wade tillett on Thu, 11 May 2000 17:34:14 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Napster Hurts Free Software

"On the whole, you find wealth much more in use than in ownership."

We have been told ownership is the basis of capitalism.  The other
basis is services.  (Goods and services.)  Of course, these lines are
not so clearly drawn. A movie is a good, but is paid for per viewing
as if it were a service.  The service part of a movie is the
infrastructure.  A movie theater, projector, and large screen, which
people do not have the capital to match.

Then, when vcr's came out, there was a huge controversy about being
able to copy movies.  Once the physical infrastructure, in this case a
vcr, a good easily associated with our ideas of ownership, became
readily available and affordable, the use that this good provided
remained the basis of capital.  There were/are, some meager attempts
at making it so that tapes could not be copied through physical and
coded mechanisms, but on the whole, these are ineffective.  And yet
people still rent videotapes.

So how is mp3 different from vhs?

The fact is, consumers are never content with what they own.  This is
how videotapes continue to prosper, by the continual production of new
movies concurrent with a continual increase in consumption.  Movie
producers want people to have vcrs because people with vcrs want new
movies for their vcrs. You give away the goods which make people want
future services/production.
But the internet represents a loss of control of distribution (or so
it seems).  Just like vcrs were a loss of control of distribution (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
to make the vcrs?

The power structure is in the standard/code/infrastructure.  The power
to be harnessed from this standard is in the production for a
continually increased consumption.  The power is in the
production/distribution of fuel fueling consumption.

"If you 'take' my idea," writes Lawrence Lessig in his book Code, "I
still have it. If I tell you an idea, you have not deprived me of it.
An unavoidable feature of intellectual property is that its
consumption, as the economists like to put it, is 'non-rivalrous.'
Your consumption does not lessen mine. Ideas, at their core, can be
shared with no reduction in the amount the 'owner' can consume."

In fact, ideas, at their core, increase the amount the 'owner' can
consume.  Ideas, like fire, consume more and more.  It is in the
production of new ideas and services for consumption where money and
power is made.  The consumer must not ever be content with the ideas
which he has acquired.  This is the whole point of advertising,
massive advertising.

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 of
production.  Entire industries are de-regulated in order that they can
produce that which can only be produced with unmatched capital.  With
vcr's, any independent movie-maker could cheaply produce and
distribute their own movie, right?  But it is the movies produced with
unmatched capital for production and advertising which everyone
watches.  So the music industry, or the news industry, or the
publishing companies, pretend that it is the end of their power
because it is the end of their control of distribution.  And they use
this argument to say that it is ok if they have mega-mergers because
now 'anyone' can distribute.  This argument is used for all sorts of
industry de-regulation, such as the 1996 telecom act.  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
want to stop 'illegal copying' because this copying increases the
overall consumption 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 distribution of the product which determines price,
but the anticipated future production, made possible by this
anticipation and the increase in stock prices and overall capital

So how are we manipulating the idea of ownership for capitalism?

By looking at consumers with a straight face and telling them how
awful it is that they are consuming your product for free, that the
consumer really won this one and got to own something without paying
for it, while your stock 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 the consumption infrastructure.  People actually
bought vcr's.  A device which sits 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 the
greatest 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 or thoughts.

There is no ownership, only consumption.

Nettime-bold mailing list