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January 18, 2012

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And, in addition to what russell says, copyright or no copyright, there are still contract issues at play. Universal Studios has the exclusive contractual right to distribute to exhibitors the films which it has financed, and to profit from the exhibition thereof. Warner Music has the exclusive contractual right to distribute music from its signed artists, to profit therefrom, and to compensate those artists from the profits. HBO has the exclusive contractual right to broadcast "Boardwalk Empire" to its paying subscribers. And so forth.

So, even outside the arena of copyright/IP infringement and society's attempt to cope with a model in which the marginal cost of producing a copy is zero, as is the cost of acquiring a copy, there are lots of tortious interference cases going on here.

"I'm trying to pin Bellmore down on Copyright is not a natural right. It is an artificial monopoly created purely for the benefit encouraging the creation of works is supposed to provide others, which appears to imply that, uniquely among all human beings, content creators do not deserve to be compensated for their labor."

A fairly complex question, if answered properly, which is to say I'm confident there's no way for me to answer it that you won't be able to find SOME way to get outraged about. But I'll venture a reply anyway, since your outrage means nothing to me.

Way back in college, I wrote the following ditty. I doubt any of the wax recordings of it still survive, but it went something like this:

God rest ye hairy gentlemen who barbers do dismay,

Remember Grecian Formula was made upon this day,

To save us all from salt and pepper, or worse, from going gray,

Oh, tidings of hair upon the floor, upon the floor,

Oh, tidings of hair upon the floor.

Now, I am, I assure you, the perpetrator of this atrocity, in a sense it's "creator". Do I have a right to profit from it's creation?

No.

I have a right that nobody else falsely claim to be it's author, in the sense that nobody is entitled to defraud others. But should somebody learn of it, perhaps by reading this thread, do I have a right that they not perform it without compensating me?

Not a natural right, that's for sure. Because natural rights are negative rights, and nobody harms me by repeating my words. Nobody prevents me from doing anything I otherwise had a right to do.

The Constitution authorizes Congress to "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

This is not a natural right, it's a legal right. It's justified on the basis of promoting progress in science and useful arts. And it requires that the right be limited.

Right away we see a problem with current copyright law, which is that the time is no longer limited, but instead renewed repeatedly as it approaches expiration.

Nor can renewal of copyright encourage long dead authors to pen more works. Taking works already in the public domain, and handing out copyrights to them, as was recently approved of by the Supreme court, is right out.

But, the point is, this is not a conventional property right, it's a temporary grant of monopoly, justified for the public good, not the interest of the creators themselves.

Would we be substantially worse off without copyright? Maybe. I'm not entirely certain, because the current copyright regime has been carried so far beyond the point of diminishing, indeed negative, returns, that it may on net be harmful, rather than beneficial.

But our being worse off without it doesn't make it a natural right.

"And, in addition to what russell says, copyright or no copyright, there are still contract issues at play."

Indeed, there are: At the time the RIAA took down the MP3 website, and deleted all it's stored content, non-infringing as well as infringing, I, along with many others, had a binding contractual right to download certain content in perpetuity. RIAA took the site over, and violated the contract, even though violating it was in no way necessary to end any infringments they found.

Likewise, Megaupload had binding contracts with numerous people to provide legal, non-infringing services, for all that they may have been committing illegal acts as well. The US government went in, and while they could quite easily have stopped the infringements without violating the legitimate contractual rights of customers, chose to violate the contractual rights of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Yes, indeed, there are contractual issues involved. They do not remotely work exclusively to the benefit of Universal Studios, the RIAA, or any of those other IP giants. They demand a more individualized response than those giants prefer.

Just as, in my analogy, the government can not burn to the ground the neighborhood U-store, even if the proprietor does turn out to have done something illegal. Because it's not just the proprietor whose rights are at stake.

Nobody here has defended the extension of copyright beyond even the author's life, let alone in perpetuity, nor defended last week's court decision.

Now, I am, I assure you, the perpetrator of this atrocity, in a sense it's "creator". Do I have a right to profit from it's creation? No.

If you decided to record and release your parody for sale, would other people have a right to give it away for free?

Do I have a right to profit from it's creation?

No.

Actually, I would say that if somebody somewhere manages to make some money off of it, and it was worth your while to jump through the required hoops in order to demand your piece of that, that you would have a right to it.

Natural, legal, I am happy to leave that distinction to the political economy theorists.

You would have a basis for getting paid.

Right away we see a problem with current copyright law, which is that the time is no longer limited, but instead renewed repeatedly as it approaches expiration.

I agree.

Nor can renewal of copyright encourage long dead authors to pen more works. Taking works already in the public domain, and handing out copyrights to them, as was recently approved of by the Supreme court, is right out.

I agree.

But, the point is, this is not a conventional property right, it's a temporary grant of monopoly, justified for the public good, not the interest of the creators themselves.

I'd say that the way copyright creates the public good is by protecting the interest of the creators themselves.

So, to my eye, there's not much of a distinction to be made there.

But as long as folks get paid for their work, I am happy to defer to you as far as whether there is one or not.

Getting back to the original event that prompted the post, I found this piece quite interesting. It seems to me that given the changes and the forces involved, analogies to U-store shops and discussions of just what kind of right I have to what I make (and what you make) are not going to make a bit of difference. I don't know which way the ball is rolling on all this, but it's like that stone ball in the opening of Indiana Jones: you just run like hell to get out of the way.

1. So why don't you and other MP3 and MU users launch a class action lawsuit based on the violation of your contracts with those sites?

2. Just as, in my analogy, the government can not burn to the ground the neighborhood U-store, even if the proprietor does turn out to have done something illegal. Because it's not just the proprietor whose rights are at stake.

If the police find out that the Genco Olive Oil Importing Co. Is, in actuality, a front and a money-laundering operation for the mob, they can in fact shut it down forever and auction off its assets, and woe to the people who bought their olive oil there.

If the police find out that the Genco Olive Oil Importing Co. Is, in actuality, a front and a money-laundering operation for the mob, they can in fact shut it down forever and auction off its assets, and woe to the people who bought their olive oil there.

Doesn't there have to be a trial or something first?

If the police find out that the Genco Olive Oil Importing Co. Is, in actuality, a front and a money-laundering operation for the mob, they can in fact shut it down forever and auction off its assets, and woe to the people who bought their olive oil there.

That's an awful analogy because MegaUpload is providing a data storage service rather than selling goods. I really don't see anything wrong with treating MegaUpload as a storage facility that's been working with the mafia: does anyone, anyone at all, think that the feds would be justified in burning the whole place down without even trying give non-criminal clients their stuff back?

Whether it provides value to society or not kind of answers itself. If someone will pay money for it, it's adding value to somebody's world, somehow.

So a world in which, say, films weren't copyrightable would make them them valueless (at least to those who watched them without bothering to pay)?

Nothing really answers itself that I can see. The point is that whether and how much someone is willing to pay intrinsically depends on the (inherently artificial[1]) regime which a society might or might not use to reward creators.

People pay for some stuff, sure. And that probably indicates that they think it has value. But other stuff they don't pay for because they don't have to, or they don't know they value it, or they don't know about it, or it doesn't even exist because nobody is even making it.

Copyright and patent create a particular world, with a particular assortment of content created and not created, and a particular assortment of payments, and a particular assortment of winners and losers.

There's really no special reason to believe either 1) that creators are being rewarded in anything like the proportion to which their respective creations are valuable to society, or that 2) this is anything even close to the best of all possible worlds with regard to the kinds of stuff those people are creating or who and how many get to enjoy the use of it -- or even that any reward regime based on copyright or patent will be optimal compared to some other regime.

Musicians, writers, inventors, research scientists, there is a very long list of people who derive some more or less significant part of their income from copyrighted or patented work.

Those people would not get paid for that work without the copyright or patent.

Well, that second sentence is trivially false. The first is more careful, but at that only trivially true. Just because they get income that way now, doesn't mean that's the only way they possibly can (or, as above, that they're the only ones who should).

I mean, there are a variety of other ways creators can be paid or get themselves paid. Musicians, for example, certainly existed before copyright. And many of them still make most, if not all, of their money from performances, not copyrighted recordings - which are probably more useful as advertising than revenue, all things considered.

And research scientists are not such a great example. I'm not sure what fraction of scientists might make significant earnings from patents, but I believe even for many of those who do it's often something of a bonus, rather than a primary livelihood or the actual motivator of the research. And then there are scientists working on things like pharmaceuticals - where patents are, arguably, actively worse than some alternate regime, perhaps one based on grants or prizes. And then there's copyright, whose primary purposes in the publication of science currently seems to be to restrict the free availability and distribution of papers and other published research results - results which are produced using funding from other sources in the first place, and warehoused by publishers who don't particularly channel much or any money to researchers in any case.

Finally, it's true that writers and some others do at least seem to depend on copyright to a greater degree, but to the extent that that is actually true, there are alternative systems which could also provide them (and/or others who are not successful in the current system) with perfectly comfortable incomes while enabling the creation of their work. For all we know, in superior quantity or quality than is produced in the current system.

All of which is not to say that I'm necessarily advocating abolishing or replacing copyright completely (patent, maybe). I just think it behooves us to cultivate a very deep skepticism of the current system and try to remain aware that, while we have never known any other life, living in a pond and eating mosquitoes may or may not be the best of all possible lifestyles. It may or may not even be the best possible lifestyle for a fish.

And it's certainly not true that we necessarily have a good idea at any particular time of who "deserves" to be rewarded for their creativity.

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[1]: I have to part ways with Brett on the whole "natural" rights business, but it's hard to argue with the general point that something like copyright is a more or less entirely arbitrary construction.

The purpose of copyright is to encourage people to do creative work, by making it possible for them to earn a living from that work.

The current copyright law is asinine, and is skewed toward letting folks who hold lucrative catalogs of IP to continue to milk the cash cow long after the creators are dead and gone.

I agree completely. To continue my tangent one more comment before dropping it, the Golan decision last week looked very forward-thinking in this regard. By which of course I don't mean it seemed to be aiming at correcting these problems; no, I mean that while reading it, one is sore tempted to see a lot of the language as sowing the case law with seeds of precedent to help justify upholding a future perpetual copyright law...

So a world in which, say, films weren't copyrightable would make them them valueless

No.

It would be a world in which, with the ability to make and distribute infinite copies of original work for tiny cost, it would be very hard for the film-maker to get paid.

In other words, the value would still be there, however the creator would not receive much of it.

Copyright and patent is how creative work generates revenue for the creator.

If you can think of a better way to make that happen, hold forth, I'm all ears.

Musicians, for example, certainly existed before copyright.

Yes, and they also existed before recordings.

But we have recordings now. And recordings generate huge revenue streams. Recorded music and film make up a freaking huge industry, and comprise a huge amount of this nation's export.

The artist should get a piece of that. Absent copyright, they would likely not.

And many of them still make most, if not all, of their money from performances, not copyrighted recordings - which are probably more useful as advertising than revenue, all things considered.

Some do and some don't.

If you're a songwriter, frex, you likely don't perform at all. You make all of your income from licensing your songs to performers, or for use in film or TV, or any of a number of other markets.

Do you like nice songs? Pay the songwriter.

A lot of people - regular, workaday, people, journeyman musicians and other artists - make their living by licensing the use of their original work. Absent copyright, they would not be able to do so.

It's f**king hard to make a living as a creative person. I could easily go on at great length, but I won't belabor it.

Suffice it to say that copyright enables a critical revenue stream for a lot of people. Not just Disney Inc., regular people who happen to make their living as creative artists.

It's how they get paid. It's how they pay their mortgages, buy groceries, and build enough wealth that they don't have to work at McDonalds when they're 70.

It's a good thing.

It can be a good thing, if not carried to absurd extremes. As it is being carried today.

Let's be clear about this: Extending copyright beyond the life of the actual author does precious little to encourage the creation of more intellectual property. It's just a way for megacorps to extract rent on our cultural heritage.

It's not just extension of copyright where you see this, either. There was that law they got passed to http://www.city-journal.org/2009/eon0212wo.html>destroy old children's books. Anybody really believe the point of that was to protect children from being poisoned? No, it was to wipe out the existing stock so that people would have to buy the damn books all over again.

I'm all in favor of a limited monopoly for content creators. That's not what we have anymore.

Extending copyright beyond the life of the actual author does precious little to encourage the creation of more intellectual property. It's just a way for megacorps to extract rent on our cultural heritage.

For the record, I agree.

As has pretty much everyone here, so Brett is fighting a dragon that nobody here is backing.

Russell: "If you can think of a better way to make that happen, hold forth, I'm all ears."

Economist Dean Baker has proposed a publicly financed scheme to finance artistic effort. Check it out.

I also find it curious to see so many equate "value" with "price". That is the very concept that Marx is so taken to task for by current day defenders of "free markets". Or maybe there's just a lot of closet marxists out there!

But there has to be a better way. I'm all ears, too.

Phil,

I recall someone hereabouts recently asking where Brett had gone off to. Maybe he got retooled. I kinda' enjoy this newer "property is theft" version of Brett(vP1)*.

*All copyrights preserved.

Propery isn't theft, (Indeed, the very concept of "theft" relies on property.) but copyright ain't property. It's just a government grant of monopoly.

No, but a sound recording or a movie print ARE property, with exclusive distribution rights built into them.

In other words, the value would still be there, however the creator would not receive much of it.

We already live in that world. There's a lot of value already out there which creators don't receive much of.

Nor should they necessarily.

The point of copyright, at least in the US tradition, is about serving the interests of the public, not the creator. The rents a creator might be able to parlay their copyright are only intended to be, from the public perspective, large enough to, well, pay the rent so to speak. Just big enough to allow them to do their work and produce the work for the public's consumption in the first place.

If an occasional artist can parlay that into greater wealth -- not just the rent, but also a mansion with a stadium-sized closet stocked with parachute pants -- well, bully for them. But it isn't the point. The creation and distribution of works for the enjoyment and betterment of the public is.

Which is, you'll recall, the entire purpose of the second part of copyright: limited time, so that the work soon finds it's way into the public domain where it can reach even more people (who might, say, download it for free!) and thereby produce more value, all without the original creator receiving a penny of it. Or at least not any guaranteed pennies they "deserve" thanks to copyright.

And you still seem to be missing the part where, on the one hand, copyright is not the only possible way of channeling income to creators (hence examples like musical performances, or reward systems based on grants or prizes), and, on the other hand, you have no reason to believe that the creators who get income under the current system "deserve" it while others don't. This concept of "deserve" you are clinging to is an intrinsic artifact of the status quo.[1]

Yes, I agree with you broadly that we do need some kind of system which, one way or another, works well to to ensure that people who write/film/tinker/sculpt/map/play/paint/discover/sing/document/cook/dance/etc. good things may be able to earn a decent living at it, so they will make more stuff for the public to enjoy. That's very important.

But I don't think it's productive to take any great pains to ensure that the "original creator" gets to collect on every piece of value they might create ever and everywhere. We're not likely to succeed at it, for one (nor do we do today), and the purpose of copyright is to serve the public, not to guarantee creators what they "deserve" - whatever you want to define that to be.

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[1]: See separate post below.


[1]: It's possible my previous illustrations were not concrete enough, so how about this one: recipes.

As a general principle, it's my understanding that recipes are not copyrightable as such. Cookbooks are, of course, but not the recipes themselves. Indeed, the best recipes are often widely shared, modified, and republished. Quite widely nowadays, thanks to the internet. That obviously creates an awful lot of value for the world, most of which the original creators see no part of. Nor do the other creators who might rewrite or improve a recipe along the way.

But. It wouldn't really be that difficult to imagine a world where recipes are copyrightable, or even protected by some other kind of specialized 'intellectual property' - a reciperight lets call it - that gives the creator the exclusive right not only to publish their recipe (and close variations) but also to authorize or deny uses of it.

Using your -- obviously god-given! -- entitlement to exercise "reciperight", you could write some new recipes and publish a cookbook, for example, bundled with only a limited "home" license to make the recipes therein for groups of 8 people or fewer. But someone throwing a larger dinner party, or a chef at a hotel, would have to contact you and pay you for a "public performance" or "commercial" license.

Results: Such a world would obviously produce a lot more income for some cooks and chefs. Ones who were successful at writing popular recipes under that system could get a much bigger cut of the value they create than they might currently. Many other cooks who are successful under the current system would find that system less congenial, perhaps some would not be chefs at all. On the whole it's not entirely obvious whether or not it would lead to more and better recipes being written, or more people enjoying better food.

But I digress.

I just have a couple questions for you:

In your view, do the successful chefs and recipe writers in that other world "deserve" the extra rents they extract thanks to reciperight? Are they being served up an injustice in our world, because they are getting much less than they deserve?

What about the other cooks and recipe creators who are more successful in our current world? Do they actually "deserve" less because "reciperight" is somehow a more natural system?

you have no reason to believe that the creators who get income under the current system "deserve" it while others don't.

Really?

If we're talking about songwriters, they wrote the song.

If we're talking about musical performers, they performed it.

If we're talking about filmmakers, or actors, or scriptwriters, they made the film.

If we're talking about authors, they wrote the books.

If we're talking about photographers, they took the picture.

If we're talking about inventors, they brought the patented thing into existence, out of their own freaking brains.

At no point have I argued that folks who create copyrightable content deserve ALL of the revenue created by their works.

At no point have I argued that they deserve an exclusive claim on their work forever.

If you remove copyright, in the current technical environment you eliminate the means for people who do creative work to derive ANY reliable income from their work product. Because films, books, sound recordings, photographs, etc., can be reproduced and distributed for what amounts to nothing.

Yes, musicians can *also* do live performance. They can also teach, or operate recording studios, or work as professional sound people, or as tour managers, or any of 1,000,000 other jobs related to the music industry.

And, they *do* do all of those things.

So what?

They create a work product that generates revenue. A lot of revenue. They should get a piece of that. Not all of it, and not forever and ever and ever.

But they deserve a piece of it BECAUSE THEY CREATED IT.

If you think that CREATING THE ACTUAL THING THAT GENERATES THE REVENUE is insufficient justification for receiving some of the revenue generated, then IMO the burden of proof is on you to explain why.

Seriously, what the hell do you get paid for? Why do you deserve to get paid for it? How different is that from getting paid for creating a work product that people want and will pay for?

The thing *you* are missing is that creative content doesn't fall from trees. People make it. And it takes a lot of work to do so.

If we're talking about inventors, they brought the patented thing into existence, out of their own freaking brains.

This is a really naive statement russell. At least in my field, patents have nothing to do with real innovation. Most people who create new things never patent them, and most people who patent things never create real innovation. Patents are used as a way for big companies to crush new competitors.

For small companies, the patent system is completely useless. If you have a brilliant idea that IBM wants, they're going to take it from you, even if you have a patent, and you're going to let them do it. Why? Because IBM has a million patents that cover everything and you're infringing most of them right now. If you don't cross license with them, they're going to sue you to death because your software writes text to a computer display. Yep, they've got a patent on that. Think you can fight IBM's lawyers? Hahahaha.

I've never seen anyone look through patent filings in the hopes of learning something new; patents are quite possibly the worst way of transmitting technical knowledge ever invented ("we'll start by filtering your complex technical ideas through a bunch of lawyers and people so stupid they could only find employment as patent examiners").

Now, I get that patents may work better in different fields, but given the rank incompetence of the patent office and the legal system I've seen in my field, I'm a bit skeptical.

But they deserve a piece of it BECAUSE THEY CREATED IT.

But how big a piece? And who deserves to get these guarantees? And a piece of what?

We agree that it's good for creators to earn a living, but beyond that, there's choices, and compromises, and picking of winners and losers, you have to make. At every step.

I mean, you say, e.g., songwriters wrote the song, so they get to get a "piece of it". But a piece of what?

You speculate that in a world with no copyright, nobody would pay songwriters anything to write songs (this is disputable, but whatevs). If so, there'd be no market for songs, so probably no standalone songwriters. Or no professional ones, anyway. There's no 'it' for anybody to have a piece of. And nobody to complain about not having a piece of it, either.

And yet, someone over there is still arguing just as vociferously (and tautologically) that of course the system should be exactly the way it is, because everyone gets what they deserve.

After all, he says, it makes sense that a musician should get a fair cut of the door money for a performance. But why would they pay somebody else for singing a song when they're the ones doing the singing? And why should anyone have to pay the musician for making a recording if they bought their ticket, and they're the one doing the recording? And why should anyone pay someone else for a copy of a recording when they're the ones doing the copying? After all, nobody believes that artists should get absolutely all the revenue from anything related to what they do, so the limits are obvious, right?

Or back over in our world, why don't recipe authors get a bigger cut of "it" -- or a bigger "it" -- than they do now?

And are there compromises? By giving the copyright we do to musicians who are mega-successes, is it possible that we're reducing the revenues other would-be musicians might be getting for doing performances? What do they "deserve"?

We're both agreed that it's both good and just for productive artists and creators to earn decent livings.

But please stop going further and claiming that there is also some intrinsic "it" that they "deserve" to have a piece of, as if both of those things are obvious. They're not. Those are a matter of public policy.

How many artists should there be? Who and which kinds? How much should they get? How should they be able to get it? How and how much should we empower them to get more than they otherwise could? Those are all questions which are valid to ask when formulating that policy.

This is a really naive statement russell

Yeah, I know, the software industry has turned patents into rent-o-rama.

On the other hand, I have a buddy who invented a mechanical brake for telescoping stands. He was annoyed that he always had to put his guitar down whenever he wanted to adjust his music stand, so he invented a way to adjust it with one hand.

After about nine years and $30K out of his own pocket worth of building prototypes, documenting the invention, pushing the application rock like sisyphus through the patent process, etc., he now holds a patent for his gizmo.

The range of potential applications is quite broad. Music stands, but also hospital gear, etc etc etc.

If it ever turns into $$$, he should get some of it. That's pretty much all I'm saying.

I can give you lots of other examples of simple, handy stuff that somebody somewhere has been able to turn into a reasonable business, because they were able to obtain and enforce a patent. A family friend invented an automatic process for breading chicken parts. There's a popular apparatus for suspending tom toms that an enterprising dude turned into a nice small business. There's a guy who basically redesigned the vibraphone and sold the IP to one of the instrument manufacturers and has received a modest but useful living from the royalties.

All of these people deserve to get paid for their work. Absent patents, some jerk would buy one of their products, copy it, and sell it for a buck less, and they'd have no recourse.

People deserve to get paid for their work. If anyone wants to put that concept up for grabs, you'll have to talk to somebody other than me, because as far as I'm concerned any talk about "fairness" that doesn't include that concept is bullsh*t.

But how big a piece?

As much as they can negotiate for. Like every other damned business in the world.

And who deserves to get these guarantees

The people who create the thing that generates revenue.

And a piece of what?

The revenue stream that flows from the thing they create.

But please stop going further and claiming that there is also some intrinsic "it" that they "deserve" to have a piece of, as if both of those things are obvious.

Excuse me, but both of these things are baldly obvious.

"It" is the money that is generated from the sale and use of the stuff they create.

"Deserve" means they should get paid, because they created it.

I can't think of anything more obvious than that.

As far as mega-successes, you are basically talking about extreme statistical outliers. Extreme.

And the reason they are mega-successes is because a lot of people want to buy their work. Copyright has nothing to do with it. The only effect copyright has on the situation is that the mega-successes get to keep some of the revenue. Assuming, of course, that they were smart and cut a good deal. Some don't.

If they don't deserve some of the revenue their work generates, who the hell does?

They create a work product that generates revenue. A lot of revenue. They should get a piece of that. Not all of it, and not forever and ever and ever.

Redundant at this point, but to say it in a different way:

That revenue you're referring to - from what, how much, where it goes - is entirely defined by the status quo system.

If there were no copyright at all, for example, than a recording of a performance would not (you presume at least) generate any revenue. Nobody would ever bother calling a recording "work product that generates revenue". Because it wouldn't. So there wouldn't be anything to get a piece of.

Or really try to consider the supposed "plight" of songwriters in a system where songs work a lot like recipes do in our system. They could publish books of songs [recipes] and perhaps make a modest living at it. They could also perform their songs [cook their recipes] for people, and earn a living that way. And nobody would stand up and say that songwriters "deserved" a piece of the revenue someone else got from performing a song, anymore than anybody thinks the corner diner should be paying the Joy of Cooking a royalty every time they bake an apple pie.

I'm sure there'd be no songs [recipes] written by anybody at all. Musical [culinary] creativity would probably be stone dead.

Turbulence: ... people so stupid they could only find employment as patent examiners ...

You mean like Albert Einstein, for example.

Turbulence: For small companies, the patent system is completely useless. If you have a brilliant idea that IBM wants, they're going to take it from you, even if you have a patent, ... Think you can fight IBM's lawyers? Hahahaha.
russell: All of these people deserve to get paid for their work.

You perhaps have seen Flash of Genius?

Don't get me wrong, I mostly agree with Turbulence about the wretchedness of today's patent system. And, of course, patents and copyright are not the same.

Information is a difficult thing to protect. I quote one of my favorite references, the Alice and Bob After Dinner Speech:

The other thing coding theorists are concerned with is information. Nothing else is like information. Information is very peculiar stuff. It can both be created and destroyed. You can steal it without removing it. You can often get some just by guessing. Yet it can have great value. It can be bought and sold.

As much as they can negotiate for. Like every other damned business in the world.

So....Artists negotiate copyright with their customers? News to me.

What if the customers don't agree to it?

The people who create the thing that generates revenue.

So, NOT people who want to create things that don't have a legally protected revenue model then. Fair enough.

The revenue stream that flows from the thing they create.

But without the artificial legal framework, no revenue stream flows.

So if there were no, e.g., copyright, and people copied things freely, then artists who relied on copy restrictions would not deserve any income?

This seems to contradict a previous answer of yours somewhere.

"It" is the money that is generated from the sale and use of the stuff they create.

Again, the sales and money that doesn't exist if copyright doesn't? Or the sales and money that might be generated in different mediums on the sale of different works if copyright were to take a different form?

"Deserve" means they should get paid, because they created it.

But not the ones who create something without a legally protected revenue source, as per the above, of course.

....Methinks this is not so obvious as you claim.

If there were no copyright at all, for example, than a recording of a performance would not (you presume at least) generate any revenue.

I don't presume anything. Maybe there would be a robust recording industry, maybe there wouldn't.

What would be true is that if there were, the artist would get much less of the revenue.

Which you seem to feel is fine, but I don't.

They could publish books of songs [recipes] and perhaps make a modest living at it.

Not really, because there would be no copyright on the book, either.

Musical [culinary] creativity would probably be stone dead.

Musical creativity would be fine. Music as a way to make a living would be significantly impaired.

And the astounding range of musical recordings that are available to all of us now would be a fraction of what they are, because it's freaking expensive and time-consuming to make sound recordings, and there just aren't that many people who will do it as a hobby.

So yeah, maybe no "it" anymore, in the sense of no multi-billion market in sound recordings, or films, or photographic images.

That multi-billion market funds the creation of a lot of stuff you like. Kiss it goodbye.

That's why we have copyright and patents.

If they don't deserve some of the revenue their work generates, who the hell does?

No/different copyright would mean the nature and size of the revenue stream would change. Someone else would "deserve" the revenue stream, because then they'd be the ones producing it.

You missed the point of that example: it's not about the megastars. It's about the people the megastars may have displaced. Under a different framework, they might well be the ones generating the revenue, and thus "deserving" it.

What would be true is that if there were, the artist would get much less of the revenue.

Actually, different artists would like likely get different revenue. Possibly less overall. Possibly not.

You're stuck on the fallacy that in a radically different system, the same people are artists and they're making the same kind of art in the same kind of quantities. Just getting paid less.

You're fixated on the last part being unfair. Which it would be, if it occurred. But all the premises are faulty. A radically different system will result in a different set of people producing a different set of works and earning livings on completely different streams.

Some of those other universes might or might not be overall more productive and creative places than our own.

But what they are NOT is places where where homeless, destitute musicians are mysteriously compelled to produce music with no prospect for any money, just because that's what their counterparts over in our universe chose to do...

Not really, because there would be no copyright on the book, either.

I didn't say there was no copyright there. I said songwriting worked like recipes. Are you paying attention?

It's about the people the megastars may have displaced.

If we're talking about the music industry, the megastars haven't displaced anybody. And the prominence of megastars has nothing to do with copyright, marginal artists' work are covered by copyright also. There are just fewer people that want their work.

What you are missing is that if you remove significant revenue streams from creative workers, fewer people will do creative work.

All that stuff you like? Less of it. Much less.

Yes, people will still sing around the campfire, and your local bar will have some kind of musical entertainment. Some artists will make recordings as a way of building and audience for their live performances. Some won't.

The amazing range of artistic product that is currently available for not a whole lot of money? You will not have it.

It takes too much time and effort to produce, it won't be worth folks' while to do it.

And for the record, the analogy to a recipe would be something like sheet music. The analogy to a recorded performance would be some kind of magic hologram of the chef coming into your very own home and cooking the food for you right in your own kitchen.

... cooking the food for you right in your own kitchen.

You could only imagine eating it though. At least until we have direct-to-brain sensory recordings. See Minority Report and many other SF examples.

That multi-billion market funds the creation of a lot of stuff you like. Kiss it goodbye.

That's why we have copyright and patents.

But there are potentially quite a lot of other ways to fund the creation of the stuff you and I like.

Some of the them might even be more fair or effective than our current system. More/better/different works might be produced, and more people might be able to afford to have use of them.

But we can't have that. Because then all those new creators wouldn't get the patent and copyright revenue streams they "deserve".

And for the record, the analogy to a recipe would be something like sheet music. The analogy to a recorded performance would be some kind of magic hologram of the chef coming into your very own home and cooking the food for you right in your own kitchen.

Um. Which is why the analogy was to, you know, songwriting...

I didn't say there was no copyright there. I said songwriting worked like recipes.

Why would a book be copyrightable, and not a song?

Yes, you are correct, absent copyright an entirely different universe of revenue streams, means of employment, etc. would exist.

And yes, people would find a way to make a living.

But one way or another, absent copyright, creative authors would no longer have a basis for getting paid for revenue created from any tangible work product of theirs that was readily copyable and distributable.

So, there would likely simply be less of those things.

Good, bad, who's to say? I live in the world that exists. In this world, those things generate a lot of revenue. In this world, the people who create those things deserve to get some of that revenue.

When your alternative universe comes to pass, we can compare and contrast.

Are you paying attention?

Not anymore. It's been fun, but I have to get back to work.

Copyright and patent is how creative work generates revenue for the creator.

Of course it is. Can someone give me the short version argument opposed to letting people protect and own their own intellectual property?

russell, I'm sure you know that artists are mostly treated very shabbily in the current regime; it's the middle men who collect most of the money. I don't imagine you are a fan of the RIAA.

Any perforing art is a very tough way to make a living.

Information technology is forcing a change here. Whether it will be for the better remains to be seen.

McKinneyTexas: Can someone give me the short version argument opposed to letting people protect and own their own intellectual property?

I'm not advocating it, but since you asked...

"Information wants to be free."

Can someone give me the short version argument opposed to letting people protect and own their own intellectual property?

For patents, economists have been big on the notion of prizes. Instead of our current system where the State runs the centralized Registry of Ideas and imprisons anyone who has an idea and dares to profit off it if someone else Registered their idea first, the government picks a few problems that really matter and offers huge cash prizes for fixing them. So, if the government wants a new malaria drug, it offers $10 billion to companies that can give it a drug that meets its criteria.

I often wonder if the problem with the patent system is that it hasn't gone far enough. Perhaps we should allow lawyers to patent legal arguments. That seems fair. Without that, how could attorneys possibly hope to be paid for their work? What do you think McKinney? Wouldn't that be awesome?

For copyright, there are lots of proposals; many start with reducing the duration of copyright.

You could only imagine eating it though

Unlike a recorded musical performance. No imagination required, the sound is actually there.

Look, Jack says absent copyright, some other entire economy would exist relative to creative work.

I completely agree. And that economy would not support the widespread creation of a number of the tangible work products of creative effort that we have now.

Because, while those things are trivially expensive to copy and distribute, they are very costly, in terms of time and money, to *produce*.

So fewer folks would bother producing them. They'd do something else with their creative energy.

The purpose of copyright is to encourage the production of creative work. No encouragement, no production.

Why the hell should anyone bother? It's hard enough to do anything creative, at all. Why bother producing all of the beautiful work that folks do now, just to give it away to people who don't give a crap if you get paid or not?

Musicians will, in the end, play for each other and for their own pleasure. If you don't get to listen because it's not worth their while to bring it to you, who loses?

You do.

What you are missing is that if you remove significant revenue streams from creative workers, fewer people will do creative work.

Lets take this veeeery slowly.

1. Copyright is not the only possible way to give creative workers a living.[1]

2. We already use quite a mix of these, copyright is only one, and it's not entirely obvious that it's even the most important.[2][3]

3. We could use a different mix without necessarily reducing the number of people doing creative work. It might be we could even increase it, increase the access of the public to the creative work that is produced, decrease the total cost to the public, or all three.

You seem to be both overestimating the actual importance of copyright for creative work, and incorrectly assuming that there is no mix of public policy that might replace it or improve upon it.

---
[1]: Just a few other systems: grants, prizes, disbursement from a pool of dedicated funds (say, from a download tax), revenue from performances, sales of souvenir merchandise, sponsorship, patronage, commission.

[2]: There are economists and others who study this kind of thing, and I'll leave the resolution of this obviously difficult empirical question, if it ever comes, to them. Nevertheless, "not obvious" seems a fair summary.

[3]: You lump all "creative work" together, but a lot of it really doesn't depend on copyright or patent at all. I keep bringing up recipes. But there's also, say, architecture, which is basically commission based. (Plans are no doubt copyrighted as a matter of course, and some people might certainly prefer it that way. But it's hard to see how architecture in general would change or suffer much without it. The same is true for a lot of other commercial creative work.)

russell: Unlike a recorded musical performance. No imagination required, the sound is actually there.

You'll get no argument from me on that point. I meant only to point out a flaw in the analogy.

I'm very sympathetic to russell's point of view. I just don't see the current copyright system rewarding most artists very well.

Why would a book be copyrightable, and not a song?

The written song would be - you wouldn't necessarily be allowed to copy it and print your own book (this is actually still a bit stricter than recipes).

But why shouldn't you be able to sing the song?

"Information wants to be free."

Free. You get what you pay for.

Perhaps we should allow lawyers to patent legal arguments. That seems fair. Without that, how could attorneys possibly hope to be paid for their work? What do you think McKinney? Wouldn't that be awesome?


What I think would be awesome is a world where smart people are motivated to invent and produce cool stuff that makes my very comfortable life the way it is. Fresh food, nightly entertainment, wine delivered by the case to my office, a one pound piece of electronics that saves me a trip to the bookstore and holds more books than my study at home. No flint napping and atlatl for me. Pottery making or food preserving either. I've farmed, gardened, hunted and fished using modern equipment. It's still a spotty way of getting food on the table.

I stay warm in the winter, cool in the summer, fly to Europe once a year and play golf all because a lot of smart people over the last couple of hundred years started really inventing stuff. Keep it up.

(In very much the same way that if you buy a book with plans for a boat in it, the author of the book doesn't have any claim on the boat you build, or any "revenue stream" which might result from it.

If there's an "intuitive" approach to intellectual "property", this certainly seems closer to it than the way it actually works with music.)

jack lecou: But why shouldn't you be able to sing the song?

Sing it, sure. But what about when you perform it and charge admission? Or use it in a TV commercial? or ... (many other examples).

This is a big fight because a lot of money is involved.

<rant>If the RIAA could reach into your brain and erase the memory of hearing it so they could charge you again, they would.</rant>

Just in case it's not clear, I think both russell and I would be fine with reducing the term of copyright to the life of the author; and I think Golan v. Holder was wrongly decided. (Can't speak for russell on that one.)

As far as artists getting treated shabbily by the current system, that's largely true, but that's not a problem with copyright qua copyright. It's a problem with who owns master recordings and for how long, which party gets ownership of publishing rights (record labels often assume them in order to recoup advances), negotiated per-unit royalty amounts etc.

I completely agree. And that economy would not support the widespread creation of a number of the tangible work products of creative effort that we have now.

This is bizarre. What's the argument for this? Copyright is hardly indispensable.

Because, while those things are trivially expensive to copy and distribute, they are very costly, in terms of time and money, to *produce*.

Um. But this is exactly the argument for why copyright is increasingly looking like it's NOT the best public policy approach to funding creative work.

Why would anybody think that a world in which work is expensive to produce but cheap/free to reproduce is a world in which we want to collect/disburse the needed money at the point of reproduction???

Sing it, sure. But what about when you perform it and charge admission? Or use it in a TV commercial? or ... (many other examples).

Like the author of that book of boat designs should get money if I make a bunch of money running a sightseeing service with it?

The point is that the place where we draw these lines is ultimately pretty arbitrary. There's nothing "obvious" about it.

Just to confuse the matter further, Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity.

Just in case it's not clear, I think both russell and I would be fine with reducing the term of copyright to the life of the author; and I think Golan v. Holder was wrongly decided. (Can't speak for russell on that one.)

On copyright:

1. I would be in favor of reducing the term, maybe to something on the order of a decade, not much more.

2. I would carve out an exemption for personal sharing of digital files, including peer-to-peer and online sharing.

2b. As part of that, I'd be willing to support some kind of download/internet/hard drive tax scheme, with disbursement back to rightsholders (possibly on a non-linear basis). I'm not convinced that such a scheme would really be necessary in the grand scheme of things, but it would be a good experiment, and might well be a necessary pot sweetener.

3. I'd be in favor of radically increasing public funding for the arts and creative work in general. (I don't have many specific ideas for programs, but I'm sure there are no shortage. Supporting and expanding the libraries which are building out public "maker" facilities would be a good start.)

Like the author of that book of boat designs should get money if I make a bunch of money running a sightseeing service with it?

I was on board (pun!) with this analogy for a while, but I think the difference is in the investment required to build a boat as opposed to playing a song, assuming you don't go out and buy instruments and amps and mics and such just to play one song, rather you use those things potentially to play hundreds or thousands of songs.

The portion of the investment you can allocate to the playing of a single song is negligible. Building a single boat requires far more material and labor than playing a single song, thus you made the boat, while you only played the song (for money). (I won't even get into operating expenses.)

This is bizarre. What's the argument for this?

The argument for this is as follows:

I free lance as a musician. I work with a number of people who are active recording artists. It costs them a lot of time and effort to make their recordings. If there was no financial upside in the form of revenue from those recordings, they wouldn't bother making them, because it's too much of a f***ing PITA to make them for no money.

Yeah, people will still make home studio recordings to sell or give away at shows, but the range and availability of recorded music that currently exists, along with the ubiquitous channels that bring it to you for chump change, will largely go away.

Because it will be impossible to realize any revenue from it, for the creator.

If you want to replace copyright with a download tax, fine with me.

If you want to replace copyright with a publicly financed artists slush fund, per Dean Baker, fine with me.

I don't much care where the money comes from, by what channels it travels, or in what currency or denomination it arrives in.

I want the people who create the thing that people pay for to get some of the money.

Dig?

And grants, prizes, what have you are all very lovely, but they will not replace the multi-billion dollar revenue stream that the existing market in recorded materials now creates, on a purely voluntary basis, via plain old private commerce.

Last but not least I will note that, if you think copyright is rife with abuse and gaming, public financing of artistic endeavor through taxes etc is going to give you hives.

Just one last thing for now:

If we're talking about the music industry, the megastars haven't displaced anybody.

This is, of course, false.

For example, a world in which bands only really made money on performances, and recordings (if only bootlegs of performances) were shared.

In such a world, it might be the case that MegaBand X was still extremely megapopular. What wouldn't necessarily be the case is that people spent a lot of money on MegaBand records. Which would leave money in their pocket. Which they might, among other things, use to go see shows by local or smaller bands instead. (Maybe even local MegaBand cover acts...)

Now, do I think those local bands deserve that money more than MegaBand and their record label? No.

That's just the point. I don't think we can ever really have any idea who "deserves" what.

Instead, I want to try to figure out which universe might be more fun, and make our universe more like that.

*Note: Annotate this comment to allow for all of the postings, especially Jack's and ral's descriptions of their new copyright regime, which sounds like the direction things are going anyway (Louis ck and Trent Reznor saying goodbye to the middle men), since I began writing it 45 minutes ago, and then ignore it.

You may hum it to yourselves, but if I catch you participating in a sing-along using my words, well, I think I may have discovered a revenue stream. ;)*

First of all, we could all rattle our jewelry in lieu of paying for music.

Jack wrote:

"Under a different framework, they might well be the ones generating the revenue, and thus "deserving" it."

For what? What am I missing here?

Do you mean that the musicians/performers who have been displaced by the megastar Beatles, for example, may cover "Strawberry Fields Forever" in performance and/or in a recording without a royalty payment?

May the displaced ones (the Displacements would be a good band name; The Hip Displacements could tour Florida retirement communities and nursing homes to cash in on captive baby boomers as we limp like lemmings headfirst into the abyss) also claim with impunity to have composed the song?

If I'm in the audience and the same displaced band opens the second set with an original number the guitar player wrote, may I (as displaced as a guy can get) run out the next day, under this different framework, and do what I want with the song?

After all, there are many songs out there that when I heard them for the first time I swear the melodic hooks were so --- something --- great, catchy, but obvious -- that I must have heard them before -- they were floating in our commonly-shared ether and the fact that McCartney, for example, managed to pick them up in a dream and transcribe them, "Yesterday" for example, before the dream was available to me doesn't seem kosher.

Copyright law in music is, I admit, made up as we go along, yes, I mean the Beatles or EMI paid a royalty, I should hope, when the Beatles recorded "Please, Mr. Postman", but they certainly didn't pay anything to perform "Raunchy" or whatever 37,000 times in Hamburg.

Yet George Harrison was sued successfully for lifting the chord progressions and melody of "My Sweet Lord" from someone or other, and I think Lennon was sued for lifting a guitar riff from Chuck Berry, but on the other hand Boyce and Hart or Neil Diamond or whomever wrote "Last Train to Clarksville" was not sued for lifting that guitar riff from the Beatles' "Run For Your Life".

There's copyright and royalty payments and then there is tribute and then there is every local band down the street covering songs without paying a dime and that's the way it is.

Like recipes. But if a band, (named "Too Many Cooks") published a book of Mario Batali's exact recipes, what then? Course, Batali lifted many of his recipes from regional chefs in Italy and now Spain, in the spirit of the Beatles and every other artist whose motto was "when in doubt, steal", so who is kidding whom?

Then we throw another layer of ridiculous injustice (only, in that it just doesn't seem right to me, but carry on) into it when Michael Jackson own the Beatles songs, while McCartney owns the Buddy Holly catalog, etc, etc, because the lot of them were too stupid at 20 years of age to resist signing sh*t deals for their songs with a bunch of Mitt Romney Bain Capital suits.

By the way, I was 12 and sitting in the car with my mother when I first heard "She Loves You". The car radio wasn't on, the song just came to me, whole and intact with harmonies.

One second later, the Beatles' "She Loves You", which sounded exactly like my version except for that great EMI engineering, was released and on the radio.

I swear I coulda been a contenda. Tell me I was picking up my version through my fillings

By the additional way, to add to the conundrum, I hated it when free internet guitar tabulature sites were for a time a couple years ago threatened with copyright infringement oversight.

Further, I want to patent a recording deck into which you could input a song (or a symphony) recording and it would spit out a completely accurate transcription and tabulature of every track and instrument on the original recording.

A time-saver, but not nearly as an effective ear-trainer as spending hours listening to a recording over and over to figure out a song.

But McTex, wouldn't the world be better if you could patent your legal arguments? Can't you see how much better legal practice would be? After all, why on earth should you get to benefit from another attorney's hard work without compensating them? That's not fair, is it? And if we created a government instituted monopoly for legal arguments, we'd get more and better legal arguments, right?

Last but not least I will note that, if you think copyright is rife with abuse and gaming, public financing of artistic endeavor through taxes etc is going to give you hives.

Russell, my man!

My experience with copyright is from a written works angle than a music one (and the regimes are different, because the music industry is set up to make it fairly easy for musicians to get royalties, and for people using other people's music to pay royalties - at least, that's my understanding).

Anyone who doesn't think that the First Amendment is affected by copyright law should read the very persuasive dissent by Justice Breyer in Eldred v. Ashcroft. Also, Breyer makes a good point about the costs, not only of royalties (which may or may not be significant) but also of finding authors, obtaining permission, etc.

Turbulence, believe it or not, there have been attempts to claim copyright on legal briefs. To my knowledge, the issue is still up in the air.

This is, of course, false.

I'm going to ask you to back up the "of course".

What is your experience with / knowledge of / exposure to the music industry?

Can you demonstrate that anybody, anywhere has had their personal income stream reduced because, frex, U2 made hundreds of millions of dollars on their last tour?

Anybody? Or are you speculating?

Speculation does not earn an "of course".

Imaginary compensation regimes that you are making up on the back of an envelope don't earn an "of course".

It's fine to discuss them, they just don't earn an "of course".

they certainly didn't pay anything to perform "Raunchy" or whatever 37,000 times in Hamburg.

Most venues the offer live music participate in the royalty process by registering with one of the three big royalty enforcement companies, ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.

So, chances are the author of "Raunchy" got paid. Or, at least would do so nowadays.

Russell, my man!

Yes, there is no market failure in the music industry at the moment.

Crap accounting and fraud, yes. Market failure, no.

Most venues the offer live music participate in the royalty process by registering with one of the three big royalty enforcement companies, ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.

This is why I object much less to the music industry copyright regime than the written works business (although I think that the copyright term is way too long). The music industry makes it easy for people to use other people's works and pay for the privilege.

The portion of the investment you can allocate to the playing of a single song is negligible. Building a single boat requires far more material and labor than playing a single song, thus you made the boat, while you only played the song (for money).

That's a workable view, but like I said, it's all pretty arbitrary.

If you want to start making a distinction on the basis of how much "effort" went into it, it gets really tricky, really fast.

Take the songwriting example: the musician doesn't just play the song. To do it well enough to make money off of it, he probably has to play a it a lot. Practice, practice. It could conceivably take a lot of time and effort to get it the way he wants it to sound. And then, the songwriter doesn't necessarily take much time at all. He's got to have the "tools" of course: musical training and so on. But the song itself? Maybe it just came to him in the shower one day, and he dashes it out and he's done.

So now does the musician deserve it more than the songwriter? Do we judge case by case? It's madness.

Or consider my picturesque, run down old barn and unmowed lawn. A photographer might come along one day and take an extremely valuable shot of it. Click. All he did was point the camera and hit the shutter. It took me decades of effort to get my barn in that condition. Who "deserves" a cut of the cash when a print of the photo sells at a gallery?

This is why I object much less to the music industry copyright regime than the written works business (although I think that the copyright term is way too long). The music industry makes it easy for people to use other people's works and pay for the privilege.

I'd at least halfway agree with that too.

This whole mess would actually be a lot less objectionable if the music industry had simply approached, say, Napster, with some kind of straightforward, transparent, licensing scheme.

Still important to recognize that the lines are pretty arbitrary though. And there is never really any original work.

And then, the songwriter doesn't necessarily take much time at all.

A photographer might come along one day and take an extremely valuable shot of it. Click. All he did was point the camera and hit the shutter.

Do you know any songwriters?
Do you know any photographers?

I am talking about people who earn a living writing songs and taking pictures.

Because your comments here display a profound ignorance of what is involved in doing either at a professional level.

Not hobbyists, not folks who strum away in their bedrooms. People who produce songs and photographs that other people actually want to hear or look at.

Yeah, Paul McCartney woke up one morning with the music to "Yesterday" running, almost fully formed, through his head.

He did this after working 24/7 as a professional musician for ten years.

I'm not sure you understand either the crafts, or the industries, you're talking about.

The fact of the matter is that creative work is freaking hard.

And the fact of the matter is that copyright enables creative authors to realize income from their work product.

Maybe you have a much, much better way to make that happen, but you have not demonstrated anything of the sort.

So as far as I'm concerned, copyright is a great way to go.

I recognize that the existing copyright law is out of balance with the actual purpose it is intended to accomplish, and it should be changed.

But you have not demonstrated, at least to my satisfaction, any reasonable alternative that doesn't amount to "those people will just go do something else".

Yes, they will go do something else. What they won't do is create stuff, stuff that millions of people like to have and are happy to pay for, for no compensation.

So, everybody loses.

That's why we have copyright. To encourage creative people to do their thing, so everyone else can use and enjoy it.

Speculation does not earn an "of course".

It's impossible to produce examples of successful artists who by definition never had a chance to exist, so... fair enough, I guess.

But obvious or not, you can't really say megabands aren't displacing anyone.

Actually, everyone who ever gets a buck is displacing someone.

That's one of the better arguments for why online sharing is doing zero damage, at least economy wide: entertainment budgets are pretty fixed in the short term, so people might download a movie for free, and then use the saved money for a concert. They're just displacing spending from one place to another, and the overall pool flowing to creative endeavor is largely unchanged. (The recent decision to allow personal sharing in Switzerland was partly based on studies which showed exactly that.)

(We do, maybe, get a problem if people start downloading so much that there's not enough money in some fields to produce new work at all. But there's no indication that we're even anywhere near that point. Besides - showing me a hypothetical work that would have been produced if, say, 10,000 fewer downloads had happened is at least as difficult as my task.)

Because your comments here display a profound ignorance of what is involved in doing either at a professional level.

Care to elaborate?

You apparently agree that, while it might take someone like Paul McCartney a lifetime to gain the requisite training, talent and experience (the "tools" I noted), once he has them, the time it takes to write a particular song may, on lucky occasions, be virtually no time at all.

And I'd assume that you'd also agree that as a result of this and other considerations, how long one spends or how much effort it takes to make a particular song isn't necessarily a reliable gauge to how much one ought or ought not "own" any resulting performances.

So what did I get wrong there, exactly?

I'm not quite sure where I offended.

This

"Yes, they will go do something else. What they won't do is create stuff, stuff that millions of people like to have and are happy to pay for, for no compensation."

is probably only true on the margins. Most professional artists would create stuff anyway. This in now aay justifies reducin their ability to make money at it.

And this:

That's one of the better arguments for why online sharing is doing zero damage, at least economy wide: entertainment budgets are pretty fixed in the short term, so people might download a movie for free, and then use the saved money for a concert. They're just displacing spending from one place to another, and the overall pool flowing to creative endeavor is largely unchanged.

Is just silly. The competition for those dollars is in significant ways the way artists EARN their money, by being the first choice for peoples entertainment dollars. The theft is what makes them able to have both for the same money.

Now we are certainly into justifying I wants my free stuffs.

But you have not demonstrated, at least to my satisfaction, any reasonable alternative that doesn't amount to "those people will just go do something else".

I'm not sure I ever could satisfy you.

Nor am I sure the system will ever change much. Status quo bias is a powerful thing.

Largely agreeing with russell, I nevertheless want to throw out The Verve's loss of all revenues from "Bittersweet Symphony" as fodder for discussion.

Personally, I think they got taken to the cleaners. They made a legitimate effort to secure rights and permissions for some digital samples they used, and...I am still not sure how they managed to lose it, really.

Is just silly. The competition for those dollars is in significant ways the way artists EARN their money, by being the first choice for peoples entertainment dollars. The theft is what makes them able to have both for the same money.

So people having less stuff is an intrinsic public good in your book?

I'm not sure I'm the one being silly.

The best of all possible worlds is the one where, 1. lots and lots (all possible) creative stuff is created, 2. the people who make the stuff earn a living doing it, and 3. this stuff is distributed far and wide and everyone can use and enjoy any of the stuff being created, any time and in any way they please.

In practice we have to make tradeoffs. Copyright is a scheme where, roughly speaking, we spend some of the social benefit from #3 and use it to try to buy some more #1 and #2.

It may be a worthwhile bargain. But that spending is still a sacrifice, not an intrinsically desirable feature.

If there's some modification of the system that (as per above) leaves #1 and #2 essentially intact, but gets us a lot more of #3, that's just an objectively better system.

It's not "theft" just because something becomes cheaper or free.

(I mean, I expect you're also going to come out against the "theft" represented by the productivity increases of, say, the industrial revolution? All those common people getting inexpensive mass produced clothing! Think of the poor tailors!)

"It may be a worthwhile bargain. But that spending is still a sacrifice, not an intrinsically desirable feature."

True of all things, food, housing, all stuff. Having to pay is not an intrinsically desirable feature.

"It's not "theft" just because something becomes cheaper or free."

No, it depends on how it became free.

No, it depends on how it became free.

In this case, as with cheap clothes, it was technological advance.

Theft?

So what did I get wrong there, exactly?

e.g., it took McCartney many years of disciplined, hard, daily work to get to the point where he could write something like "Yesterday" intuitively.

Your comment is like saying, Larry Bird used to get paid millions for sinking a jump shot.

Or, Edison built his fortune on a lucky idea about a light bulb.

Larry Bird used to get paid millions because he had spent freaking years shooting thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of jump shots, until he could pretty much hit them whenever he wanted.

Edison built his fortune on years and years of relentlessly trying every imaginable way to build something like a light bulb, until he got it right.

Lennon and McCartney spent years and years learning every song they could get their hands on, learning every nuance and stylistic quirk of about 50 years of pop music, in a variety of styles, then performed for hours and hours and hours, night after night after night, for crap money, then wrote a staggeringly ridiculous number of songs of their own, then rewrote them over and over and over again until they were good.

Then, he woke up one morning and "Yesterday" was running through his head.

It takes a huge amount of work to do creative work effectively. In any field. What you see is the tiniest fraction of the tip of the iceberg.

Care to elaborate?

Consider it elaborated.

It's impossible to produce examples of successful artists who by definition never had a chance to exist, so...

There are approximately seven million, three hundred forty two thousand, eight hundred and nineteen bands in the United States.

Trust me on this.

Nothing stands in the way of anybody writing songs, performing them, trying to sell them into whatever market they like.

Some people are good at it, some aren't. Some people have the drive and persistence to continue doing it for the proverbial 10,000 hours it takes to actually be sort of good at it, some just like to bang away at the hobby level.

Some people make it big, some people don't. But there is no shortage of folks doing creative work in the world, and the fact that some of them are wildly successful is exactly zero impediment to the less wildly successful.

If anything, it helps create a larger market for everyone.

Yes, it really kinda does work that way.

My "reasonable alternative" would be,

1. Restore the scope and term of copyright to something more like what prevailed for most of the nation's history, rolling back the vast expansion of the last few decades. Including restoring the rule that, once a work enters the public domain, it stays there.

2. Subject enforcement to reasonable balancing, including attention to damage done to innocent third parties, and genuine penalties for fraudulent claims.

I don't in principle object to copyright as an answer to the free rider problem for creative works. I just object that copyright law has gone berserk over the last few decades, as huge corporations buy Congressmen, so that they can monetize our pre-existing cultural heritage.

I swear, the way things are going, one of these days I'm going to be walking down the street, humming the theme from an old TV show, and be taken out by a sniper.

Intellectual property didn't "become" free. People are taking it without paying for it despite it being for sale by the people who have the exclusive legal right to distribute it.

I mean, the people who invested the time, money and talent to make (checks Google) Adele … really? Adele? Yeesh. … the top selling album of 2011 didn't then place the records on the rack and put up a sign saying "FREE, TAKE ONE." No innovator came up with a more cost-efficient way to make Adele albums. People are simply making copies and giving them away without the right to do so. That doesn't mean Adele albums "became free." Let's not fall into passive voice BS here.

No Jack, its not like cheap clothes. It is cheaper to make music so the cost per unit probably is less like clothes. However I still can't go online and download the shirt you make. Or even a copy of it.

No Jack, its not like cheap clothes. It is cheaper to make music so the cost per unit probably is less like clothes. However I still can't go online and download the shirt you make. Or even a copy of it.

That has nothing to do with it.

The point is that, once upon a time, it was very expensive to harvest fiber, spin thread, weave cloth, and sew a pair of trousers. Some people invented stuff, and that got much, much cheaper.

And, once upon a time, creating a copy of a book required an expensive special purpose press and lots of paper. It would have been fantastic to suggest that someday it might be possible to go on a "webb-syt" and download a copy of potentially any book ever printed, and keep most of them, simultaneously, on a device in your pocket.

And you can just forget about the idea that the same device could also store a little digital copy of every musician you'd ever heard and play them back to you at will.

Now, back in the age when that seemed fantastical, and when a book, nevermind an entire library, cost a certain amount of money to copy and purchase, this little sacrificial payment we're making out of the "complete library in every pocket" fund looked a whole lot more reasonable.

But technology has obviously changed a bit. And thus so has this price we've been paying. We've muddled through for a bit, but now the contradictions are heightening. It's becoming obvious to many people that this is quite a high price, even if they don't think of it in those terms.

The idea that we should deliberately impoverish humanity[1] by telling everyone they are not allowed to produce unlimited copies of goods with zero marginal costs -- further, that reproducing such goods is "theft", and should even carry criminal penalties -- all in the service of perpetuating a particular scheme originally designed for the express purposes of motivating the creation of work so that more people would be able to enjoy it is absurd. And getting more so everyday.

Why try to adjust the people in increasingly invasive ways? Why not just adjust the system a bit? It shouldn't really be astronomically difficult to figure out some other, simpler, way to get creators paid. It wouldn't even take particularly large or risky adjustments to the existing system.

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[1] Make no mistake, that's what you're contemplating. In your world, you spend $10 a month and that'll get you either one movie or one concert. In my world, you still have $10 on a movie or a show, but you also get to watch listen and read as much as you have time for. All else equal (yes, including payments to creators), my world is better.

The task is rewarding creators efficiently SO THAT more work is created for people to enjoy. It is absolutely NOT somehow a good thing to unnecessarily prevent people from sharing and enjoying and even building on that work and culture (or "stealing" as you like to call it). Let's not lose track.

Intellectual property didn't "become" free. People are taking it without paying for it despite it being for sale by the people who have the exclusive legal right to distribute it.

See above.

That "exclusive legal right" exists in the first place for the purpose of allowing creators to make a living making stuff so that there'd be more stuff around for people to have access to.

Now we have a situation, where, finally, for the first time in history, everyone really can have access to whole categories of that stuff, at no additional cost.

But, instead of celebrating this new wealth and freedom, you're calling the whole situation "theft"...

I just think maybe that ought to give us pause. There seems to be something askew there. And there might be much simpler ways to solve the whole "problem" this embarrassment of riches is causing us.

No innovator came up with a more cost-efficient way to make Adele albums.

Just to really beat this dead horse:

Yes, they did. We went from "no such thing as an album" to wax cylinders, vinyl disks, analog tapes, cds, and then mp3s over the internet. At every stage it got cheaper and cheaper and cheaper for ordinary people to make copies of them.

Now, what you are trying to say is that it still takes about as much effort for Adele (is that a person or a band?) to write and perform for that first recording. There's been much less technical advance there.

And then there's the fact only system we seem to have in place (this is debatable, but it's not important) for paying Adele to make that first album seems to sort of break down a bit if we're just giving everyone copies for free.

And so there is a developing conflict here between this (early) post-scarcity technology we now have which can hand out happiness by providing everyone in the world with a copy of the album at essentially zero cost, and this legacy system for distributing payments to creators, which relies on the principle that nobody ought to get a copy until they pay something for it.

I would argue that calling this situation "theft" and trying use the legal system to put a padlock on the cornucopia is maybe not the healthiest approach to the problem, such as it is.

"All else equal (yes, including payments to creators), my world is better."

Absolutely, your fantasy world is better. If I could wake up each morning and have someone feed and clothe and house me for free so I could spend all my money on entertainment then my world would be better.

The "all else equal" is just carrying way too much weight here. The point of this discussion is that all things aren't equal.

People are happy to steal the content and turn a blind eye to how it was made available. The world is NOT a better place because they can. It is no less wrong than buying a hot tv for cheap, or stealing it yourself.

Lets not lose track.


It is no less wrong than buying a hot tv for cheap, or stealing it yourself.

To be fair to Jack, I'd have to point out that stealing a TV isn't the same as making an exact copy of the same TV at little to no cost. That's the heart of what he's getting at, even if you don't think it's relevant.

People are happy to steal the content and turn a blind eye to how it was made available. The world is NOT a better place because they can. It is no less wrong than buying a hot tv for cheap, or stealing it yourself.

Let's try a different tack.

Let's say you're right.[1] People are bad, bad thieves, etc. How does this self righteousness actually solve the conflict?

The fact is that technology has changed. It is, I hope, indisputable that it is fantastically easy to copy and share lots of digital stuff.

And there's not really any clear path to go back, even if we wanted to. Something like SOPA, as Draconian as it was, was nevertheless unlikely to even make a dent. It's an open question whether it's even theoretically possible to put the technology back in the bottle while still allowing people to possess anything remotely resembling a general purpose network computer in the first place. And if it is, it would take likely a really unprecedented level of government (if not record company!) control over (and inside) your computer. As well as over the process of technological innovation. I doubt anybody here thinks that would be acceptable. I hope not, anyway.

So:

What we have now isn't working[2].

We can't go back.

How do you propose to go forward?

Yell "stop thief!" until all those naughty people feel guilty enough to comply?

I don't think that's gonna work.

Nor do they really need to stop. The basic problem is, as it always was, just ensuring that work continues to be created, NOT preventing it from being shared. Which obviously means collecting and channeling money in such a way that creators can pay expenses and earn an income.

I humbly propose that we get mildly creative (it's not that hard) and come up with a few new policy approaches to make sure creators get what they need, no matter what happens on the internet (or maybe just expand some of the other old ways). And then... we can 'decriminalize' people taking advantage of new technology to share and create cost free copies of culture with each other.

Voila. No more "theft". Artists get paid. "Fantasy" made manifest. Peace in our time. Etc. Etc.

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[1]: The comparison to rival (in the economics term of art sense) objects like TVs is completely specious, but let's let that slide for now.

[2]: I mean, so everyone says. There's not really any evidence forthcoming that creators are being especially harmed. Even big media companies, if they'd just remember that their customers just want some respect. But I'll agree insofar as it's objectionable that people are being slandered as "thieves". Not to mention SOPA, 'nuff said.

is that a person or a band?

Adele is a person.

There's not really any evidence forthcoming that creators are being especially harmed.

Actually there is. If you are interested in finding it, you can.

The basic problem is, as it always was, just ensuring that work continues to be created, NOT preventing it from being shared. Which obviously means collecting and channeling money in such a way that creators can pay expenses and earn an income.

Sounds good to me.

You're the guy saying that the mechanism that's been working for 250 years or so needs to go away.

So, ball's in your court to come up with the bright idea. Have at it.

Otherwise, you're just the guy that wants free stuff.

Note that "collecting and channeling money" and "create cost free copies" are, not necessarily mutually exclusive, but at least at odds with each other.

And no, prizes and awards are not going to fill in for the current revenue stream.

And no, I can't really see public funding of the arts or a "download tax" doing so either.

If you're willing to pay a download tax why aren't willing to just pay the damned artist directly?

In any case, I'm still waiting to hear the bright idea that's going to replace a content creator having a property in their work product.

That "exclusive legal right" exists in the first place for the purpose of allowing creators to make a living making stuff so that there'd be more stuff around for people to have access to.

I'm not talking about copyright, I'm talking about the investment made by the record company, and their contract with the artist to be the exclusive worldwide distributor of the music. It's no different from any other contract between a supplier and a distributor. Period. Copyright doesnt enter into it. You no more have the right to hand out free copies of the Adele album than you do to hand out free Barbies. Not unless you've paid for every single one.

But, instead of celebrating this new wealth and freedom, you're calling the whole situation "theft"...

I hope by "you" you don't mean "me," since I quite specifically have not used the word "theft" nor alluded to it any way, since I quite specifically disavowed Marty's comparison of downloading IP to stealing a car, I quite specifically said I disagreed with the RIAA's and MPAA's anti-piracy tactics, and I quite specifically said I didn't support SOPA.

Maybe you should spend less time composing clever footnotes and more time paying attention to the arguments you're attempting to address.

I hope by "you" you don't mean "me," since I quite specifically have not used the word "theft" nor alluded to it any way,

I'm sorry, you're right. I was thinking of CCDG's comment, at the same time as this: "People are simply making copies and giving them away without the right to do so," and it all got muddled together. My bad.

But this,

I'm not talking about copyright, I'm talking about the investment made by the record company, and their contract with the artist to be the exclusive worldwide distributor of the music.

Doesn't seem to make sense. Without copyright (or something that acts very much like it), there simply is no exclusive sale or distribution right in the first place, either for the artist to sell or the distributor to buy.

Russel,

I'm having a hard time reconciling this:

Actually there is. If you are interested in finding it, you can.

with this:

You're the guy saying that the mechanism that's been working for 250 years or so needs to go away.

They just don't appear to agree with each other.

What I am actually saying is that: things have already changed. Home taping. Computers. Internet. Pirate Bay. Yadda yadda.

I'm also saying that, at least in terms of primary effects, my view is that all this is not clearly negative. May even be quite positive. People are downloading, yes. Sampling. Partaking. Discovering. Holding back on stuff they don't feel like rewarding, shifting their spending around to match their adjusted preferences, routing around inconvenient or broken distribution models - like the ones based on restricting release dates and places, or the ones which treat customers like criminals. And it's all really upsetting some middle men and distributors. But creative industries in general don't seem to be in any danger. Someone told me there are over 7 million bands in the country (I think he might have been exaggerating, but maybe not by much). More movies and music and videogames, etc. are being released than ever before. And new technologies and abilities are inspiring lots of fertile experimentation with whole new types of creativity, new creators, and new distribution and money making models. It's much too early to see how it all plays out, but there's no reason to be pessimistic about the future of creativity or entertainment media that I can see.

I'm somewhat less sanguine about the secondary effects: RIAA and MPAA trying to pay Congress to put the genie back in the bottle. People calling people thieves for having the audacity to take full advantage of the newly created technological wealth.

But, I could more or less live with that if I had too.

So I am not saying the legal mechanism "that's been working for 250 years or so" necessarily needs to go away. Parts of it are clearly obsolete, of course, but conveniently, they're the same parts that have been rendered unenforceable. The de facto situation doesn't necessarily look that different from what it might if I had my way on the de jure adjustments. I would reduce terms, if I could, but on the more radical changes... I can wait.

From where I sit, you appear to be the one saying that people are getting hurt, or going to be hurt, or losing out on something they're entitled to. And thus, I presume, that something needs to be done to stop file sharing. What do you want that to be?

Without copyright (or something that acts very much like it), there simply is no exclusive sale or distribution right in the first place, either for the artist to sell or the distributor to buy.

Nonsense. The existence of the song, and even published sheet music of the song, "Rolling In The Deep," is not equivalent to the Adele recording "Rolling In The Deep." Even without copyright, as a supplier of a specific, unique product,, the artist still has the right to restrict who is permitted to distribute copies of specific recordings for sale. Just like Honda has the right to decide who can and cannot sell its cars. Just like the NFL has the right to determine which teams are in its league and where and when they play.

More movies and music and videogames, etc. are being released than ever before.

You realize there are alternate explanations to this besides the floodgates of creativity having been opened by zero-cost distribution models, right? Like large media corporations fighting declining revenue from certain streams by trying to make it up on the margin with a glut of product?

From where I sit, you appear to be the one saying that people are getting hurt, or going to be hurt, or losing out on something they're entitled to. And thus, I presume, that something needs to be done to stop file sharing. What do you want that to be?

First of all, I am not particularly bugged by file sharing per se. People have been 'file sharing' in one form or another for years. Lending each other records, making mix tapes, burning CDs of their favorite stuff to share with friends. The only thing different nowadays is the ease and scale of it.

I also agree that file sharing as it is now practiced is not going away. It is, straight up, simply too convenient, and any conceivable way of preventing it is going to create too many unwanted effects.

So, I'm not all that interested in stopping file sharing per se. What I think would make sense would be to find ways to have file sharing generate revenue for the folks who hold a property in the content.

I will leave it to the brighter marketing and technical minds to sort out the mechanics.

What I find, basically, unacceptable in your comments here is the idea that folks who actually create the content *have no property* in the work product. In other words, once it's available at all, anyone and everyone who feels so inclined should be able to make whatever use of it they will, whether that is swapping mp3's with their buddies, or making it available for free download to anyone who wants it, or using it to generate revenue for themselves, and the original creator has no claim on that whatsoever.

I think that's wrong. Wrong as in unfair, wrong as in unworkable, wrong as in counterproductive because it is actually a disincentive to do the work.

What originally got me on this thread was commenting that CCDG had more than a point when he said that unrestricted duplication and distribution of copyrighted work was stealing.

Well, it is stealing, if the folks who hold a property in that work don't want you to make a gazillion copies of it and give them away. We can talk about the folly of thinking that there is a practical way of preventing that from happening, and we can talk about whether the better approach will be to reorganize business models to accept and work with the reality of the technology.

But the basic idea that folks who produce creative work hold a property in that work - specifically, a right to receive some portion of whatever revenue that work creates - is about as close to a natural right as I can imagine.

Just because you can duplicate a computer file doesn't mean that what's in it belongs to you. It just means it's easy for you to get it.

I think the SOPA stuff is stupid because all it is going to do is piss a lot of people off. Gun, meet foot.

But that doesn't mean the idea that people should get paid for the use of their work is no longer valid.

If you like music and movies and all of the other wonderful things that modern technology brings to you, you should be willing to pay the folks who create it and bring it to you.

If you don't pay them, they will stop doing it. They won't stop playing music etc., they'll just stop doing it in ways that make it available to you for no money.

Two asides:

And it's all really upsetting some middle men and distributors.

From a lot of people's point of view, that's the good part. :)

But creative industries in general don't seem to be in any danger.

People who do creative work for a living are, hands down, the most adaptive and entrepreneurial folks I know.

They will figure out a way to continue doing what they love to do.

The issue is not whether music / film / what have you is going to die on the vine. It won't.

The issue is whether you respect their right to be paid for their work.

Edison built his fortune on years and years of relentlessly trying every imaginable way to build something like a light bulb, until he got it right.

In the case of Edison, who (figuratively speaking) wasn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, he tried literally everything he could think of until he came up with something that worked. And, you know: ditto for synthetic rubber, except he never did succeed at that endeavour AFAIK.

I've skimmed over jack's many, many comments here, and if he's described some kind of workable system where income magically appears in the pockets of artists commensurate in some way with their production and its value (which, as far as I can tell, is highly subjective) without involving some kind of highly intrusive government picomanagement, I have completely missed it. Which wouldn't be the first time, certainly, but please humor me.

BTW russell's allusion to the huge amount of very hard work that almost HAS to accompany world-class skill in nearly any endeavor (even slacking) is part and parcel of Outliers.

Which shouldn't be confused with TRVTH, but it's an interesting read.

Though this conversation seems to be finishing up, since music seems to be causing some friction here, how about I share an example and y'all can point out what is right or wrong about it. Doesn't have anything to do with recording or file sharing, so apologies if it isn't to the point.

When I came to Japan the first time, I worked at a high school with a very good 'brass band' as they are called. If you don't have an idea of how high a level some of these bands are, check this out.

The brass band at the school I was first assigned to was at the threshold, not quite up into the top rank. The music teacher had a band transcription of a 19th century German composer's work that is quite famous as an orchestral piece and wanted to play it in the contest, because to break into the top rank, you really had to so something spectacular so he asked me to write a letter to the music company about the rights. I called 3 or 4 times (I think the office was in London or Geneva, so I had to call at around 4 am my time) They gave me a figure to pay for the rights to 2 performances and I sorted out a foreign postal money order, and everyone was happy. So I thought.

So the band plays it at the regional contest, blows everyone away, and gets to go to Nationals. But a few weeks before nationals, I get a letter from the rights guy saying that whoops, there was a mistake, the composer's surviving family has specifically enjoined any performances of band transcriptions of the composer's works, the rights guy had made a mistake, so sorry, the performance is off, even though the rights permission letter had already been submitted and one performance had already been made.

I had been transferred to a different school, so what ended up happening was that I "couldn't be reached", so the band director was in the clear. They forwent the usual recording of the band, and when the band director was asked about how he did it, he said there was a mysterious foreign teacher who got the letter, but he's went back home and no, he didn't know how to get in touch with him.

This was over 20 years ago, so maybe now, I would have been found out because I put it in a facebook post and some law firm would be chasing after my ass. I dunno. While I can say that the office screwed up so it's their problem, I still feel a bit bad about the whole thing cause I don't want to try and prevent the composer's family from getting something, but because I'm a teacher and I studied music, I wonder about enjoining performances by students for educational purposes. Again, not file sharing, but I wonder if what folks think about the situation. Does it make sense that a composer has an absolute right to dictate the way what he writes is heard? And how long does the composer retain that right?

I also note that there are some interesting differences in Japanese and US copyright law that might interest some and this page lays them out. interesting stuff, I think.

What I find, basically, unacceptable in your comments here is the idea that folks who actually create the content *have no property* in the work product.

Well, for what it's worth, what I mean is that these folks have no intrinsic property in the work product, at leas once it leaves their typewriter/easel/studio.

Certainly, as part of the current bargain society has made with them (i.e., copyright), they do. And it would be unfair to revoke that right retroactively for works already made (or in progress) in expectation of that bargain[1].

But copyright, even if it's not changing or going away, is still, in principle, only one possible bargain. And it must be permissible, at least in principle, for society to revisit it if need be. One might conceivably make a variety of arguments against a proposal to alter or phase out copyright, but I don't think that any inherent entitlement to the arrangement on the part of the creators of future works can be one of them.

I know that you feel strongly that it is more natural than that, but I don't think you've really provided any solid basis for that intuition. In a hypothetical world where copyright was only a dim memory -- or had never existed -- I believe it would be equally intuitive for your counterpart there to view it as right and natural that, say, works passed into the public domain immediately as part of the workings of whatever alternate bargain that society had made with its creative types. There'd be no more reason for a person there to think that "copyright" would be a more natural state of affairs than someone here today has to believe that "reciperight" would be.

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[1]: At least not without compensation. And it's a continuum: I'm not sure I'd feel very choked up about retroactively reducing the currently inflated terms. Modifications which were found likely to have only small-ish financial impact, such as, perhaps, a non-commercial sharing exception, would also be alright in principle. Dropping rights on existing works altogether would definitely be too much.

I've skimmed over jack's many, many comments here, and if he's described some kind of workable system where income magically appears in the pockets of artists commensurate in some way with their production and its value (which, as far as I can tell, is highly subjective) without involving some kind of highly intrusive government picomanagement, I have completely missed it.

Well, if you mean a radically different proposal which foregoes copyright altogether, you haven't seen it because I haven't posted one. There's a difference between pointing out that other arrangements with artists have, in principle, a right to exist, and actually advocating for one.

I think making the principle based argument is important, at least in terms of moving the Overton window over into an area where the whole thing can be discussed with something approximating perspective. But the proposals I think I'd actually advocate, or at least accept, are much more modest: for example, a fair use exemption for non-commercial copying and sharing.

Of course, that's not to say that other people don't have more detailed schemes:

To start with there is, like it or not, a valid debate to be had about whether anything to replace copyright would be needed. Such a world would be very different, and a very different mix of creative avenues would be successful (among other things, it might have a much greater emphasis on amateur expression) but whether it would be, on the whole, better or worse? It's not actually immediately obvious. At least to me.

There are also, I believe, proposals for at least plausibly workable schemes based on some kind of fee or tax (e.g., on internet connections) which would entitle people to all-you-can-eat downloads of various kinds of works. Setting the level of tax and distributing the money back in a fair manner is thorny in some ways, but not necessarily insoluble (though I guess it depends on how you define "government picomanagement"). Such a system might make a different estimate of value than the current system, but it would not necessarily be any more wrong.

There are probably other possibilities out there as well. And of course, they could be mixed and matched. And leavened heavily with things like grants, patronage, etc., as the current system is.

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