#Copyrights and the Scalability Argument
There's a portion of the population that doesn't respect, doesn't believe in, or that simply desires to abolish copyrights altogether; they have their non-rivalrous resource argument to bring to the debate; now here's something to toss back at them…
Every investor wants to invest in ventures where the incremental costs of scaling to infinity and beyond are minimal to zero. In other words, $100 buys you the first 100 widgets, but the cost of producing the next 100 widgets is de minimis. In fact, the competition for investment capital is often won or lost on a cost-to-scale analysis basis.
The problem with the "to hell with copyrights, you can make money from live performances" argument is that this thinking limits an artist's ability to scale to: his or her capacity to perform (live) on a consistent basis. If music (for example) is consistently stolen borrowed or free, where does the capacity to scale through minimal additional investment come from? T-shirts?
One might argue that if you reach the top tier of the profession that the capacity to generate easy, incremental income scales far beyond the income generated via performances. However nobody wants to invest in a business or an industry where the only way to obtain a financial exit is to hit a home run. There are far too many investment alternatives where you can pile up rewards by hitting singles and doubles…while preserving the opportunity to hit a home run also.
Art requires investment, as somebody always has to pay the bills. Investing in artists has to appear attractive on a cost-to-scale analysis basis. Every attempt: legal, cultural or otherwise, to weaken copyrights is an assault on every artist's capacity to scale via minimal incremental investments, and thus the capacity to compete for investment dollars.
Who wins the race for investment money, the artist with the epic song or the software developer with the snazzy iPhone app? Which took more time and skill to create? It's all software to me.
For those of you that detest dumping art into an investor equation, simply substitute the concept of investment dollars with a personal time-cost / benefit analysis and ask yourself why so many artists become hobbyists prior to obtaining traction; the key reason is: the lack of copyright respect results in the sinking perception that scaling one's digital entertainment business by shoveling time (or investor money) at it, often results in a negative return. For many, there simply ends up being…better ways to make a living.