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In a future with rampant piracy, what I see is a whole lot less music and software. We won't even notice. It's not like we'll wake up and suddenly apps will be gone. We probably won't even be able to measure a decrease year-over-year in app production. What we'll never notice is that twice as many apps or ten times as many apps would have been created, or would have had much better quality, if the creators had been properly incentivized.



In a future with draconian copyright enforcement, what I see is a whole lot less music and software. We won't even notice. It's not like we'll wake up and suddenly apps will be gone. We probably won't even be able to measure a decrease year-over-year in app production. What we'll never notice is that twice as many apps or ten times as many apps would have been created, or would have had much better quality, if we had a more reasonable legal framework and creators weren't terrified of being sued because their creation was "too similar" to something else or transformed or remixed previous work or used/re-implemented an API without permission or ...


What a lot of people seem to lose sight of is that IP is supposed to be a compromise - somewhere between producers and consumers. It gives producers temporary property rights on something that is not naturally rivalrous or excludable in order to give them an incentive to produce said goods.

These days, that compromise is, in some ways, probably tilted too far towards producers (or some categories of producers at least), but with no intellectual property at all, that would tilt things too far the other way.


I think you are absolutely wrong about this. You might be correct when it comes to mid- to low level professional music/software. But the threshold to producing and releasing music and software is getting lower all the time. These days, kids can go online and find tons and tons of instructional material and peer support for learning to play musical instruments or make software. They can noodle around at home with amazingly cheap equipment, record using the best recording software in the world at levels of fidelity only dreamt of a few years ago, and release it to the public without paying a single dime.

I think we'll see amateur music and free/open software quickly fill the gap left by professional musicians. And people will keep finding ways of financing their love (playing music). In fact, I don't know many of my favorite musicians today who make a living from their music. They all work day jobs. Music is their passion. If anything, they lose money from releasing albums.


And people will keep finding ways of financing their love (playing music). In fact, I don't know many of my favorite musicians today who make a living from their music. They all work day jobs.

I think this new cultural line of thought of "in this day and age with the tools we have why would you need a full day job support for ..." (replace ... with making music, running a blog, developing games, etc) is pure arrogant bullshit. Yes, you can have hobbies, and side projects, and some might excel at doing them for a while. But doing your craft as an actual full time job is the only way to reach, and maintain, your full potential.


I don't see where I said that I endorsed this state of affairs. I would love it if people who make music could make a living off it with less of a struggle. I'm just pointing out the fact that they don't, today. Somehow, there's still music being made.

I just don't see a realistic turn of events where suddenly everyone is paying for CDs again. I also don't think creativity will stop because the money does.

Also, I think you are the one spouting pure arrogant bullshit when you completely dismiss amateur production. Just because you can't squeeze in hours of practice time outside your work schedule doesn't mean other people aren't doing it, right now. In fact there are tons of hugely talented musicians out there who aren't making a living off their music.

edit: Oh, I think I misread your intent with the "pure arrogant bullshit" thing, sorry for turning harsh. We don't really disagree, I completely agree that having to work a day job to support a music "career" is crap. On the other hand, I don't really see how it's ever been much different, except for a few lucky people who made it huge the golden eras of vinyl and CDs.


I don't see where I said that I endorsed this state of affairs.

I don't care so much if you in specific endorse it. i do care about how it's a line of thought that we hear more and more often.

Also, I think you are the one spouting pure arrogant bullshit when you completely dismiss amateur production.

I dismissed amateur production? are you sure you hit reply in the right comment?

In fact there are tons of hugely talented musicians out there who aren't making a living off their music.

no kidding! you just blew my mind. now think of what they could do if they made/played their music as a full time job.


> I just don't see a realistic turn of events where suddenly everyone is paying for CDs again.

Lots of people pay for Spotify.[1] CDs are dead, but because of the medium, not the concept of paying for something.

[1] http://www.arcticstartup.com/2011/02/09/spotify-second-large...


>In fact, I don't know many of my favorite musicians today who make a living from their music. They all work day jobs.

What a nightmare. You mean I have to do this job I hate for the rest of my life because I should want to do the thing I actually like for free? Is there really no value in it at all?


People are still "making it", whatever that means. But, yeah. Welcome to the reality of 90% of all musicians, actors, artists, entrepreneurs out there.


90% of musicians make music nobody wants that bad. We're talking about people who make music that people do want, and those people not paying for it for no other reason than they don't have to.

People who make products we want badly enough to need one of our own should be compensated for their efforts. They should not have to go out and play it in clubs, or sell you a t-shirt. If you want a copy of their song, you should compensate them. There are always going to be 90% of artists whose art is not popular enough to earn them a living. The problem we're discussing is that of the people whose music is very popular, but is being taken illegally without their permission.


90% of musicians make music nobody even heard of.

Face it, we're not born with a burning desire to buy Metallica albums. You grow up listening to radio or watching tv, getting exposed to certain types of music (typically between 2 and 6 minutes, most on 4/4, with accompanying lyrics sung by one or two artists) and that's the music you'll end up wanting "that bad" -- pure coincidence?

Artists who succeed following traditional models (who, incidentally, are the most supportive of draconian copyright laws) are the ones who marketed themselves more heavily and got more access to traditional media: they went on TV, did interviews and concerts, paid for airplay... -- without any of that, they wouldn't be "popular". To do this, they had to borrow a lot of money from their label, and often will see very little financial reward.

So why they should not have to go out and sell you a t-shirt, instead of borrowing from a label to buy (increasingly more irrelevant) airplay? What's the big deal ?


I really don't understand what you're getting at.

The argument is essentially that piracy is okay because 90% of artists are never going to earn their living from music. 90% of artists do not create a product that appeals to enough people for them to earn a living selling that product. 10% create something popular enough that they might be able to earn a living at it.

How those products came to be popular socially is completely irrelevant. You're saying, let's not compensate them for being great musicians who created a recording I want a copy of. Let's instead require them to be in the business of selling clothes because I respect the value of a t-shirt more than the art they created that made me give a shit about a shirt with their name on it.


No, what I'm saying is that we're not compensating them for being great musicians, we're compensating their corporate sponsors for being great producers and marketeers.

So I'd rather compensate them for being great t-shirt sellers, it doesn't really make any difference and it will probably guarantee them more cash.


You know, if their corporate sponsors don't make any money off the deal, they are going to stop signing recording artists.


So be it, new deals will be struck and new forms of sponsorship will emerge.


> Artists who succeed following traditional models (who, incidentally, are the most supportive of draconian copyright laws) are the ones who marketed themselves more heavily and got more access to traditional media: they went on TV, did interviews and concerts, paid for airplay... -- without any of that, they wouldn't be "popular".

Sometimes (maybe mostly). Other times it's because the artist is actually good and people buy their stuff just by word of mouth (Metallica is actually more an example of this). I think it's easier to tell in hindsight which is which. Milli Vanilli vs. Led Zeppelin, for instance.

The traditional role of the record company wasn't to manufacture music and shove it down our throats, but to be the filter--find the good musicians and sign them up. While I agree that there is a lot of manufactured crap out there, I do think that you can't dismiss all pop music because there are actually artists out there that are good and popular.

Incidentally, I think the real revolutionary thing that napster did was stop the record companies from being the filter, at least in our minds. Being able to try out any weird music I liked was liberating and when I found some bands I liked I could look at that user's whole library and use it as a primitive recommendation engine. I was able to find way more indie stuff and it effectively gave some of the filtering controls over to me.


If you only reward amateurs then amateur content is all you will get. Some skills take decades to master. The world you describe will never produce a Mozart.


This is quite ironic, considering that Mozart made most of his (relatively little) money by touring and composing for wealthy patrons. Somebody else made much more money out of him: sheet printers, who also ended up being the real force behind original legislation on copyright. Plus ├ža change...


It's not ironic. He made his living (little as it might have been) by doing what he wanted to do. He wasn't cleaning toilets on the side to supplement his hobby of composing. Other people making more money off his work doesn't change anything. His passion supported him financially.


He wasn't relying on copyright laws, which is what the parent poster was implicitly talking up with his statement; i.e. a world without copyright laws did in fact produce a Mozart, and it will keep producing it regardless of legislation.


Exactly: gigs, concerts. This is how musicians make the bulk of their money when they are locked into shitty record deals. And it provides an experience people are more than happy to pay for. Free music drives concert ticket sales (ie. radio singles promote new touring bands).


The point is that it was possible for him to make enough money at his trade to move beyond the amateur stage. It's not clear that many people will be able to do this now, at least not those that can't cultivate a healthy live following for whatever reason.


Interestingly, Mozart got paid to write music for his patrons. Today, I don't see any bands being willing to write music for payment. Could I get Elton John to write a ballad for my S.O., for instance?


Mozart didn't have copyright on his works.


I'm not describing the world that I want. I'm describing what I think is what is happening.

At the same time, I don't think you can say that we'll only get Rebecca Black in the future, you can't know that. Mozart had a lot of factors playing into his level of success (timing, the right parents, innate skill, etc). At the same time, Mozart lived before albums or musical copyright, and worked under the patronage system. It's possible we'll see a return of that as well, if the current model completely breaks down.


14-year old Mozart would be at home with todays file sharers and sheet transcribers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miserere_(Allegri)


Who here has seen the webcomic world? Quite a few webcomic artists make enough money to support themselves through donations and the selling of merchandise.


Many people seem to be attacking your statement for being counter-intuitive. I will attack it for going against the observed reality of the past 10-15 years. In that time, piracy has grown significantly. Yet in that time, I guarantee you the rate of software development has increased dramatically by any metric you want to look at. I can't say the same thing for music, because I don't know how you would measure how much music is bring released, but anecdotally I will say that I have discovered a lot of music with a very small fan base through the Internet and small regional labels.

Also, with software we can empirically look at the history of IP law and see that a huge amount of software that is fundamental even today was created before any sort of software patents were awarded (and presumably, before those people ever even considered monetizing software through government-protected monopoly on distribution).

I think it requires a naive and backwards view of human psychology to assume that money is the sole or primary incentive to create quality music or software. In fact, I surmise that anyone capable of producing top notch content would discover a way to do so without current IP protection laws.


>I think it requires a naive and backwards view of human psychology to assume that money is the sole or primary incentive to create quality music or software.

When will you make it? In the evening when you're off from work? What about my marriage? My kids? They all have to suffer because people think they have a right to my effort for free?


> I will say that I have discovered a lot of music with a very small fan base through the Internet and small regional labels.

Meaning that they probably have day jobs and don't produce as much music as they could if they were able to work at it full time. This may or may not have anything to do with piracy, but I think the point of fewer digital goods being produced is one to consider.


But these particular musicians making as much or more music is only part of the puzzle.

The same digital technology that makes piracy easier is what made it possible for baddox to find them in the first place. It is hard to imagine solutions to the problem of music piracy that wouldn't also make it harder to find these musicians. After all, music piracy has become easy because music is easy to copy and distribute... which is also why it has become easier to find the niche musicians you like.

Suppose you're right (though I don't think you are) and we successfully clamp down on music piracy so that these musicians can more easily monetize their small fan bases and spend more time making music. Does baddox care about this music if, in this alternate world, he never discovers them?


There's nothing that says that various technologies act in some sort coordinated, "equal and opposite" ways.


Not true. Most of them go on regional or national tours several times a year, so if they have a job on the side it must be very lenient.


That is pure myth. Do we not already have 'rampant piracy', as the music/tv/film/etc industry would say -- indeed, we have had it for 10 years. And what is the result? Well, it pretty much looks like we have more of everything than we ever had before! Has there been a great 'dying off of culture'? Do you have less good stuff to enjoy -- music, film, tv, software -- than in 1995 or before? Is anyone going to say that?! It seems ridiculous.

And this is more true of software than anything else, and there is a good reason. The most important ingredient of software production is not 'incentivization', not money. It is other software, other information. That is because it is leveraged unlimitedly by being copyable: a single sum of money can support a single piece of development effort, but a single piece of information can support any number of development projects.

The more completely you have and enforce copyright, the more you destroy that leverage.


I agree with your assertion of a decrease in apps and music in time, but for complete different reasons. There are numerous songs and apps out there which aren't even worth the cost of listing them.

Hopefully in time we'll see a lot less fart apps for $5 and the umpteenth song about a weekday from people who see it as a quick way to make cash and not something they have a passion for.

If both of these industries were about passion and not money then piracy wouldn't be such an issue.


Why can't we let people have passion for software or music and also make money at it? Should I need to pursue software development in my 2 free hours at night after coming home from flipping burgers because only jobs that involve production of physical goods that can't yet be copied still pay the bills? How can anyone afford the time to become a professional in this kind of future? Even if someone had the "passion" to give up everything else in their life, I don't think they should have to. Just thinking about it is depressing. The parasites will walk around happily listening to their free music in their makerbot printed mp3 player (from pirated plans) and collect their social security checks from the government, while software developers and musicians slave away in $200 basement apartments 10 hours per day, and are looked down upon by everybody around them for not being successful by doing something profitable. That's where I see this going.


I think you misunderstood what I was arguing. I am not against someone making _good_ software for money. One only needs to take a look at Humble Bundle that prominently show people will pay for software. 148,194 people have paid a total of $690,575 for a package that is delivered in the way a user wants: No DRM, download straight from the website, heck even integrate with Steam.

There is nothing stopping those 148,194 people from going and pirating those games, but they haven't because people will pay for a product.

Positive some of those people won't even play the games but donated just to support the idea. (I am one of those).


> Should I need to pursue software development in my 2 free hours at night after coming home from flipping burgers because only jobs that involve production of physical goods that can't yet be copied still pay the bills?

And yet there are many people that actually do this already, otherwise how would you be booting your linux box? I know I program in my spare time...

> Just thinking about it is depressing. The parasites will walk around happily listening to their free music in their makerbot printed mp3 player (from pirated plans)

I don't know, that sounds kind of cool--everything would be different, that's for sure. I think there will always room for really good programmers. Also, never bet against people trying to find a market somewhere--there's always one somewhere, it just might not look like the ones we have now. Don't fight the future, embrace it (or starve).


> The parasites will walk around happily listening to their free music in their makerbot printed mp3 player (from pirated plans) and collect their social security checks from the government, while software developers and musicians slave away in $200 basement apartments 10 hours per day

Piracy stopped them from collecting the social security check and live the wealthy life of the unemployed pirate.


Amen.




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