Re: copyright

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Mon Jul 17 2000 - 21:06:25 MDT

> If you want to argue that information should be free because of 'x,'
> then you'll have to allow me to argue 'x.'

I absolutely refuse to engange in rational argument with someone who
will not simply acknowledge facts of reality and move on. Atoms and
/patterns/ of atoms are different things, and always will be. I am not
using this as a reason to treat patterns in a specific way, only to
explain why we should not automatically assume that methods we have
used to treat matter shouldn't automatically be applied to patterns.
This is not an arguable issue--it is a simple fact of nature. Maybe
treating patterns of property is a good idea after all; I'd like to
see arguments that actually address whether it is or not. But I've
seen nothing but statements that they are the same, and that we should
therefore treat them the same, and those arguments are false. Please
come up with something better.

> In much of the rest of this posting you look for increasingly wily ways in
> which I -really- can make money off of my performance/book/movie/software,
> etc. I'm sorta tired of engaging each example specifically, and frankly I
> think they're becoming a little silly-- your money making opportunities have
> pretty much shrunk to cashing in on "timeliness," and "authenticity"-- both
> of which will continue to shrink as the technology gets better. (i.e.: I
> can copy your stuff faster and better.)

That is an arguable point. Can you give me examples of how the value of
timeliness and authenticity are decreasing with technology, or why they
reasonably should?

> Personally, even -if- I granted that these will be good revenue streams in
> the future, I still don't think it's a smart idea to build auxiliary reward
> systems like these. If we want good innovative content we need to engineer
> an environment in which that sort of content will be rewarded. It's not
> sufficient to simply reward content-- we need to create selection pressures
> that reward the sort of content we're looking for.

I agree. Copyrights and patents reward a specific kind of creativity over
others. Namely, speculative innovation and novelty, at the expense of
gradual stepwise refinement, craftsmanship, and service. If you can show
me how "novelty", in and of itself, is so valuable that we should
encourage it for its own sake, I absolutely agree that copyrights and
patents are a good way to encourage that.

I just don't worship novelty for its own sake. What difference would it
make to society if inventions evolved by the gradual refinements of 1000
people free to make changes in existing things, or from the all-at-once
drastic invention of lone geniuses working in isolation? If you ask me,
I'd much prefer the former.

> You want to directly pay for construction workers, but not architects.
> For CD manufacturors, not musicians. For theatre owners, not filmmakers.
> For book binders, not authors.

I also won't argue with what someone else makes up in his mind about what
I have said, rather than arguing with what I've /actually/ said.

> Eventually -everything- is going to be intellectual property Mr. Crocker.
> The world of blacksmiths and automobile manfacturors is shrinking. Those
> so called 'differences' between information and material goods that you
> argue are going away.

Laws of nature don't go away. They may become less economically relevant.
It's true that the value of conserved mass-energy may become smaller and
smaller compared to the economic value of their patterns. If anything,
this argues in favor of the idea that /demand/ for patterns will increase,
and those wh demand them will find ever more ingenious ways to pay for
having them created.

> > True, so that would be a stupid business model, wouldn't it? Movies
> > should be licensed to theater owners under NDA, who are given encryption
> > keys in exchange for agreeing to the terms of how to distribute ticket
> > revenues. Ticket revenues alone, without any licensing whatsover, are
> > more than enough to make money for good movies. Even the $100M+ movies
> > "Terminator 2" and "Titanic" made millions in profit on ticket sales
> > alone.
> Non-disclosure agreements and encryption? You're going down a dangerous
> road here Mr. Crocker-- I'm certain you're about to argue a side of the
> argument with which you do not agree:
> You can't encrypt the final transmittal of information. Go to Bali sometime
> and see how many restaurants show new release movies that were shot on
> someone's handicam. Also, it's irrelevant. I've witnessed excellent
> versions of both 'The Matrix' and 'Star Wars: Episode I' during the first
> week of those films release and I happen to know that people possess
> bootlegs of films that _have_not_yet_been_released. (There goes timeliness.)
> Please don't argue that we can successfully protect this information since I
> really doubt that you believe that. The only thing we can currently protect
> against is mass commercialization of this bootleg material-- which is to
> say: it's still hard for me to start screening this material on a very
> public webpage. As yet.

It's very hard to protect information, but your examples don't really hold
up, because they are example of what happens in a world where copyright is
the underlying assumption. Movies have "release" dates only because they
assume that copyright will protect them in the meantime. Without that,
they'd have to take more serious measures. Secure hardware can do some of
that, but you're correct that even that won't defend against minimally-
degraded digital versions a day after release. But movies will still be
in demand, and they will still make money, and therefore still be made.
Nothing you've said here will change that.

> > That's true, but the system as it is has manipulated the market and the
> > artists to think that copyright is the only way to make money, so they
> > don't pursue options.
> Why should they pursue other options? People want music, so musicians make
> music. If people want easy-to-find music, or t-shirts to go with their
> music, then other people (distributors and clothing manufacturors,) should
> come in to fill those markets.

They should pursue other options, because those other options increase
freedom, rather than restricting it as does copyright. My goal here is
freedom--the absence of physical coercion. Within that constraint, I
think making money is a grand thing to do; especially since it increases
the number of things you can do with freedom. But I don't want to give
up even a small bit of freedom just so some certain acts can make more
money. Money is just a means, freedom is the end.

> Please refrain from stating:
> "B should be treated differently from A, because B possesses property x"
> if you're going to continue to refuse to discuss:
> "If A had property x, should it too be treated differently?"

If pigs had wings, would pork be kosher? If pi were 3, would circles
be hexagons? I don't discuss the issue because it's a silly
counterfactual that has no relevance to anything, but if you really
insist, then yes, if matter had the property of being able to serve
the wills of any number people at one time, then "ownership" wouldn't
be a necessary concept for matter either. That's much the way it is
for commodities like air on Earth. So what? That doesn't change the
substance of any argument presented here on either side, and I don't
see why you think it does.

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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