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You can't eat bits. When everything else is non-scarce, you can reasonably argue that everything should be freely available. Until then, the right to control licensing is the simplest and most fair way for a creative professional to convert their effort into scarce resources.



> * You can't eat bits.*

True, but you're implying that if someone offers a product that's not inherently and nearly universally valuable (like food), then the government should step in and enforce a monopoly for them to distribute their product. Why should manufacturers of scarce goods have to come up with their own ways to differentiate their product to prevent people from turning to competing firms, but artists get a free government-enforced monopoly on distribution?

> the right to control licensing is the simplest and most fair way for a creative professional to convert their efforts into scarce resources.

I'm not saying that it is simple, but artists need to realize that digital works are inherently almost completely free (libre and gratis), and figure out ways to offer scarce products that have value. The obvious example is concerts and merchandise. Another example is dead simple digital downloads that can compete with pirated content. There are problably more examples I can't think of, and even more that no one has figured out yet.


To have no rules is the simplest and most fair way for a creative professional to convert their effort into scarce attention, which leads to scarce resources.

If you do not do anything new and worthy of my attention tomorrow, I do not want you to have my bread.


People should have control over their creations long enough to make it worth the effort. I might as well go do something more profitable if I can't make a living from my own creations in the way that's most efficient (licensing). Encouraging creation is the point of copyright. We shouldn't throw the whole system out just because a few rogue organizations are abusing it.


> People should have control over their creations long enough to make it worth the effort.

We don't actually know that it would enhance authorship. Current restrictions on copying also heavily restrict authorship -- because most authorship could have been derivative works, and those are disallowed.

So it is not clear whether we're helping authorship or destroying it, and I'm betting on the latter.

Also, authors have control over their works until they distribute them -- and that is enough to make money. Maybe it would make significantly less money, but that too isn't clear that it will not be enough to be worth the effort.


The reward of creation for me is the act of creation itself and the giving of my creation to others to build upon. It is an interaction, not a transaction.

I prefer not to consume your copyrighted work. The nature of copyright is such that it becomes abusive. If you are the creative type whose bread depends on your ability to restrict others from copying or modifying your work, you inevitably become abusive.

I encourage the kind of positive creation that breaks out of or transcends such a system.


You still haven't made a case for your position. "The system will be abused, so we need to get rid of the system" is not a sound argument. Why do you think we should toss the system and not adjust it to help protect the public from abuses? Copyright worked fine for centuries before the RIAA and MPAA showed up. Its protections gave creators incentive to create in a world where money is exchanged for scarce resources.


Where is your case? Your "creators" aren't helping the very real scarcity problem that you refer to. My case is based on simple mathematics. By adopting a radically simple and natural law, (that information should not be regulated at the federal//global level) we as a society free ourselves from the burden of having to manage the artificial scarcity of "intellectual property", and we gain additional man-power to focus on real problems.

Let me paint a picture for you. A bunch of people on earth need bread, and there isn't enough to go around to satisfy all the demand for bread. In order to feed the "creators" the people made up some notion of "intellectual property" so that these "creators" can be guaranteed their daily bread. Since it costs next to nothing in today's technological world to copy information, the "creators" have devised a legal system and an army of lawyers whose job it is to interpret the written law such that the "creators" are paid their due in accordance to "intellectual property" law. The people spend a significant portion of their time either (1) recreating works that already had been created (to abide by these laws), (2) paying lawyers to sue other "infringers", (3) devising new methods of DRM or anti-DRM hacking measures or (4) lobbying the lawmakers to change the law in their favor, all the while (5) complicating the system even further, and (6) leaving the real problem of natural scarcity (bread) unsolved because the "intellectual property" required to innovate in bread-making is locked away and controlled by the existing bread making industry.

This society is diseased with the obsessive dwelling upon past memories, and it is adversely affecting its ability to tackle current and future problems. I don't know what copyright was like before the RIAA and MPAA, but I do know that the nature of copyright per se has changed relative to the advancement of technology. Whether or not the old laws used to be Ok does not matter because the environment is completely different.

Your argument holds some ground against Communism, where ALL property is considered common. The mathematics of human motivation, human needs, and natural resource limitations do not appear to add up. But when it comes to resources of information, I dare to think that sharing as much as possible is better and more efficient overall, even considering game theoretic dynamics in our capitalistic system.

I understand the beauty of the system of capitalism where those who create are rewarded by their toil and the virtue of voluntary transactions, but "intellectual property" goes against free trade by creating an artificial scarcity where the consumer is barred from certain voluntary transactions for the sake of "protection". As far as I can tell these IP laws only serve to protect existing established IP right holders, who are but a tiny portion compared to the magnitude of potential creators if only everybody else had the freedom to improve upon existing works unencumbered by patents or copyright.

I don't believe that ALL information should be shared. I believe in the right to privacy (for individuals and organizations) as long as you can reasonably keep the information secret to yourself. But when it comes to information that is easily copyable by virtue of technology, I believe it should be allowed to be copied freely. That is, Bradley Manning may have committed a crime by transferring information outside the bounds of the military complex, but once the information is leaked, it is anybody's data. The military has the right to secure its information borders, but it doesn't get to change the nature of the internet to censor sensitive information. Likewise, I believe consumers have the right to distribute files however they want regardless of what the content "creator" wishes.

I should also mention that my "common sense" often rejects what I said above, but after some deliberation it becomes clear that my sense are misleading when it comes to judging a system that is so different from the one that I am already used to. I did initially balk at what Curebit did to 37Signal's design code, but would in fact choose to live in a world where what Curebit did was acceptable, and it would not hinder me from innovating in any way.


You seem to be talking about lawyers, not creators. I send a simple email if someone is using my creations in an unreasonable way, and a DMCA request if it's serious. I don't use DRM on most of my ebooks since I'm fine with fair use, and I don't agree with the RIAA/MPAA's idea of "piracy."

I get that sharing creative works is like a tax. I pay it back to the society that made it possible so others have the same chance, and I'm fine with that. I don't support the infinite copyright extensions companies like Disney push for.

But handing my creations out to people for free won't solve poverty. As I said, you can't eat bits. It'll just force me to go do something I enjoy less, and keep me from having as much time to create.


What follows is my 2 cents, all my unsolicited yet thought-out opinion & advice tailored for you. I hope it makes a positive impact.

I see what you're doing. I don't know how successful you are, but it has to be suboptimal. You're publishing books in such a way that you mistakenly believe is optimized for monetary gain -- reusing content, publishing many small books for cheap etc.

Your last book is about how to gain blog viewers, yet you're not doing the right things in order to achieve real success. Market research is the old way. What you need to do today is say something new, talk-worthy, & something that really worked for you.

Make your webpage more navigable, polish your books and give them away for free (and have a paid donation option), market your books effectively, read what Cory Doctorow has to say about publishing success at craphound.com. I would love to read about future experiments with giving polished content away for free.

That you even used a DMCA takedown request tells me that what you write is not interesting. The DMCA is not really there to protect your works, friend. It exists to serve established publishers. You're not one of "them", and you're not going to become one of "them", because "they" don't want you. But no doubt you can be a wildly successful publisher on your own if you do the right things, but first you need to think outside the box.

ps I appreciate this thread we've been building up. I didn't know that you are a publisher yourself. I give you "legal" permission to use my words here on HN for your benefit as long as you give me attribution.




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