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

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 10:55:19 MDT

Eliezer recently said:

> Freeloading may increase total unfairness, but it still
> increases wealth. Downloading always increases wealth.

I objected to similar comments earlier. I don't understand
the way Eliezer is using the term "wealth", which the
dictionary defines as "much money or property; riches"
and "valuable products, contents, etc.".

If I download an MP3 file once I may be wealthier.
If I download the same MP3 file a second time and
save it in a different file, I'm probably poorer
(having lost disk space) rather than wealthier.
If I download an MP3 file that turns out to be junk
I'm also poorer as well (having spent my time to
get something of lesser value that what that time
was worth). So I disagree with the statement that
"Downloading *always* increases wealth".

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).

I think Spike comments may be right -- that freeloading
might ultimately spell the death of certain bands in
which case it seems that at least some "potential" wealth
may be lost. Whether that will be balanced by tipping
from fans to bands we would never of heard of because
they didn't fit some producer's idea of what would sell
remains to be seen.

I know the Javien folks are working on a micropayment
system. With PayPal being bought out (or selling out)
the question will be whether enough groups get it together
to allow tipping to occur using something like the Javien
software. It seems logical that what is needed is a
enhanced-MP3 format that would point you at the sites
and allow you to do the tipping. As I said previously
you want to make the barriers for this really low
(e.g. the software asks me to do my tipping once a
week or once a month based on my playlist records).
I seem to have heard of there being "tipping" sites that
already exist -- have any of them tied into players yet?

One could "educate" the poor teenagers or college
students that "payback" is necessary to avoid a
tragedy of the commons. If the software kept a
decade long history of songs played, these individuals
could tip at some future time when they are able
to afford to do so.


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