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General discussion about what's out for the couch.
274

nickel jar
Topic by: dpowers
Posted: May 6, 2006 - 10:45 PM PDT
Last Reply: May 8, 2006 - 9:34 AM PDT

author topic: nickel jar
dpowers
post #1  on May 6, 2006 - 10:45 PM PDT  
this thread has a little match icon because there are about a thousand different ways to watch mission impossible iii without going to the movie theater and i got an idea.

there's all this media available for download. most of it w/o permission. in the world of permitted downloads, much of DL'able music/video is lower quality than what's ripped and ready on P2P. it's legal, it's easy to use, those are plusses; against, it's usually complicated to maintain, it costs real money, and the selection generally stinks.

and the artists are starving. this is not really a good thing.

i want a tip jar. someplace i can go and say hey i downloaded this it was good thanks and leave a quarter for a song or a couple bucks for an album or something else for a movie. anonymously. one hand puts the coins in the right jar, the other hand tags my account for the two bits and bills me every once in a while to cover it.

the sweet thing about this is nobody has to worry about the format of the data or the DRM or anything. yes, it would have some general effect of making people feel less guilty about listening to music.

the site could even have some automated negotiating permission. drop a buck in the bucket for an EP and the site would say, hey you know a legal license for owning that is two-fifty c'mon why starve a drummer when you don't have to.
invent the prices! the rip was done for free, the storage on the net is basically free. who cares. next time the offer could be 5 bucks and the time after that, bingo! that's the magic number you now own the album woo hoo.

this seems more democratic.
hamano
post #2  on May 7, 2006 - 7:10 AM PDT  
> On May 6, 2006 - 10:45 PM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> and the artists are starving. this is not really a good thing.

Well, the thing is the drones who hack Mission Imp.3 into little pieces to use as marketing material are NOT exactly starving. Certainly the actor who got paid 100 million to star in it is not starving. Someone's gotta sort what "deserves" payment and what doesn't "deserve" payment, and who's gonna do that? The people who are clicking at youtube and google video are after diversion, not economic justice.

I thought it WAS interesting that some of the stuff on google video were available to download, some for free, some for a fee.

> i want a tip jar. someplace i can go and say hey i downloaded this it was good thanks and leave a quarter for a song or a couple bucks for an album or something else for a movie. anonymously.

Need a penny? Take a penny. Gotta penny? Leave a penny. Even that concept takes into consideration that some people might think a penny is extra weight in their pockets.

> one hand puts the coins in the right jar, the other hand tags my account for the two bits and bills me every once in a while to cover it.

What's "anonymous" about that? My ISP already bills me. They should pay "the Jar". That's another way to go...

> the sweet thing about this is nobody has to worry about the format of the data or the DRM or anything. yes, it would have some general effect of making people feel less guilty about listening to music.

You already said that's the iPod/iTunes model. A guilt tax. My feeling is that the more people talk about something like that, the less popular the concept is going to get. Do I assuage my "guilt" by hoping that my penny will eventually trickle down to the artist, or by joining a march in Washington? Right now I think Exxon should set up a big endowment to fund artists. That's how "guilt" should work.

> the site could even have some automated negotiating permission. drop a buck in the bucket for an EP and the site would say, hey you know a legal license for owning that is two-fifty c'mon why starve a drummer when you don't have to.

Again, I think the "guilt" hammer will be less effective the more you use it. After getting slapped with the "starving drummer" ten or more times, you stop caring about the drummer. Who really needs percussion that bad anyway?

I think it would be better to have something completely stealthy and obtuse, like the Federal Universal Service Fund Surcharge, or even better, the Supplier FUSF Recovery Fee, on your phone bill. It's not big enough that anyone notices. It's big enough to add to the coffers of the FUSF and whoever has to recover it.

It's pay-as-you-go no guilt no judgment. Someone else can decide who really deserves the money. The Global Starving Artists Compensation Fund. The GSACF charter says at least 5% of our revenues have to go straight into the pockets of skinny musicians. The ISPs will be happy because they'll be able to add a GSACF Recovery Fee.

> this seems more democratic.

Sometimes pure democracy fails. Our homeowners association is a mess, because we don't have enough homes in our community to sustain it. Nobody wants to do any of the "chores" like collecting dues and paying bills. In Japan everyone in the community HAS to take a turn as a homeowners assoc. officer. This is less "democratic" but it's fair, and the dues get collected, the bills get paid.

Shaming people into forcibly establishing/maintaining a democracy, well we know how well THAT works. It's just hard to believe that leaving an anti-communist despot in charge worked better, but like I said, "pure democracy" is hard to do, and we have a devout "puritan" in the White House. It's an ironic fact of history that you can't replace despotic power with democracy. People have too much invested in fighting and killing to do that. First you gotta beat the crap out of both sides then sit right on top of them for a few years, screwing their women while giving their kids Hershey bars, before letting democracy emerge. That worked in Japan and Germany. With Korea, then Vietnam, there was more screwing/chocolate and less "beating the crap out of both sides" so it failed. Afghanistan and Iraq? Nobody's getting any sex, nobody's getting any choco, everybody is still beating the crap out of each other, and the only ones feeling good about it are the people who believe they're doing god's will (on both sides of the conflict).

Well, anyway, so I don't think the "nickel jar" would work too well. Fans are willing to donate funds to fansub groups, which is supporting piracy so it's really like paying the local drug dealer, but I think that works because the payers feel that fansubbers are doing a lot of hard work from which we all benefit, and they're doing it for nothing. So in another way it's like putting coins in the collection box at church. You don't really know if the church is going to buy books for poor children with that money or party with the sacramental wine, but you "trust" it'll be put to good use. Whoever manages your "nickel jar" will need more credibility than the church, and while that doesn't seem such a high hurdle nowadays, it still doesn't sound possible to me. If we can't trust priests who are we gonna put in charge? Former energy company execs? Lawyers? My home owner's association?
dpowers
post #3  on May 7, 2006 - 8:47 AM PDT  
> Someone's gotta sort what "deserves" payment and what doesn't "deserve" payment, and who's gonna do that?

the people who currently own the publishing rights get the money. some would have to make a claim, others would be discovered.

what i don't like about how things work now is that people are justifying both lawsuits and infinite sharing with the idea that big corporate financiers are the aggrieved party.

>> one hand puts the coins in the right jar, the other hand tags my account for the two bits and bills me every once in a while to cover it.

> What's "anonymous" about that?

the publisher never knows where the money comes from, just that it arrives from the tip jar. (good way to launder money.)

> My ISP already bills me. They should pay "the Jar". That's another way to go...

i'd actually been thinking something like this. that ISPs will end up being responsible for a bunch of different services over time. people are going to need secure locations on the internet for a variety of personal affairs (including universal access to keychains etc) and the ISP is the easiest candidate because they're already providing people with web space and server activity.

we don't know what "ISP" will mean in the near future though. i want this to be separate because i don't want it to be a money reclamation by the publishers directly and ISPs are going to be the property of media conglomerates pretty soon. that's already true with warner. all the big players want to own the whole field.

> You already said that's the iPod/iTunes model. A guilt tax.

it is, and it's a much easier to use than the other system because it's not a community activity and requires money-not-work. P2P seems like a sort of feudal techno-barter. some people give away tons for esteem, some share, some take.

the difference between the tip jar (TJ) and itunes is that TJ assumes no "real" version of the song. itunes is another attempt at establishing that what is real about music is its venue, not its existence - an anti-piracy measure, except that P2P isn't bootlegging, it's indirect shoplifting. the media industry gains by having piracy and P2P treated as the same thing but they aren't.

i could use itunes as TJ. i could download music from the wide network and wave the same song i bought later through itunes as my receipt. i just don't want to encourage this "blessed doorway of legitimacy" thing and i don't feel like the TJ concept is a guilt thing the same way. it's more of a "consider a donation" thing. artists who don't want to get money from the jar can point their tips at a charity or something. or yeah, at a general reclamation fund.

> My feeling is that the more people talk about something like that, the less popular the concept is going to get.

prolly true. and people have become really ugly about personalizing things like this, as though a musician in a bar or somewhere is a swindler because they're asking for money directly instead of making honorable contractual obligations with big merchants. (seriously, as a country upon which the responsibility falls for saving the world from global warming, we're almost the worst option. oh lord, help my major retailer to save me from my worst resource consumption habits...)

> Do I assuage my "guilt" by hoping that my penny will eventually trickle down to the artist, or by joining a march in Washington?

i don't think of the TJ as guilt. lawsuits are guilt. the TJ if easy enough would just be "thanks."

> Right now I think Exxon should set up a big endowment to fund artists. That's how "guilt" should work.

no doubt

> After getting slapped with the "starving drummer" ten or more times, you stop caring about the drummer. Who really needs percussion that bad anyway?

[this spinal tap joke intentionally left blank]

yes you're right. it'd probably be pushing it. however "the artist is asking $7 for the cd" really wouldn't be a bad idea.

> I think it would be better to have something completely stealthy and obtuse, like the Federal Universal Service Fund Surcharge, or even better, the Supplier FUSF Recovery Fee, on your phone bill. It's not big enough that anyone notices. It's big enough to add to the coffers of the FUSF and whoever has to recover it.

i agree with this. it's a lot like how cable works and how broadcast fees work in other countries. but because america is monopoly-happy, such a fair and disinterested system is years away if ever. none of the big players want to give up the chance to own everything. "bittorrent terrorists" might be a good lever on the way to owning the internet, for instance.

>> this seems more democratic.
>
> Sometimes pure democracy fails.

(than lawsuits, i meant.)

> In Japan everyone in the community HAS to take a turn as a homeowners assoc. officer. This is less "democratic" but it's fair, and the dues get collected, the bills get paid.

reason #2 why america's responsibility on global warming is bad news: USA attitude on "the maintenance thing." some might say building a good system and keeping it tuned is the best idea, but others who are incredibly rich might argue that building bad systems and replacing them regularly (with other bad systems) is smarter because it's less boring.

> Shaming people into forcibly establishing/maintaining a democracy, well we know how well THAT works.

heh

> It's an ironic fact of history that you can't replace despotic power with democracy. People have too much invested in fighting and killing to do that. First you gotta beat the crap out of both sides then sit right on top of them for a few years, screwing their women while giving their kids Hershey bars, before letting democracy emerge. That worked in Japan and Germany. With Korea, then Vietnam, there was more screwing/chocolate and less "beating the crap out of both sides" so it failed. Afghanistan and Iraq? Nobody's getting any sex, nobody's getting any choco, everybody is still beating the crap out of each other, and the only ones feeling good about it are the people who believe they're doing god's will (on both sides of the conflict).

hee hee

i maintain that war and democracy have nothing in common. people who start inter-state wars lack the imagination not to do so, and then they suffer the consequences. one of the neat things about the 20th century is that nobody who "started it" won. that i can think of. intentionally skipping civil wars.

> fansubbers are doing a lot of hard work from which we all benefit, and they're doing it for nothing.

and i understood why they did it when there was no anime otherwise but now i'm stumped for motivation. i guess it's a race with the rest of P2P? can you get a translation done somewhere near the time it takes just to do a rip? or i guess, why wait for the contracts, this is cool.

> it's like putting coins in the collection box at church. ... Whoever manages your "nickel jar" will need more credibility than the church, and while that doesn't seem such a high hurdle nowadays, it still doesn't sound possible to me.

it would be hard. with the collaboration of sympathetic media folk and librarians it might not be too hard.

hamano
post #4  on May 7, 2006 - 1:23 PM PDT  
> On May 7, 2006 - 8:47 AM PDT dpowers wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> one of the neat things about the 20th century is that nobody who "started it" won. that i can think of.

Yeah? You really think energy and defense company execs/board members/owners haven't won? You "hire" the right presidents and senators and you've got infinite demand for your products. You just have to make it look like someone else hit first. Kids learn that trick in pre-school, if not sooner. "You started it!" "No, YOU did! I'm telling!"

We can play the "chicken or egg" game as much as we want... how and when wars really "start" is pretty complex, but as long as the victors get to write down the official story most people can relax and smile about how neat it is that nobody who "started it" (ie. was bad) won. It would have been a little bit neater if the ultimate winners could have beaten the now universally blamed aggressors without murdering millions of civilians, or eliminating thousands of "enemies of the people", though, huh? But we don't have to talk about that. They're all heroes, the ones on the winning side, as opposed to the enemy, who are all cowards.

As for the intellectual property, I think people are just going to have to get used to the fact that the value of ideas doesn't EQUAL the value of property, or money. Maybe that's just wishy washy John Lennon thinking, but it might be a good idea to scale back the value placed on intellectual property. Things that are REALLY intellecutally valuable tend to be available for free, or they should be available for free. Cures for deadly diseases. Ways to fund enterprises among the poor. Better ways to teach children. We should spend our energy on those, instead of making sure that Britney Spears gets every penny that she's contractually entitled to get.

The thing is that it's really easy to pull the wool over Americans' eyes with the whole Trickle Down idea. We give tax breaks to the rich and EVERYONE will benefit. Sure, except the rich will benefit a thousand times more than the poor person who works for the contractor who does the bidding of one of the servants of the rich person's assistant. It's the same thing with intellctual property. Every time they want to make sure the media tycoons and their hottest stars don't lose a penny of what's coming to them, they round up an army of footsoldiers, the garage band bassists, the gaffers, the grips, the movie extras, the continuity keepers, the hair stylists, and get them on film talking about how piracy hurts them. Oh, so if we stop piracy these people will benefit! Maybe a bit, maybe a thousand or a million times less than their bosses.

I'm not really convinced at all that piracy on the level of P2Ps hurts anyone. Sure go after the industrialized criminals who have factories where they churn out "official" looking DVDs (CDs, software, what have you) in plastic cases that get sold as if they were real products. But P2P? It's like a vapor market because that sector wouldn't even have existed before the P2P technology came along. And that technology, in the future, often becomes a legit source of big bucks for the media companies (the home video business in the past, iTunes and Napster now). P2P is a great way to raise buzz/awareness though, and everyone KNOWS that. That's why the DaVinci Code trailer is released to YouTube and Google Video. The producers of Snakes on the Plane can't stop smiling. Then when the torrents for these films show up on the 'net, they'll suddenly pretend they always thought P2P was the tool of Satan.

I think we should do anything we can to fight those who want to make "ideas" into "commodities" and profit from them. The primary function of art should still be to educate, spread ideas, inspire new ideas, NOT make a profit. Nowadays I listen to the news and think that "stealing ideas" is considered to be such a sin today ONLY because we've inflated the monetary value of "original ideas" to such artificial heights. "We invented the idea of renting DVDs through the mail, we have a patent." Oh, give me a break! Do we really want to make money THAT badly? Is that kind of set of values really what we want to pass on to our children? Why do Americans need to establish a dollar amount for everything? Our property, our ideas, our comfort, our safety, our grief, our pride... everything's for sale, for the right price.

If we were really concerned about the value of ideas, we should stop inflating the cultural and economic importance of the latest Shrek sequel and start trying to think of ways to churn out better teachers for our schools and how to pay them more for their valuable services.

If people stopped downloading movies, it's very unlikely that the craft service girl is going to become homeless. Even if she did, people at that level of film-making live relatively fluid, risky lives anyway, with little pay and many competitors. But if people stopped downloading movies, that media company president is going to get the gold plated toilets for his 40 bedroom mansion. You can count on that!
hamano
post #5  on May 7, 2006 - 11:26 PM PDT  
OK, here's an idea about free/not-quite-legal VS. fee/legal that I though of while watching THIS erudite video. How is this NOT the best business model? There's plenty of free porn on the internet, much of which ignores the "intellectual property" rights of the photographers, models and original copyright owners, I'm sure. You can browse nekkid people all day without paying a cent. BUTT, probably one of the most profitable (and legal) sectors of online commerce is porn where people pay memberships and BUY porn. So are the pornographers railing against the unfair availablility of the free stuff? NO. I'm sure they actually put out a lot of the free stuff. So why aren't they worried? I think it's because they understand human nature better than the big media companies. Either that or they don't have armies of self interested intellectual property attorneys pestering them to for god's sake do something about the unfair free stuff.

If you think about the average consumer, he has at most about 18 hours a day to spend watching or listening to "art". So in a lot of ways the competition isn't between ABC and HBO, or between SONY Pictures and Universal. The competition is between Movies and TV and Books and Music (and PORN, as the "Trekkie Monster" says). In that environment, anything that tears people's attention away from Movies and TV will benefit Music. So following the PORN model, the music industry should first flood the internet with free music. This gets people thinking about music, clicking around for music, cataloguing music, handling music so much that this total activity and energy spills over into the for-pay legal stuff. We've actually seen the moribund commercial music business rebound with the emergence of internet piracy P2P culture, which led to iTunes. And yet the music companies pretend not to recognize this phenomenon. I predict similar trends with TV shows and movies. The most downloaded TV shows will fuel the prosperity of their "owners"... whether the downloads are legal or illegal. And the most downloaded movies will sell the most DVDs. You COULD make the case that the opposite is actually true and more common sensical, that of course the most popular shows are the most downloaded, the most popular movie DVDs are the most downloaded. But the feeling I get more and more is that the reverse is true. More and more things happen faster online, and things happen first online. I would say that the most downloaded TV shows will sell the most DVDs when the Season Box Set is published a quarter or half year later. The media companies should just think of this illegal activity as "free marketing", but the current law of the land requires them to aggressively pursue those who infringe on their copyrights and trademarks.

So in that sense the "tip jar" concept doesn't fly. It won't serve the interests of anyone with the resources to collect and distribute such tips. Those "starving artists" would probably be better off putting a "donate now" paypal link on their websites than try to collect a percentage from the "tip jar"...
hamano
post #6  on May 8, 2006 - 9:34 AM PDT  
Is there any concrete example where the availability of free stuff killed a healthy industry of for-pay stuff? I'm not asking about examples where the extinction was driven primarily by evolution of a new technology that killed the market of an older obsolete industry (ie 8-track tapes). The availability of free blue plastic grocery bags hasn't killed off the market for gallon-size plastic trash bags... every supermarket still carries Glad, Hefty and the store brand. It's not like people have anything against handles, is it? Or the color blue?

People PAY for "spring" water, for chrissake. I think water is the fastest growing sector of the soft drink market. If P2P mp3 files are the equivalent of tap water, why should the "Poland Springs" and "EVIANs" of the Music Industrial Complex worry about anything?

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