Re: When is an MP3 file like a lighthouse?

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Wed Oct 24 2001 - 16:17:03 MDT wrote:

So it's a little too soon to assume that the music industry as we know
it is a corpse.

### This is correct but I would imagine that for the entertainment industry
to be able to use the tactics that currently allow them to charge 16$ for a
music CD, the government would have to intervene very heavily on their
behalf. This might involve outlawing the use and ownership of personal
general-purpose computers, and forcing the installation of hardware which
would make them into the so-called "trusted devices", incapable of
playing-back of copyrighted content.

This blithely assumes that the only negative consequences will be on the
people everyone loves to hate, the marketers and publishers. Somehow the
negative impact on the artists is overlooked here. It would not suit
the political purpose of this essay to dwell on reduced revenues to
the creative people who make music and other content.

### Artists would on average make less money. Tough. More worrisome would be
the reduced incentive to publish handbooks and other scientific and
technical works which need constant updating and maintenance.


Why the adjective "public" in public radio? Is there something about
public radio which makes it a public good while private radio is not?
Not that I can see. Both are non-excludable and non-rival, within a
certain area. Why then would the author have mentioned public radio
while failing to describe ordinary radio and television as public
goods? Again I think it is because it wants to lure us into accepting
a certain model of how to think of this problem.

### Public radio (or at least most of the public stations) is supported by
direct donations from listeners. They are public because the public is
paying for them and thus controlling the content but not through taxes (at
least not in my area). Ordinary radio and TV are advertising media using
some non-commercial content to attract viewers. They are *private*
nonexcludable, nonrival goods, distributed to the public but not controlled
by the public.


Here we see how smart he was not to mention existing forms of IP. Someone who listens to public radio without contributing is at worst a leech. Compare it to someone who steals patented technology, or who fraudulently uses someone else's trademark, or republishes a copyrighted novel without a license. Most people will think of these activities much less favorably than the guy who doesn't pay PBS.

### Actually, these are attitudes which developed only since the idea of IP was conceived and implemented - if you were to ask the ancient Romans if it is permissible to copy a (specific copy of a) codex, with it's owner's (but not author's)consent, they would might have been surprised by the question. Attitudes to property do change and are very malleable.

I am curious to hear what will be the solution proposed by the author. I would agree with you that the governement should not provide content, except in certain specialized fields directly relevant to the protection of human life - basic research, risk analysis information. It looks like the solutions proposed by the publishing industry will need a dramatic expansion of the government's ability to monitor its citizens.


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