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Weblog:   Dragging the Butter
Subject:   BountyQuest founder, is this opinion inconsistent?
Date:   2001-11-28 13:45:05
From:   fredsmoothie
Response to: BountyQuest founder, is this opinion inconsistent?

Tim,


Thanks for the reply. Your point about your position being a moral/ethical/philosophical one is well taken; I'm glad that both sides of the debate can explicitly acknowledge that, because hopefully it adds some clarity to the debate.


However I feel that your response begs the question, "if strong IP protection doesn't *necessarily* foster creative achievement, why do we *need* a range of licensing models?"


I seem to understand from your answer that you think the "need" stems from different individuals' divergent wants and beliefs. From which I take it you mean that "some talented individual may *want* to get financial reward for problem solving or creative activity in a domain, and may not do it otherwise."


However, do you really think that problem solving and creativity in important domains works that way? Will someone who's incredibly talented solve a problem in a domain that's of no interest to them because they're paid a lot of money (the fact that I'm typing this instead of doing what I'm supposed to leads me to the answer "no", BTW). If someone is working in a domain that doesn't engage them in and of itself, are they likely do a good job?


As a thought experiment: what do you expect the outcome would be if almost anyone were told, "I'll give you 7 million dollars if you will sit in this spot and count to 7 million." Despite the vast appeal to most people of $7 million, I doubt *anyone* would do this, even if their material needs were met in the meantime.


What I'm saying is, I think someone who is good at solving problems that can be solved by software probably likes solving that kind of problem enough to do it even without promise of riches. Likewise, I think individuals who are talented musicians and artists probably enjoy art and music in and of themselves; I believe that there is a strong correlation between ability and desire.


Of course, everyone needs to eat. I get paid an hourly rate to write software. If someone wants a software problem solved enough, they will pay me. If a problem is interesting enough to me, I will work on it without pay. Likewise for artists. They will create, and if we as a society value that creativity, we'll find ways to pay them.


I suspect that there was a time that no one got paid for making art, yet they did it anyway. Likewise, people told stories. Did the author(s) of the Gilgamesh epic enjoy copyright protection? I doubt it. Same probably goes to the oral progenitors of the Homeric epic, and Homer himself.


So yes, if the argument is entirely a moral one, then the argument "some 'creators' may *want* to be compensated for their 'creation' in a fashion consistent with the monopoly power embodied in the concept of copyright" holds some weight. However, I can't see how anyone could assert (as you do) that that selfish want of one individual person carries greater moral weight then the desire to eliminate the harm of the restriction of the users' rights by the creator that Stallman and Kuhn speak of.


Thanks for engaging so intelligently and earnestly, Tim.


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  1. Tim O'Reilly photo Why we need a range of licensing models
    2001-11-28 18:22:39  Tim O'Reilly | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    • Please don't muddy the waters
      2001-11-28 21:44:26  fredsmoothie [View]

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