Re: When is an MP3 file like a lighthouse.

Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 13:17:32 MDT

See if you agree with this:

Suppose we lived in a world in which copy protection of information
could be achieved. It seems unlikely that we live in such a world, but
suppose that were the case. It might be possible in a fully transparent
society, for example (since violations could be observed and prosecuted -
this has been my theory from the beginning for why David Brin originally
advanced this notion).

And suppose further that reproduction of information in this world is
still essentially free.

Then I would propose that this would lead to the optimal allocation of
resources for the production of information and other goods. That is,
allowing for enforceable restrictions on copying information would
maximize the total wealth of society. And further, even though creators
of information would have total control over its copying, prices would
be driven down to the point where information was almost free.

This follows from the basic theorems of market behavior, that markets
optimally allocate resources and prices are driven towards the costs
of production. And it is further supported by the observation that
public goods (which is what information would be if controls on copying
were impossible, as the original article noted) are under-produced by a
market economy.

Hence the optimal situation would be one where copying of information was
impossible without permission of the creator. Do people here agree?

Note though that it does not follow that we should impose such controls
at any cost. If allowing this kind of control has significant costs, as
appears to me to be the case, then that has to be taken into consideration
as well.


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