May 2008

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Comments

Listo Entertainment

Here it goes:
I have a proper job and I draw some comics just for fun.
I hate a lot of people who make more money than me doing nothing but cool things like singing or drawing.
WA-WA-WA!!

(I don't hate you because I like your work, but I hate most of the others)

TJGeezer

I must thank DCX2 for the tip about xkcd.com - I browsed it, and lo and behold: http://www.xkcd.com/c14.html

What sanity.

David Banks

Now watch as everyone furiously agrees with you.

mendel

Hi Scott!

Randy Milholland publishes a webcomic, SomethingPositive.net, for free. He writes in his FAQ about a donation drive: "Here's the thing - a little over 1% of my actual audience donated. The average donation was $5."

If you had asked the people who downloaded "God's Debris" to put a little something in your paypal tip jar if they liked the book, you could have gotten $50000 out of it if Randy's numbers applied to your situation (which they may not because he's a poor(?) webcomic artist and you're a syndicated cartoonist, so there's no "charity" factor involved). You can easily compute by what margin of error the numbers could be wrong and still net you more than the royalties you actually earned from the dead tree version...

Kevin Carson

I agree with your analysis of your hallucination.

I don't think anybody was arguing that the *record companies* could operate profitably on a business model not based on intellectual property. The big entertainment companies profit from their gatekeeper role, made possible by their sucking off special priveleges provided by the state. Hell, yeah, the parasites know they're making more money sucking at the government tit than they could make in a free market.

I don't think I know a mugger's business better than he does. I don't think there's an open source model of mugging that pays as much as holding somebody up at gunpoint. The mugger knows he's got a good thing going, and couldn't possibly make as much by honest means. The fact that Sony or Microsoft would go bankrupt is a feature rather than a bug, IMO. Do you really think we care whether the winners in the existing state capitalist economy would come out ahead without corporate welfare? I hope Halliburton and Blackwater go belly-up along with Sony and MS.

The actual argument, should you ever care to address it, is that individual artists can make a living on an open source business model, and that the marketing of artistic production in that case would shift from the giant gatekeeper corporations to the artists themselves.

And it is possible to make money without intellectual property protections. Companies like Red Hat make money off Linux by offering support services and customization, rather than from revenues on the OS itself, for example. What most enemies of intellectual property want is a shift from an economy of Microsofts to an economy of Red Hats, from an economy of Sonys to an economy of Phish. I really don't care that Bill Gates couldn't become a billionaire under such a regime. I'd like to shove Genuine Advantage so far up Gates' ass he'd have DRM coming out his nose.

Eos

It's almost the Law of Diminishing Returns;
The less known you are, the more value in making your material available for free to acquire a fanbase willing to pay for you.

Disturbingly AOL used a similar concept with their trillions of free CDs to try to gain paying members.

For someone already published and commercial such as yourself, attracting new readers with freebies is unlikely at best as your own test has demonstrated.

Unfortunately humans want as much as they can get for free and will justify it with any rationale because we're not wired to accept that we make 'wrong' choices.

Jonathan

+1 Scott!

I had a well-educated Canadian arguing that the free nad legal music downloads apparently allowed north of the border were good for musicians because he used the money he would have spent on CDs to go see the artists live.

As a (formerly professional) musician, I was shocked that he thought he was doing the bands a favor! He was stealing from the band to ability to determine which business model they wished to pursue for their creative endeavor. For many musicians that choice impacts their lifestyles heavily - imagine being a doting father to small children while on the road half the year. I know many musicians who took up a backup profession instead of live that kind of life.

The ultimate of that mindset would be fewer CDs, of lower quality, mostly recordings of live performances. Is that what you want to stick in your iPod?

Practically though, I am hoping this will sort out over time, and artists can be compensated well for their endeavors by a public willing to pay appropriate amounts for their use. Right now the imbalance seems to be caused by too much overhead by the middlemen, inadequate moral compasses by many who are happy to steal in the safety and anonymity of their own living rooms, the lack of a workable model of direct creator-consumer transactions, and the noisy general chaos of a disruptive technology.

Leora

I find myself inspecting my underpants in the drawer now, looking for telltale signs of illicit use...wasn't that on CSI last week?

I found a photograph I'd taken for a non-profit group on a long-distance calling card. Funny, I donated the photo to a charity for use in a fundraiser, and next thing I know, the head of the charity has used it in for his own profit-making business. Worse still, the weasel had the nerve to deny any knowledge of it when I confronted him.

I must confess, though, I used to tape songs off the AM stations when I was 12.

Laird

So your point is that you think *more* people would have bought God's Debris if you hadn't given it away free.

I read it free and then bought two copies to give as presents and sent one free copy to a friend. I enjoyed it. I especially liked the truck analogy. I've cited it many times.

Cheers,

L

Clay

Here's an analogy for you, Scott. Copyright law is like abstinence-only sex education: it may be well-intentioned, but it's just *not* going to work. That doesn't mean people opposing it can necessarily justify themselves on moral grounds, but it does mean you should consider human nature, lack of free will, etc., and and move on to something that does work.

Iggy

Well, some people have Robin Hood complex, they think that they are stealing from the (relatively) rich and giving to the (relatively) poor, who just happens to be them. That is justification for their theft (in their mind). It also has a bit of a romantic twist to it if you are stealing Bryan Adam's "Every thing I do"...

I also think that to some extent music companies did it to themselves. It started as a convienience thing (yes i know i can't spell). You grab napster, and 10 minutes later you have access to 1 song off a $15 album for free. You can't buy that one song. You don't know if you like the whole album. And once you have it for free, where's the incentve to pay? IF the music companies hadn't tried to fight it for so long, they may have not encouraged the development of such sophisticated theft tools. Had they simply faced the music (pun intended) and provided a fair and safe way for people to get the songs they want when they want them without messing with our computers and file formats, they may have not encouraged the creation of the "Free Music Entitled" generation. We have a whole generation of people who think that downloading music is a victimless crime, and unfortunately they don't all read your blog.

malignor

I download stuff because I'm a stingy bastard. Then if I'm so impressed with something, or I download enough of it, I go out and buy some of their stuff because I want to support what I appreciate.

But when it comes to artists who are already dead, I just grab whatever I feel like. Can't support a corpse.

Kuba

I almost agree with the author, but as I live in the Czech Republic, I have to add a comment. In here some of the large recording companies tried for some time what the customer could stand in the terms of high prices. They simply used the fact, that there is no perfect substitute for their products. (I wouldn't buy a Madonna CD even if it cost half the price of a Dire Straits CD, for Madonna fans it will be the other way round). The result was that CD's got so expensive, that lots of people just started copying them. But it seems, that the companies that didn't take part in the highest price race have the same problem, but it isn't such a hard problem for them. Another thing is that some of the companies got some stupid anti-pirate software on their CD's. When this protection prevented me from normally using it (playing it on my computer, making MP3's for my portable player, playing it in the car (and making a copy that I could leave in the car) they themselves forced me to use a pirate copy... I have most (more than 95%) of my records legally (the illegal part are records that aren't possible to buy, because they were sold out and there hasn't been a reedition yet) But I think that the recording companies made lot of their problems with copying and downloading themselves. (To be frank, for a normal book price I don't have problem with buying Dilbert. If you wanted 1000 dollars for a copy I would try to copy (steal) it...)

Lee

The 'techsoil' idea is a pretty poor one and, to be honest, I doubt if the folks at Techdirt would care if you tried it. Someone should just to see what they would do.

Let's say you set up your 'techsoil' site with all your adverts. Who exactly is going to go to a copy of a website which is plastered with advertising over the unadorned original, which is far more likely to be up to date and contain legitimate commentary from the people whose opinion they value?

GDR

An interesting take on "file sharing".

mendel

Aaron wrote: It's called a library. It is a place where you can find a huge library of books and rent them at little to no cost. This is good for everybody because the library pays for their books through late fees ...


A library does not use late fees to buy new books. A library uses its budget to buy new books. The budget usually comes from the community (i.e. tax money) or a beneficial grant.

dougie wrote: Good example: Kalashnikov desinged and manufactured the world's best-selling fully autmatic assault rifle, the AK-47. He died pennyless. Why, you ask? Because he lived in a society where everyone's time was valued at pretty much the same rate.... Time is the one truly valuable resource, because it is the one thing that cannot be replaced. When you quit respecting that fact, then you become a thief.

By that reasoning, copyright is stealing: hit artists' time is apparently worth insanely much more money than your time or mine. I quote Rolling Stone: The Richest Rock Stars of 2006: "The vast majority of artists in our Top Thirty made the bulk of their cash on the road in 2005. Album royalties pale in comparison. "The music business has changed," says Paul McGuinness, longtime manager of U2, who came out on top last year, taking in an estimated $154.2 million ...".
Divided by 5 (4 members and their manager) comes to 30 million apiece. The year had 8760 hours, so they got roughly $3000 per hour, waking or sleeping. If you think a Rock Star's working hour should be worth $300, you have to assume that the rest are immoral gains. Paradoxically enough, these gains came mostly from performances, not from copyright royalties...

mendel

Jake wrote: Face facts - most people in the creative arts didn't get into it to play "starving artist" and go for months on end without washing their hair. They do it for the money.


My observation is that most people in the creative arts get into it as a hobby. They take evening classes etc. However, not many people know about them; often only a close circle of friends knows they're doing it. Most artists you actually hear about do it for the money because they spend money to market themselves (in the expectation that it will earn them more money). In total terms, I believe they're a minority.

Having a nice evening filled with music used to mean gathering with a few friends and making some homemade music on the back porch, 150 years ago (or even more recent than that). Nowadays it means sitting down and consuming some music that's been marketed to you.

I can't say I have created much of value, but I regularly perform music in front of audiences for free.

mendel

Nah, if Scott Adams ripped off Red Dwarf like that, it'd just be plagiarism, not a copyright violation. Copyright only protects the expression of an idea (i.e. the way it is written down, drawn, set to music, sculptured etc.), not the idea itself.

Paul C

speaking of copyright violations...

today's Dilbert cartoon (20th April 07), where Dilbert perfects an Ipod that gratifies all five senses (effectively a virtual reality machine)and the pay-off line is "The test group preferred it over eating. They're all dead"

With your fondness for British comedy, Scott, has it occured to you that this rips off the "Better Than Life" concept used in the TV series and novelisation of "Red Dwarf", where the most inept spacecraft crew ever ,are suckered into a 100% perfect virtual reality game and the challenge is to get out of an artificial world (where they think their every last whim is being granted to them) - before their neglected physical bodies starve to death?

Check it out - this is possibly a creative coincidence, or, if you've seen/read "Red Dwarf" (esp. the novelisation "Better than Life") a copyright violation...

Paul C

speaking of copyright violations...

today's Dilbert cartoon (20th April 07), where Dilbert perfects an Ipod that gratifies all five senses (effectively a virtual reality machine)and the pay-off line is "The test group preferred it over eating. They're all dead"

With your fondness for British comedy, Scott, has it occured to you that this rips off the "Better Than Life" concept used in the TV series and novelisation of "Red Dwarf", where the most inept spacecraft crew in history are suckered into a 100% perfect virtual reality game and the challenge is to get out of a world (where they think every last whim is being granted to them) - before their neglected physical bodies starve to death?

Check it out - this is possibly a creative coincidence, or, if you've seen/read "Red Dwarf" (esp. the novelisation "Better than Life") a copyright violation...

Paul C

speaking of copyright violations...

today's Dilbert cartoon (20th April 07), where Dilbert perfects an Ipod that gratifies all five senses (effectively a virtual reality machine)and the pay-off line is "The test group preferred it over eating. They're all dead"

With your fondness for British comedy, Scott, has it occured to you that this rips off the "Better Than Life" concept used in the TV series and novelisation of "Red Dwarf", where the most inept spacecraft crew in history are suckered into a 100% perfect virtual reality game and the challenge is to get out of a world (where they think every last whim is being granted to them) - before their neglected physical bodies starve to death?

Check it out - this is possibly a creative coincidence, or, if you've seen/read "Red Dwarf" (esp. the novelisation "Better than Life") a copyright violation...

Andy

"Everyone else is doing it" seems partial justification to some. "No one is getting hurt" seems to complete the justification to others. Sounds like groupthink to me.

I believe things would be different if the people making such justifications owed all or part of their income to copyrights they held.

Andy

Mark

I agree with Trotta, another commentator. Music is not something vital for human life. It is a nice thing, that other people do for others. The people who make the music, well, it's their music. You are welcome to make your own music, and market that as you see fit. As far as I am concerned, the person who makes the art has the right to do whatever the hell he wants with it.

I could make a CD that I only want available in one store, and only to people who wear baseball caps. Yes, that's stupid, but since I made it, I get the right to do what I want with it. If people don't like that, then they are free to make their own music.

MrRich

My guess is that everything you write is calulated to make the most money. Like this blog.

It really does not matter what folks think or belive, or what laws are passes. Copyright in a digital age is unenforceable.

As for folk only do it for the money. Well maybe in the US. But what about GPL and copyleft works? What about creative commons?

Not everyone is obsessed with getting rich. Making a fair living is enought for most.

Ugh

Face it, Scott.. that analogy stinks.

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