PFF Aspen Summit: An Important Premise Unexplored?

by on August 18, 2008 · 5 comments

So I’m enjoying the high-caliber presentations so far at the PFF Aspen Summit. (Full disclosure: I spoke on the first panel dealing with intermediary liability.) But I’ve heard a couple of speakers say things that made me ask, “Where’s Mike Masnick?”

Jim Griffin of OneHouse kicked off the morning. He’s an advisor to the Warner Music Group. I didn’t write anything down, so risk mischaracterizing what he said, but one of the premises in his keynote was that creators of music and other digital content have to paid for producing that content.

Likewise, as he was setting up the second panel discussion, Tom Sydnor of PFF took it as a given that producers of copyrighted content have to paid for that production, and that the problem is figuring out how to get them paid. The premise behind this conclusion is one that should be explored.

I take it as a given that intellectual property law should promote the progress of science and useful arts. There are differences on this question, as proponents of moral rights will tell you. But taking creation of new works as the goal, what does it take to make that happen? Do creators need to be paid for their production all the time? Or can we sometimes get the benefit of their production while requiring them to earn money elsewhere, such as by bundling their creative works with other works. This is something TechDirt’s Mike Masnick has harped on for years now. He summarized his thinking to date a year or so ago in his “Grand Unified Theory On The Economics Of Free” post.

To summarize: Having fun. Good discussions. I want more! Specifically, more breadth! The economics of free is (are?) an elephant in the room.

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