Saturday, December 12, 2009

Digital Theft, Oxymoron (Part 4 of 8)

This is an article in a series. You may read all the articles by clicking here.

Regardless of my own views on morality, I suspect our global society's understanding of "theft" and "property ownership" in the digital age is being slowly redefined. Unlike an apple, an idea is not a scarce good: if you have 10 apples and and I take one, you only have 9 apples. That, we can all agree, is theft. By contrast, ideas are an infinite good—nobody can claim ownership over an idea because we can all think them: if I take an idea from you, you are not left without that idea.

However, the digital age has been thrust upon us and we've inappropriately grafted that ancient concept of scarce property ownership onto this modern market of infinite ideas and called it "intellectual property". In a digital age, things like CDs, DVDs, and software can be copied infinitely, like ideas. If I pirate a movie from you, you aren't left without a movie—you still have it. Thus, in the digital age, "theft of digital products" reads like a vestige from a time when resources were finite and not shared without violent complications. With infinitely duplicative media, our world isn't entirely a zero sum game anymore. Once most of us realize that, P2P networks will finally be seen as the blessing they actually are—a highly efficient means to share infinite goods.

This article is part of a series called The Filmmaker's Roadmap to Free. You may read the entire articles by clicking here, or the other articles here:
The Filmmaker's Roadmap to Free: An Introduction

The Free Debate:

  1. Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson
  2. PRICED TO SELL: Is Free the Future? by Malcolm Gladwell
  3. Dear Malcolm: Why so Threatened? by Chris Anderson
  4. Malcolm is Wrong by Seth Godin
  5. Free vs. Freely Distributed by Mark Cuban
  6. Chris Anderson, Malcolm Gladwell And A Look At Free by Michael Masnick
  7. Freemium and Freeconomics by Fred Wilson

The Filmmaker's Roadmap to Free:
  1. OK, it's wrong... so what?
  2. The Moral Issue
  3. Feedback from Pirates: A Case Study
  4. Digital Theft, Oxymoron
  5. It's All Fixed
  6. Creating Value
  7. The Way Out
  8. The Key is Generatives
  9. Acknowledgments & Further Reading

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