The Economics of Public Goods

Very good summary of a lot of issues related to the commons:

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It’s pretty good. Some quibbles:

Furthermore, for most of its history, copyright law functioned as an industrial regulation affecting the relationships between authors and publishers. Private citizens did not have printing presses and so were not directly affected.

Paying higher prices is being directly affected. Having the culture produced by the particular industrial regulation rather than a different one is a being directly affected.

Digital technology frees ideas again…Laws and business models have not adapted

Copyright was bad before digital technology, it is absurd to think it would “adapt” in any way other than to protect existing power relations.

As long as people continue to publish freely online, artificial scarcity imposed by a portion of publishers will make little difference. We’re already seeing the diminishing of pay-for-access business models. Blocking access leads to obscurity rather than success.

This sadly seems incorrect, and therefore subsequently the role of advertising is overstated. Limited attention does not necessarily imply zero price for material to occupy attention due to competition among such material. A countervailing factor is desire to make most enjoyable use of limited attention, and a shared cultural experience is a major part of that, popularity breeds popularity, so the most popular stuff can be controlled enough and charged for, it doesn’t matter how much gratis stuff there is – unless there is gratis stuff that is more popular. Therefore my contention that knowledge commons need mass marketing and demand concentration vehicles or else do not offer real competition to incumbent rents.

Possibly related, I’ve meant to give a thorough read and commentary on for months but haven’t gotten to it yet.

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