Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Who will mourn the passing of copyright?

Ian, now that Radiohead have decided to release their latest album on the web for whatever price their fans are willing to pay, wonders who will mourn the passing of copyright. He's certainly generated a flurry of discussion on the ORG list, which sadly I haven't had the time to keep up with recently.

"I am more convinced by the views of Nobel-winning economists such as Milton Friedman and Ronald Coase who wrote in 2002:

"One might argue that the windfall to authors of existing copyrights has a positive consequence, by providing them with more resources for additional creative projects. However, this argument ignores the profit maximization decision of a producer, which takes into account the producer's cost of capital for a given investment. In general, a profit-maximizing producer should fund the set of projects that have an expected return equal to or greater than their cost of capital. If a producer lacks the cash on hand to fund a profitable project, the producer can secure additional funding from financial institutions or investors. If the producer has resources remaining, after funding all the projects whose expected returns are higher than the cost of capital, this remainder should be invested elsewhere, not in sub-par projects that happen to be available to the firm. If a producer pursues the same set of projects in any event, then its incentives will not be improved from the mere fact of a windfall from consumers."

[...] it's exhausting having to argue such basic economic points as the benefits of competition at a meeting of supposedly free-market political activists."

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