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Author Topic: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...  (Read 3000 times)

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Alex Libman

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Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« on: September 01, 2010, 04:43:48 PM »

The hardest part is choosing a cool acronym...

  • Libertarian Intellectual Business Model Actualization Network?

  • Voluntaryist Alliance to Generate Income for Needy Authors?

  • Web Entrepreneurs for Ending Destructive Predatory Intellectual Property Enforcement?

 :lol:

Now seriously...  I've frequently written about IP-based business models being possible in a free society through emerging incentives to enter into contractual obligations with other businesses (ex).  Perhaps some libertarians / voluntaryists / AnCaps would be willing to enter into such an alliance already, for the purpose of supporting like-minded individuals, and perhaps getting some money back yourself on the basis of intellectual merit.  The old idea of intellectual property -- buy and don't copy or I'll sue -- seems kind of outdated in the online world, even if we can establish a rational contractual basis for such a lawsuit, but I'm sure plenty of new ideas for monetizing authorship can be discovered.  

One possibility is to have this network / alliance / organization collect membership fees, and then divvy up the sum to pay the top member IP producers a share of the pie on the basis of readership (Web-site hits, podcast downloads, software usage statistics, etc) and/or quality rankings.  Obviously that economic model wouldn't work if it's just authors paying authors - it would require a less famous bottom ~97% of the pyramid to have some incentive to join and pay membership fees that benefit others.  Possible membership benefits would include: using authors' ad-space for the member's benefit (i.e. a centralized system of rotating ads across many authors' sites), bragging rights, exclusive merchandise with certificates of authenticity, access to members-only content (ex. software betas, support forums, feature requests) and IRL events (ex. at porcfest), etc...  and of course being a member is a prerequisite to becoming a paid author yourself if you're good enough someday.

Probably a better idea is not to have this network handle any money at all, but merely act as an authoritative transaction history database - member X donated Y dollars to member Z on this date.  This would avoid the problem of centralized management - people will always disagree on which formula to use for divvying up the pie, and fragmentation into multiple such alliances would weaken the economic base.  This would also allow members to use any possible means of value transfer (ex. bitcoin, gold, beans, bullets, whatever), although establishing a fair value of barter items for comparative purposes could complicate things quite a bit.  Members would then be ranked by class (ex. platinum, gold, silver, bronze, etc) both as authors and as supporters based on how much money they give / receive.  This would allow many of the same incentives mentioned in the previous paragraph, like only allowing access to something for "silver" donors or higher.

People who are not members of such an alliance (or "tin"-level members who've registered but haven't donated much) will be assumed to be infectious subhuman waste of matter until they start injecting money into the no÷sphere of libertarian ideas.  :roll:

None of those ideas are anywhere close to being even 1/10th baked, but ya gotta start somewhere...
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Terror Australis

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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2010, 12:32:05 AM »

  Your idea could work as a mutual credit society,complementary currency or LETS system ie http://project.cyclos.org/ or http://www.communityforge.net/.However these are more about creating stronger local economies.

  These systems work on alternative payment methods and barter rather than relying on central bank notes.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 12:35:32 AM by Terror Australis »
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Alex Libman

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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2010, 06:45:00 AM »

I think localism hype schemes like "LETS" are quite different from what I have in mind here.  Those systems are designed for symmetrical trade - you can come and fix my water heater, and I can bake you a pie, which we agree is a good deal for both of us.  No matter what means of exchange you use or how you hype it, the transaction is pretty straightforward.  Fixing one water heater does not fix all similar water heaters everywhere, and one can't make infinite copies of a pie that anyone and everyone can fill up on at ~0 cost.  What makes IP different is lack of natural scarcity, which means the author has no natural leverage in asking others to pay.

When L. Neil Smith had a problem with Ian supposedly "violating his intellectual property rights", he wasn't concerned that Ian wasn't putting out a sufficient quality or quantity of intellectual property himself to balance things out!  (Which is laughable, in my not-so-humble opinion, because in that regard Smith isn't fit to carry Ian's jockstrap!)  Smith was concerned about his own wallet - not that there's anything wrong with that, but it needs to be done in a fair and logical way.

What I'm trying to do is come up with a non-governmental alternative to the current IP laws, the purpose of which was to allow authors to make a living doing intellectual work full-time, and to create monetary rewards for intellectual excellence.  (In reality IP laws often had more sinister motivations, like a political censorship apparatus and a means of getting the "intellectual classes" deeper in bed with government force.)  Any system that tries to attach money to ideas would be a clumsy and artificial one, but that doesn't excuse relying on artificial scarcity in copying the information itself, or any other form of arbitrary aggression.

The author has the Right to reward those who pay for his work, but not to aggress against those that don't.  What is needed is a system of effective rewards that would encourage readers to open up their wallets voluntarily, and an alliance that would allow authors to pool their resources in implementing such a system.  Authors cannot control their information once it is released, but they can prove that they wrote something first (the Internet is like a giant time-stamp machine), and they can offer exclusive rewards to their paying patrons that are difficult or impossible to copy.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 06:57:06 AM by Alex Libman »
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Terror Australis

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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2010, 07:41:44 AM »

For inspiration you should check out the business model of Scott Sigler. http://www.scottsigler.com/

He gives away all of his books in audiobook version and if you like it you can purchase them.
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Alex Libman

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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2010, 01:41:58 PM »

That seems like a less effective economic model, almost akin to anonymous charity.  Sure, when I was growing up in Moscow, everyone liked to show off their vast bookshelf collections to visitors, and it was considered polite for a visitor to take his time to look, act impressed, and ask intelligent questions - but the culture we're living in now is completely different.  I might be ahead of the curve on the MatMin scale, but people are becoming ever-less interested in accumulating books and DVD's as status symbols / tokens of identity.  When downloading is faster and easier than walking up to a shelf, books become just objects that need to be dusted, lugged to a different room if repainting, and packed / unpacked when moving.  That amounts to a very poor incentive to support their authors.

Public recognition, on the other hand, is an increasingly effective motivator.  People like seeing their names on lists of donors, the higher up the better, or having a "gold medal" next to their name on reputable online forums.  People who fail to donate a socially acceptable sum to socially acceptable causes will become seen as the vulgar riff-raff unworthy of attention.  You get the idea.
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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2010, 05:58:39 PM »

It could work, but I think that by the time such a project is possible most people will have learned that making their work more widely available is basically free advertising, and greater exposure leads to greater income.
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Alex Libman

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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2010, 07:49:22 PM »

That only works for some fraction of people, like those who have tangible stuff to sell (ex. services, concert tickets, etc) in addition to the 1's and 0's they give away for free.  There's also the old paradigm of advertising, but even the dumbest Web-surfers are starting to figure out AdBlock.  Content authors need benevolent readers who'd throw a few bucks their way now and again, but most readers aren't motivated to do that (i.e. free rider problem).

That's where transparency and social pressure comes in.  Anonymous donations only work for small fraction of Jebusfreaks - most people want as much recognition for their buck as they can possibly get.  Authors need a way of selling readers "bragging rights", like having your name on FTL's AMP page.  (Too bad it doesn't track cumulative donations, I donated $100/month for a while but now there's no mention of that at all.)  We need something like an AMP page listing donors to libertarian causes, but an aggregate of possibly hundreds of different sites.  Then it will become a social expectation, like "keeping up with the Joneses" - a person who never donates will not be taken seriously, a person who donates too little per month will be seen as a loser, etc.
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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2010, 08:11:38 PM »

All the authors and musicians who are making money with voluntary contributions would certainly disagree. Your characterization of media consumers as being unwilling to compensate those who entertain them is contrary to fact.
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Alex Libman

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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2010, 08:44:03 PM »

Those making money with voluntary contributions are the "some fraction of people" I've mentioned above.  Lucky them.  Unfortunately it still doesn't work for most, especially in fields like blogging and FLOSS software development.  Through, speaking of the latter, here's a snippet from my recent copyFREE software newsletter thingie:

[...]  The various copyFREE projects seem to be very innovative in finding ways to fund their developer efforts.  Examples of this include: Time-limited Hybrid Source, code bounties (ex. DragonFly BSD, Haiku), contract work proposals / "reverse bounties" (ex. Haiku, NetBSD), BSD Fund's Visa card, CD and other merchandise sales (Free / PC / OpenBSD), and of course plain old individual project donations.  CopyFREE scripting languages like PHP and Python also seem to be the most marketable skills on sites like Freelancer.com [WP], vWorker.com (formerly called Rent-a-Coder / RAC), eLance.com [WP], oDesk  [WP], Guru.com [WP], BountySource.com [WP], and others.  In addition to obviously encouraging everyone reading this to use copyFREE software, I would also encourage everyone to look for ways to incorporate it into your business process - as an employer, employee, or both!

The purpose of this thread is to help libertarian writers, podcasters, bloggers, programmers, YouTube uploaders, forum trolls, etc find a way to encourage their readers / listeners / viewers to open up their wallets, and perhaps poll their resources in that effort for mutual advantage.
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Scott Bieser

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Re: Libertarian Intellectual Property Alliance...
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2010, 12:42:57 AM »

I am heartened to see this discussion and, in hopes it may continue I will contribute what I can.

While I'm not prepared to agree with the proposition that the product of mental labor which is neither tangible nor scarce cannot be considered "property," I do recognize that under present technological circumstances, alternative business models and strategies for rewarding creators of art and letters must be found, if we are not to lapse back into the upper-class-patronage model (or worse, state-patronage model) of the Middle Ages. Also, being an Agorist, I'm all about building non-aggressive alternatives to state institutions.

For starters, if you're looking for a group name, how about:

Voluntaryists In Support of Arts and Letters  (VISAL) ?

I think that setting up an organization to collect and disburse funds to worthy creators can present many difficulties but those are not insurmountable. The would require a core group of five or fewer people to "own" the plan and focus all their spare energies and talents in making it happen.

Or, one might follow the crowd-sourcing model of Kickstarter, in which people who want to undertake a project make a video sales-pitch and solicit donations from interested persons. Premiums can be offered for increasing donation levels, and the "prestige" idea can be used by such means as a mention in the credits of a completed project. Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing approach in which a specific level of donations is set, and the project isn't started until that level is reached, within a limited time frame. If donations fail to reach that level the project is canceled and donations are returned to donors.

Something a bit less onerous might be some sort of certification agency, which could endorse specific creators or specific projects as especially deserving of support by libertarians. You'd need to have advisory committees of reputable libertarians/voluntaryists who would donate time to review and recommend certification.

« Last Edit: September 04, 2010, 03:00:29 AM by Scott Bieser »
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