Fwd: paying artists (was: Re: Freedom or Copyright? - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation) (FSF)

Alex Hudson home at alexhudson.com
Thu Feb 14 19:51:27 UTC 2008

On Thu, 2008-02-14 at 19:43 +0000, David Gerard wrote:
> On 14/02/2008, Alex Hudson <home at alexhudson.com> wrote:
>  >  I really don't buy into the "they don't have a right to earn a living
>  >  unless they can make money on it on their own" arguments that some
>  >  people have implied. It is possible to view copyright as a kind of
>  >  monopoly, but in a true economic sense, it's nothing of the sort because
>  >  equivalent goods and services are available from a range of different
>  >  places (in the case of music, perhaps not as many as you'd want, but
>  >  still not a true monopoly).
> This appears to be attempting to argue semantics. The whole point of
>  copyright is to provide an entirely artificial monopoly. The social
>  question then becomes what that is for.

I don't think that's semantics. A monopoly is a position in a good or
service where what what you provide has limited or no feasible
substitute, allowing you to control the price. That's not what copyright
really provides: while no-one else can supply exactly what you're
supply, in many or most cases it's entirely substitutable, so you're
still competing against other vendors. In the case of someone collecting
a specific artist or similar, perhaps you could use the word monopoly in
the traditional sense, but that's not how most buyers operate.

>  Your posts to this list have been largely equivocation; you're now
>  trying to retrospectively redefine your terms.

I would suggest that if that's what you think I'm doing, you haven't
fully understood the points I'm trying to make, and I apologise for not
being clear enough.

The point I'm trying to get across is that it's very easy to make
sweeping statements against copyright, way beyond RMS' essay (he only
mentioned non-commercial copying, which I think is admirable if
difficult to define), without considering what could be substantial
economic damage. Already I've seen people effectively write off entire
genres of music and the film industry, and when I point out that it
could result in less cultural output I really don't think the response
"well, it's not naturally sustainable then" is any kind of adequate
answer. You can argue copyright is artificial, and of course it is, but
then you can say that about any contractual arrangement or other trade. 



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