Digital Distribution Must Force Change, Not Reform

I wrote this for an issue of an ezine that never manifested itself, so instead of trashing it i thought i’d share it with my peers. Be warned you might not share my opinion. I stand behind what I say, regardless. Feel free to distribute and thank you for your time.


Digital Distribution Must Force Change, Not Reform.

It is my sincere hope that tangible formats of music will be eradicated through rampant disregard for intellectual property. The commodification of music for profit will be eliminated and the distribution of sound will be that of zero capital gain. This will weed out those arrogant enough to use the privileged title of computer musician as a job and force a revolutionary praxis by keeping only those dedicated to a love of music producing. This will inherently make digital music more socially relevant and will frustrate the artist mindset to take action against a system that no longer feeds him to think out of his or her ass.

Let us step away from art, in this case composition, as a product and commodity. In terms of classical economics, if you steal a finite good you are certainly depriving an other individual of this good, and this causes problems. However, if this kind of classical view of “property” is applied to digital composition and distribution, we are left with the following scenario:

“I built a bicycle, it took me three months. My friend joe snapped his fingers and the same vehicle appeared out of thin air. We now both have the same identical bicycle.”

Did Joe steal my bike?

In this scenario, it would seem absurd to accuse joe of stealing my bicycle. By some force of magic, and to joe’s advantage, we now can enjoy the same bike. However, when this kind of mentality is applied to a digital inheritance of “intellectual property”, we develop a system which protects individual rights to pay for infinitely reproducible data via finite amount of work.

If I build a bike, I get one bicycle. The worth of that bicycle is worth the sum of it’s part plus the amount of time it took me to labour for that individual bicycle. If I want more bikes, I build them, one at a time.

Apply this mentality to anything that is binary data and the calculation of it’s worth becomes invalid. (or unreasonably abstract) Of course, our present economic system warrants that this kind of protection is necessary for artists to survive from day to day, or even to motivate by protecting “original” ideas from copy.

We are on the verge of a digital oral culture. We have been given the burden to either move on without the system into a future where the commodification of anything binary is impossible (thereby creating a potentially revolutionary society with the help of computers, making most artist poor enough to be discontent with society) or being very reactionary and attempting to fight the inevitable, trying to squeeze the last few cents out of what we have known as a distribution of sound product for less than one century.

Currently, corporations are trying to stop the inevitable by embedding Digital Rights Management into the devices we consume in order to stop us from reaching our manifest destiny. They would like us to lease the creative output that they had no part in creating. Like feudal landlords, they would like to enslave us as digital serfs with no permanent access to ideas.

Right now we are at a praxis in history, where most of our software tools are available (or have available alternatives) for free. GPL’d operating systems like GNU Linux, trackers from the demo scene, OGG, MP3, etc. These tools or formats can be reproduced without regard to any traditional economic worth.

I don’t see how the digital results of these tools should be allocated a bigger cash value than the tools themselves. They don’t manifest themselves physically, at any point of completion beyond that of a live performance. Of course the ideas are important, but they are important in an artistic social context.

Why would we deprive those who can’t afford art when it is clearly available for free, now?

Commodification is the last ditch effort to force people to associate digital memory to a physical good. Trying to preserve economic models such as copyright when one’s work isn’t based on scarcity, but rather on an infinite supply, is both naive and irresponsible.

Intellectual property no longer applies. The value attributed to work for product that can be duplicated without the need of any labour force beyond that of the creators of the machines that we use to decipher data is an economic model that does not comply with the reality of the future.

Face art now…

it seems like you’ve got a serious grudge with economic models/systems in
general and I think you need to put your reasoning against that of human nature (if there exists such a thing) …

as long as monetary systems prevail people will expect to get paid for the work
they do… intellectual, physical or digital…

There might not be a total revolution, but a power shift seems inevitable.