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Re: FSF : lackeys of their corporate masters

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: FSF : lackeys of their corporate masters
Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 16:58:38 +0200

On 06 May 2004 13:04:38 +0200
David Kastrup <> wrote:

> Stefaan A Eeckels <> writes:
> > The idea behind copyrights and patents (protected trademarks are
> > something different) is to make it worthwhile to produce "goods"
> > that can be reproduced at low cost. If you cannot get a reasonable
> > compensation for producing a book, an opera, or a computer program
> > because of unbridled copying, then you will probably decide you need
> > a day job to support you (like sitting at the till in a Pick'n Pay
> > :-). It is fairly obvious that today, the system is out of kilter,
> > but it's equally obvious that the availability of cheap reproduction
> > makes it impossible to produce certain (maybe desirable)
> > reproducible goods.
> The availability of cheap reproduction makes it impossible to produce
> desirable reproducible goods?
> That is completely and utter bullshit.  The availability of cheap
> reproduction does not _replace_ the initial production of a
> reproducible good.  Before something can be reproduced, it has to
> exist in the first place.

Before it can be re-produced, it has to be produced :-).
But the original production requires an investment, and the 
investor needs to be reasonably confident that the investment 
can be recouped (or have independent means of subsistence, but 
that's another debate).
Either the investment can be recouped by the sale of the
original item, or it needs to be spread over the sale of
a number of copies. In the latter case, if not enough revenue 
can be derived from the sale of copies (because someone else
makes and sells them), then it might not be economically possible
to produce the original.

> Take a look at the Bible as an example of a text basically in the
> Public Domain.  The total revenue is insignificant as compared to
> other much more short-lived publications.  You get the best imaginable
> quality of print, editing and binding for very low prices.  Bible
> publishing is a challenging business: you have to be good to be
> competitive.

That's because the product that's sold is not the bare text 
of the bible, but the specific edition, with its specific
qualities (like a leather cover with gold leaf decorations),
which themselves cannot be cheaply reproduced. The reason
photocopying machines didn't kill the book industry is that
a photocopy of a book isn't the original, and is rather
expensive to boot. If it were possible to make a perfect
reproduction of a book at a derisory cost, things would
be different, and this is why counterfeiting is a real
problem for the producers of the originals. It's also the
reason why music downloads and cheap CD-Rs will not
kill the music CD business (they're not perfect copies
of the original), but factories in China flooding the
Zmarket with nearly perfect copies of the complete CD package
can and do impact the sales of genuine CDs.

> It is the most widely printed work in the world.  Specialists
> preparing new editions are paid well.  Because there is a demand for
> their work to be done in the first place.

Because the publishers know they can sell enough copies of
new versions, or because they are engaged in their own form
of vanity publishing (i.e. they have other means of subsistence,
and publishing bibles is part of their faith).

> Never mind that it gets copied: it has to be _done_ before it can be
> copied.

Yup, and those who do it need to earn a living.

"What is stated clearly conceives easily."  -- Inspired sales droid

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