The Legacy Entertainment Industry’s Business Model: Charge A Ridiculous Markup On The ‘Copy File’ Command

Rick Falkvinge: “Increasingly, the copyright industry has tried to assert that “the free market will sort it out” in the field of culture sharing. The problem is that the copyright industry’s monopolized view is anything but a fair and free market.

The copyright industry likes to pretend that making copies is somehow “stealing” and that on a fair and free market, everybody would be forced to buy from them. As is obvious to everybody else, this is the complete opposite of a fair and free market.

When somebody buys something, no matter what, they own it. They have the right to do pretty much anything with it, they have the right to perform work on the object they have bought. Such work includes duplicating the object that you own; on a fair and free market, such duplication work is an offering like any other that competes with other people performing a duplication of the object in question.

In culture sharing, people perform this work for free for one another – duplicate files for one another – as a good social deed, just like helping anybody else out with your own time is a good deed. (The copyright industry tries to vilify this activity as somehow being immoral and unfair, which completely misses the positive social mechanisms of good people helping friends and strangers alike, and only makes the copyright industry appear absurd, anachronistic, and downright evil.)

Thus, the copyright industry deliberately confuses the goods that they offer for sale with the service of duplication, which is a completely different kind of offering. The service of duplication is what’s on an immoral, anachronistic monopoly, not the goods themselves.

On a fair, free market, anybody is able to perform this work, as well as offer it for sale if they think their particular duplicative work is cost-effective.

However, the copyright industry has the audacity and the entitlement to call out people who compete with them for this service as “thieves”, “immoral”, and “unjust”. That can only come from living in a complete world of denial and entitlement.

In a fair and free market, competitiveness rules, and nobody has a monopoly – such as the copyright monopoly – on doing a particular kind of work, like duplication of a specific object. If somebody else can duplicate your original at a lower cost than yourself, then you weren’t able to compete and you’ll find yourself out of business. That’s called marginal cost – that competition takes place on the additional cost of every product once the investments are made, on the cost of duplicating an original – and that’s how the market works for all products in fair and free markets. It’s actually Economics 101.

In my world, and in a fair and free market, any entrepreneur or executive that claims a moral right to prohibit others by law from competing with them can fuck off and die.

Further, our economy works by people specializing, and paying each other for work that somebody else does more efficiently. If an electrician is better at wiring my home than I am, then I have the option of paying such a craftsman for his/her time, rather than spending my own time. That’s why we evolve as an economy and a civilization.

The competition in the copyright monopoly and culture-sharing field is about who executes the “copy file” command the most cost-efficiently. That is largely a pointless debate, as the cost of executing a “copy file” command is trillionths of a cent – nobody would buy it from anybody, as everybody can do it themselves. Claiming a legal right to charge a premium of a gazillion percent over and above the real cost of this service is absurd and macroeconomically counterproductive.

The copyright monopoly only serves to protect the past from the future, and it is the antithesis of a fair and free market, as are all monopolies.