David Levine & Michele Boldrin On New Business Models Like CwF + RtB
from the explain-away... dept
With our CwF + RtB experiment in full swing, we've asked some of the participants involved to provide some guest posts, including their thoughts on the experiment itself. Michele Boldrin and David Levine are two well-known economists who recently published Against Intellectual Monopoly, which is a part of our Techdirt Book Club (which gives you Against Monopoly along with four other excellent books, all signed by their authors). If you order both the Techdirt Book Club and the Techdirt Music Club before midnight PT tonight, we'll throw in a free Techdirt hoodie, or a free lunch with me (Mike). In the meantime, here's the guest post written by David and Michele:
On new business models for authors:
With copyright vanishing de facto, even as legal protections become more extreme, the question of how to get paid for creation without the monopoly granted by copyright becomes more salient. Historically one of the most important sources of revenue has been "complementary sales" -- the sale of something other than the copy. For example: in the case of music -- live performances; in the case of movies -- theatrical performances. In the case of news and blogs advertising has historically been the key, but the selling of the author is another potential source of revenue as the industry becomes more decentralized and competitive. Signed copies of books by authors is one possibility we'll be interested to see, but we also expect successful authors to extract substantial income from public speeches and similar events. Popularity, it seems clear, pays off quite well. Frankly, the two of us have a lot of confidence in the ability of the market to generate new and creative solutions even if we personally have no ability to predict what the specific outcomes will be. This period of experimentation with business models is essential and it will be interesting to see which models catch on. In the case of small comic strips the answer is already in -- comic strip based t-shirts amazingly enough turn out to be the trick.
Why we wrote Against Monopoly
The purpose of copyrights and patents is to grant a short-lived monopoly to encourage creation and innovation. We were led to write the book when we discovered that existing economic theory greatly exaggerated the importance of these temporary monopolies in providing incentives. This lead us to put into context a lot of data and case-studies showing that competitive markets work and work well even without these monopolies. The book (ironically under copyright, although a free copy is always available online) tried to put this all together in a way that would be comprehensible for a non-economists (that is, we tried to avoid the mathematics and jargon that economists love).
And thanks to Mike for the entrepreneurial spirit we academics can only admire.