Re: When is an MP3 like a lighthouse?

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 11:48:46 MDT

>From: "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <>

>The law is powerless. Artists are powerless. The opinions of the
>Napster generation are the only opinions that matter, because they
>determine how much the artist gets paid.

Amusing, but not particularly accurate. Although I'll admit that
this wholesale theft thing will force them to rethink their revenue

One option is that some artists may stop releasing recordings
period, and make their money from live performances only, or

>I am speaking about total wealth in the system, not the wealth of
>any single party.

If I am an artist about to release my new hit album "extropian love
dance" and almost immediately the album is stolen and distributed
via the net. I've lost revenue and since no one else paid for
squat, the total wealth generated is a fraction of what it could
have been.

Total wealth decreased.

> Your argument translates to "stealing increases wealth".

>Copying increases wealth. If someone steals my television set, I
>lost a television set and they gained a television set, so the net
>effect is zero except for unfairness costs. If someone copies my
>television set, I lose nothing, and the copier gains a television
>set. If the copier doesn't tip the TV set designer a couple of
>bucks, I lose because I'm less likely to be able to buy (copy)
>(download) better TV sets in the future. But the TV set designer
>has not actually lost money; they simply have not received a
>gain to which you would argue they are legally entitled. Real
>wealth has increased, but so has unfairness.

The T.V set designer has most certainly lost money and the total
wealth created was less.

If you copy a dollar bill you do not have two dollar bills.

If I produce an idea/song/work of art for sale and the item is
ripped off and I do not get paid, the total wealth created is
dramatically less no matter how many copies there are.

>To put it another way, suppose that someone copies a TV set. I'm
>sure that you would argue that the law says that the copier has
>just stolen $400 from the TV designer. Leaving aside the total
>unenforceability of the law, wealth has *still* been created.
>Let's say you're the TV designer. If I freeload a TV, it's as if
>a magic fairy were to give you $400 of new wealth, after which I
>steal $400 from you. At the end of the day you are no richer, and
>I have my stolen goods at no benefit to you, but $400 of new
>wealth has still entered the system from *somewhere*. You can, if
>you want, phrase the situation so that the real wealth was created
>at the artist's node and then stolen by the evil freeloader, but
>the point is that each additional download of a TV set *still*
>creates an additional $400 of new wealth.

You have stolen $400 in value from the designer/manufacturer of the
T.V. It was created, then immediately stolen.

>And you are, of course, wrong *in practice* to call it "theft",
>because in practice, the only way for artists to be paid is for
>downloaders to decide to pay them. You do not use the word
>"theft" to a downloader; that word does not correspond to their
>intuitive perception of the situation. You use the word
>"freeloader", so that they see the justice of your argument and
>agree to tip.

No, the use of theft is appropriate and you prosecute them where
possible, and brand them as thieves where not.

Their "intuitive perception" of the situation is nothing more than
a cheap attempt to justify the theft.

You continue to call them thieves and let their conscience (the
ones who have one) gnaw at them.

>I agree, it doesn't. Copying valuable material translates to an
>increase in wealth. Arguably this is offset by unfairness costs.
>Arguably it is not.

Illegally copying valuable material amounts to immediate theft of
any value created.


Extropy Institute,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
SBC/Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

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