Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 593, October 31, 2010

"These times aren't exiting, they are downright exhilarating!"

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IP/No-IP remarks
by Warren Tilson

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I would like to throw some fresh meat into the IP/no-IP arena.

If you follow the links you will find that a German author has written a work about the relative lack of IP protection in German and comparing that to the same time period in England where they had very strong IP laws.

If I asked you to guess in what place authors made more money, most would go with The Merry Old but as it turns out even with rampant plagiarism authors in the German states did better than their English counterparts.

In fact even bad writers could earn good money in Germany while most writers, even most of the good ones in England made hardly anything.

So what happened was that plagiarism drove the costs of books so low it enabled millions of folks to buy them. So publishers had to compete on price and because books were being purchased at so little profit the publishers needed make their money on volume. That meant, to keep the pipelines full of stuff meant enticing authors to write more and thus paying authors much more than what English authors received.

Publishers also made money by selling special and deluxe editions to the more discerning members of the reading public.



Now would that work now given that people are plagiarizing works and giving copies away for free? I don't know.

Do I download stuff for free? No (save where permitted by the author or agents thereof). Do I want authors to make so much from writing that they continue to write? Yes, of course. Has a strict IP regimen always been needed to accomplish this? No. So is there a chance, even with our technology today, for this to happen without IP? Yes there is, I just don't know what percentage chance that is.

So, to be clear, this isn't a defense of plagiarism just an edification that all is not lost in the absence of strong IP enforcement.

Now for a possible solution to IP theft.

How I would protect creators of IP? If I owned an apartment block, or rented houses or even owned a city; in the tenant contract would be prohibitions against certain behaviors and plagiarizing and disseminating the work of others would be in there. Since the hypothetical plagiarizing tenants signed the contract they then cannot complain when I impose whatever sanctions are provided for when needed.

I would also probably belong to a network of landlords and I would make sure their names were made it onto the do-not-rent-to-these-scumbags list.

Any potential employees would be checked against this list as would possible business partners.

If enough people did this maybe, even in a world with no top-down imposed IP protection, such deviousness and rat-fuckery can be (mostly) eliminated.


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