DLOska on 26 Jul 2000 13:17:14 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Re: <.nettime> Terror in Tune Town

In a message dated 7/25/00 5:34:51 PM Eastern Daylight Time, eric@OAKTREE.com 

> I'm sorry, but the bottom line is IF YOU DIDN'T PAY FOR IT, IT ISN'T YOURS.
>  Artists invest their lives, and record companies invest money in their
>  product.  You can't justify or rationalize away the fact that widespread
>  _multipoint_ distribution of content without a quid pro quo is by
>  definition, distribution of stolen property.

I wanted to suggest a non-philosohical way of discussing the values of 
intellectual property, the labors of the artist, the labors of the 
distribution system etc.

At just the rudimentary level of microeconomics (and this would be the extent 
of my economics background) it would seem that Napster has created a 
fundamental shift in supply and demand. They have created a market with an 
infinite supply.

A supply/demand graph will show that as the supply of a product increases, 
the price decreases. It would be reasonable to infer that if supply is 
infinitely increased, the price would approach (and practically speaking, 
come to) zero.

This would be true of any product. If the supply of bread increased (and the 
demand stayed the same), the price of bread would decrease. If there was an 
infinite supply of bread, bread would cost nothing. And no matter how much 
labor was exerted to make the bread, the market could not bear a higher 
price, and as a result people in the bread production line would be forced to 
accept no remuneration for their labor.

Air, for example. Their is not a cash market for air, because, for practical 
purposes, the supply of air is infinite and no market could bear a monetary 
cost for the product.

How would Napster be different? At the level of the album, cassette, compact 
disc, etc. there were limits on supply in any given market which allowed the 
market to set price based. This does not hold within the Napster community. 
While an mp3 may materially exist as a file somewhere on someone's computer, 
for all intents and purposes, the file exists in an infinite capacity as it 
can endlessly be replicated.

I'll be honest. I'm not sure where to go from here with this argument. Will 
the producers stop making their products? Probably not. The bread maker in 
the infinite bread market would likely sustain their income by producing a 
different product. What alternative products can a musician make? A live show 
is an example of a musical product with a limited supply. Musicians can make 
their living touring, perhaps. (As Shakespeare made his living with stage 
productions of his plays, not by writing them or selling their text).

Just a different way of approaching this debate. If they're around this list, 
I'd like to hear an economist's view on this.

Douglas Leader

Nettime-bold mailing list