Re: Information & Power /Copyrights

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 5 May 1999 13:53:06 -0700 (PDT)

> What you are realy looking for here is a new, much more expansive fraud
> statute that makes lying about the origin of a work illegal per se.

Well, not really. I am still a libertarian--if you can't prove harm, then you really /should/ have no claim, even if we agree that the act is morally wrong.

> You claimed that copyright law is purely a matter of forcing payment. I'm
> pointing out that this is not the case. Copyright is the only law that
> prevents wholesale alteration and misattribution of intellectual property by
> anyone who cares to do so. If you want to abolish copyright, you will need
> to set up some other system to handle these issues - unless you favor making
> all of these activities legal.

Wholesale redistribution and alteration, yes, I want to make legal. Misattribution, well, that's still the tricky fraud case above.

> > That's two different contentions that you intermix: (1) destroying the
> > value of the work itself, and (2) destroying the artists' means of
> > making money.
> There is no such thing as intrinsic economic value. The amount of money you
> can sell a work for depends entirely on the context (social, legal and
> economic) in which you are making the sale. Changing copyright law changes
> this context, and can easily have very large effects on the outcome.
> Abolishing copyright makes it almost impossible to establish any meaningful
> property right to a work, and therefore makes it very difficult to make
> money by selling it.

Exactly what I just said--what are you arguing here? Yes, abolishing copyright destroys the value of the work as property. That's exactly what I've been saying, and exactly what I want. What I am arguing is that does NOT limit the ways in which an artist can make money--it only limits one method, i.e., selling the work as property. Read the archives and this message again for all the other ways I have proposed, and use your imagination a little.

> For an example, lets look at the music industry. Here we have a product
> that can be duplicated for just about zero cost, sold over the Internet, and
> stored and duplicated ad infinitum by the customer. If mass duplication
> were legal, who exactly would have enough bargaining power left to actually
> get paid?

Live performance cannot be duplicated. Endorsement cannot be duplicated. Personal access to the performer cannot be duplicated. In today's world, performers rarely, for example, do commercial work because of some idiotic idea that it is "beneath" them. If they weren't sitting in the ivory tower of copyright, they might actually have to work for a living by singing jingles and doing bar mitzvahs, and the less competent singers now doing those things would be employed in something better suited to /their/ particular talents.

> So I, the consumer, will pay extra for a book that's endorsed by a famous
> author, and he'll get a kickback? I don't think so. I'll walk over to the
> next rack, and buy an identical book from a different company for $1 less.
> After all, it would be perfectly legal for a different company to duplicate
> the endorsement without paying for it.

What if the authorized copy had a coupon for a discount on the author's next work? A live signature? Admission to an internet discussion group where the author participates? Subsciption to a newsletter by the author? I repeat again: use your imagination a little. There are /thousands/ of ways to earn money without copyright; I'm sure I've only scratched the surface.

> How exactly would the absence of copyright make content creators bigger
> celebrities? Or are you saying celebrity appearances would be more in
> demand for some reason? Unless one of these things is true, you are simply
> saying "they'll go find work in some other idustry". Presumably true, but
> it is not a benificial result.

Artists are celebrities now. They generally don't do that kind of work because they don't have to--they can work for a while, sell an album, then sit on their ass and collect royalties. Without that, they'd find other work because they'd have to.

Yes, I absolutely agree with you that the world I recommend would be a worse deal than artists have today. So what? Why should artists get special privileges others don't? Why should they be allowed to keep getting paid for yesterday's work when craftsmen and engineers have to keep working to earn a living? Is there something special about creative work as opposed to physical or mental labor that warrants special treatment? I don't think so. The world needs both creators and builders; inventors and craftsmen; authors and bookbinders; sculptors and quarrymen. I see no reason for society to value one above another in culture, and certainly not in law.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC