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Old 10-09-2007, 08:36 PM   #151
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We'll have to see what ends up working in the long run.
I just remembered an innovative web-based publishing model that I forgot to mention... Around 2001, Tad Williams, an excellent fantasy author, came up with an idea for a new series, and decided to publish it based on a subscription model, on the web. The web site had - in addition to the book content - forums, fan art, background sketches, history of the world, short stories set in the same universe... it was amazing.

Unfortunately, it failed - I think it was just too early. It was also somewhat expensive, $15 a month, I think. I was a member, and I loved the idea, but I guess I was one of the few.

I think with more people online now, and with a better price on the content, something like that could succeed. A webscription model, but with more depth to it...
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Old 10-09-2007, 11:57 PM   #152
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If I'm (finally) understanding what you're getting at, you're saying that copyright laws (mostly) worked when copying required a lot of infrastructure to do on any sort of scale, because only a few fairly large players could do it in enough quantity to make an impact, and those few were relatively easily tracked down if they got out of line.

But now, copying is so simple, cheap and easy, and distribution the same plus largely anonymous, which makes enforcement next to impossible because there are a multitude of small, more or less invisible "operations" which can have a great impact, individually and collectively.

So it's not so much that the copyright laws have stopped working as it is that the paradigm has shifted in such a way that what was enforcible, no longer is enforcible.
Ah... okay, I've got it, too, and I agree, it's a good point. (I confess, I really thought you were just arguing for giving it all away! )

Anyway, when described like that, it makes the situation sound even more dire. Your observations suggest that: The laws need to be rewritten; DRM needs to be better (I know, I know); and ultimately, it won't matter one way or the other unless an entirely new compensation model is applied. Actually, I think that if 1 and 2 are applied, 3 may not be necessary... but you might say the same about almost any combination of the 3. Besides, making substantive changes to any of the above will be a huge undertaking.

So where are we left? Are we all doomed to never make a dime on digital files? Should we all pack it in and start flipping burgers?
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Old 10-10-2007, 12:41 AM   #153
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Ah... okay, I've got it, too, and I agree, it's a good point. (I confess, I really thought you were just arguing for giving it all away! )
Well, in a way, I am. Because I think the changes are good, overall. I think it's painful for people used to the old way of doing things, but all in all, I think the benefits of free information outweigh the downsides.

But regardless of whether you think it's good or bad, it's inevitable. The question is no longer "is this a good thing", but "what do we do in this new reality?"

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Anyway, when described like that, it makes the situation sound even more dire. Your observations suggest that: The laws need to be rewritten; DRM needs to be better (I know, I know); and ultimately, it won't matter one way or the other unless an entirely new compensation model is applied. Actually, I think that if 1 and 2 are applied, 3 may not be necessary... but you might say the same about almost any combination of the 3. Besides, making substantive changes to any of the above will be a huge undertaking.
No, I think both DRM and laws are doomed to fail, and are more harmful than the alternative.

3 has to happen, basically, and it will. It might take a while, and there will undoubtedly be people who fall through the cracks. But eventually we'll find a new way to create content.

3 is also the most flexible of the above options - laws are tough to get right, technology is full of bugs and expensive, but there are thousands of content creators who have a very, very good reason to find a new way of making a living. So I think that part is inevitable, too.
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Old 10-10-2007, 07:49 AM   #154
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Well, in a way, I am. Because I think the changes are good, overall. I think it's painful for people used to the old way of doing things, but all in all, I think the benefits of free information outweigh the downsides.
One of those downsides is a LOT of people who stop giving us information or entertainment, because there's nothing in it for them. That's a lot of loss.
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Old 10-10-2007, 08:01 AM   #155
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Well, in a way, I am. Because I think the changes are good, overall. I think it's painful for people used to the old way of doing things, but all in all, I think the benefits of free information outweigh the downsides.
Apologies if I've misunderstood you, but what you seem to be saying is that you think everything should be free. That's all well and good, but who's going to provide this "free stuff" for you? How does the content creator, such as myself, make a living?
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Old 10-10-2007, 08:13 AM   #156
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One of those downsides is a LOT of people who stop giving us information or entertainment, because there's nothing in it for them. That's a lot of loss.
Then those people will have to figure out some other way. As Cory Doctorow has pointed out, bits will never get harder to copy, only easier.

Musicians have already figured it out. It was pretty easy for them since they made no money (and in some cases lost money) on their CD sales because of the recording industry. They made their money on live performances, T-shirt sales, and the like.
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Old 10-10-2007, 08:28 AM   #157
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Musicians have already figured it out. It was pretty easy for them since they made no money (and in some cases lost money) on their CD sales because of the recording industry. They made their money on live performances, T-shirt sales, and the like.
I can see that this could work for musicians, but what about book authors - or software authors, come to that. If their products are downloadable free of charge, how do they make a living?
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:02 AM   #158
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Make money on the support, maybe? Or consulting for other programmers...
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:16 AM   #159
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Make money on the support, maybe? Or consulting for other programmers...
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:20 AM   #160
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Then those people will have to figure out some other way.
No... for lack of compensation, most of those people will simply get other jobs (yes, including the good ones), and the world will be out a lot of music, literature, art, movies, textbooks, software and many other things. They won't all produce for free, just for the hell of it, as many people would obviously prefer.

Somehow, I don't think this is a workable way to go.
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:37 AM   #161
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No... for lack of compensation, most of those people will simply get other jobs .
As a photographer I agree 100%. Sorry guys but I need to eat. I don't have huge reserves that allow me to give stuff away and hope someone will take pity on me and slip be $20 now and again.
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Old 10-10-2007, 10:53 AM   #162
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As a photographer I agree 100%. Sorry guys but I need to eat. I don't have huge reserves that allow me to give stuff away and hope someone will take pity on me and slip be $20 now and again.
Same here, Martin. I think that some people are under the impression that all "creative" people are in it for some "higher purpose". For most of us it's just a job that pays the mortgage and puts food on the table, and we couldn't afford to do it if we didn't make money from it. "Donate-ware" just plain doesn't work - give the average person a choice about whether or not they'll pay for something and, surprise surprise, they'll opt for the "not".
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Old 10-10-2007, 11:31 AM   #163
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So, you've heard from a writer, a photographer, and a software designer: The word is, "You're on your own." Will the world really be better off when most of the rest of the creative talent of the world packs it in and becomes desk jockeys and cashiers?
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Old 10-10-2007, 12:46 PM   #164
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Will the world really be better off when most of the rest of the creative talent of the world packs it in and becomes desk jockeys and cashiers?
Actually, that may be the kind of pain it takes to convince people (as in society at large) that there is a good reason to pay for things even when they have the option of not doing so.


I'd still rather come up with something to head off the pain, myself. Unfortunately, while I may be good at summing up ideas and explaining them clearly, I'm not always so good at coming up with them in the first place.


Here's a half-baked one, though. How about a combination membership and subscription type model. The membership/subscription would be really cheap or even free. Being a member allows you to purchase content (whatever that is) at reasonable prices, but everything you download is somehow indelibly identified in some way as being associated with your membership. Then if something you download shows up where it shouldn't your membership would be revoked. Perhaps with a way to demonstrate that you weren't responsible for the leak (like actual theft of your library) or you can buy your way back in for some sort of (large) fee.

There are a lot of holes there, but perhaps it'll give someone else a starting point for a better idea.
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Old 10-10-2007, 01:08 PM   #165
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Here's a half-baked one, though. How about a combination membership and subscription type model. The membership/subscription would be really cheap or even free. Being a member allows you to purchase content (whatever that is) at reasonable prices, but everything you download is somehow indelibly identified in some way as being associated with your membership. Then if something you download shows up where it shouldn't your membership would be revoked. Perhaps with a way to demonstrate that you weren't responsible for the leak (like actual theft of your library) or you can buy your way back in for some sort of (large) fee.
Haven't people in the past tried music download systems whereby you could download whatever you wanted as long as you were a member, but it all stopped working as soon as your membership lapsed? That sounds a little like what you're describing (apologies if I've misunderstood you). I don't think they've been too popular with consumers - people want to "own" stuff (whatever "own" might mean with something like music).
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