Kevin Kelly: When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.
The key to understanding why piracy hurts publishers (or they claim it hurts publishers although this has never been empirically proven) is because publishers run on the business model of selling copies. Before the digital age, the selling of art was all about the selling of copies. This is how the analog world works. You make a copy of the work, put it in a container and then sell the container.
But when the internet came upon us, there was a paradigm shift. Unlike in the real world, copying became infinitely cheap and accessible. (in fact it was nearing that point with the arrival of tapes, CDs and the DVDs anyway)
“the free flow of free copies tends to undermine the established order. If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?”
The article goes on to say,
“I have an answer. The simplest way I can put it is thus:
When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable.
When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.”
“Consider “trust.” Trust cannot be copied. You can’t purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you’ll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world.”
Not only trust. There is immediacy, accessibility, findability, physical goods, advertisement (i.e. attention), generosity.
Indeed, generosity is a business model!