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How should IP authors make a living?

By onyxruby in Media
Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:34:28 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

I have a question for the masses here. In short, what I want to know is

"How do people suggest that Intellectual Property creators get paid?"

A lot has been made of methods of duplicating and sharing intellectual works. The ability to make fair use of intellectual property is a thorny issue that is only going to get uglier. There are nasty laws like UCITA and the DMCA that allegedly aim to protect intellectual property creators. Why? So the creators intellectual property can get paid, it's how they make their living.

Let me use MP3's as a simplified example. On the one side of the arguement you have people that claim that sharing (or even creating) an MP3 is tanamount to theft. It is their boiled down belief that this created a loss. They sincerely believe that the only method that should be used to gain intellectual property is what they offer. On the other side you have people who say that you cannot lose something if nothing was taken from you. If I rip my latest CD procurement, I have not cost anybody anything. In short, I did not take a physical thing without permission of the owner.

Now I understand the philosophy, and even the potential economic viability of writing free software, or software covered under the GNU license. Something like this can make a lot of sense for large companies (IBM) under the right circumstances. I can also understand doing something like this for hobby, or out of principal. This is fine for those that want to do something like this.

But what if you want to make a living off your intellectual property? I realize that there are those who would (and do) pay the artist directly, but that is the rare exception. With almost any intellectual property infinitely replicable with perfect digital accuracy, what value is there in it's creation? If I build a workbench, and put "X" amount of labor and "Y" amount of materials into it, than I have "Z" value in what I have created. If I write an article, I might get between $1 to $2 a word by a publisher. Do I have the same "Z" value in my article as I do my workbench? Is my article worth "Z", or is it without value since it can be replicated without taking anything from me?

I ask these questions to try and stir up some commentary on how to make a living creating intellectual property. Traditional methods of doing this are going to go by the wayside, the media companies have been seing this over the horizon for years, thus legislation like the DMCA. I don't think it particularly matters much whether the creations are music, art, words, or code. There has been more than plenty written about the right to replicate data (fair use), and plenty written calling this theft. That is a dead horse I do not want to beat again. I want to get ideas on how people who create intellectual property could make a living off of it.

Since it will probably come up, I'll go ahead and state that I am in full support of the right of fair use, not opposed to free software, like the concept of the GNU license, and am firmly opposed to both UCITA and the DMCA. I am also playing Devil's advocate, as much to myself as others. That does not mean that I am not quite sincere in my questions though, I really do want answers to these questions.


Voxel dot net
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o VoxCAST Content Delivery
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Best ways to make money by creating intellectual property
o Sell hard copies and hope people buy them 30%
o Shareware 4%
o Donations 16%
o Appearances 8%
o Linense for use by the media 4%
o All intellectual property belongs to the masses 20%
o With a really good lawyer 18%

Votes: 50
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by onyxruby

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How should IP authors make a living? | 61 comments (57 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Good question. (3.00 / 4) (#1)
by Seumas on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:44:49 AM EST

Unfortunately, I don't have a real answer. Other than "well, pay them". Of course, as is our want, if we wanted to pay for things in the first place, we wouldn't be ranting and rallying for free stuff under the guise of "but the information wants freedom!".

Sure wish I had some intellectual property of my own though.
I just read K5 for the articles.

Not an accurate question (3.33 / 3) (#2)
by babylago on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:17:44 AM EST

Not all intellectual property is software. People make plenty of money off intellectual property like, say, pharmaceutical and biotech patents by commercializing the product or licensing the IP to someone who can commercialize it.

I think what you're really asking is, given that software can never be a physical commodity, how do you make money with intellectual property that can't easily be licensed for possession or use?

[ Blog | Hunnh ]

wrong question (3.25 / 4) (#3)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:20:30 AM EST

The only importent question is: how do you protect the people who creat things from exploitation by distributors. Copyrights were designed to prevent authors from being exploited by the publishing industry. Recent industries (Music, Software, etc) forced their creative people to sell the copyright.

We need to remove all the "work for higher" clauses in copyright law and force the distributors to "rent" the software, music, or movie from the person who originally created it. We would replace the work for higher clauses with "initial rights to distribute" (just like books).

Now, it's interesting to consider the case of a movie or Windows NT where large numbers of people work on the project. These projects would need to establish an independent psedo-orginisation with stock and the various IP creaters (programmers, artists, camera people, editors, actors, etc., but not marketers, venture capitalists, soda machine restock boys) would be paid in stock (which they are not allowed to sell). Actually, this would change almost nothing about the production of movies, since all the money is made in the initial theater and DVD releases, but the profits from later DVD releases would be redistributed to the IP stock holders. The software industry would essentually be forced to give the programmers lots more control, but the whole "new version" thing would maintain the industry's control over long term software projects. Specifically, if IBM managed to convince Microsoft programmers that IBM should release a version of Windows then IBM would only get the rights to Windows 98 and not ME since ME is too young.

Note: Personally, I think Napster is a distributor which will exploit the artists, but the artists will never see any money from the labels, so I say "Go small evil theiving distributor! Rip off big evil theiving distributor!"

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
you didn't mention the street performer protocol (3.85 / 7) (#4)
by sayke on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:25:16 AM EST

and you really, really should have. you can read all about the street performer protocol here. in case you haven't read the paper, no, it's considerably more complex then putting a hat on the ground in front of you while you play guitar on the street.

incedentally, not so long ago, stephen king made over $600,000 off a book of his using a poorly-designed street performer protocol-like scheme, so i think it's safe to say that it works, at least in certain problem domains. king said that he that he would release all the chapters of a book he wrote if more then 75% of the people who downloaded the first two chapters of his book, also paid for it. if he knew more about game theory, he probably wouldn't have done it the way he did it. the payoff matrix for the non-iterated game king set up was something like this:

[A: defect & novel released][B: cooperate & novel released]
[C: defect & novel not released][D: cooperate & novel not released]

because a game only counts as an official prisoner's dilemma if (A > B > C > D), and, as it stood, B (cooperate and get the novel) had a greater payoff than C (defect and not get the novel), his game wasn't quite a prisoner's dilemma, and king shot himself in the foot... the thing was, king cared more about people being honest then making money, so he chose a 75% payment/download ratio instead of just going with a fixed amount of money as a precursor to releasing his work. i'd bet that, had he gone the escrow/fixed amount route, he would have made bank. but nooooo, we'll never know now...

as for being paid to write code, i expect to be paid a salary, or paid a fixed amount based on a contract. but shit, i'd have nothing whatsoever against, say, releasing a demo of a game, and putting the finished game in escrow for people to download, after me and my cohorts raised a few hundered thousand dollars.

as for being paid to make music, i personally expect to maybe get paid to play in a bar or something, but i see no reason why releasing a few mp3s, and putting the full album in .wav in escrow for people to download, after i'd raised a few hundered thousand dollars, wouldn't make me a few hundered thousand dollars. well, ok, maybe a wee bit less then that, seeing as how me and my friends haven't played for a while, but you get the idea... ;)

i see no reason whatsoever why this model wouldn't work well for other forms of (and i really think the phrase is a contradiction in terms) "intellectual property". i see no reason why people can't or won't make money for performing pattern-weaving services. really, all ya gotta do is give up the notion that you own the patterns you weave.

sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */

Steven King's experiment (3.66 / 3) (#5)
by tftp on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 06:09:24 AM EST

stephen king made over $600,000 off a book of his using a poorly-designed street performer protocol-like scheme

...and he was criticized for both incorrect design of his make-money-fast scheme and incredibly high price of the book. People estimated that the whole book, once finished, would cost about $20 - much more than a regular paperback that can be had for $5 anywhere. For me personally the reason not to participate was mostly my lack of desire to pay $1 20 times, especially via Amazon.

as for being paid to write code, i expect to be paid a salary

ESR wrote a lot about this very subject. Briefly, he asserts that most software is custom made anyway, so programmers will be hired to do that very custom job (which you can't get anywhere).

With regard to music, it is simply too expensive. Many people wouldn't be too upset about paying a $1 per unit of music - once in a lifetime, and when you can pay for selected piece, not the whole package (CD). Of course, the better solution would be to return to basics, when composers were employed by kings and were paid for composing. Now a government could do the same. The music making does not need to be too profitable, it just has to provide a decent living... I am sure there are many ways to abuse such system. But the general idea is that music belongs to the people and therefore can be financed by the people. Maybe some voting scheme will allow to determine how this or that artist is popular and redirect funds appropriately.

[ Parent ]

Sick. (2.00 / 1) (#36)
by Pimp Ninja on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:06:19 PM EST

That's the only word i have for your suggestion about government-sponsored music. What do you propose, that we only listen to music that the goverment deems worthy of subsidy? Only see art that the gov't pays for?

My god...

You know, there's a little book by a gentleman name Orwell that you may want to pick up sometime. Hope you like shades of grey.


If we demand from them without offering in return, what are we but better-
dressed muggers holding up the creative at the point of a metaphorical gun?

[ Parent ]
Re: Sick. (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by tftp on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 12:40:14 AM EST

As I said, if funding of culture via government grants is used then it will be abused by some too. However many governments already sponsor culture, this is not a new proposition. See here for a good example of how to do it right.

[ Parent ]
A lot of eastern european governments (none / 0) (#50)
by aphrael on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 10:44:29 PM EST

subsidized music, leading to an incredible proliferation of modern versions of old slavic folk music, that nobody really wanted to listen to.

[ Parent ]
Free-as-in-beer (4.14 / 7) (#6)
by Beorn on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 06:24:48 AM EST

I am very concerned about this, and as my bank account has grown slowly but steadily over the last years, I'm now actively looking for new ways to pay creators - without going back to my unacceptable pre-Napster CD buying schedule. The Free-as-in-beer attitude must die. I don't see any perfect technical solutions, but there are several that may be good enough.

There will always be a black market for pirated information, and the solution is not to destroy it, which may be impossible, but to limit it enough that legal alternative are able to compete. Pirated information has never been free, and there are two areas where legal information channels can compete: time and reliability.

Four years ago I didn't mind spending an entire weekend downloading X-Wing vs Tie Fighter on a 28.8 modem. Today, why bother? Even Napster is time-consuming and unreliable if you're looking for old and complete records, and time and unreliability is a serious expense to most adults, just like money. I'd subscribe to something like EMusic Unlimited any day, if only the quality wasn't so lousy. Competition is difficult but possible, (at least today).

Another part-solution is .. personal responsibility. If we end up in a society where efficient, reliable, legal distribution methods still are outcompeted by the black market, everyone will have a moral obligation to aid the creators.

Btw, somebody mentioned the Street Performer Protocol. Has this ever been used in real life?

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Make being legal easier and better (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by Erf on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:45:58 PM EST

I'm not even sure we need to explicitly limit the black-market distribution (by which I mean hunt it down and try to destroy it) so much as make the legal distribution methods easier and better. You pretty much said this in your post -- make the legal channels for aquiring (and paying for) music or whatever at least as easy as the illegal methods, and make sure the legal version is of higher quality (or at least as high), and most people will want to aquire the IP legally, and the black market will start to atrophy.

In theory, anyway.

...doin' the things a particle can...
[ Parent ]

Not my problem (3.12 / 8) (#7)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 08:30:21 AM EST

"How do people suggest that Intellectual Property creators get paid?"

We have a large group of professional IP creators who are currently getting paid. Your question is "how do we keep this group employed". This is exactly the question auto-workers (and others) ask when robots are installed on the assembly line. The answer to robots "taking jobs" is: re-train and do something else, move with the times. Why don't we give the same answer to IP creators?

Fact: If people want to do something and it is easy to do so, making it illegal won't stop them.
Fact: It is easy to copy digital data.
Lemma: People will copy digital data.
Corollary: This will reduce the amount of pay that IP creators get.
Fact: IP creators need to have money to live.
Conclusion: IP creators need to get a second income.

I, for one, relish the idea of non-artists (almost anyone you see on MTV) getting real jobs and letting artists (you know, people who produce art because they want to) fill the void.

Play 囲碁
leave your music taste out of this (3.75 / 4) (#13)
by streetlawyer on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:00:31 AM EST

Art is a tiny part of intellectual property. Perhaps you'd care to explain how Glaxo might go about getting a "second income" in order to compensate for the loss of its intellectual property, or id software, or O'Reilly Publishing, or Lucent? Or are you prepared to live without the products of these companies until someone "who really wants to" and is able to produce them has the spare time?

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Omelets, eggs (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:20:02 AM EST

Remember back in the Sixties when people were protesting war? What if I had written an article entitled "How are soldiers/generals/war-profiteers supposed to get paid if we abolish war"? Doing what's right shouldn't be hampered by those who are profiting in the interim.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
errrmmm .... (2.50 / 2) (#16)
by streetlawyer on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 10:28:30 AM EST

well, you'd probably have got a job at the Heritage Foundation :)

In any case, it's not necessary to make a case why war is bad, in and of itself. Everyone would rather have fewer wars. Not everyone believes that copyright is bad. Not analogous.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

With a lot of software (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by aphrael on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 10:43:04 PM EST

the intent really isn't to make money off of the software per se. The intent is to write the software to accomplish some purpose with it; that is, software is often a means rather than an end. Such software would continue to be made even if there were no way to make a profit off of the software itself.

[ Parent ]
Re: Not my problem (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by thejeff on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:30:54 AM EST

We have a large group of professional IP creators who are currently getting paid. Your question is "how do we keep this group employed". This is exactly the question auto-workers (and others) ask when robots are installed on the assembly line. The answer to robots "taking jobs" is: re-train and do something else, move with the times. Why don't we give the same answer to IP creators?

Fact: IP creators need to have money to live. Conclusion: IP creators need to get a second income.

The difference between the two situations is that the auto-workers were no longer being paid because they were being replaced by something that could do the same work cheaper. You're expecting artists to stop being paid and to continue doing the work. That seems unlikely to me. At the very least they'll be able to spend less time and effort on their art if they have to work at another job to survive.


[ Parent ]

I'm glad you brought this up (3.33 / 3) (#18)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:49:15 AM EST

I had already thought of your objection, but couldn't think how to put it (let alone a rebuttal). You've laid it out so clearly that responding is a breeze.

"You're expecting artists to stop being paid and to continue doing the work."

First, I expect nothing, in terms of "require". That is, I have no quota set that I am asking the artists of the world to fulfill. There is no "workload" here that needs X artist-months of effort.

In terms of what I believe will happen: I expect that everyone doing it for the money will stop "doing the work". The "work" will instead be done by people who would have done it anyway.

Clearly we will have a lot less IP out there. But what's better? 100 million pieces of "art" 90% of which is crap and the rest virtually unknown? Or 1 million pieces that are of nearly invarying high quality, all of it famous? Keep in mind that ANYONE that wants to produce can do so. They just won't get paid.

And if some rich person (or several poorer persons) think that a given artist would benefit by having more spare time, there's nothing to stop them from donating money.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
odd presumption, there (4.50 / 4) (#21)
by CdotZinger on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 01:29:10 PM EST

Clearly we will have a lot less IP out there. But what's better? 100 million pieces of "art" 90% of which is crap and the rest virtually unknown? Or 1 million pieces that are of nearly invarying high quality, all of it famous?

The presumption that IP produced by people who don't get paid for it is inherently superior to that produced by professionals (def. people who get paid for it) is so strange that, frankly, I can't even understand it. And since when has famous = valuable (except re: profitablilty)?

Any evidence for this? A list of counter-examples--of "unknown" work of later-recognized world-changing greatness (VanGogh, Nietzsche, Kafka, ...), and of great art motivated by profit as much as aesthetics (Picasso, Stravinsky, Shakespeare, ...)--would make this a broadband-only page. The amount of garbage made for money is more than balanced by the amount of garbage made "for art"--or "'art'" as you would have it. Have you been to any student film festivals lately? to a poetry workshop reading? to a local orchestra performance? Most of it's worse than anything on tv.

To reach your above conclusion, one would have to believe that the sole criterion for judging IP's value is a moral one, which holds profit Satanic, and infectiously so, since whatever it touches is mystically devalued in ways unrelated to profit (aesthetic, scientific, etc.); or, one has to believe in (inherited?) class superiority, that the "leisure class"--the only people who can afford to idly dribble out poetry, music, etc., while living off accumulated capital--are the only group capable of producing high-quality IP. Or both, though the two are superficially inconsistent (but the hardcore commies and anarcho-capitalist types here can probably spot the common unexamined assumption(s)).

Et cetera.

Q: You could interest yourself in these interesting machines. They're hard to understand. They're time-consuming.
A: I don't like you.
[ Parent ]
You are misquoting me (3.33 / 3) (#22)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:14:34 PM EST

"The presumption that IP produced by people who don't get paid for it is inherently superior to that produced by professionals (def. people who get paid for it) is so strange that, frankly, I can't even understand it."

Fortunately I didn't make that indefensible and illogical claim. My actual claim is that art made by people who would do it, even if not paid (which is different than people who are simply not paid) is better than people who are doing it only if paid (which is different than people who are simply paid). Are you telling me that someone who is, say, sculpting for the sole purpose of cashing a paycheck is going to create something on the level of Rodin?

"And since when has famous = valuable (except re: profitablilty)?"

Dunno, you tell me. I didn't make that claim. What I said was that with few artworks, each would be more widely known. I also said each would be higher quality, although I gave different reasoning than that they were simply famous.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
sigh (2.00 / 1) (#44)
by spacejack on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 08:11:04 PM EST

Are you telling me that someone who is, say, sculpting for the sole purpose of cashing a paycheck is going to create something on the level of Rodin?

NOBODY goes into art to get rich.

[ Parent ]
What about programmers? (5.00 / 1) (#46)
by Toojays on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 10:32:44 PM EST

This thread is about Intellectual Property, not just visual or performance arts. Plenty of people go into engineering or IT just to get rich. Although I don't think any of the big names like Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds or John Carmack would ever have been as sucessful as they are if their hearts weren't in it.

Personally I think the world would be a much better place if all the software was created by people who have a personal interest in what they are working on, rather than people who are only doing it because that was what their manager told them to do.

[ Parent ]
In an ideal world (2.50 / 2) (#47)
by spacejack on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 09:10:26 AM EST

Everyone would only do things that they were good at, and only good products would be produced. Unfortunately, due to the generally chaotic nature of human existence, people often wind up in sitautions where they need to take the best job they can get because what they want to do won't pay the rent. I might want to experiment with self-indulgent rendering techniques for a living, but unfortunately, no one's gonna pay me for that.

Anyhow, it was a more focused response to the previous post which discussed the arts. And as I well know from going to art college, the overwhelming attitude is that this is kind of a long-shot thing to do, but we were all in it for the art. After that, it subdivides into people who are good at making money at what they enjoy, and those who are bad at making money at what they enjoy. You cannot expect any sort of system to automatically equalize the business-sense inequalities of artists -- there are always squeaky wheels that get most of the grease.

[ Parent ]
The SPP and this (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by xriso on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:39:46 PM EST

This is where the Street Performer Protocol comes in.

Fact: If the data isn't there yet it can't be copied.

If there is demand, there will be pre-payment. Once there is sufficient payment (remember: it's all going to the author, so there doesn't need to be much), the data can be released, and it can be spread nicely.

There is another "issue" that isn't mentioned on the SPP page. This issue is if the creator releases a piece of crap for his next work. This of course is solved by reputation. The same author that was able to charge high prices for his works because of his quality now has a bad reputation attached to his name. If the reputation is sufficiently bad, the author may need to start over with another identity. However, even if this happens, it is not screwing the "customer". The payments are actually donations as thanks for the previous works.
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]

Vive la difference (4.00 / 1) (#48)
by aphrael on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 10:39:51 PM EST

This is exactly the question auto-workers (and others) ask when robots are installed on the assembly line. The answer to robots "taking jobs" is: re-train and do something else, move with the times. Why don't we give the same answer to IP creators?

There's a *huge* difference: the auto workers are being replaced by robots which still make autos. The IP workers are not being replaced per se; if they can't find a way to make money off of creating, the artistic works simply won't get created at all.

[ Parent ]

Creativity (none / 0) (#58)
by Cuthalion on Mon Feb 12, 2001 at 02:14:50 PM EST

if they can't find a way to make money off of creating, the artistic works simply won't get created at all

False. Many people derive personal pleasure or satisfaction from creative persuits, such as film, artwork, music, software, or fiction. The truly excellent artists in these fields generally tend to be enjoy what they do. Perhaps they would have less time available for those persuits, but stuff would still get made. The arist or musician who also holds a day job is a bit of a stereotype, but not one without actual representation. Similarlly there are many people (self included) who write software in their free time as well as or instead of commercially.

Now it would be great if everyone could get rich doing exactly what they enjoy best, and if you can think of a way to do that, you'd make a million dollars! But even before the age of rampant and conveinient IP piracy it was only a rare few who were able to and willing to take the risks involved in doing so.

[ Parent ]
I'll be interested when... (4.16 / 6) (#8)
by itsbruce on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 08:44:16 AM EST

and only when somebody suggests an effective technical solution. The internet is a ruthlessly pragmatic environment: what can be done is done, what can't be prevented happens. Legal solutions are pure fantasy: the internet is global but international law practically useless. Any proposal about any kind of rights on the internet is worthless unless it starts with an effective technical proposal.

As it is, most recent technological innovations on the internet (e.g. Napster) have simply created more questions and not provided any answers. Unless your question was "How can we make things more chaotic and confusing.", of course.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
last one out turn out the light... (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by chuqui on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 01:48:01 AM EST

> The internet is a ruthlessly pragmatic environment: what can be done is done,

And if there isn't some way for people who create content to be rewarded for their efforts, they'll stop. Right now, pirates are subsidized by the rest of us who actually DO pay for the things. When the rate of piracy gets too high, or the value received gets too low, they stop creating.

It's one reason I stopped writing fiction. I got paid for it, but not nearly enough to justify the time. Ditto most of my other writing gigs. Computers pay a lot better, and I also find them alot of fun. When you ahve tw things, both fun, and one pays well and one doesn't -- you don't need to be a math prof to figure it out.

you either pay the artist, or you run the risk of having no artists to rip off later.

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
That reminds me... (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by itsbruce on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 05:04:17 AM EST

It's one reason I stopped writing fiction. I got paid for it, but not nearly enough to justify the time. Ditto most of my other writing gigs. Computers pay a lot better, and I also find them alot of fun.

of a line from a Ray Bradbury story: "If I'm replaced by a black box, I'll get a job making black boxes." In your case, the black boxes made your job uneconomic, so now you maintain the black boxes.

Taking this to it's logical conclusion implies a world where the entire race works to maintain the system that stopped them from doing the things they wanted to do. At which point you would hope that the race would either commit collective suicide or start over.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
not quite. (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by chuqui on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 05:53:18 AM EST

> In your case, the black boxes made your job uneconomic,

not quite. I had two career paths. I chose the more lucrative one, mostly because I didn't have time to do both well. My computer side didn't have anything to do with the writing side, other than both wanted all my free time.

but you're right to some degree, but it's not exactly new. During the industrial revolution, building better/faster farm equipment made a lot of farmers redundant, so they moved to the city, and many of them built farm equipment.

whenever there's an economic revolution, there's dislocation. It's not fun if you're the dislocatee. But what we're seeing in the move from the industrial society to the information society is unprecedented, except perhaps the speed of the transition. It's happened many times in the past, from the time the first hunter-gatherers planted seeds and became farmers...

-- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
[ Parent ]
Napsters legality issues in Canada (3.25 / 4) (#9)
by retinaburn on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:43:20 AM EST

I heard that because Canada has put a tax on all blank media (Disks, Tapes, CDs, MDs (argg), Dats) then the "Napsters causing us loss of money" is invalid in Canada. This fee supposedly goes to pay off the music industry ...is this true ?

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

The Levy Exists, But Doesn't Matter (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by gauntlet on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 11:52:04 AM EST

Yeah, Canada now places a tax on blank media, and the money received from this tax goes to an artist's fund.

But the argument that this eliminates the potential loss from Napster is a poor one. It's like saying if it has been made more difficult to break open your front door, they have no right to put bars on the windows.

If anything, the tax on blank media is likely to move a portion of the original to blank pirating to the net, which increases the portion of losses that Napster could be held accountable for.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Levy DOES Mean Something. (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by Matrix on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 07:51:57 PM EST

No, the levy is more like being charged with theft at birth - they're assuming that your reason for buying the media is to break copyright law. I've run across several sites, which seem to be reliable legally (as they have quotes from the Canadian Government), which say that there is a side-effect of the levy. If you lend a CD to a friend, they can make a copy onto recordable media they've paid a levy for. You can't make the copy and distribute it, however.

Pleaes correct me if I got that wrong... I'll try and dig up a link tomorrow.

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

media levy and copying (none / 0) (#51)
by Pink Daisy on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 05:22:30 PM EST

I believe the point of the media levy is that in Canada it is legal to copy music from someone else, and that the media levy is used to support artists. The idea is that lots of people do it, so it is made legal and artists are compensated. I think this same thing applies in some European jurisdictions. I could be wrong on this point, though; I think I read it as a comment on another article on kuro5hin.

[ Parent ]
People have the right... (4.40 / 10) (#20)
by PenguinWrangler on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 12:17:11 PM EST

...to be rewarded for their labour. And I don't mean being slapped on the back and told "Jolly well done!"
All the people who say "But the creators of intellectual property can get a proper job to pay the bills" don't seem to understand that working an ordinary job is a BARRIER to creativity. How can you be truly creative if the most part of your day is taken up on a boring job? People don't take up art or music or creative writing to do it as a sideline to a 9 to 5 job. They do it to free themselves from that job.
All you people who expect other people to create art, music or literature without any financial compensation for their skill, time and effort are SELFISH, SELFISH, SELFISH BASTARDS! People like you will never create anything of value, but want other people's creations to be handed to you on a plate.
More power to the creators of intellectual property. They deserve to be richly rewarded for their labours.

"Information wants to be paid"
I Sort Of Agree, IP Creation As Service Job (2.00 / 6) (#27)
by Nater on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 05:56:24 PM EST

I think there is value in the act of creating IP. I also think that once it's created, the job's finished, and the money should stop there. The price of copies should be related to one thing, the cost of making copies. If a musician wants to keep making money, then he or she should keep making music. That's just how it is in the software industry, after all. If I stopped writing code for Total Solutions tomorrow, I would stop getting paid. If U2, on the other hand, stopped making music, they would continue to get paid. Why? Are they still working? No, of course not, and any musician who is not making music should not be getting paid. An original work is priceless. Copies are worth the cost of copying.

Copyright law sets up an artificial economic structure so that Bono and friends can get lazy whenever they feel like it cause they'll keep getting paid for nothing. They distort the value of copies into what the original author/artist/musician wants, rather than the actual value. What have we learned from the Soviet centrally planned economy of the twentieth century about artificial economic structures? They're doomed.

i heard someone suggest that we should help the US, just like they helped us in WWII. By waiting three years, then going over there, flashing our money around, shagging all the women and acting like we owned the place. --Seen in #tron

[ Parent ]
I'm an ignorant idiot! (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by Andrew Dvorak on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 08:55:26 PM EST

I think that our greatly inflated economy has drastically exaggerated everybody's value of *everything*. Therefore, your ideas for dismissing payment for IP, beyond the cost of distribution, are flawed and economically unsatisfying.

Everybody has built their success upon prior success, where the weakening of one element could facilitate the destruction of the entire structure. This is just too bad -- With everybody focused on growth, any one factor (person) could pop the bubble, as many people believe may again be happening in the United States. There's no simple solution for reform based on the current system. It's basically dog-eat-dog. Before I get too off-topic, I end my text with a </p> and a signature!

[ Parent ]
Your analogy is flawed (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by jreilly on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:40:34 AM EST

If you stopped righting code right now, you would be fired. However, your company would still be able to profit off your code, in much the same way U2 profits off their old music.

Oooh, shiny...
[ Parent ]
Not that different IMHO (none / 0) (#60)
by Tim C on Wed Feb 21, 2001 at 09:07:37 AM EST

Look at the music business this way - the bands (say U2, to continue the example) are "employed" by the record companies (they're under exclusive contracts, rather like employment contracts). If/when they retire, they still get paid royalties on what they've already produced.

Now, look at me (as an example of a coder under exclusive contract to a single employer). When I eventually leave/retire from my company, they will still be profiting from my past labours (at least for a while), but I'll get nothing.

I don't see that our circumstances are all that different, and yet the outcome of us leaving our jobs is very different.

Of course I believe that musicians, authors, etc should be paid for their work. I just don't understand why they get this special treatment of being paid for something "forever". Why not pay them a wage according to experience, talent, etc like everyone else? Is there a reason why that couldn't work?



[ Parent ]
But what is the exact value? (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by error 404 on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 06:27:39 PM EST

The problem with paying an artist on completion of the work and then no future payments is that, for mass-produced items, the value is unknown at the time of creation. Surely, the musicians in Pink Floyd deserve a very big chunk of change for Dark Side of the Moon, while a similar amount of work for a dud can't be so richly rewarded, since it benefits fewer people.

I suppose the system could be that each work is paid for on the basis of the artist's track record, but the success of one work is not tightly bound to the success of the prior work. Sure, Stephen King can be counted on to crank out the best-sellers, but how many one-hit-wonders are there, and how many artists do a few great things and then just kind of fizzle out?

Residual payments from prior work sustain artists during the sometimes long process of building the next work.

Artists take large financial risks to launch careers. All that time when they could have been working a real job costs money. Those risks must be rewarded when they pay off. So when a song or a book or whatever makes a lot of money, the artist should get a decent share. That money comes in in installments as people buy copies. If there were a way (other than work-for-hire, which is soul-crushing and very rarely generates great works) for an artist to get started without the financial risk, then a more modest reward would make sense. But so far, there isn't.

Seriously, if these discussions come up with a way of paying an artist a fair lump sum that allows time to creat the next work and rewards the financial risk of creating this one, I will be very happy.

In fact, book authors often don't get paid ongoing royalties. They get paid advances, and then only if the royalties exceed the advances (which only happens when the book is a surprise hit) before the book goes out of print does the author get any more money.
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Ms. found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie (3.66 / 3) (#33)
by itsbruce on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 05:31:56 AM EST

All you people who expect other people to create art, music or literature without any financial compensation for their skill, time and effort are SELFISH, SELFISH, SELFISH BASTARDS!

I wonder if you have ever read the C.M. Kornbluth story whose title I took as my subject. In the story, an author, Cecil Corwin, discovers a simple, effective formula for solving any human social or economic problem. He is swiftly visited by two fellow novelists (writers, by virtue of their eclectic interests and omnivorous reading habits, are prone to discover this forumula) who try to dissuade him from publicly announcing it. They point out that the wide-spread application of the "Diagonal Relationship" would lead to a universal pay rate, with bonuses only for hazardous work. Artistic activities like writing would be seen as their own reward.

In order to protect their status and livelihoods, the world's authors formed a secret guild to conceal the formula and to watch out for anyone on the verge of discovering it (hence the visit). Corwin is told that, if he agrees to help keep the secret, the other guild members will reward him with favourable reviews, recommend him to their publishers, get him good guest spots at conferences, include his stories in all the "Year's best SF stories" collections (sounding uncomfortably plausible, yet?) and so on.

The story was published in 1957 and was supposed to be a satire - but "Cecil Corwin" was a pseudonym that Kornbluth had previously written under and "The Diagonal Relationship" is as good a name for the Internet as any. I wonder what they threatened Kornbluth with to make him keep the secret.

working an ordinary job is a BARRIER to creativity.

Amen to that. Used to be a professional performer myself. Shit happens and you end up elsewhere.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
This is probably something someone else has said.. (3.25 / 4) (#25)
by bloodnok on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 03:07:34 PM EST

Here's my opinion (using music as the example):

a) If I buy a CD, I feel I have the right to copy it to my computer for my convenience (no more unbearable effort of getting CD off shelf and putting in stereo). This also has the benefit of preserving the data - MP3s dont scratch.

b) I dont mind paying for music. I enjoy music a great deal and feel that the creator of the music should be financially rewarded.

c) I dont really care what distribution channel my music comes through. I like CDs because the quality is good and you get all the sleeve notes etc. MP3s off Napster et al are OK, but I'm only on a dialup so it's not the best.

d) If there was a way to easily transfer small amounts of money between two people anywhere in the world, I would use it. I would be quite happy paying the musician the same that the record company does per track per CD sold. If I copied a CD off a friend, I would willingly send some money to the artist.

e) No matter how easy it is to get music off Napster, people are always going to buy CDs. The record companies aren't exactly on the breadline because of MP3s. I download quite a few MP3s, yet I still buy lots of CDs.

--- When you give up freedom for security you get neither.
Money for IP. (2.20 / 5) (#26)
by static on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 05:41:22 PM EST

The company I work has a nice classic way of getting paid for Intellectual Property: we don't give it out. Our IP is server-side web code on servers that we own. We license it out to our customers for developing and hosting their sites. Seems to be working, too.


Definately classic, as you've claimed. (none / 0) (#38)
by Andrew Dvorak on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 11:05:37 PM EST

I suppose I've never looked at it this way before.. It seems as though your company's doing nothing different than providing a service for its clients in the traditional way. This is to say, that the backend of your processing is proprietary.

Example: There are companies who specialize in generating an up-to-date inventory count. If I hire such a company to count my store's inventory, they will provide a service to me in which their proprietary inventory system is used. The resulting data would, of course, be supplied to me.

Most companies providing services, digital or not, do make use of a proprietary backend.

[ Parent ]
Yep. (none / 0) (#41)
by static on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 05:52:19 PM EST

The key is that we're using the hip-new technology of The Internet to do it.

Plus, we've never gone public (though the idea has come up a few times).


[ Parent ]

I don't have the answer, but... (3.75 / 4) (#28)
by davros on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 07:36:31 PM EST

In order to work fairly, a payment system must satisfy the following conditions:
  • The party who pays must be the one who obtains the benefit of the intellectual property. Ad-supported media fails because the content creator ends up serving two masters: the advertisers and the viewers. Even worse is a model where the content provider hopes to derive income from marketing info derived from the viewers' habits. In that case, the content creator's motives run counter to his customers'.

  • The party who creates the IP must receive some portion of the payment directly related to the amount paid in the previous step. Indirect payments based on media taxes won't be distributed equitably.

Simple, enforce the right (2.75 / 4) (#29)
by Wah on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 07:42:09 PM EST

Enforce the right for creators (or whoever they pass rights to) to be the only ones who can profit from a particular piece of IP. The problem is coming because distribution has always been assumed to be a part of the profit making process. We've never really had products that can be given away so easily and cheaply. However, the problem has come recently because distribution has become a simple task. It needs to be removed or seperated from the profit side, and enforce that side of the equation. Follow the money.
Fail to Obey?
Simple my arse. (none / 0) (#31)
by itsbruce on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 04:43:51 AM EST

Enforce how, precisely?


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
The same way they are trying with everything (none / 0) (#35)
by Wah on Fri Feb 02, 2001 at 12:29:14 PM EST

International treaties, lawyers, and your friendly neighborhood thought police.

But mostly it would have to become a public image thing. Pretty much everyone agreees that only the creators (or rights holders) or works should be able to profit from them. By allowing the free distribution of such works you can destroy the pirate market, because no one has any reason to go to them. This then concentrates all the potential money making to one entity. All other distribution methods become an act of promotion. If you have an educated populace, that knows, and generally agrees with the rules, you have all the thought police you need. As far as the web goes, a simple email with a URL to the right people sets the action in motion.

What point would I have to go here and bolster this guys ad revenue, when I could fire up a free p2p client and get my fix that way. The questionable legality is, IMHO, the biggest thing holding back these services from becoming transcendant. By allowing for a huge public bitcasting service, and protecting it, you destroy the pirate market and create an immense free (to creators) promotion effort.

Simple was a relative term. When comparing the effort to monitor and control all digital file transactions vs. monitoring and controlling real world monetary transactions, you can begin to see the "simplicity".
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Stop making "software" :p (2.50 / 2) (#43)
by spacejack on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 07:58:44 PM EST

My irreverent reply:

Stop making stuff that can be digitally reproduced!

Maybe I'll just go back to selling paintings if IP rights disappear off the net.. they're still the kind of "product" where the "consumer" wants the original work. :)

Hey, maybe the whole digital economy will collapse, and computers will just go away!

Oh about the poll.. (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by spacejack on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 08:36:40 PM EST

I voted "License for use by the media"

And I was the only one!! Certainly it's the safest, easiest way to make money off your I.P. I know this first-hand.

Unfortunately it's the WORST way to make art (but that wasn't the question).

Tough cookies for the pampered little rock stars. (3.75 / 4) (#53)
by Jin the Wicked on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 04:51:15 AM EST

As an artist myself, I can honestly say that when I put my artwork online, I am more concerned with people taking it and using it for things that I don't agree with (like plastering one of my drawings on a big Christian "Be Saved!" webpage or something) than using it to profit or sharing it with other people. Honestly, I've never really minded working to support myself, and I'm only interested in money so far as having the materials to do what I enjoy (a decent computer and some paints) and not starve to death. It would be nice to survive off my work, and I do make some extra pocket money off it occasionally...but realistically, I don't expect it. A tiny fraction of artists and musicians ever reach the point that they can totally live off their work in its true form...most of them sell out to record companies and advertising agencies long before then, or give up and pursue other things.

I'm happy to let people look at my art for free. Someone will like the art enough to eventually buy the original...and I haven't sacrificed any of my integrity by letting someone else tell me what to draw or face starvation. Free distribution also equals exposure. The more people that see my work, the more opportunities I have to sell the original. Maybe even some day I'll be fortunate enough to no longer have to work.

As far as musicians go, nothing compares to hearing live music, and the artists make lots of money at concerts...just like people pay to see original paintings in galleries that they could view for free online. It really makes no difference to me if the artist is paid for the songwriting initially... I know if I downloaded 10 songs from a band I found on Napster, I'd be more than ready to buy a ticket to see them in concert. The problem is they are expecting to be paid over and over for the same work (in selling CDs). Independent bands may realize this -- putting their songs on Napster gets them exposure that can get them better gigs, t-shirt sales, stickers, etc. The real people that are losing on this Napster thing are the record companies. For the first time, though, the artists have the chance to bypass them and build a fan loyalty that isn't based on the whims of what the record companies decide everyone will listen to. I'm sure if the record companies weren't involved this would practically be a non-issue.

Musicians could afford to live comfortable lives playing concerts, given a moderate level of popularity, and selling the merchandise that comes with concerts. All this really is is greed, on the part of the record companies, and to some extent the artists themselves. The fact that people love your work SHOULD be its own reward; in my opinion if it isn't then you aren't really creating art to begin with -- just manufactured goods no different than a wooden desk or a burger at McDonald's. Money is really worthless in the grand scheme of things. It will dissipate, and I will die...it's the images I've created that will still be around. I'd rather live modestly and have them mean something, than be wealthy and leave behind paintings of expensive cars and fashion models.

An old-fashioned approach (3.33 / 3) (#54)
by Joe Erasmus on Wed Feb 07, 2001 at 01:23:25 PM EST

I know this sounds appallingly retro, but what if, instead of creating new law, we simply rely on old law, to wit, contract law? If I sell you some of my IP, I do so through a contract that specifies that you won't transfer the IP to anybody else. If you do so, it's a violation of our contract and I can sue you. We can even specify damages in the contract; make it a million bucks. If you don't like the deal, don't buy the IP. If my million-buck damage clause is too onerous, people won't buy my IP and I have to lower that number. Yes, there are all the same problems of enforcement (who's gonna sue a 16 year-old?), but those can be partially addressed by refusing to sell to kids. The only real value of this approach is that it extends the current, very effective deterrents that apply to companies down to the level of the individual. The other big benefit is that it puts an end to the tired arguements about who has a right to copy what. The issue is a simple one of honest dealing and breaking a promise. Chris

I'm NOT signing a contract when I buy a CD. (none / 0) (#55)
by Sax Maniac on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 08:54:22 PM EST

So what happens when every amount of IP is owned by a giant business, through levels upons of corporate acquisitions?

Eventually everything comes with a click-wrap or tear-wrap, binding, we-0wn-j00 license agreement, yadda, yadda, by opening this package/clicking this button/breathing this air, you hereby forfeit all rights to anything you ever had and agree to pay us your life savings blah blah blah...

Lawyers: 100; you, 0. Pick your units.

So, to buy a CD from AOL/TimeMegaMonopolyCo, I can choose between signing my life away and, er, nothing?

Contract law makes sense for big deals; real-estate, business transactions, cars. That's when both sides are usually somewhat even. But am I going to sign my life away when I buy a CD or a soda or a burger? Hell, no.

Stop screwing around with printf and gdb and get a debugger that doesn't suck.
[ Parent ]

MAKE MORE. (3.66 / 3) (#56)
by Sax Maniac on Fri Feb 09, 2001 at 09:12:53 PM EST

"How do people suggest that Intellectual Property creators get paid?"

By the authors creating more. Duh!

As an IP author (I write proprietary software, go figure), we're paid to produce new, improved version of our software. New features. Better scalability. Faster processing. We're not going to take the same piece of IP that was written in 1986 and sell it for 100 years or until we can buy off Congress for more time.

I really wish RIAA/MPAA would take a lesson from the sotfware industry. We learned years ago to live with it, because our bits were small enough they could be flung around. Now yours are, RIAA. Book publishers and MPAA, you're next.

Produce new IP or die. Unpaid copying is always part of the whole deal. Factor it into your business plan. Live with it. Sure, there are enough honest people out there to make money selling the old stuff, but that's icing on the cake. I get paid to write new stuff, not sit my on fat ass rehyping and repacking old stuff.

If I like musician X's music so much that I want to get more of it, then I will buy their CD, their shirt, their concert. That's why I buy CDs of the artists I really like (Napster or no Napster), originals for software I really use, and movies (yes, even DVDs) of movies that I really like. They get my money, they get incentive to produce more. But if I don't give a rat's ass whether X makes another damn tune in their life, I'll copy it. Sorry, Charlie.
Stop screwing around with printf and gdb and get a debugger that doesn't suck.

how about books? (none / 0) (#57)
by krokodil on Sun Feb 11, 2001 at 05:23:51 AM EST

Are books considered IP? I guess so. An author can spend years writing one book.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by dennis on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 11:57:33 AM EST

With free duplication, you get paid for future work, not past work. If your customers require a money-back guarantee that you will produce the future work, you use Street Performer (linked in someone else's post), otherwise just plain donations will do fine. Once a work is released, it's no longer a product--instead it's an advertisement for more future work, and as such you want it to spread as far and wide as possible.

[ Parent ]
Thanks. (none / 0) (#61)
by Sax Maniac on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 10:36:17 PM EST

Thanks for putting my thoughts into vastly better, more succint words. I'll remember this.
Stop screwing around with printf and gdb and get a debugger that doesn't suck.
[ Parent ]
How should IP authors make a living? | 61 comments (57 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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