Re: copyright

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Tue Jul 18 2000 - 01:30:48 MDT

> > 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?
> Absolutely.
> Timeliness is the value of producing content at a particular point in time.
> This ability is simply technological-- that is to say, it is not something
> that I own by virtue of having the idea. If your product is not protected,
> then I can equal or exceed your timeliness.

I don't understand this at all. The author has a complete natural
monopoly on timeliness, and no amount of technology will ever change
that. Even if I could completely replicate a performance and retransmit
it in realtime, I cannot, for example, make a promise to perform a work
at any certain time until after a creator has already done so, nor can I
promise to create a work for hire to specifications that I don't
personally have the talent to create. A man like Sting /can/
contractually promise to create a work of a certain quality and deliver
it at a certain time. No copier will ever be able to do that. This
can be used to sell either work-for-hire or performance. Yes, many
people will not buy performances and choose to listen to retransmissions
of the events instead--assuming such technical means exist (and I'm not
at all conceding this--exclusion technologies and contracts /will/ exist
and they /will/ work at least as well if not better than exclusion laws).
But none of that contradicts the fact that timeliness /is/ valuable and
/can/ be marketed.

> Authenticity is a murky concept. It pretty much refers to something being
> the "real deal." Clearly, our ability to copy information digitally (and
> perfectly) eliminates this concept.

Only after we're able to perfectly duplicate people. Until then, there
will still be only one me and only one you, and whatever economic value
our names and reputations carry.

> The reason we like authenticity is that it has traditionally been an
> indicator of us having an assurance of the quality and nature of what
> we were getting-- an irrelevant concept if I have a digitally perfect
> copy of that product.

That's true. Authenticity, then, needs to be marketed not so much as
a guarantor of quality, then, as a guarantor of things like timeliness
and personal service. The millionth copy of Windows 2000 is of 100%
equal to the quality of the first, as you correctly point out. But you
can only call a tech support staff personally trained by the same team
that created the product if you have an authentic copy. This model is
more difficult for music, but there are still personal services, timely
performances, and such that can make it work.

> My perfect instaneous superbowl broadcast possesses precisely every
> trait as your broadcast of significance to the end user.

Yep, that's a good example. Broadcasts of what are essentially accounts
of public events will be as impossible to control as news gathered from
ubiquitous cameras. But that's OK, because there's no creative effort
there to protect. NBC didn't "author" the superbowl, so why /should/
they get to control distribution of its broadcast? They created the
commentary, perhaps, so they might be able to make money, say, by having
John Madden personally answer questions over email during the game or
something, but you're right that the broadcast itself has little to
gain from authenticity (except as a guarantor of its ability to answer
those timely questions, or provide timely insightful announcement, etc.)

> Okay, now you start a genuinely interesting discussion with regard to
> novelty for its own sake and gradual refinements, etc. I hope my bias is
> not showing too strongly here, but I consider this to be the *real*
> discussion because it looks at what the selection processes are and has
> ideas about how we might improve them. I believe that -everything- will be
> intellectual property eventually--your automobile will just be a piece of
> software I give to my nanoassemblers--so I am consequently more interested
> in discussing how we can improve the process of intellectual innovation than
> I am in why we should remove it's ownership protection.

I agree here 100%. After nanotech, all manufacturing becomes software.
All the more reason to avoid the legal morass of copyright for the simpler
commitment to freedom before we get there and have a population of 50%
copyright and patent lawyers.

> > 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.
> I think it's disingenuous of you to suggest that your argument has not been
> in favor of direct payment for the production and distribution of product
> and in favor of the elimination of direct payment for intellectual capital.

I'm not only suggesting that I've said that--I'm telling you that that's
exactly what I've said in plain English and I don't appreciate being
told otherwise. I absolutely, completely, 100%, support the idea of
being paid for intellectual work, and I'm growing very tired of having
to say that again and again. What I oppose, and what I've been very
clear about (and which you haven't adressed in your replies) is the
idea that getting paid for one's intellectual work gives one the further
right to interfere with someone else benefiting from the work as well.
I want /everyone/ who can figure out how to make money with any idea to
be able to do so. You want to restrict this right only to the creator
of the idea (however nebulously that might be defined), presumably
because you think /all/ of the potential marketable value of any
creative work is a necessary incentive to create it. I think you
devalue intellectual work to much. Not only should a creator be able
to live well on a small part of any work's total economic potential,
but it is physically impossible for one person to fully realize any
idea's monetary potential. No person, no matter how creative, can
possibly imagine all the ways to make money from an idea he has
created that others might find if given access to the idea. I think
it is /my/ position that is more consistent and in line with the ideals
of a capitalist free market, not yours.

To return briefly to the matter/pattern distiction, yes, I think it
would be interesting and useful if there were a way for more than one
person to make money from a piece of matter as well, rather than just
restricting that right to the owner. But the nature of matter throws
a monkey wrench in that idea, because matter can't be shared or
copied. Therefore, we must have some allocation strategy that tends
to ensure it is used as efficiently as possible. The idea of assigning
ownership, and allowing owners to trade and rent is one method of doing
that, and the best one I've seen so far.

> I agree that the demand will increase, but why should people spend any
> effort looking for more ingenious ways to pay for having them created? I've
> got a very simple solution for those people. Just pay for it.

And that's exactly what they'll do. You want something far more than
that, though: you want people to (1) pay for the idea to be created,
and (2) pay for thugs to prevent anyone but the creator from also
exploiting the idea for profit. Make no mistake--copyright is about
the use of force to restrain free trade in ideas.

> Let's determine what type of 'freedom' you're talking about here, shall we?
> I hope you won't accuse me of putting words in your mouth if I infer that
> what you mean by freedom here is really "the freedom to copy, distribute and
> profit from someone's else intellectual product without restriction."

Yep, that's exactly what I said. It sounds strange to some people
when you put it clearly, because we have had the idea that this is a
bad thing so pounded into our heads over the years that it seems
somehow "natural". The fact is, copyright is a recent idea, and not
at all a natural one. Yes, it /seems/ to many in our culture like
theft to use someone else's idea, but it doesn't seem that way at all
in many cultures (including ours in the past), and our justifications
for making this cultural change were thin at best.

> > 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.
> Ah, good, this *is* the statement I wanted you to make. And it does change
> the substance of the argument Lee-- drastically. Your lone statement
> "...then yes, if matter had the property of being able to serve the wills of
> any number people [sic] at one time, then "ownership" wouldn't be a
> necessary concept for matter either." is a crucial concept.
> And here's why:
> It is a forseeable and anticipated scenario-- particularly among list
> members. Also, it's already happening-- our concept of physical goods is
> shrinking daily-- we are truly entering an information economy. If and when
> it becomes possible to replicate, transmit and copy automobiles and computer
> processors as easily as we might digitally transmit music, your statement
> necessitates the elimination of our ownership over those commodities as
> well.

Well, sort of. You still own the atoms, and you can still own the areas
of space that they occupy. In a full nanotech world where you can create
the entire living environment you exist in out of seawater in minutes,
the value of owning specific things is pretty scant absent sentimental
attachments, but I don't see a problem with that. We can still lock our
doors to strangers, and still buy physical space next to other people
with whom we want to associate, and we'll no doubt have some method to
efficiently allocate seawater. Even physical location might be less
valuable with simple telepresence. There might come a time when all
these physical things are so plentiful that the only thing of any value
will indeed be new ideas--new designs, and comsumer attention. I find
it very hard to believe that talented creators won't be wealthy beyond
the dreams of anyone today in such a world. I certainly hope you aren't
going to argue that. Is it not enough for you that they will be
billionaires in such a world? You want them to be trillionaire
monopolists of the human mind as well?

> Hey, they might be desirable ones... for lots of people. We could
> anticipate humanity sliding into a state of utopia, will infinte product and
> no rules of ownership-- just places and things and ideas, owned equally by
> all. One big lovely commune. Could be very nice. A little sleepy village
> in an idyllic valley filled with love and peace.
> For me, the scenario is nightmarish. It represents a negative attractor
> state-- a static equilibrium with lots of shared resources-- one big
> monoculture of ownership.

Ugh. That scares me too. But as I've also pointed out before on this
list, such a Utopia is not possible, because when everyone on the planet
is a billionaire, the guy with two billion still gets the girl, the
asteroid in a better neighborhood, and more connections and opportunities
than the masses. And there will always, therefore, be a drive to improve
and create and trade, and there will always be a market, because even
if physical things become less of a market, personal services will take
up the role at the top.

> If and when it becomes possible to create more effective positive feedback
> loops for successful algorithims than what we have, I'll be the first one to
> jump on the bandwagon. I won't deny that the "attention economy" is going
> to be increasingly important in the future. If I can make amazing movies
> for free and by simple use of my imagination, it *will* be enough of a
> reward to just get the acclaim for having done it.
> But in the meantime, megascale projects require megascale dollars and
> megascale ambition. Until money goes away, we should be using it to drive
> the process forward. Direct reward for direct effort.

Why do you think "megascale projects" are a good thing to encourage,
as opposed to small scale, personal, incremental acheivement?

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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