Unraveling Obfuscation

ob fus cate – 1. to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy 2. to make obscure or unclear

Archive for August, 2011

Sharing isn’t saving (huh?)

Posted by Todd McKinney on August 12, 2011

OK, this is pretty much a repost of a comment on this response to this post. Fixed the typos here, because I can’t edit a comment on Om’s nifty blog and I feel mighty bad for leaving the thing incomplete…

While I certainly disagree with Alex Swartsel’s position on this issue, I welcome the publication of it. The copyright industries tend to suppress discussion and comment at every opportunity. The more we discuss these issues, the more opportunity that the valid arguments will win on the merits. Since the position of the MPAA/RIAA is dubious from top to bottom, I say bring it on. People notice when you attempt to suppress discussion. It makes your arguments look weak.

Alex is disappointed in Janko’s post because she (yes, I figured out she is a she and her name is actually Alexandra. This information came not from the MPAA blog, where she seems to be an anonymous author, but from the publicly available congressional staff salary database at http://www.legistorm.com/person/Alexandra_R_Swartsel/37497.html. The lady seems well connected, to say the least. Oddly, my only motivation was to get the he/she bit correct, and I came across a textbook play from the regulatory capture field manual) believes that Janko is casually promoting theft as acceptable. I read the original post yesterday, and that is not the way that I took it.

In my reading of the original post, Janko is simply pointing out the realistic consequences of our intellectual overlords deciding to make it much more difficult and potentially much more expensive for people to conviently access entertainment. It seemed to me to be a common sense analysis of the situation. Maybe I’m biased, we all bring some baggage to these discussions.

The attempt, however, by apparently anyone who is paid by the money machine that is the copyright industry, to equate file sharing to shoplifting clothes has gotten pretty darn tiring. Somehow, the legacy industry folks don’t seem to grasp the idea of fixed costs vs. marginal costs and how it matters in the economics of production. I understand that it is expensive to make things. I write software. I make things. It costs a lot to do that. Once those very expensive things are made, there is one master copy. Then, in the world that we find ourselves in today, I can quite literally produce and distribute an infinite number of perfect copies of that one really expensive thing I made.

I would like to see Alex do that with back-to-school clothes. Really, I would. The reason I would like to see this happen is because it would revolutionize our society and it would make people’s lives quite different than they are today. My suspicion is that if she pulled something like that off, she would be very unlikely to stand up for the rights of the legacy clothing manufacturers to hold on to their dying businesses. Unless, maybe, they hired her to lobby Senator Dodd or Senator Whitehouse. I’m sure that there is some price at which she would say just about anything, no matter how little sense it makes.

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