1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13622/germany-and-its-industrial-rise-due-to-no-copyright/

Germany and Its Industrial Rise: Due to No Copyright

August 18, 2010 by

I had known that copyright killed music in Britain in the 18th and 19th century and that the absence of copyright laws in Germany had encouraged its remarkable artistic culture. I had not known that the same is true of books generally. But this article details remarkable new research showing that this was indeed the case. The author of the research in question is Eckhard Höffner and his book is Geschichte und Wesen des Urheberrechts – not available yet in English.

Quoting Speigel:

Indeed, only 1,000 new works appeared annually in England at that time — 10 times fewer than in Germany — and this was not without consequences. Höffner believes it was the chronically weak book market that caused England, the colonial power, to fritter away its head start within the span of a century, while the underdeveloped agrarian state of Germany caught up rapidly, becoming an equally developed industrial nation by 1900.

Even more startling is the factor Höffner believes caused this development — in his view, it was none other than copyright law, which was established early in Great Britain, in 1710, that crippled the world of knowledge in the United Kingdom.

Germany, on the other hand, didn’t bother with the concept of copyright for a long time. Prussia, then by far Germany’s biggest state, introduced a copyright law in 1837, but Germany’s continued division into small states meant that it was hardly possible to enforce the law throughout the empire.

Höffner’s diligent research is the first academic work to examine the effects of the copyright over a comparatively long period of time and based on a direct comparison between two countries, and his findings have caused a stir among academics. Until now, copyright was seen as a great achievement and a guarantee for a flourishing book market. Authors are only motivated to write, runs the conventional belief, if they know their rights will be protected.

Yet a historical comparison, at least, reaches a different conclusion. Publishers in England exploited their monopoly shamelessly. New discoveries were generally published in limited editions of at most 750 copies and sold at a price that often exceeded the weekly salary of an educated worker.

London’s most prominent publishers made very good money with this system, some driving around the city in gilt carriages. Their customers were the wealthy and the nobility, and their books regarded as pure luxury goods. In the few libraries that did exist, the valuable volumes were chained to the shelves to protect them from potential thieves.

In Germany during the same period, publishers had plagiarizers — who could reprint each new publication and sell it cheaply without fear of punishment — breathing down their necks. Successful publishers were the ones who took a sophisticated approach in reaction to these copycats and devised a form of publication still common today, issuing fancy editions for their wealthy customers and low-priced paperbacks for the masses.

{ 62 comments }

Curt Howland August 18, 2010 at 8:13 pm

As is often the case, “conventional wisdom” has nothing to do with wisdom, and everything to do with “convention”.

Andras August 18, 2010 at 11:31 pm

You could also find “correlation” between the lack of copyright and the rise of Hitler.

Statureman August 19, 2010 at 9:48 am

Granted, correlation does not prove causality. But correlation does tell us much about things. Much of modern science is based on correlative study because you can’t prove causality with 100% certainty.

Also, using your line of thinking Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press and it’s correlation with the increase of literacy in the masses would mean nothing.

flix August 19, 2010 at 10:19 am

actually RTFA… the dates referenced show the opposite

Kerem Tibuk August 19, 2010 at 2:37 am

Funny title. There is a bit of disconnect with the post itself but that is really typical.

But my suggestion to all IP Socialist is that you stay away from the “utilitarian argument” because you would lose quicker.

By sticking to the moral argument, and by claiming that “you have right to the products of other people”, you at least have a chance to muddy the waters and confuse people with vague concepts and logical fallacies.

Peter August 19, 2010 at 2:43 am

Talk about muddying the waters and confusing people with vague concepts and logical fallacies!

Peter Surda August 19, 2010 at 5:08 am

By rejecting logic and deflecting in order to avoid having to admit your errors, you become a fraud, coward, hypocrite. It is not even worth the effort to call you an IP fascist. Although I have countless times explained that “you have right to the products of other people” is an unavoidable phenomenon, since causality extends to infinity, you continue to present it as the core of your beliefs. The belief in the self-contradictory does not make it true. It just unmasks you as a fraud.

Geoffrey Allan Plauché August 20, 2010 at 11:49 pm

How would we lose quicker with the utilitarian argument. What proof is there that IP spurs innovation on net, that its benefits outweigh its costs?

Anthony December 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Pathetic, Kerem.

Kerem Tibuk August 19, 2010 at 5:53 am

Peter,

“Although I have countless times explained that “you have right to the products of other people” is an unavoidable phenomenon, since causality extends to infinity, you continue to present it as the core of your beliefs.”

I have 4 year old son and even he would understand the difference between “being exposed to unavoidable and unintended consequences of other peoples actions, which is called externalities” and “claiming a right to consume particular objects with particular identities that were not nature given but produced by identifiable individuals”.

So this isn’t about intellect or rationality.

No sane person who has a grain of intellect would confuse “the situation where you gain because your neighbor keeps his house clean and painted” and “the situation where you gain because you purposefully copy your neighbors novel without asking his consent”.

Peter Surda August 19, 2010 at 6:03 am

I have 4 year old son and even he would understand the difference between “being exposed to unavoidable and unintended consequences of other peoples actions, which is called externalities” and “claiming a right to consume particular objects with particular identities that were not nature given but produced by identifiable individuals”.

There are plenty people that believe in things which do not exist. Besides, I refuted the relevance of all the conditions that you mention already.

Kerem Tibuk August 19, 2010 at 6:11 am

Peter,

Do you ever wonder why, you are the only IP Socialist, among the many on this site, that uses the “externality argument”?

My guess is that you are the only IP Socialist here that doesn’t know what an “externality” is.

Peter Surda August 19, 2010 at 7:03 am

Do you ever wonder why, you are the only IP Socialist, among the many on this site, that uses the “externality argument”?

No, I don’t. It could be that my approach is a new synthesis of existing knowledge and I am therefore a pioneer in the research of the concept of property from this point of view. As the one who crafted the argument, it could be that I spent more time on it than the others, giving me superiour and earlier understanding of it than others, who subsequently do not see the necessity of repeating the same. It could also be that others have less patience than me pointing out the obvious. But any of those would be hubris, so I don’t think that. Besides, I’m not the only one. Mises used it too, I only borrowed it from him and expanded upon it.

In addition to that, you deflect again. Unable to confront your opponent, you divert the attention. Pathetic.

And do you, Kerem, ever wonder how one can believe in things without any evidence or a coherent logical foundation?

Stephan Kinsella August 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm

“No, I don’t. It could be that my approach is a new synthesis of existing knowledge and I am therefore a pioneer in the research of the concept of property from this point of view. As the one who crafted the argument, it could be that I spent more time on it than the others, giving me superiour and earlier understanding of it than others, who subsequently do not see the necessity of repeating the same. It could also be that others have less patience than me pointing out the obvious. But any of those would be hubris, so I don’t think that. Besides, I’m not the only one. Mises used it too, I only borrowed it from him and expanded upon it.”

Yes. this makes sense. But since you created it, according to Kerem, you own it. heh.

Scott D August 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Peter’s argument makes perfect sense to me. It is very easy to construct situations that involve IP where another party benefits indirectly, such as owning a house on a cliff that overlooks a concert stadium. It is clear that the benefits to the homeowner of watching or even recording a performance from such a vantage occurs outside of the transaction between the band and the concert-goers. Then you realize that the cliffside homeowner and the downloader are really no different and that, in both cases, IP is merely an attempt to stop the externality from propogating onwards without limit.

Russ the Apostate August 19, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Scott D. wrote: “Peter’s argument makes perfect sense to me.”

I consider Peter’s framework to be irrelevant. So there is an infinite chain of causality. So what? (BTW, I am not pro-IP. I am just anti-bad-arguments-against-IP.)

“I have countless times explained that “you have right to the products of other people” is an unavoidable phenomenon, since causality extends to infinity”

When put so baldly (by Peter, BTW), it seems obvious (to me at least) that this is a non sequitur. Because you can’t derive ought from is, rights don’t follow logically from the fact that causality extends to infinity. Even if you could derive ought from is, I don’t see how lack of IP rights would immediately follow from causality.

Not only that, I agree with Kerem Tibuk that the way Peter words his argument in pure abstractions with no intuitively apparent connection with the issue at hand seems intended to purposefully confuse the issue, not make it more clear. This almost seems like intentional “intellectual terrorism”, although I’m not sure that it is.

OTOH, I think the “IP socialist” stuff is uncalled for, too. Maybe we should call Kerem an “IP fascist” until he stops this nonsense?

Peter Surda August 19, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Russ,

you forget that I’m a falsificationist, I do not prove, I disprove.

Because you can’t derive ought from is, rights don’t follow logically from the fact that causality extends to infinity. Even if you could derive ought from is, I don’t see how lack of IP rights would immediately follow from causality.

You are correct, it does not follow. However, that is not my argument. (some) IP proponents claim that introduction of IP fixes the problem of not being in control of the outcome of your actions. My argument is that it does not fix the problem because the problem is unfixable. So the original argument is unusable for explaining why IP should be preferred to non-IP.

Not only that, I agree with Kerem Tibuk that the way Peter words his argument in pure abstractions with no intuitively apparent connection with the issue at hand seems intended to purposefully confuse the issue, not make it more clear.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. The is indeed a conflict is between precision and vagueness, but it is exactly the opposite of what you present. Why is my use of “pure abstractions” confusing, while IP proponents referral to “fruit of labour”, “rearranging/instantiating patterns”, “extending sovereignty”, “creation of mind”, “stolen benefits”, or, my favourite, “natural reflection”, on account of being intuitive, is somehow more clear?

Matthew Swaringen August 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I still haven’t heard a good definition for IP even though I’m supposed to “just know” what you guys are talking about. Does a word count? A sentence, a paragraph, an essay? How much does it take for something to be IP? To me this is important, I want to know what it is and why 1 word less than whatever it is automatically makes it not IP.

Since many of the arguments are utilitarian, I want to know the utilitarian theory on exactly why copyright terms must be X number of years or IP must be X number of words or whatever.

Until we get there it’s all abstraction. There isn’t even any specific definition of IP being defended.

(I realize my example using words doesn’t apply directly to images, but I’d have to ask the same thing there. At what point does an image constitute IP, how many “pixels” or how many lines/polygon/etc.)

Ayn Rand August 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Russ, please be nice to my boy.

Kerem Tibuk August 20, 2010 at 4:16 am

Matthew,

“Does a word count? A sentence, a paragraph, an essay? How much does it take for something to be IP? To me this is important, I want to know what it is and why 1 word less than whatever it is automatically makes it not IP.”

Yes all of that count, but that is irrelevant.

The issue you are dealing with, and it is a typical one, shows you are not really aware that this is an ETHİCS issue.

Ethics is the study of “right and wrong” or “how men ought to act”, it is not a study of size. Yes, a word is a smaller pattern than a poem and a poem is smaller in size than a novel.

But why is this relevant?

If you know a word, (or a sentence or a poem or a novel,etc) exists because a certain individual created it, and it wouldn’t exist if he didn’t (I am not saying it would ever exist but in this instance it owes its existence to a specific individual) , and if you choose to use it as a means to reach your end, and if you have the chance to purposefully use it or not and if you know the creator wishes to extend his sovereignty over it and didn’t give it as a gift to humanity, you ought respect the creators wishes. This is an ethical proposition just like similar propositions dealing with any kind of homesteaded property. You can replace the word “word”, poem, novel with any other tangible property.

There may be times, when an already created pattern doesn’t have an identifiable owner, there may be times where the creator just gave the pattern away for glory, there may be times, there may be times where someone independently created the exact pattern that was already created, or there may even be times where a crime was committed in unauthorized copying and the owners can not prove this to be so, or there may be mistakes like mistaken trespass where the aggression was purposeful.

These all may happen and it would effect the actions of the man that ought to act a certain (ethical) way.

But as anyone knows, the issue that is constantly advocated by some blog posters here is something else.

These guys know that some pattern owes its existence to some specific individual, they know that individual wants to keep his creation as his property, there is no accidents, mistakes regarding the trespass where they come across a song and they copy it because they sincerely thought it was given away for free by its owner.

No, they claim they have right to these patterns. They want to socialize privately produced property, they want all IP to be the property of the society, where “creators would create according to their ability and consumers consume according to their need” and the creators would survive on charity.

So yes Russ, the term IP Socialist is called for. If these guys would claim “land couldn’t be property but everything else would” like Georgists, I would call them “Land Socialists”.

Peter Surda August 20, 2010 at 4:52 am

The issue you are dealing with, and it is a typical one, shows you are not really aware that this is an ETHİCS issue.

It is not an ethics issue but a logic issue and people making up stuff and believing in things that do not exist. Illogic and fantasy cannot be ethical or unethical.

If you know a word, (or a sentence or a poem or a novel,etc) exists because a certain individual created it, and it wouldn’t exist if he didn’t …

Yet again, you revert to defining the underlying principles through causality, yet refuse to face the reductio ad absurdum that follows from the Theory of Claims on Causality.

These guys know that some pattern owes its existence to some specific individual,

Whatever a pattern means, it cannot exist without the physical. That refutes your other claim that IP creates ownership of unowned things.

No, they claim they have right to these patterns.

That is an interpretation following from assumptions you made up. Regardless of that however, the same phenomenon also means that you claim you have a right to other people’s physical goods.

The Kid Salami August 20, 2010 at 8:55 am

Peter – to reproduce the scenario I put to someone else yesterday,

If I step onto your land and promise: only to step on stainless steel (thereby not altering the land in any measureable way); to never to be in your line of sight; not to move anything; nor ever get in in your physical way, then the only change to your life from before is also in your “mind”. On what basis then do you prevent me from stepping onto your land?

do you agree that you can prevent me from stepping on your land or not?

mpolzkill August 20, 2010 at 9:43 am

Do anything you like on a facsimile of Peter’s land, Kid, I don’t think he’ll have a problem, even if he calls his land, “Disney Land”.

mpolzkill August 20, 2010 at 9:59 am

BTW, this is an amusing variation on Tibuk’s delirious formulation (and notions) about raping a sleeping woman (or man!) without touching them. My variation on this refutation of a faulty analogy was deemed by some too filthy for this site.

The Kid Salami August 21, 2010 at 6:02 am

yes, Peter won’t answer my question either because he thinks I’m assembling an argument to get out of the “incident” i was involved in with a female guest at a drunken party last week or because he knows that you can’t apply his arguments to tangible property rights.

Peter Surda August 21, 2010 at 6:24 am

The Kid Salami,

I just wanted to assemble a verbose answer, but now you have to do with a terse one.

There are two unfounded assumptions in your claim. The one is that world is 2D rather than 3D. The second one is that it is possible to interact with the physical world without changing it.

The Kid Salami August 21, 2010 at 7:14 am

I didn’t “claim” anything, I asked you a question, which you didn’t answer.

Brian Macker August 21, 2010 at 7:36 am

“Because you can’t derive ought from is”

I’ve always been suspicious of this claim. If you can’t derive ought from is then where does ought come from, and why is it so dependent on is? Everyone I’ve ever come across has always made it dependent on an is.

For example, “If you don’t wish retribution (from god, or the owner, or the courts, or whoever) then don’t steal”. This sentence can only make sense if all the “is” parts pertain and it depends on no additional ought statements whatsoever. It is only true if all the is parts are true. Do you wish retribution, yes or no, that is an “is”. Does god, the owner, the courts, or whoever will retribute exist, yes or no, that is an “is”. Stealing is and “is”. Etc.

I think the actual fallacy here is believing that “oughts” are not derived from “is”. Hell, if I ought to have chocolate ice cream depends on the “is” of whether I like it. The fallacy rests perhaps in the belief that desires are not in the realm of “is” but they are.

Common systems of morality can be derived for those who share desires and since we are replicators that is not such a hard thing to do.

Sure there may be some random copy who likes pain, and doesn’t care about retribution, etc, and they will not accept the common morality. So much the worse for them since they will have to suffer (or enjoy in their estimation) the retribution.

Brian Macker August 21, 2010 at 7:47 am

Matthew Swaringen,”I still haven’t heard a good definition for IP even though I’m supposed to “just know” what you guys are talking about. Does a word count? A sentence, a paragraph, an essay? How much does it take for something to be IP?”You sound like a lawyer arguing the case for a hair dye manufacturer who’s product causes peoples hair to fall out based on the gradations that naturally exist in baldness.”I still haven’t heard a good definition for baldness even though I’m supposed to “just know” what you guys are talking about. Does a hair count? A follicle, a clump, a patch? How much does it take for something to be bald?”I suggest you look into the established law. There are rules and no a word isn’t copyrightable. Just as you cannot sue a hair dye manufacturer for causing your baldness if a single hair falls off your head (a normal occurrence), you can claim copyright infringement for the normal occurrence of people using single words.I think you are being purposely dense here because obviously you cannot copyright a single word for the simple reason that you didn’t invent it. I’m assuming the normal usage of the term word for one that communicates information. Nonsense words don’t communicate any information in the first place, so that doesn’t even apply to the “I” part of IP.

Peter Surda August 21, 2010 at 7:48 am

You are asking the wrong question. You are asking about “should” before clarifying the “is”.

Physical goods do not exist in 2D world. Objects do not cover area, they covers space and time. Two objects cannot occupy the same space&time simultaneously. By going into a position for a specific time period, you prevent other objects from being able to occupy that position during the same period.

The second issue is the observer effect.

IP theories want to mimick these two phenomena (the existence of mutually exclusive states and interaction causing a change to the object being interacted with) by using metaphors. They re-interpret things happening in physical world as things happening in the non-physical world. But that only happens in people’s heads.

If you want to claim a right to copy a book, for example, that is merely a reinterpretation of a claim of certain usage of ink, paper, and other physical objects. You cannot copy a book without using physical material, even if it just orientation of parts of metal on a disk or presence of electrons in memory.

Only after we have clarified that the question revolves around usage of physical goods, we can investigate what distribution should be preferred to other. We cannot investigate whether an impossible premise is a “should” because it is not an “is”.

Peter Surda August 21, 2010 at 7:52 am

I’ve always been suspicious of this claim.

Then maybe you should think about a somewhat related claim: you cannot derive an “ought” from an “is not”.

Brian Macker August 21, 2010 at 7:59 am

“The second one is that it is possible to interact with the physical world without changing it.”

Good point and one I have used to support copy right laws. You cannot physically copy my book without wearing it out every so perceptively. You cannot copy it without interfering with the owner.

Every copy is a physical instantiation. There is no Platonic plane on which they exist. In order to copy a book you need access to a physical book, and since every single copy is co-owned by the copyright holder with regards to copying rights you cannot copy them without permission.

Peter Surda August 21, 2010 at 8:20 am

Good point and one I have used to support copy right laws. You cannot physically copy my book without wearing it out every so perceptively. You cannot copy it without interfering with the owner.

Except you are arguing against a strawman. IP opponents (at least those on this site) do not claim that you should not be able to restrict usage of physical goods you sell or own. Rather they claim that these restrictions do not jump to other physical goods merely due to the presence of causality. If I read a book, for example, and later summarise a story to another person, that speech does not change the book. So why should that another person be bound to any restrictions?

The Kid Salami August 21, 2010 at 7:16 pm

“Physical goods do not exist in 2D world. Objects do not cover area, they covers space and time. Two objects….”

Peter – was this directed at me? You appear to be saying that you can prevent me from entering your land because the space is scarce and I’ll be using that and thereby violating your property rights. Ok. But planes can pass over right without being considered to be violating your rights? So, how low do I have to be before I am violating? 10 feet? 100 feet?

I know this is stupid. The point is that there is no precise answer – like the example above, hair products for bald men exist despite the fact that we can’t define bald, and property rights exist and are very useful despite the fact that we can’t say exactly what they are or even define “property” or a “property rights violation” in any general sense. The laws governing the exchange of property have evolved, they weren’t thrashed out in advance by anyone, nor could they be – there is simply no way that property rights can all be defined with a priori logical reasoning. This would mean the evolution of rules of thumb – and these can, if need be, be contradictory, with contradictions being resolved on a case by case basis.

A free market can “choose” to have these contradictory rules of thumb – meaning your, and others, insistence that the rules all be based on watertight logic makes no sense to me at all. And from an economics point of view, rules of thumb (that usually are fine but can be contradictory in certain rare scenarios) mean low transaction costs in general but occasional tricky situations that have to be resolved expensively, whereas insisting that everything flow from a single principle or a logically consistent set of axioms limits the available rules of thumb, and so although this can eliminate the tricky edge cases it raises the cost of every exchange of property.

Peter Surda August 22, 2010 at 8:12 am

Peter – was this directed at me?

Yes.

You appear to be saying that you can prevent me from entering your land because the space is scarce and I’ll be using that and thereby violating your property rights. Ok. But planes can pass over right without being considered to be violating your rights? So, how low do I have to be before I am violating? 10 feet? 100 feet?

This is merely a matter of determining the scope of actions that happened in the past, not whether space can be owned or not. Block deals with this to a certain extent, e.g. in Privatization of Roads and Highways. If you want to homestead higher, raise a high stick on your premises.

hair products for bald men exist despite the fact that we can’t define bald, and property rights exist and are very useful despite the fact that we can’t say exactly what they are or even define “property” or a “property rights violation” in any general sense

The hair product do not require a universally valid definition of baldness, they merely require the two participants in a contract to agree on a definition. If they do not agree, they do not need to enter a contract. I already pointed out this fallacy a long time ago: merely because two people can agree on a definition, it does not follow that this creates some abstract phenomenon valid throughout the whole universe.

A free market can “choose” to have these contradictory rules of thumb – meaning your, and others, insistence that the rules all be based on watertight logic makes no sense to me at all.

Again, same problem. Different groups can choose contradictory definitions for their internal interaction, it does not follow that those rules are universally applicable to people who do not agree with them.

I believe I used the example of Pluto being reclassified as a dwarf planet. That is merely astronomers’ choice based on the requirements of their work. That does not create a universally valid concept of “dwarf planets” that they can use to prosecute others who call Pluto a planet.

The Kid Salami August 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm

“This is merely a matter of determining the scope of actions that happened in the past, not whether space can be owned or not”

No it isn’t – you can’t write down “The Homesteading Rules” in advance and apply them to every new case. There will always be scenarios that arise that are not covered by your a priori analysis.

“Again, same problem. Different groups can choose contradictory definitions for their internal interaction, it does not follow that those rules are universally applicable to people who do not agree with them.”

No. I’m not talking about different groups taking up contradictory rules, I’m talking about a group – the same person in fact – having two rules of thumb in his head that are contradictory. I went into this a day or two ago, so won’t repeat myself.

http://blog.mises.org/13564/the-superiority-of-the-roman-law-scarcity-property-locke-and-libertarianism/#comment-714470

As a concrete example, here in the UK, in the event of a crash, when there is one person on the main road and one entering from a side road, the person coming from the side road is in general held liable.

Also, when there is only room for one car because of a parked car, the person who is on the side of the parked car is in general the one who should give way and if both went at once and crash, this would determine who is at fault.
But you can easily imagine a (common) scenario where these rules are conflict – where someone is entering a main road from a side road while also the person on the main road has a car on his side, meaning there is restricted space. People in general manage to work things out despite the conflicting rules, but if they crash, who is liable then? This would likely be long and drawn out process because here these two rules conflict.

Insisting on a logically consistent set of rules would mean one of these had to be thrown out, introducing uncertainty in a great deal of situations in which there was none before. The cost of the occasional long and drawn out process is more than covered by the benefit of having the normal everyday transactions go smoothly and quickly.

And who mentioned forcing people to do anything? I’m talking about rules/laws that evolve on a free market – the most popular arbitration body, whoever they are, could easily be the one that does exactly as I’m describing. I’m happy to let the market decide – but are you telling me that it is IMPOSSIBLE that contradictory laws like I describe can emerge on a free market?

HayeksHeroes August 19, 2010 at 11:05 am

I’ve been trying to get a bootleg copy of Bourbon before Breakfast without having to enrich those gilded caged professors over a the Mises Institute. Can anyone shoot me over a pdf copy?

Amazon wants $20 dollars.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1933550899/ref=dp_olp_0?ie=UTF8&redirect=true&qid=1282233727&sr=1-2&condition=all

Dan August 19, 2010 at 11:16 am

Sure. Go here: http://mises.org/resources/5509/Bourbon-for-Breakfast

First link on that page is a PDF version.

Stephan Kinsella August 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm

hahahah pwnage.

Brian Macker August 21, 2010 at 7:50 am

Great, I won’t be paying for it.

Anthony December 8, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Nobody asked you to.

Franklin August 20, 2010 at 10:36 am

Twenty bucks is ridiculous. I’ll give it to you for ten.
Deal?

Andras August 19, 2010 at 11:25 am

Can we research quality as well not just quantity? How many original work came along. How many is still remembered? Can you list any significant German author from that era? Isn’t it possible that the system just cannibalized the existing resources?

Richard August 19, 2010 at 11:49 am

Try reading Hoffner’s book. Maybe he answers those questions.

Silas Barta August 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Yes, and maybe the answer didn’t support Jeffrey_Tucker’s thesis, which may be why he left out this crucial data point.

jmorris84 August 19, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Since when does copyright protection also equate to more quality?

Silas Barta August 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Since The Dark Knight vs. the top YouTube videos?

Do you post on Less Wrong, btw?

Matthew Swaringen August 21, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Youtube videos are also covered by copyright.

ayn rand August 19, 2010 at 8:21 pm

goethe’s “faust” is still remembered.

Silas Barta August 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

4chan.org processes 100x as many words of text than the textbook industry. OBVIOUSLY, obviously that means what they produce is 100x better quality, and anyone who disagrees is a pro-terrorist pro-Big Content shill.

Magnus August 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm

You’re absolutely right, Silas. Where would some our creepy libertarian friends, over at the Mises forum, get their child pornography, if it weren’t for the IPless utopia that is 4chan?

Tim August 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm

First of all, there is no child pornography on 4chan. For that, you need to go to 12chan. Secondly, you’re underestimating 4chan as a source of creative intellectual potential. Almost every single internet joke or meme somehow finds its origin in its bowels. If you have a sick sense of humor and can handle all the crap that flows through there, 4chan may be a treasure trove for all sorts of no holds barred entertainment. There are no rules except against that which gets the site in trouble and everyone seems to get along just fine. Ironically such an arrangement could serve as a model for an order arising from what seems to be complete wanton chaos.

You can only keep a monopoly ownership for something that is sufficiently scarce for you claim physical propriety over. If you own a nice new frock, only one other person can steal and wear that frock. Ideas and digital data can however, be replicated infinitely. So long as demand for new intellectual content exists, people will copy and redistribute it whenever possible. It is not stealing as the original creator doesn’t lose anything. It is allowing people to have that which they otherwise would either not heard of, or simply not bothered purchasing.

A great deal of IP advocacy rests on the assumption that process of copying other works does not reward the original creators because the copiers will necessarily choose the free option over the commercially available one. It ignores the fact that the increased exposure to the works and their free distribution will eventually offset the losses suffered from those who chose to download instead of buying the product. A writer whose work is hitherto unknown could benefit greatly from uploading his works for free on say a literary minded community because a greater number of people would be exposed to them and there’s no cost in copying and publishing each additional unit. Some might even become fans and purchase his works. Whatever the case, a lot more people would hear of and read his book than would have otherwise. That is why the predictions of whether the actions of choice individuals would negatively impact the sales of the product if it was freely available on the net, usually stem from a wrongheaded approach.

Today we have a bubble economy for almost everything, including entertainment. We have films made with huge budgets spent on special effects and massive salaries for overpaid, overrated actors for the sole purpose of garnering as many seats in the theater as possible. Movies bereft of content and as brain dead and shallow as the studio producers’ views of the audience they cater to. We have games obsessed with straining the console or PC hardware only to deliver their overglorified visual experience, all other considerations such as originality, aesthetic and actual quality of content thrown out. Video gaming should have long entered a new form of art, instead it lingers in the form of mass gratification. That the entertainment industry is entering dire financial straits should be seen as a blessing. The collapse of current system (allegedly the result of piracy) would by no means destroy artists, game designers and film directors no more so than the collapse of Wall Street would forever end the careers of bankers.

Without the means and methods to forcibly withhold a freely available, infinitely reproducible form of intellectual content, creativity would not be stifled, but on the contrary, it would flourish. With multi million dollar budgets and salaries no longer being the norm, films would focus on actual quality and good direction rather than special effects and big name actors. The artist would have more control over his work, as opposed to the producer. Film studios would seek to foment a steady fanbase loyal followers who will be ready to purchase and promote their works, just as Ken Loach has done with his successful youtube channel. Games would actually be made with the player’s enjoyment in mind rather than for the sole purpose of stretching the limits of graphical hardware or introducing a new technical gimmick. New genres of games would be created to satisfy niche gaming groups – something unthinkable in today’s market dominated by big name, big budget titles. Overall, a consumer would have not only more choice in what to play, but also in what not to play – no longer will you waste 50 bucks on some overhyped and overrated title that you find to be a complete waste of time and money (cough Starcraft II). On the other hand, that 10 year old game or movie you still enjoy which would have otherwise rotted in some Gamestop budget bin in the era of IP totalitarianism, is now available for millions to download, share, enjoy and preserve. Ultimately it will be their decisions and their tastes that will drive future game design and movie direction. That is the true essence of a free market.

The problem with IP is the same as the problem with other forms of statism. The whole idea is that without some set of rules or laws that can only be maintained through coercive force, society will collapse and people’s creative potential will all of a sudden disappear. What’s sad about it is that some people mistakenly support it from a libertarian, property minded approach. They refuse to accept the nature of changing technology and ignore the most important aspect of libertarianism – that it is the rationally driven choices and actions of individuals which push forward society.

I know that this comment is terribly off topic, however I feel that only in a website like this, which understands the ideas and driving motivations behind libertarianism, can such views be openly expressed and understood by the community. Sadly, the idea of liberty still very much lies in the very back of the public mind, and I think it would take a long time and education for these kind of views to be at least recognized, let alone accepted by the general populace.

Silas Barta August 19, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Any argument you want to offer that we haven’t heard before?

mpolzkill August 19, 2010 at 5:08 pm

A big George Lucas fan here, Tim, I think you cheesed him off. This is a great review that goes right along with your post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI&feature=related

Be sure to check out its sequel. The Empire is harassing him so much that he may never do the final instalment, sad to say.

Goebbels August 19, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Repetition works. Just ask Silas.

Stephan Kinsella August 20, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Great quote from a Salon article commenting on this:
“We may have more to gain, economically, from removing impediments to the widespread distribution of knowledge than from attempting to restrict them.”

Yeah, learning is good!

Silas Barta August 20, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Yeah!!! Look at me, daddy, I’m opposing IP because learning is good! Learning good! IP bad!

Geoffrey Allan Plauché August 20, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Silas, your kid is wiser than you. :)

Geoffrey Allan Plauché August 20, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Jeff,

You might be interested in this article just published on Gizmodo: “Copy Protection Hasn’t Changed Much Since Medieval Times.” The title is misleading though, because the author conflates real property and intellectual “property,” taking a physical thing and copying an idea. Still, the article has some interesting examples of curses and warnings against theft placed upon hard-to-produce, very valuable medieval texts.

Liviu September 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Give the power to the people and they will show the way, e.g. “fancy editions for their wealthy customers and low-priced paperbacks for the masses”.

Should the music industry had understood this when file sharing occurred 10 years ago, it wouldn’t have reached such a dead end (and therefore low profits). Instead of suing their customers they should have opened the way for easy access & controlled download for their customers, all for the right price.

ftiens September 9, 2010 at 4:07 am

Follow these links to read more. Should you require any more vitamins for blood circulation please visit his increase circulation resources

ftiens September 9, 2010 at 4:10 am

Follow these links to read more on baldness please visit my Severe baldness resources

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: