John Perry Barlow has died

Here is a brief obituary. Among other things, in 1994 he wrote The Economy of Ideas, an essay admired by, among others, Hal Varian. It begins,

I refer to the problem of digitized property. The enigma is this: If our property can be infinitely reproduced and instantaneously distributed all over the planet without cost, without our knowledge, without its even leaving our possession, how can we protect it? How are we going to get paid for the work we do with our minds? And, if we can’t get paid, what will assure the continued creation and distribution of such work?

I boiled this down to: information wants to be free, but people need to get paid.

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3 Responses to John Perry Barlow has died

  1. Richard Fulmer says:

    Russ Roberts did an econtalk podcast some time ago in which he interviewed someone from the fashion industry. Clothing fashions aren’t protected by intellectual property laws, yet people in the industry “get paid.” Could other industries survive without (or with far more limited) patents or copyrights? If not, why not? What, if anything, is special about the fashion industry?

  2. Tom G says:

    People who “do what they love” don’t need to get paid very much — since they’re loving what they’re doing. (I don’t love what I do for money; haven’t found something to love that also pays the bills.)

    Digital content could be made available from the Library of Congress, at a decreasing cost based on how much has been bought. After the owner of a copyright has made some X amount ($500,000? 10 years of median income?), the price can go down either slowly or rapidly towards 0.

    For music this could work pretty well.

    Entertainment folk get paid — but how much is a market-political decision / formula, rather than a gov’t enforced monopoly in a market.

  3. Matthew Young says:

    John Barlow wandered the whole path, from proprietary networks to internet to web to fintech. Played important role.

    He saw the conclusion to his dilemma, we can now micro price the internet queues. So he walked it, end to end.

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