Phil Graham on 26 Jul 2000 14:56:14 -0000

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

>At 09:12 AM 26/07/00 -0400, you wrote:
>>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.
>A non-philosophical way of discussing value, property and labour - good 
>one. You mean by using utility curves. Utility curves have a philosophy 
>(cf Bohm-Bahtwerk, Meinong, Hayek, Schumpeter, Marshall, RB Perry, ad 
>infinitum). In fact they took so much philosophical work to legitimise, 
>that the marginal value philosophers exhausted themselves by 1916.
>>At just the rudimentary level of microeconomics (and this would be the 
>>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.
>Since the age of mechanical reproduction of art, supply has been 
>theoretically infinite. Since the invention of the cassette recorder, it 
>has been practically infinite (my progeny and I can theoretically make 
>copies of Miss american pie till the end of time). Art is interation with 
>material, not the material itself.
>>A supply/demand graph will show that as the supply of a product increases,
>>the price decreases.
>No. In an ideal philosophical world that may be true. When philosophy 
>meets the muck of reality, which includes monopoly, price fixing, common 
>human greed, inequal capacity to buy, etc, idealised utility graphs are 
>not much use, despite what the current crop have to say (that's why 95% of 
>economic predictions are wrong - even on the toss of a coin, you'd be 
>unlucky to get less than 50% wrong).
>>It would be reasonable to infer that if supply is
>>infinitely increased, the price would approach (and practically speaking,
>>come to) zero.
>I thought this was a non-philosophical discussion. Now we have an infinite 
>supply of something.
>>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.
>Once the supply of bread exceeds the capacity for people to eat it, it 
>has, for all practical purposes, reached infinity. Why then, is tons of 
>bread thrown out each day and it still costs money?  You are eliding the 
>capacity of people, social conventions, inequalities to access, etc .... 
>this is pure philosophy.
>>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.
>Who would force them to make it? Who would force them to work for nothing?
>>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.
>There is a cash market for air. It's called the carbon tax.
>>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.
>So. What is the difference between napster and a cassette recorder? Are 
>you saying that a mode of distribition creates an infinity?
>>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 
>>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).
>Which Shakespeare? This is all as devoid of reality as the utility curve.
>>Just a different way of approaching this debate. If they're around this 
>>I'd like to hear an economist's view on this.
>Sorry to be so harsh, Pat. I hate marginal value theory. It's just so 
>barren of any reality.

Opinions expressed in this email are my own unless otherwise stated.
Phil Graham
Lecturer (Communication)
Graduate School of Management
University of Queensland
617 3381 1083

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