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What? Not everything on the Internet is public domain. Just because I put a photo on the internet that's not encrypted doesn't make it fair game to go sell my photo.

Maybe I just didn't understand what you were trying to say...




His position, I'm guessing, is that when a good has no natural scarcity (pictures and music in digital form, for example, or compiled code), society should not be creating an artificial scarcity in its stead (ie. compelling others not to reproduce it through force of law). He views the idea of this compelled scarcity to be, basically, rent-seeking behavior codified into law.

I'm not entirely sure, but I suspect the "you can't own" portion of his statement was a point of possession and direct control, not necessarily law.

exratione, please let me know if I'm misrepresenting your position here at all, and I'll correct my post. (I'm intentionally leaving out my opinion, just trying to clarify yours. :))


The thing is, most physical goods no longer have natural scarcity in rich western societies like the UK or US. A bottle of water is not at all scarce, but it's still illegal to take it from a store and use it without permission.


That's not what scarcity means. There is a limited supply of bottles, and it costs real pennies to get some and transport them full of water.

Low-cost is not no-cost, and digital copies made by someone else are actually no-cost.


For any practical purpose, there is no limit on our supply of plastic bottles. They are incredibly cheap to make and the raw materials are incredibly abundant.

> Low-cost is not no-cost, and digital copies made by someone else are actually no-cost.

They're not actually no-cost, it's just that the costs are indirect so it's easy to lose track of them. For example, I'd be interested to see someone make and use a digital copy without a computer and electricity, both of which cost money. Distribution takes an Internet connection and servers, which cost money too.


>For any practical purpose, there is no limit on our supply of plastic bottles. They are incredibly cheap to make and the raw materials are incredibly abundant.

The raw resources for bottles are abundant, but it requires labor to make and transport them. Labor is not free, so bottled water remains scarce. If robot swarms will refill and restock bottles for you, then you can take one off a shelf.

>They're not actually no-cost, it's just that the costs are indirect

None of those come out of the pocket of the person being copied. I guess I was too unclear about specifying made by someone else. When we're talking about a '''theft''' scenario, the burden imposed on the person being '''stolen''' from is very important, and when it comes to digital copies they are uninvolved in the action and have no costs at all.


You're not playing fair with your comparisons. In the case of bottled water, you want to count all the costs of making the bottles, filling them, transporting, them, etc. In the case of digital content, you want to ignore the cost of producing the original, and focus only on the subsequent copies.

When you take a bottle of water, the cost of inventory (which captures the entirety of the amortized cost of production) is less than half of the harm to the shop keeper, because the markup on bottled water is well over 50%. The primary harm is the revenue the shop keeper will forego because he cannot sell that bottle.

In the digital realm, using a copyrighted piece of content without permission causes the copyright owner--who did have to invest in the original creation--to forego revenue as well.


>You're not playing fair with your comparisons. In the case of bottled water, you want to count all the costs of making the bottles, filling them, transporting, them, etc. In the case of digital content, you want to ignore the cost of producing the original, and focus only on the subsequent copies.

With bottled water, I want to count all the costs to the manufacturer of making a specific bottle: materials, wages, property taxes, equipment wear, etc.

With digital content, I want to count all the costs to the manufacturer of making a specific copy: none.

I'm not saying that unlimited copying of work is fair, I'm just saying that there is a qualitative difference in scarcity.

I don't really want to argue about what hurts more. I'll just point out that using nothing, or purchasing a license to work A, or purchasing a license to work B, can all be looked at as causing the creators of A and/or B to forego revenue.


There is no single manufacturer of digital content. In that respect, I agree that there is a qualitative difference.

The difference is that water bottle manufacturing is centralized, while digital content "manufacturing" is distributed--each person "manufactures" the digital content on their personal electronic device. That is, they use a device and energy that they paid for, to turn the IP into something that is physically consumable (sound, images, etc.)

So the concept of scarcity is different too, but it doesn't go away. There is still a physical cost to digital content, it's just unbundled from the act of creation.

You could not give infinite amounts of digital content to everyone on Earth, because you'd need to first give everyone an electronic device that can store and play it, the power to operate that device, and a means of digital distribution (network connectivity or shippable media). There are physical and cost limits on all of that.

Digital content only looks free and infinite if you ignore the required infrastructure.


But infrastructure is paid for separately. I'm ignoring the cost of the highways for water bottle shipping, because highways are needed with or without them.

Basically, since people already have computers and power for them to do things completely unrelated to getting this media, the 'cost' of a copy is in the same range as asking for one. Tap your phone against someone else's and you're done, for example. And if you think asking is a real cost then you've defined things so that it's impossible to be past scarcity, so I reject such a definition.


Yes, you have the correct interpretation.


I tend to agree with your point, but apart from the obvious question of paying creators, there is another question: what do we do with scarce, intangible resources, like creators' reputations? Suppose we abolished copyright. Should a creator be able to prevent the WBC from using their creations in a way that might defame the creator, or to promote a cause that is highly offensive to the creator?


> Just because I put a photo on the internet that's not encrypted doesn't make it fair game to go sell my photo.

But it should. Copying is not theft, and shouldn't be treated as such by law, even though it is now. IP is just wrong, we just haven't adjusted to that truth yet; we will eventually.


When you say "IP is wrong," do you mean that it's morally wrong, that you have a natural right to copy and sell any photo that you find on the Internet? Or do you mean that it's wrong policy, in the sense that we would all be economically better off without any IP? Or both?

I view IP as a useful tool that allows content creators to earn a livelihood from their work. If you oppose IP and support legal file sharing, you forfeit the right to complain about the quality of TV, movies, video games, etc.


I mean creating artificial scarcity is wrong; ideas are not property, digital content is not property. Property exists because of scarcity, absent scarcity, there should be no notion of property or ownership of something.

Content creators should not be using law to create markets that can't exist naturally. If they can't find a way to fund their work in a world where distribution is effectively free, then their work isn't worth paying for. That distribution used to be a profit center is a historical accident that's been fixed by the Internet.

You cannot prevent copying, and copying does not take something from you, it is not theft, you have not lost any property, anything that can be digitally copied has no right to be called property to begin with. It's a legal fiction created to manipulate people into associating copying to theft when nothing has actually been stolen.

I oppose all forms of IP, the world would be vastly better without it. Patents were not created for inventors, they were created to make that knowledge public.

When a law attempts to prevent something that cannot be prevented and that a majority of the population will do anyway; that law is wrong.

IP has created an environment where people expect to work once and then rent seek and be paid over and over again rather than just for the time they worked; this is wrong and artificial and leads to disparity of wealth distribution where people live forever off the work of others.


I believe he is talking about common sense vs. you talking about law.




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