Author Topic: Digital Rights and Economics  (Read 41190 times)

Fenrir

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #60 on: May 14, 2011, 05:56:03 PM »
The fact that marketers earn much does not mean that their work is valuable or useful for the community as a whole.
If by “as a whole” you mean “the majority”, then you are wrong. They only make money when people trade money for the product that they are selling; lousy marketers do not get paid very much. If people did not desire, and, thus, value, the product being offered, they would not purchase it. So marketers help bring value to the lives of people by bringing products that they value to their perception. If a marketer is making much money, it must be because he has brought the product to the conciousness of many people, and, thus, it must be that the marketer has helped bring value into the lives of many people. Tell me, how many people must have been helped before something can be said to be valuable to the community “as a whole”?

I think most marketers, spammers, and propagandists do jobs whose usefulness for community is questionable (and also mafia bosses, casino owners, tobacco manufacturers, etc).
Mafia bosses do not earn their money by fair trade. They rob and pillage. They use threats and coersion to earn their money. They do not produce a product. They provide no service. That is not how marketers operate.

Casino owners are just part of the entertainment industry. They provide entertainment. They do not force anyone to spend any money. If the people playing did not value what the casino offered why do they spend their money there?

Tobacco is an addictive substance that alters your brain chemistry.

None of these are fitting comparisons to marketers.

They also tend to justify their anti-piracy actions by saying "artists are losing money instead", not "we are losing money instead" (even if the artists earn only a tiny fraction of these money), so apparently people consider artists' work more valuable.
It is not more valuable (to the marketplace), no matter what they think. They do not know that singers are a dime a dozen. By your reasoning, roadworkers should be paid very well, as many people would not be able to do much business at all without roads. That does not make sense, of course, as there are millions of people that can be roadworkers, so it is pointless to reward roadworkers very well.

Obviously, marketing is useful for the person who hires a marketing specialist, and free market/free speech means that everyone is free to hire one.
It is also useful for the people who would not have been able to enjoy the product if they had never heard about it.

jim

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #61 on: May 14, 2011, 09:03:04 PM »
EDIT:
Quote
Obviously, singing is not as valuable as marketing. Singers are everywhere, and marketing is expensive.

0_0

Fixed your typo.

Quote
http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/784/
Firstly, that is T. S. Eliot. He is not a singer. That is not a song, it is a poem. Secondly, what is valuable is subjective. Bear and I were talking about the marketplace. In his example, since singers were not scarce, so they were not particularly valuable to the marketplace. Scarce resources cost more, and that includes talent and labor. Due to competition, abundant resources cost less.

I don't understand anything else you wrote, but I'm pretty sure it's a song. I think I heard him open for Lady Gaga a few months ago...

Actually, I only had a couple points to make. Three if you count me wanting to assert that this is an ongoing discussion between the world's best minds and mouthpieces, very hotly contested. Nobody at ToTR is going to put the lid on the discussion.

1) There are alternatives to direct marketing, and these alternatives run the gamut. Some are successful.

2) If I was a rich guy who wanted to make sure I stayed really rich and got even richer, I would insinuate myself into economic theory, commercial regulation, and law so as to structure things to my benefit regardless of what it did to the greater picture of prosperity as a whole. It's like that one song, "Machiavelli" by Prince. That said, you can't write off the moral complexity of stealing by calling yourself Robin Hood.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 09:14:51 PM by jim »

Fenrir

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #62 on: May 14, 2011, 09:42:19 PM »
I think I can be forgiven for being a little disappointed to discover that you mean to just repeat yourself without replying to my objections in any meaningful way.

I don't understand anything else you wrote, but I'm pretty sure it's a song. I think I heard him open for Lady Gaga a few months ago...
Charming.

Actually, I only had a couple points to make. Three if you count me wanting to assert that this is an ongoing discussion between the world's best minds and mouthpieces, very hotly contested. Nobody at ToTR is going to put the lid on the discussion.
I do not think it useless for a community of software developers to discuss intellectual property and software piracy.

1) There are alternatives to direct marketing, and these alternatives run the gamut. Some are successful.
Are these alternatives--for which we have only your word that they exist--enough to make direct marketing obsolete?

2) If I was a rich guy who wanted to make sure I stayed really rich and got even richer, I would insinuate myself into economic theory, commercial regulation, and law so as to structure things to my benefit regardless of what it did to the greater picture of prosperity as a whole. It's like that one song, "Machiavelli" by Prince. That said, you can't write off the moral complexity of stealing by calling yourself Robin Hood.
If you did not understand my rebuttal to this point in my previous post, I see little reason to repeat myself as you have.

MrMorley

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #63 on: May 15, 2011, 01:31:09 AM »
Whilst one thing that is very true with games is that too many cooks spoil the broth, most games do usually need a few cooks...graphics, audio, code, level design and the like are so very different skills you usually need at least one person for each. Free games rarely work or come close to finishing because you need to find people covering so wide a range of skills willing to work for nothing on one project for months. People generally just don't have the willpower for that without some kind of real-world motivation.

I'll be honest: The game I think is the most well-designed and well-made game in history is Portal (the first one). Yahtzee put it best in Zero Punctuation when reviewing Portal 2, that the original game was developed with a small team who had to "cut corners" by trimming it down so it contained exactly what it needed and nothing more. It was incredibly well designed, and amazingly well executed.

I've heard many interviews with developers and managers who have moved over from "AAA titles" to "Indie" development and commented on how much less stressful and more streamlined it is developing Indie titles. in short, I do feel a major problem with modern games is that teams have gotten too big, and seem to almost go out of their way to be big.

Indie developers don't tend to try to be big, they try to hire exactly as many people as are needed to complete a project. I remember one producer saying "If I could make the games that we make, publish and sell them with only 3 people instead of 30, I'd gladly fire 27 of my employees." and that's the attitude I think they need...
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 01:34:48 AM by MrMorley »
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Krice

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #64 on: May 15, 2011, 10:00:52 AM »
It's really funny how pirates refuse to understand the basic economy rule here. I'm thinking what would they do if computers were never invented and there were no bytes to steal. I guess they would do it the old school way, just stealing something.

jim

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #65 on: May 15, 2011, 12:32:57 PM »
-
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 05:03:57 PM by jim »

Bear

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #66 on: May 15, 2011, 02:20:32 PM »
Oh, of course a bunch of people working on their own and just giving away the result couldn't possibly make something as complex and polished as an AAA game -- or an OS with thousands of free applications, or anything, you know, major like that.... 

Linux gets better and better.  Windows, therefore, gets cheaper and cheaper.  The same thing is happening to music as amateurs put their stuff out on YouTube or wherever and people notice some of it is good.  The same thing can (and, I think, eventually will) happen to games.

I believe that it is good, for people as a whole, to have things available for their use, entertainment, and empowerment.  I believe that price is an impediment to availability.  I believe therefore that when people choose to give such stuff away free, they are doing something morally good, and that the best outcome for people as a whole is that the market for information products (software, designs, games, stories, music, etc) should eventually be dominated by free stuff.  The market for performance, support, and other services, is a labor market not a copy market, so it's reasonable IMO for long-term profits to be realized there.  But with copy markets, the benefit to the producers of making a profit is not as important in the long run as the benefit to everyone of its eventual free availability.

I do not believe that piracy is good.  I do not pirate software, I do not download commercial music for free, and I do not believe that those who do so are within their rights.  Piracy is part of a cycle of bad-begets-worse.  The best solution is that stuff is free.  A morally neutral solution is that stuff is commercial.  Piracy is a morally-wrong response to commercial stuff.  DRM is an even worse morally wrong response to piracy. 

The serious problem with DRM is not its effect on piracy; the serious problem with DRM is that as practiced, it deliberately seeks to impoverish the public domain.  Remember that our descendants have a right to the public domain.  The stuff published in our era MUST become free for everyone at some point. 


MrMorley

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #67 on: May 15, 2011, 05:44:11 PM »
Linux (which I do use alongside Windows) isn't "I'm going to make this cool game!" it's "I'm going to make this OS!". Linux is one thing being modified in a million ways. Each games is it's own unique thing. There's a reason most free/open-source video games become abandonware.

I'm not saying free games can't be good or compete with AAA games or just paid games in general, I'm saying it's inevitably rarer that they do. Besides if you're good at something, why do it for free when people are willing to pay? Especially after you've sunk thousands of pounds going to University to study Computer Science...I'm sure as hell not in it for the revolution, but because I want to make enough money to live off doing something that doesn't bore me.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 09:48:57 PM by MrMorley »
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Fenrir

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #68 on: May 16, 2011, 03:21:04 AM »
Oh, of course a bunch of people working on their own and just giving away the result couldn't possibly make something as complex and polished as an AAA game -- or an OS with thousands of free applications, or anything, you know, major like that.... 
Nowhere did I say that a bunch of people working on their own and just giving away the result couldn't possibly make something complex. Nowhere. I said that commercial developers have an advantage, because they can spend more time on a project than a hobbyist can. Given enough time, a group of hobbyists can create something complex, given enough time and motivation, of which commercial entities have more.

The rest of what you write is just a red herring. An operating system is not the same as a AAA video-game title. It is a different beast with a different market. There are only three real competitors in the operating-system market: Windows, Mac OSX, and the various distributions of Linux. You have your BSDs and Solaris, but, unlike Linux, they do not have distributions targeted at the general consumer. That is it. Nothing else. Three choices for your average consumer. There is not very much competition with Windows holding a near-monopoly, and that is probably why Linux can challenge Windows, if people but knew that it was a viable option (Now, if only Canonical could afford some marketing...) This is not a relevant example, because Microsoft probably could do better than a bunch of hobbyist developers in their free time, if they had the proper motivation that comes with competiton.

So, will there be a day where one of Linux's more beginner-friendly distributions like Ubuntu overthrows Windows and takes its rightful place on every man's desktop? Perhaps, if felling Microsoft does not allow the blooming of new commercial competition. Does that mean that all forms of intellectual property will eventually be led into a Utopian land of free? No.

Linux gets better and better.  Windows, therefore, gets cheaper and cheaper.
That is right. Distributions of Linux get better and better, but games do not do that. They release once. When a new game is made, they do it all over again. Sure, they can reuse old engines and code, and maybe even some old media, but there is still plenty of work to be done. Levels to be designed. Scripts to be written. New code. New media. Engines and media also need to be updated to take advantage of new hardware and platforms.

There is also the part where you will probably only ever want one operating system. Most users do not “complete” their operating system and go out to the store to get the sequel. They also probably do not want to try out new flavors. It is like comparing a fork and the food you eat. Usually people do not get tired of using the same fork--most people do not even think about their fork--but they do get tired of eating the same thing every day.

You have not said that you think that all of the tools will become available for free. You are saying that all intellectual property will become free. In fact, you did not even mention word processors, text editors, compilers, code analyzers, and the like. You specifically referred to the entertainment industry in your posts: books, movies, songs, video games...

The same thing is happening to music as amateurs put their stuff out on YouTube or wherever and people notice some of it is good.  The same thing can (and, I think, eventually will) happen to games.
...to which we seem to have returned once again. Music is yet another beast entirely. Can an amateur, working in his spare time, compete with commercial distributors? If it were not for the nagging problem of proper marketing, I might say “maybe”. Of course, that implies nothing about novels, movies, paintings, and all other intellecual property. Making a movie especially requires susbtantial time and investment. Props need to be bought, locations need to be reached, actors need to be paid, and all the people need to be coordinated.

I believe that it is good, for people as a whole, to have things available for their use, entertainment, and empowerment. I believe that price is an impediment to availability.  I believe therefore that when people choose to give such stuff away free, they are doing something morally good, and that the best outcome for people as a whole is that the market for information products (software, designs, games, stories, music, etc) should eventually be dominated by free stuff.
1. Having stuff available for entertainment and empowerment is good.
2. It is harder to have stuff available when you need to pay for it.
3. Therefore, giving stuff to other people for free is good.
4. If giving stuff away for free is good, most stuff in the market for information products should be free.

You added a qualification to your conclusion that your postulates did not support. Why only in the market for information products? By this reasoning, everything should be made free. Farmers should be churning out free food. Miners should be churning out free ore. People should be offering free everything. They should not, and you recognize that, but you do not acknowledge it, because that would bring this argument down on your head. See, to give something away, someone has to lose something. That is the irony here. To grow your food or mine your ore or program your games or compose your music or film your movies or write your novels, someone must spend a big slice of their ever-precious life, if not some money. Time is the ultimate resource, because no one gets more.

Now, you are saying that everyone should give away stuff for free, at least in your opinion. That does not mean that everyone will. It does not imply that this slow sinking into free is actually happening; which is what we have been discussing. The detours seem to never end.

I do not believe that piracy is good.  I do not pirate software, I do not download commercial music for free, and I do not believe that those who do so are within their rights.  Piracy is part of a cycle of bad-begets-worse.  The best solution is that stuff is free.  A morally neutral solution is that stuff is commercial.
It seems to me that commerce is morally right by your standards. In trade, one person has something that they value less than something someone else is offering. If that other person values what the first person has more than what he himself is offering, he will probably be willing to make a trade. They swap items, and now both people have experienced a net increase of value in their lives instead of just one. Both walk away with their lives enriched. In the case of a business, the business can then invest that net gain in value into what it needs to make more products that enrich more lives. According to your reasoning above, commerce is of the highest virtue.

Piracy is a morally-wrong response to commercial stuff.  DRM is an even worse morally wrong response to piracy.
You shall have some explaining to do in order to tell me how adding restrictions to software that is clearly labeled to have those restrictions is morally worse than breaking a pact for your own gain.

The serious problem with DRM is not its effect on piracy; the serious problem with DRM is that as practiced, it deliberately seeks to impoverish the public domain.  Remember that our descendants have a right to the public domain.  The stuff published in our era MUST become free for everyone at some point.
You will have some explaining to do on this one too. Right? What right? Where do they get this right? Stuff enters the public domain by law eventually--70 years after the life of the author where I live--so you can relax about that. Why “MUST” they have it for free at some point? The world is not going to run out of novels or stories or programs or paintings or whatnot if they do not get it for free, so you must explain how you came to this conclusion.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 03:24:08 AM by Fenrir »

siob

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #69 on: May 16, 2011, 08:30:39 AM »
Okay, two meta things I'm not happy about regarding this discussion. Maybe we can find consesus on those first :)

1) Copying video games without permission is not theft. It's illegal distribution but it's not theft and it's certainly not robbery or pirating.

2) All intellectual property *will* one day be free (but not all will be free at the same time ;) Copyrights in all their incarnations have been invented to foster creativity and the smart people who formulated the law understood well, that everything humans make is built upon knowledge and 'prior art' of humans that came before that.

Can we agree on those two? Objections? :)

MrMorley

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #70 on: May 16, 2011, 02:19:08 PM »
1) The uploading is illegal distribution. The downloading or receiving of a copy is about on par ethically with the intentional purchasing of stolen equipment. Legally I'm not sure what that's called.

2) But that doesn't happen until long after the owners of the rights have either
a) Abandoned the property completely
b) Died
The argument that since it'll be free eventually it may as well be free immediately is flawed. Everybody will eventually die, should I run around stabbing everybody I see?
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Bear

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #71 on: May 16, 2011, 05:29:31 PM »

You have not said that you think that all of the tools will become available for free. You are saying that all intellectual property will become free. In fact, you did not even mention word processors, text editors, compilers, code analyzers, and the like. You specifically referred to the entertainment industry in your posts: books, movies, songs, video games...

Text editors, word processors, compilers, code analyzers, etc, are all examples of what I referred to as software.  In fact tools were (and are) the driving force behind opensource software.  Guys got sick of having no way to get anything done on their own without resources provided by their employers (and frequently results therefore claimed by their employers) or major cash layout, and built tools for themselves.  Everything else, all the free applications, games, etc, came after the tools.

I believe that it is good, for people as a whole, to have things available for their use, entertainment, and empowerment. I believe that price is an impediment to availability.  I believe therefore that when people choose to give such stuff away free, they are doing something morally good, and that the best outcome for people as a whole is that the market for information products (software, designs, games, stories, music, etc) should eventually be dominated by free stuff.

You added a qualification to your conclusion that your postulates did not support. Why only in the market for information products?

It's a copy market.  Information products have the peculiar property that they can be copied easily, quickly, and without noticeable expense, where physical objects can only be transferred (depriving one person of the object) and services can only be performed (which requires time and effort).  Musicians playing concerts, painters painting portraits and commissions, programmers supporting games (and tools, etc) or running tournaments, etc, are providing a service.  Farmers growing food are providing a physical object which, afterwards, they do not have anymore. 

See, to give something away, someone has to lose something. That is the irony here.

Except that if the thing they give away is information, they still have it.

To grow your food or mine your ore or program your games or compose your music or film your movies or write your novels, someone must spend a big slice of their ever-precious life, if not some money. Time is the ultimate resource, because no one gets more.

Except we're not talking about production.  We're talking about copying.  It's true, production takes time and effort and often other resources.  If you hire someone to program a game, you don't expect him to work for free, you expect to pay him.  What he's doing there is working in a service market.  But what you wind up with is information, and when you go to sell it, it's a copy market -- because after you sell it, you still have it. 

The same is not true for growing food or mining ore - you can hire someone to do these things for you (labor is a service market) but what you wind up with at the end is a physical object, which you can sell, but having sold it you do not still have it.  Physical objects are not a copy market, so the analogy does not hold.

I do not believe that piracy is good.  I do not pirate software, I do not download commercial music for free, and I do not believe that those who do so are within their rights.  Piracy is part of a cycle of bad-begets-worse.  The best solution is that stuff is free.  A morally neutral solution is that stuff is commercial.

It seems to me that commerce is morally right by your standards. In trade, one person has something that they value less than something someone else is offering. If that other person values what the first person has more than what he himself is offering, he will probably be willing to make a trade. They swap items, and now both people have experienced a net increase of value in their lives instead of just one. Both walk away with their lives enriched. In the case of a business, the business can then invest that net gain in value into what it needs to make more products that enrich more lives. According to your reasoning above, commerce is of the highest virtue.

Sure.  A mutual net increase in value is good.  Giving stuff away is also altruistic, which is probably a different moral criterion.  But in both cases, the people involved experience an increase in total value.

Piracy is a morally-wrong response to commercial stuff.  DRM is an even worse morally wrong response to piracy.

You shall have some explaining to do in order to tell me how adding restrictions to software that is clearly labeled to have those restrictions is morally worse than breaking a pact for your own gain.

The man who breaks a pact for his own gain has committed a morally wrong act against a single entity, who can take action to stop him.  Adding content controls to information, without provision for ensuring that the protected content eventually enters the public domain is committing a morally wrong act against future generations who cannot yet defend themselves. 

Copying while it may be in breach of a pact and therefore wrong, increases information and the access to it, which is a net good.  DRM, while it may be legal, decreases information and access to it, and is therefore problematic.  But DRM without ensuring that the content eventually is available in the public domain is more accurately theft than copying.  It is theft from members of future generations, and it is theft that deprives them of access to information rather than "theft" that deprives someone of exclusive control of information.

In short it is more precisely theft (as in depriving them of something with value) it is a theft against more people, and against people who are defenseless.


Bear

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #72 on: May 16, 2011, 05:33:44 PM »
Aw, phooey, I messed up the quotes.

siob

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #73 on: May 17, 2011, 12:44:58 PM »
Okay, seems we have trouble with even those basic ideas :) Not good.

1) The uploading is illegal distribution. The downloading or receiving of a copy is about on par ethically with the intentional purchasing of stolen equipment. Legally I'm not sure what that's called.

The uploading is illegal distribution. The downloading is not illegal at all - at least in the EU several courts have confirmed that. Downloading is never, under no circumstances illegal.

Now I'm confused: is this handled differently in the US. I know MPAA, et al *want* downloading to be illegal but has anyone actually gone to court in US regarding this?

Quote
2) But that doesn't happen until long after the owners of the rights have either
a) Abandoned the property completely
b) Died
The argument that since it'll be free eventually it may as well be free immediately is flawed. Everybody will eventually die, should I run around stabbing everybody I see?

Didn't want to turn the argument in that direction. But the basic, normal status of content should be free so it benefits everyone but lawmakers agreed that it is under some circumstances beneficial to allow to limit that right to copy for a limited time (according to wikipedia it's most often "dead + 50 years" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries%27_copyright_length).

MrMorley

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Re: Digital Rights and Economics
« Reply #74 on: May 17, 2011, 05:47:12 PM »
1) The uploading is illegal distribution. The downloading or receiving of a copy is about on par ethically with the intentional purchasing of stolen equipment. Legally I'm not sure what that's called.

The uploading is illegal distribution. The downloading is not illegal at all - at least in the EU several courts have confirmed that. Downloading is never, under no circumstances illegal.

Actually in the UK I believe The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended by the Copyright and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002 holds that people who distribute and download copyrighted material without permission face civil actions for potentially thousands of pounds of damages. If you can be proven to be distributing the material further, it becomes a criminal offence and jail time is a possibility.

It's not a case of "crime that put you in jail" or "legal", the third option is "civil actions for thousands of pounds in damages". There does exist a sort-of gentleman's agreement that ISP holders will first notify you that you've been caught and to cease-and-desist, and only if you fail to stop will they give your details over to the copyright holders.

The "becomes free eventually" is to prevent things being left in a position that they can't ever be used because the copyright owner is no longer able to give out permissions. Likewise in the UK we have a concept of orphaned works, where if the copyright owner cannot be determined (as is often the case with photographs found in archives for use in documentaries) it can be used without granted permission.

Anything you create (music, art etc.) is automatically copyrighted to you, at least in the UK and the USA it is. That is it's default state. You can then place it in the public domain, or release it under a licence like GPL.

I own what I create, at least until I decide or have agreed to other conditions (such as for a job, ghost writing, that kind of thing). Otherwise, I see no point in creating.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2011, 06:29:42 PM by MrMorley »
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