[EAS]The Future of IP?

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri Aug 4 21:58:56 EDT 2000

Subject:   The Future of IP?

No, not Internet Protocol, but Intellectual Property.  --PJK

(from Edupage, 2 August 2000)

Stephen King's experiment with using the honor system to encourage
fans to pay for the first part of his online novella "The Plant"
has proven successful so far, with an estimated 76 who have already
paid or have agreed to pay the author.  About 93,000 fans have paid
the $1 fee King requested, out of a total of 152,000 people who
downloaded the work in its first week online.  King promised
earlier to continue posting installments of "The Plant" if more
than 75 percent of readers paid the fee, and he now plans to
proceed with putting the second installment on his site.  The
publishing industry is watching King's online move closely, and
publishers expect other well-known authors to follow King's lead
based on his success.  Experts say King's success is partly due to
devoted fans who did not did not want to feel as if they were
cheating their favorite author.  If the honor system continues to
prove effective, the strategy might move beyond the publishing
industry, observers say. (Los Angeles Times, 1 Aug 2000)

(from NewsScan Daily, 4 August 2000)

The new Stephen King novel, published on the Web with a request
that at least 75% of downloaders send the author $1 for the
privilege, may well change the way all sorts of intellectual
property is marketed, says R. Polk Wagner, a Penn law school
professor. "Traditional intellectual property theory holds that
producers (that is, King) won't produce unless they have the
ability to restrict the access of others to their goods. Here King
is doing two significant things: First, he's only asking 75 percent
of the people to pay him, thereby engaging in an unusual form of
price discrimination where only those who feel the moral pressure
to contribute will do so. That is, King acknowledges that not
everyone will pay. Second, he's explicitly asking people to pay for
his future services. The traditional theory of intellectual
property would not consider this possibility. Classic intellectual
property theory holds that producers must get paid for the works
they've already created, not works they've yet to produce." The
result could be troubling for publishers, who depend on the
sacredness of intellectual property for their livelihood. "If
Stephen King, one of the 'poster boys' of the intellectual property
industry, doesn't need intellectual property (protection) anymore,
what does that mean for intellectual property generally?"
(Knowledge at Wharton 3 Aug 2000)

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