without having to share it with the studio.

    Competition does amazing things both for the market and for customers. What's wrong with competition?"

    Nothing's wrong with competition, which we already have in the market, where one movie competes with another. What you are talking about is many guys competing with each other using the same content.

    "I don't see a compelling need for companies to be forced to offer incentives to watch the "authorized" version.

    Just as I don't see a compelling need for limiting an infinite resource and making it more difficult for creative people to be creative by giving monopolies to individuals."

    But the movie experience is not an infinite resource. It's a scarce good that directly depends on whether copyright protects a product. Otherwise, it ceases to become scarce, as in instead of 10 theaters being able to screen the latest Bond flick, 10,000 would be able to (as they wouldn't have to pay the creator).

    "As for being "forced" to offer incentives, that's ridiculous. Right now, do you think movie studios are "forced" to show movies and charge for them. What you see as being "forced" to do, I see as simply a good business model."

    The fact that studios sink a lot of money into a film "forces" them to screen and charge for it. Now that's a simple, efficient and good business model.

    "No one is forced to do anything."

    If you're in the film business, you are forced to do a lot of things just to stay in business.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    cram, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 1:11am

    "How will there be "no new movies a year or so from now?"
    You are saying that without copyright that theatres would simply copy the movies and keep all profits. So there's no incentive to make new movies (and no money from previous films to make them).

    So now theatre owners have put themselves out of business."

    But in your copyright-free model, studios have "new business models" to make more money from. So, they would still continue to churn out movies and theater owners, contrary to going out of business, would actually become wealthier.

    "Where's the question of sharing revenues with the creator?

    How about a contract that says: share your revenues with me and I'll make more movies. No need for copyright there."

    When the movie is available free of cost, in the public domain, why would any theater owner agree to such a contract?

    "Also, the moment a film releases, any TV channel can pick it up and telecast it, without having to pay the company a dime.

    From where do these individuals get this copy of the movie? Why would the producer or the theatre release copies of the movie into the wild?"

    Oh, you mean the studio would keep it under lock and key? How better is that from the current situation? In your utopian, copyright-free world, all content would be available in all formats to everyone. What could possibly stop a theater owner or individual from getting his hands on a copy?

    "Even if copies were released, they still don't resolve the fact that watching movies on a computer or TV or even home theatre does not duplicate the experience of going to a public theatre."

    I agree. After all, it's the theater experience that rocks. I do admit that in the absence of copyright, it's likely that more theaters would be built (because screening movies would be a lot less capital-intensive) and more people would flock to the theaters (because ticket prices would fall and a greater variety of movie experiences would ensue), but the creators will get screwed.

    [I hope you will not pounce on me for inconsistency; all the time I have been arguing from the perspective of the creators.]

     

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  •  
    identicon
    cram, Jun 19th, 2008 @ 2:01am

    more

    "Yet another: raise money from people before the movie is made (akin to selling season tickets to stage productions, orchestras, operas, sports teams, etc...)."

    That's highly unrealistic. People will pay upfront for viewing a film, but won't do so for its production, simply because most filmgoers are passive participants. What makes yo state confidently that people will come forward to sponsor something that's yet to take shape? That people will even be interested in getting into the business of moviemaking?

    "Yet yet another: movie release sponsorships; most movies make their box-office money in the first few weeks of release (many get pulled after this)...so allow sponsors (corporations, educational institutions, churches, etc...) to host/pay for the first few showings of the movie (captive audiences)."

    That would only lead to greater restrictions on creative freedom. Why depend on these folks when you can directly go to the people?

    "Yet yet yet another: unique paraphernalia (movie props, unique clothing designs, etc...)

    Notice that many of the above suggestions are already in use. Abolishment of copyright might change the balance of some of those models. For example, in-movie advertising might become more expensive (i.e. movie producers can command a better price)."

    Abolition of copyright would only serve to harm the creators, because theater owners would be fully in control.

    "But the thing to get out of your head is that these new models must support the current movie industry environment. Nothing gives producers/directors/actors a "right" to make obscene amounts of money for relatively little work."

    So it all boils down to that, eh? They do "relatively little work" and make obscene amounts of money and you are unable to stomach that reality.

    "Abolishing copyrights almost certainly would put pressures on producers to dramatically reduce production costs, thereby bringing salaries more inline with us mere mortals living outside of tinsel town."

    A-ha, that's it, then! All your talk is ultimately aimed at bringing down the stars from heaven down to terra firma.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Rob, Jun 23rd, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    My Business Model For My New Blog

    Dear Mike,

    Here's my idea which I think is is an extension of your ideas on having no copyright laws. Tell me what you think of it?

    I will create a software system which watches your blog. Each time you publish a new entry my system will copy it and post it on my blog. I'll sell advertising on this new blog. I won't clam to have written it myself but I won't include your name either.

    What would happen to your current business model? Would you offer a sweepstakes of some kind to encourage people to read the "official" version? But how would people know they weren't already reading the official site?

    Would you put info into your blog posts themselves to tell people to come to the official site? (I guess I'd have to edit those out. Then it's a mashup, right?)

    I see no consumer-fraud in any of this, do you?

     

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      Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 24th, 2008 @ 3:14am

      Re: My Business Model For My New Blog

      In principle your software system and blog would be fine - as long as no fraud occurred. However, you do appear to exhibit the motive of committing fraud so it's doubtful.

      In practice, as soon as people found out you were failing to properly credit the author or original publisher of your articles, they'd think less of you and your system - given you'd removed value by removing attribution without good reason. It is also possible that you may risk being found guilty of misattribution through context or implication.

      If you modified another author's words without making it clear you had done so, you may also be found guilty of violating an author's moral right to the integrity of their works. Either you make the nature of modifications clear, or you preserve a work verbatim - even if you don't attribute the author. Of course, even if you obtain an author's permission to modify their work, you still need to clarify when it has occurred.

      There's nothing wrong with copying, but there's plenty wrong with plagiarism. It's a pity people mistake one for the other.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Rob, Jun 24th, 2008 @ 3:25pm

        Re: Re: My Business Model For My New Blog

        @Crosbie Fitch, thanks for responding. I know there's problems with our copyright system (and patent system as well). I'm just not seeing any viable solutions being put forward. At least they're not viable in my mind.

        You said, "you do appear to exhibit the motive of committing fraud so it's doubtful."

        Where's the fraud in my proposal? I see none. You did not point any out. I put text on a page with advertising around it. Let's say I even keep the author's name with it, although in a world without copyright I fail to see what the difference is.

        You said, "If you modified another author's words without making it clear you had done so, you may also be found guilty of violating an author's moral right to the integrity of their works."

        I know of no law against this, correct me if I'm wrong. So I assume you're speaking about the court of public opinion which is another way to talk about market forces, right? What I know about the public is that they will go where the products are cheapest.

        Take the exploding Ford Pinto.

        I think that when it came out that Ford made the decision that it was cheaper to let people die in their Pintos than to fix the problem, if the public was moral they would have never bought another Pinto and perhaps never bought another Ford. Where were the market forces in this! Self-interest is in the pocket book, not the preservation of human life.

        You said, "There's nothing wrong with copying, but there's plenty wrong with plagiarism."

        But why is one wrong and the other okay? I say copying is wrong and so does the current law. One of these articles talked about scarce resources verses infinite resources. The fallacy in this is that the resource is not infinite. If I spend eight years writing a book only to have it copied and sold with no remuneration to me, then IMHO eight years of my life have been stolen.

        Removing copyright laws altogether removes much of the incentive for creativity. Perhaps creative works should only be done by those who are driven to do it without thought of direct monetary reward. But I'd like to have the choice.

        Creative Commons licensing gives us the ability to put creative works into the world in a way that lets the creator continue to have some control over it. If copyright is removed then Creative Commons stops working too.

        I hope someone can speak to these issues more clearly than I've been reading so far.

        Peace,

        Rob:-]

         

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        •  
          icon
          Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jun 25th, 2008 @ 3:21am

          Re: Re: Re: My Business Model For My New Blog

          If you fail to see what the difference is between publishing someone's work without making it clear that it is not authored by you, or otherwise, say by crediting the author, then this is failing to see the difference between deceit (even if through negligence) and honesty.

          When the unethical privilege of copyright is abolished (given it is plainly an unviable anachronism) and everyone's natural intellectual property rights are restored, these rights still need protecting by the law. Some jurisdictions already recognise the distinction between the proprietary privilege of copyright and natural rights (qv moral rights), e.g. truth in attribution, even if implicit by omission.

          The law does not say copying is wrong, it says the natural right for an owner of an intellectual work to make copies of their property has been suspended in order to grant this as a commercial privilege, and that such a privileged 'copyright holder' may seek compensation from those who infringe their privilege.

          I don't find the 'scarce vs infinite resources' argument at all appropriate or convincing myself. I'd simply observe that written words and digital bits are more easily reproduced than snowflakes or hand carved furniture. That words may be so easily reproduced does not sanction their theft - no matter the interest of those who value them.

          Copyright is already ineffective, so removing it cannot remove any incentive. It only removes the ability to prosecute infringement of an unethical privilege.

          At the same time as the communications technology of the Internet renders reproduction monopolies unviable, it renders the ability to sell your book to a large readership viable. You can now communicate, form a relationship, and strike bargains with your audience directly. No commissions to publishers to cover their huge costs of printing, distribution, retail and promotion.

          Creative commons is best seen as a way to help people gradually wean themselves away from copyright.

           

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

    •  
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      Blaise Alleyne (profile), Jun 26th, 2008 @ 12:27am

      Re: My Business Model For My New Blog

      Rob,

      You're not the first to suggest this and others have already done it. Mike's response is: "GO RIGHT AHEAD."

      Here's an example of him responding to this idea just a few weeks back:

      http://techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20080611/1900481382#c284

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    clmm8899, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 12:21am

     

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


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