Subject: contractless exchange of virtual perpetual copyrights
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 02:15:47 -0700 (PDT)

Consumers have the habit of buying CDs for ~$20/pop.  As far as I can
tell, they'll always have this habit, in large numbers, for as a long
as the CDs (or whatever media) are:

	*) more convenient than ripping, or
	*) higher quality than ripping, or
	*) packaged more nicely than ripped CDs, or
	*) a tangible way to be a _fan_ of some artists

*Copyright* is _nearly immaterial_ to that consumer behavior.  It
matters in only one respect: absent copyight protection, one _mass
marketer_ of CDs can copy the catalog of any other mass marketer of
CDs.  Without copyright, not only DGM, but also Deca could release
King Crimson recordings, Deca having no obligation to compensate the

But let's suspend disbelief for a moment: maybe the chaos of
abandoning copyright protections can be controlled.  There is nothing
to prevent the construction of a _private, virtual, contractless
system of perpetual copyright_.  Such a system would provision for the
__registration__ of virtual copyrights, their __transer__, and __multi-party
weighted "ownership"__.  Such a copyright registration system could even
mediate disputes about what constitutes "sampled" vs. "stolen"

Coallitions of mass-marketers of sound recordings can enter into
voluntary contractless market games in which they exchange virtual
currencies representing "shares" in (virtually) copyrighted digital
works, using monthly cash settlements to convert virtual currency
holdings to (voluntary) royalty exchanges.  A successful coallition
need only establish the _loyalty_ of artists, consumers, and large
distributors to shut out non-participants from the real-world cash
market: effectively converting a purely voluntary system of perpetual
copyright into one that implements reliable, convertable, intellectual
property rights.

The recording industry doesn't need government-granted copyright
protection __at all__.  It can operate entirely on __free content__
by adopting a _voluntary_ system of _perpetual copyright_ and
building a _market boycott_ of industry players who don't adopt
the (voluntary) copyright system.

This would even be an opportunity to correct some of the industry's
most famous ills: The voluntary virtual copyright infrastructure can
contain provisions by means of which artists can "reclaim" their
rights to any particular work when royalty agreements go sour.

So, if the mass-market recording industry can organize itself to sell
free content: with what kind of exchanges can artists be incented to
and rewarded for creating new and cool free content? See: