Music Piracy: The Extraterrestrial Threat

Originally published at:


This is a really fun book. I read it in text form

If you are interested in music I urge you to read or listen to this book. It also illustrates the insanity of our copyright laws.


Great five minute analysis, Rob.

Bastiat’s parable of the glazier* is also relevant here.

Suppose there was no piracy, and every penny of that $58 billion was spent on discs and downloads purchased at full price.

That’s $58 billion that would not be spent on
deep dish pizzas,
gardening tools,
greeting cards,
dog walking services,
you name it.

Anyone who thinks that not spending money on these things would not cost jobs, here’s your pointy hat and there’s your stool in the corner.


I came here to say pretty much the same things. I’ll just have to respond to your comment instead. Nice 4-sentence review. I agree.

Wait but what about the poor claims rep from the insurance company? They need a job too. Oh, and I just heard! The community has rallied around the unfortunate baker, everyone in the neighborhood has stopped by for fresh pastries and bread to show their support, so the bakery turned in a record day of sales. And dontcha know it, while the glazier was replacing the bakery window, several bakery customers remembered that they needed new windows themselves, so they took the glazier’s card to set up estimates for next week. Sometime that afternoon, a young entrepreneur was reviewing his business plan over coffee and a scone, getting ready to head to the bank and apply for a loan. A venture capitalist happened to be sitting next to the entrepreneur and overheard the entrepreneur’s idea. After reading through the whole plan, the venture capitalist cut a check for a 20% stake in the entrepreneur’s company, giving it the capital it needed to begin production. Now the entrepreneur can hire people, creating more jobs. At the end of the day, the baker took in the most profit they’d ever seen- enough to buy a new suit, adjust their budget for the higher insurance premium, and finally take their family on the vacation they’d been promising for years…

So yeah, WWII wasn’t the only reason the US economy finally came out of the Great Depression. But the role the war played was an undeniably huge factor in that recovery. The factories of the US came back online because there were broken windows all over the damn world. It didn’t hurt that after the war, just about every window in every European factory was broken, so they couldn’t compete with US manufacturing and all their shiny new windows, helping launch the longest period of strong, sustained economic expansion the US had ever seen.

Or more simply put, neo/classical economics does a shit job thinking about externalities. That it still leans on nearly two century-old simplistic thought experiments is pretty telling to that end.

Also, if the baker was Grecian they were probably off fire-bombing the new copper mine that opened up outside of their village, which was polluting their drinking water and killing off the local fauna.


Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The point is that if people are compelled to spend money on A, B, and C, they will not spend that money on X, Y, and Z.

If consumers are forced to buy every song and movie they consume instead of pirating them, the money flows through the media companies, their stockholders and employees into the larger economy. If instead consumers pirate their entertainment and spend money on other stuff, that money follows that path into the larger economy.

If the Congress decides to set up a big bridge repair project, that money flows through the contractors and employees into the larger economy. If instead that money is spent on building a space elevator, ditto. If instead the taxpayers keep that money and spend or invest it themselves, ditto. There is nothing wrong with deciding to repair those bridges, it could serve a valuable national purpose, but in the long run it does not provide any more jobs than any other decision would.

The only way that jobs don’t get supported is if someone keeps all his cash in a huge vat and swims in it, Scrooge McDuck style. That’s in a way happening now with companies which don’t want to pay at America’s 35% corporate tax rate. For another discussion…

Did you think if you didn’t say Microsoft and Apple we wouldn’t know who you were talking about? :wink:


I wonder if this will be the actual reason someone launches the berserker probes. Not a cold war game theory exercise In Space; but the knowledge that everyone in your light cone is a potential pirate and there is only one measure sufficient to prevent infringement.

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