When is an MP3 NOT a nonrival, nonexcludable good?

From: Alex F. Bokov (alexboko@umich.edu)
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 10:52:02 MDT


On Thu, 25 Oct 2001, Brian D Williams wrote:

> So what if it's hard?

Who's going to pay the absurd costs of enforcement? You and I? Why
would any rational individual choose to do that? That's what.

> First I'd do probably exactly what the copyright holders are doing,
> go after the napsters of the world. Then I'd probably go after

How would you go after them?

> people who manufacture equipment that assists in this theft.

You mean, CD-burners, ethernet cards, general purpose computers?
Pretty much everything except the constitutionally protected
presses of the dead tree variety?

> If I had the political clout, I'd go after the backbone itself,
> filter from the NAPs and you could stop all of this traffic in the
> U.S.

Filter WHAT? Specific ports? Specific types of protocols? Snoop the
content ala carnivore? How would you prove beyond the faintest
possibility of any doubt to me, the voter and consumer you're trying
to convince, that my "I Hate Disney" website, my manuscript for a book
about why drugs should be legalized, and my pornographic cartoons
featuring Jesus will not be snooped, censored, investigated, or
touched in any way?

> People aren't opting for the free alternatives, they want these
> items, they just don't want to have to pay for them.
> In the digital age theft has become so easy and the chance of
> punishment so small, that millions pretend they're not stealing at
> all.

You may be among the few individuals who do things motivated by right
and wrong. Sadly, most others are insipred by maximizing their
material benefit and minimizing their material cost. Or at least
that's what they were teaching in economics last time I took a class
in it.

> They are trying to protect their material and it's associated
> revenue stream.

Of course they are. Just as I as an independent content creator and
consumer am attempting to break their chokehold on the market. Their
revenue stream is of no interest to me, just as I'm sure mine is of no
interest to them.

> >Call it downloading, call it theft, call it etaoin shrdlu. The age
> >of whatever you choose to call it is upon us. Perhaps I misnamed
> >this thread. I should have posed it as a question:
> It's like the old story about "if you call a dogs tail a leg how
> many legs does a dog have?" The answer is still four because
> calling the tail a leg doesn't make it one. Calling theft of
> copyrighted material "downloading" doesn't make it a leg either.

Nor does calling downloading of copyrighted material "theft".

> >I await your answer.
> You got it.

No, I haven't, but it's my own fault for not being clear enough. I
meant the answer to the question "When is an MP3 anything but a
nonexcludable, nonrival good?"

To save time, I'm preemptively rebutting the following answers:

1) Because it's just wrong to copy something without the original author's
Why this argument is not valid: argument by axiom, argument by definition.
C.f. "It's just wrong for unmarried adults to have sex with each other"

2) Because it's illegal to copy something without the original author's
Why this argument is not valid: laws are a human construct. Humans
pass, obey, enforce, and repeal them. I'm NOT only arguing against
obeying intellectual property laws. I'm arguing against passage,
obedience, enforcement, and for repeal. I don't dispute the fact that
under current law the majority of this list are criminals of one
non-violent sort or another, including but not restricted to copyright
infringement. I dispute the legitimacy, utility, and enforceability of
current law. C.f. "The Bible is the book of God because it says so in
the Bible"

Aside to Eliezer and Mike: tbbbpt! Last time I'll ever be metaphorical
with you guys. Really.

- --
* I believe that the majority of the world's Muslims are good, *
* honorable people. If you are a Muslim and want to reassure me and *
* others that you are part of this good, honorable majority, all *
* you need to say are nine simple words: "I OPPOSE the Wahhabi cult *
* and its Jihad." *

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