Re: Napster Hurts Free Software original (this is a long thread, all replies not listed here)  wade tillett on Thu, 11 May 2000 19:18:40 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Napster Hurts Free Software

“On the whole, you find wealth much more in use than in ownership.”aristotleWe have been told ownership is the basis of capitalism. The other basisis services. (Goods and services.) Of course, these lines are not soclearly drawn. A movie is a good, but is paid for per viewing as if itwere a service. The service part of a movie is the infrastructure. Amovie theater, projector, and large screen, which people do not have thecapital to match. Then, when vcr’s came out, there was a huge controversy about being ableto copy movies. Once the physical infrastructure, in this case a vcr, agood easily associated with our ideas of ownership, became readilyavailable and affordable, the use that this good provided remained thebasis of capital. There were/are, some meager attempts at making it sothat tapes could not be copied through physical and coded mechanisms, buton the whole, these are ineffective. And yet people still rentvideotapes. So how is mp3 different from vhs? The fact is, consumers are never content with what they own. This is howvideotapes continue to prosper, by the continual production of new moviesconcurrent with a continual increase in consumption. Movie producers wantpeople to have vcrs because people with vcrs want new movies for theirvcrs. You give away the goods which make people want futureservices/production. But the internet represents a loss of control ofdistribution (or so it seems). Just like vcrs were a loss of control ofdistribution (or so it seemed). Or is it simply the simulacrum of a loss of control of distribution? Remember how apple did so bad and microsoft did so good and ibm tried tomake the vcrs? The power structure is in the standard/code/infrastructure. The power tobe harnessed from this standard is in the production for a continuallyincreased consumption. The power is in the production/distribution offuel fueling consumption. “If you ‘take’ my idea,” writes Lawrence Lessig in his book Code, “I stillhave it. If I tell you an idea, you have not deprived me of it. Anunavoidable feature of intellectual property is that its consumption, asthe economists like to put it, is ‘non-rivalrous.’ Your consumption doesnot lessen mine. Ideas, at their core, can be shared with no reduction inthe amount the ‘owner’ can consume.” In fact, ideas, at their core, increase the amount the ‘owner’ canconsume. Ideas, like fire, consume more and more. It is in theproduction of new ideas and services for consumption where money and poweris made. The consumer must not ever be content with the ideas which hehas acquired. This is the whole point of advertising, massiveadvertising. And if a ‘grassroots’ movement for increased consumption, such as mp3’s,fuels the fire, so much the better. The de-centralization of distribution leads to a centralization ofproduction. Entire industries are de-regulated in order that they canproduce that which can only be produced with unmatched capital. Withvcr’s, any independent movie-maker could cheaply produce and distributetheir own movie, right? But it is the movies produced with unmatchedcapital for production and advertising which everyone watches. So themusic industry, or the news industry, or the publishing companies, pretendthat it is the end of their power because it is the end of their controlof distribution. And they use this argument to say that it is ok if theyhave mega-mergers because now ‘anyone’ can distribute. This argument isused for all sorts of industry de-regulation, such as the 1996 telecomact. All the while at+t is buying up every cable company they can find,so they can charge for usage of infrastructure. Huge software companies and movie and music producers do not really wantto stop ‘illegal copying’ because this copying increases the overallconsumption of their product. It is free advertising. The money ‘lost’to what was already produced is more than gained in future production. Stocks are the perfect example. It isn’t the actual usage or distributionof the product which determines price, but the anticipated futureproduction, made possible by this anticipation and the increase in stockprices and overall capital base. So how are we manipulating the idea of ownership for capitalism? By looking at consumers with a straight face and telling them how awful itis that they are consuming your product for free, that the consumer reallywon this one and got to own something without paying for it, while yourstock and capital base for advertising and production go through the roof. You give them your product because it increases your power of production.(A great salesman makes you think you are ripping him off.) Corporations are continually creating an infrastructure for consumption. In one of the greatest marketing schemes ever, the consumer paid for theconsumption infrastructure. People actually bought vcr’s. A device whichsits in the home ‘useless’ unless consuming new production. And now, oh no!, people are downloading mp3’s for free! (The music industry feigns its alarm as it positions itself for thegreatest increase in consumption of new production ever.) Ownership of anything, physical or intellectual, only exists in our mind. Ownership is only an idea. We associate this idea with certain objects orthoughts. There is no ownership, only consumption. # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission# <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,# collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets# more info: and “info nettime-l” in the msg body# archive: contact: