Re: Creating Wealth (was: When is an MP3 file like a lighthouse.)

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 14:04:35 MDT

On Thu, 25 Oct 2001, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:

> While there is some discussion regarding tipping I haven't
> seen any comments that question whether "freeloading"
> leads to a "tragedy of the commons" (I commented on
> it a little bit in response to the idea of getting rid
> of patents).

A "commons" is an exhaustable resource. How could the
tragedy of the commons problem occur with a resource that is
infintely duplicable? If my cow grazes the commons, there's
less grass for your cow. If I download your book, you still
have it and can do anything with it you could before; and
everyone else can still downloaded it and do what they want
with it. The commons is growing, not depleting. The age
of downloading ust makes it impossible to use copyright law
to convert some corner of the commons into private property.

In fact, one might argue that patents deplete the commons
of public domain ideas, by preventing independent inventors
from placing patented ideas in the public domain (this applies
less to copyrights which only protect particular expressions
of ideas, not ideas in general like patents). This of
course is ameliorated by the fact that patents require public
disclosure and eventual expiry--that was the original
bargain. Whether that's a good bargain or not is certainly

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

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