Freedom or Copyright? - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)

Alex Hudson home at
Sat Feb 9 15:03:51 UTC 2008

On Fri, 2008-02-08 at 21:48 +0100, Matthias-Christian Ott wrote:
> Sure, if you stick to law you can open a restaurant. You could also
> compose your own music for example, but if there's a huge industry which
> is flooding the market with advertisements and repeating certain songs
> over and over again you have no chance, because they are "indoctrinating"
> the people and they make them "dependent" by DRM.

You're confusing two entirely different issues. DRM is a technical
issue, and large sections of the music market are already rejecting it.
The perceived size/power/etc. of the music industry is almost completely
unrelated, since it's only really direct sales of music online which
have DRM applied in any case.

> Or do you think the average Joe will search for "free (as in freedom)
> music by artist I don't know who is not advertised and is making
> music not because of money jut because he likes to share his music
> with others"?

I don't think that's relevant. We have more people being paid to create
music right now than at any time previously, and the advertisements etc.
are what build cultural awareness of music. Music isn't culturally more
valuable if it isn't advertised, or if the musician is poor - actually,
it's usually the complete inverse of that. 

> Just look at the German "Schlager" music: It's music with the same
> contents and composition, produced for masses, sold and promoted by
> mass media.

You're passing a judgement on the quality of the culture based on the
mode of production. That's what I meant by 'elitist'.

> > Again, I have no problem with a gift economy, except for the suggestion
> > that it should be "the way" rather than "a way". There are substantial
> > problems with gift economies which many academics have written about:
> > there's nothing wrong with making money that way, but it's no perfect
> > solution.
> Do you have some openly accessible academic works that you cite.

It depends on which aspect of the criticism you wish to look at. Gift
economies deal badly with scarcity (abundance is virtually a
pre-requisite by definition), and while that works from a materials
point of view (little/no material required to manufacture digital works
themselves), the actual copying can only take place once the works are
actually created.

Fundamentally, the main issue is participation - the lack of it. I heard
Jimmy Wales say the other day that Wikipedia is primarily authored by
some figure in the low thousands, yet is consumed by probably millions.
See, e.g., particularly the references in this paper:

        "Although the communities that facilitate such economies are
        themselves unstable and rely, like other ‘alternative’ economic
        systems, upon a narrow band of active participants, such gift
        economies may emerge as the most significant and problematic
        legacy of the ‘new economy’"


> Because the only thing that's wrong with such a gift economy with our
> economical framework is the consciousness of the people. But as the
> first artists stop making art, people will recognise, that it's
> absolutely necessary to donate.

Donation is no way to reward people. It subjugates them, and turns them
into beggars. Art by patronage exists but is limited, but having moved
into a world where artists are properly paid for work and not reliant on
hand-outs, I doubt the majority of artists would go back.

That's the fundamental economic difference between this idea and free
software: free software essentially precludes a single business model
from several. This gift system effectively precludes all business
models. That's unjustifiable.



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