EFF’s John Perry Barlow is Wrong, says Google’s Chief Economist

What Artificial Scarcity?

John Perry Barlow is the outspoken EFF co-founder who wrote the sophomoric and nonsensical manifesto for the internet. Much of Barlow’s principal talking points regarding his complete disregard for the protection of artists rights in the digital age centers around the idea that “property” especially of the intellectual kind should not exist on the internet.

“Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.”- John Perry Barlow

The fact that this is posted on the EFF website should be at the very least alarming, if not completely absurd for a policy group to display publicly as part of its mission.

There is much talk online by freehadist’s that digital bits are worthless and the cost of a copy is zero, therefore all content online has a near zero marginal cost and should be freely available. Of course any rational and reasonable person would know that this is nonsense due to the fixed cost of production on information goods. Hell, even Google’s own Chief Economist Hal A Varian “get’s it” as outlined in his book, Information Rules:

Page 83.

John Perry Barlow asserted that “Intellectual property law cannot be patched, retrofitted, or expanded to contain digitized expression… We will need to develop an entirely new set of methods as befits this entirely new set of circumstances.” Is Barlow right? Is copyright law hopelessly outdated? We think not.

Continued, Page 93.

“Bitlegging” can’t be ignored: there’s no doubt that it can be a significant drag on profits.

Bitleggers have the same problem that any other sellers of contraband material have: they have to pet potential customers know how to find them. But if they advertise their location to potential customers, they also advertise their location to law enforcement authorities. In the contraband business it pays to advertise… but not too much.

This puts a natural limit on the size of for-profit illegal activities: the bigger they get, the more likely they are to get caught. Digital piracy can’t be eliminated, any more than any other kind of illegal activity, but it can be kept under control. All that is required is the political will to enforce intellectual property rights.

Fascinating that Google is so actively involved in exploiting the content that other’s have paid to create in production costs, as Google profits from the marginal costs. Clearly, the value of monetizing content without fixed production costs is not an unknown concept to the company given that their chief economist literally wrote the book on information economies. As a matter of fact, that appears to be a damn good model to build advertising around, who knew?

Also note the emphasis on political will power.  In fact, we’ve seen that Google seems to have plenty of that to oppose the protection of artists rights.

[update] Here’s John Perry Barlow, sparring with Bob Weir at SF Music Tech in Feb of 2012. Barlow repeats the same talking point in trying to dismiss Weir’s concern over compensation for artists online. Jump to 5:10 in the video to hear Barlow say, “I think the answer is there, we just have to, we just have to get the property model out of the picture… “

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see also : Musicians For An Ethical Internet
http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/roll-call-musicians-for-an-ethical-internet/

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[ THE 101 ] [NEW BOSS / OLD BOSS ] [ SPOTIFY ] [GROOVESHARK ] [ LARRY LESSIG ]
[ JOHN PERRY BARLOW ] [ HUMAN RIGHTS OF ARTISTS ] [ INFRINGEMENT IS THEFT ]
[ THE SKY IS RISING : MAGIC BEAVER EDITION ] [SF GATE BLUNDERS PIRACY FACTS ]
[ WHY ARENT MORE MUSICIANS WORKING ] [ ARTISTS FOR AN ETHICAL INTERNET ]

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3 thoughts on “EFF’s John Perry Barlow is Wrong, says Google’s Chief Economist

  1. Another example of a contrary position presented by “pirati” proponents with a distorted premise. What does physical form have to do with copyright and why is technology the arbiter of right and wrong.

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