With the release of the latest Batman
movie, Jeffrey Tucker makes an interesting point: does the movie really even need any copyright protection to make money
? It's almost guaranteed that the film will be both widely available in unauthorized forms online... and will make an absolute ton of money:
We all know that in a matter of weeks or even days, there will be streamed copies online. There could be hundreds and thousands of them. At first, the quality will be terrible. Later, the quality will improve. By this time next year, you will be able to download an HD copy of your own without too much trouble. And this is despite the millions and billions of dollars, and the gigantic apparatus of the state, plus all the warnings and jails, dedicated to preventing this inevitable thing.
And yet: what does it matter? “Dark Knight Rises” will still make a zillion dollars. I like millions of others will shell out to see it in the theater of course. Like everyone else, I want to consume it sooner rather than later. Sure, I could save $11 bucks by waiting but there’s a time-preference issue. The movie makers are going to make a mint with clever management, clever marketing, and a high-quality product. In other words, they will make money the old-fashioned way: getting people something they want in a form in which they want to consume it.
I can easily imagine that not much would be different about this scenario if there were no IP — except that a major element of fear and force would be purged from the system and consumers would no longer be treated as the thieving enemy.
It's possible that without IP certain aspects of the marketing and monetization plan would be different
, but it seems likely that the movie would still bring in a ton of money. As we've seen over and over again, people pay for what they like (and to support creators they like), if offered in a reasonable and convenient package. And yet, there's this myth that goes around that without aggressive IP laws and
aggressive IP enforcement, it's impossible for content creators to make money. That just doesn't seem to be supported by reality. As some copyright holders have noted -- often derisively -- paying today has already
become somewhat voluntary. Whether or not we agree with this or think it's a good or bad thing, it's basically a fact. And, it's also a fact that an awful lot of people are handing over cash to watch this movie via official channels.