1994-02-02 - Re: The Death of Statutory Compensation for Intellectual Property (was pissing contest)

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From: Joe Thomas <jthomas@access.digex.net>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: fa861b07222f67d30a87478ec845116ad02d2677a5200df2b1a4bb75dd7605da
Message ID: <Pine.3.05.9402012025.C18786-c100000@access3.digex.net>
Reply To: <9402020038.AA02579@jazz.hal.com>
UTC Datetime: 1994-02-02 02:55:28 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 1 Feb 94 18:55:28 PST

Raw message

From: Joe Thomas <jthomas@access.digex.net>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 94 18:55:28 PST
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: The Death of Statutory Compensation for Intellectual Property (was pissing contest)
In-Reply-To: <9402020038.AA02579@jazz.hal.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.05.9402012025.C18786-c100000@access3.digex.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

On Tue, 1 Feb 1994, Jason Zions wrote:

> Surprise. Within ten years, the entire concept of intellectual property will
> be radically altered, if not completely gone. The whole thing will become so
> completely unenforceable that something will give; I'm not sure what, but
> something.

Here's my slant on it:

Without government coercion, "intellectual property" is limited to its
only natural form -- a secret.  If you don't want everyone to have certain
information, don't tell anyone.  At the very least, don't tell anyone who
has no incentive to keep the information to himself.

> At the Austin Crypto Conference, John Perry Barlow was asked what he thought
> would happen to copyright. As I recall, he said something along the lines of
> this: that compensation for intellectual property would cease to be a thing
> of law and become a thing of interpersonal relationships. That people would
> pay the producers of stuff they liked as an incentive for them to produce
> more. That the ability of the Internet and its services to make
> widely-separated people into a community, with all the emotions and duties
> humans tend to experience in communities, would ensure a kind of darwinism
> amongst the "stuff" out there; the stuff people liked would get supported
> out of that sense of community, and the stuff people didn't like would not.

EFF Co-Founder Solves Prisoner's Dilemma
   Game Theorists Had Neglected
  "Community Spirit," Says Barlow

> Shareware is the future of just about all intellectual property.

Maybe.  I wouldn't expect to get rich on it, though...

>         There are only a few ways the studios could get huge bucks:

[most of list deleted]

> 4) Serializing digital copies to track down the "leaker". All you need is
> two copies from different sources to find steganographically-hidden bits or
> to produce a combination of the two that has a unique fingerprint that
> doesn't match anything already shipping.

Is this really a settled issue?  I'll bet I could devise a scheme for
tagging a large number of copies of an image, such that the information
available to a cheater from two images isn't enough to produce an
untraceable copy.  Such a scheme would entail some image degradation -- if
you didn't mess with some visible bits in each picture, a cheater would
only have to randomize all the "invisible" bits.

But of course this stuff is only useful if the work is distributed
non-anonymously in the first place.  It doesn't do QVC/Paramount much good
to know that an2538295 was the one responsible for redistributing 10,000
copies of Star Trek L.

Computer software and other interactive works should fare better, since
the publishers can restrict their distribution to secure machines on a
network.  Customers would pay to use the software, but never receive a copy of
their own.  Reverse-engineering even "Dragon's Lair"-type games would be
non-trivial and error-prone.  And after getting ripped off for a bad
interactive copy, most people would probably be happy to pay a premium for
the real thing.