What If More Money Makes People Less Inclined To Create?

from the promoting-what-progress? dept

The entire premise behind copyright law is that by making sure there is enough financial remuneration, people will be more interested in creating more great content. The argument of those who push for ever stronger copyright law is always based on this very premise, with the often explicit claim being "if artists can't make enough money making art, they'll do something else instead," while suggesting that would be a net negative to society. Now I'm all for artists making money and being able to create more art. It's why I spend so much time discussing business models that work for those artists. But what if that entire concept -- that we need this monetary incentive to create -- is bunk?

Peter Friedman points us to a short piece by Malcolm Gladwell, discussing the findings of Dan Pink in his new book Drive, which compiles tons of scientific research on motivation -- and finds that money can actually hinder, rather than help, the incentives to create:
His jumping-off point is the academic work done over the past few decades that consistently shows that financial rewards hinder creativity. These studies have been around for a while. But Pink follows through on their implications in a way that is provocative and fascinating. The way we structure organizations and innovation, after all, almost always assumes that the prospect of financial reward is the prime human motivator. We think that the more we pay people, the better results we'll get. But what if that isn't true? What the research shows, instead, is that the great wellspring of creativity is intrinsic motivation--that is, I do my best work for personal rewards (out of love or intellectual fulfillment) and not external motivation (money).
Indeed, the more you think about this, the more obvious it becomes. There are lots of reasons why people do things, and economic motivation is for marginal benefit, which some (bad) economists equate directly to cash. But many people value other things much more than cold hard cash -- and it's quite interesting to see that the pursuit of money may actually hinder aspects of creativity.

Again, this is not to say artists should not get paid. I'm very much in favor of business models where artists do get paid. But it absolutely calls into question the very central argument for copyright, and suggests that, if anything, copyright may hinder the incentive to create, rather than promote it. This is a big, big deal -- and if we had an evidence-based copyright regime, rather than a faith-based one, it's something that Congress would consider. Tragically, that seems quite unlikely any time soon.

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  1. identicon
    Darryl, 16 Apr 2010 @ 10:53am

    What 'other' models

    And the previous posters was right, it's what the customers are willing to pay for something, that gives it it's worth.

    It's not for you to define alternative business models, simply because you dont agree with the existing and functional models that have evolved throughout human history.

    Allright, so by you're logic, just doing it for the love of it,,, it's a joke right. So the movie maker need to get all the actors to work for free, and the directors, producers, writers, studio techs, support staff, advertising and promotion... equipment and film, ALL FOR FREE. just out of the desire to create something ?? you're joking right !!

    who apart from you, wanting something for free benifits from this, and why do you expect a certain group of people to work for free, just because they create things that you want.

    There is huge risk in making music or movies or software, it might be a flop, and it's costs alot to make those things.

    You think songs and albums just appear from dust ?

    No there are studio's, writers, musicians, instruments, equipment, buildings, electricity and many hours to years work. And you want them to pay for all that, and accept no money for their effort and risk.

    Who is going to pay for those people, and that equipment, the infrastructure that goes into creating a hit song, or a hit movie, or some killer software, or a great book.

    These are products that have great monetary value, and not just to the artists who created it.

    Take for example, "the simpsons", it's little more than a bunch of idea's making up each episode. The Interlectual property is in the idea's and concepts for the show.

    It has great value, because it's popular, and if a TV station purchases the series, they will get good ratings when they show it. These good ratings means they can charge more for the advertising space during the show. That is the value derived from the Interlectual property.

    Same with songs, a popular song will play on the radio more often because it will keep people listening to that station, therefore again more listeners, more advertising revenue.

    So the more they are willing to pay for the original product in the first place.

    Sure, the creaters of the simpsons make lots of money, but they also make alot of money for the staff, the anamaters, the TV stations, and all the companies what use it's popularity to sell their products while the show is on air.

    It's a simple model, and it works very well.

    And to tell you the truth, I dont think very many people would be able to create something like 'the simpsons' with you're 'new world order' of "what's mine is mine, and whats you're is mine".

    I dont expect that flooding the world with everyone's own little creations dont in their kitchen is going to cut it.

    Mabey you have a job, but mabey you dont create anything new or innovative in you're job (bad luck), but if you did create or innovate in you're job, you would probably be upset to see someone else taking advantage of you're hard work, and not rewarding you for it.

    And that is exactly what you are asking those creative people to do.

    Just because you are not creative, is no reason to punish those who are.

    Again, no matter how you spin it, it just looks like you want something for nothing, and dont care about the creaters of that product.

    Linux is copyrighted, it has value (to some), and it's free, so some things can have value and be free (with significant strings attached).

    But that is the choice of FOSS to use that model, and just because they do, does not mean everyone else has to follow that model.

    BTW: historically the FOSS model has been far from successful, and by all measures is not a viable model.

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