Sunday, January 22, 2012

After SOPA, PIPA

Thankfully SOPA, PIPA is stopped, for now. Just to clear things up a bit, the opponents of these bills are not against creators earning what they rightfully deserve. The problem is not the copiers, the problem is the half-baked nature of the system. On one hand it is very easy to share content because of recent technology, on the other hand, it is not easy for content creators to get the rewards (money) they deserve. One part of the system is in 21st century, the other part is on 19th.

Solution? We talked about this idea before; Let's say there is a Web based registry for each artistic creation, and whenever people really like a song, a book, a site, they go to this registry and "like" this work. Or lookup the code for the creation, and send an SMS to a well-known site. Each citizen gets a quota of "like points" each month, day, or year. Unused likes gets carried over to the next period.. or not. For starters I think two types, type A and type B are needed [1]. Likes collected from others, if you were a creator yourself, should be carried over IMO.

Where does the rubber meet the road? How can I feel the hard, cold cash in my hands?

Options:

Government directs a portion of the tax revenue to back this like based system.

Or, as an addition or replacement of today's "money = debt" system, we can have "money = likes" system. Go to a bank, in return for your like points, the bank prints money, and gives it to you. The amount of money in the circulation will be proportional to the artistic, scientific creation in that country.

Yes, people can try to abuse the system, creating circular like chains, cliques. Fortunately cliques can be analyzed using software (in computer science, CLIQUE is np-complete, it is a hard problem, but not impossible given enough processing power). Or there will be "report abuse" feature for people to self-police the system.

Given such a system, artists, scientists, inventors would scramble to copy their creations to file sharing systems themselves, instead of today's so-called "pirates".

We should not fight the current, we should learn to swim with it. The urge to stick to a system will be strong, but it's obvious to everyone with a shred of intelligence that the current system is unworkable. There is a time when the most drastic change is also the most pragmatic one.

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[1] Type A: Such points cannot be converted to cash, can only be given out as either type, and are given to citizens either by government, or non-profits. Type B: can be converted to cash, or can be given to as either type to someone else. The difference between types is aimed to discourage people to sit on their points. Type A is basically free money, is only good for indicating an interest in someone else's work, nothing else. On the receiving side, such points become convertible to cash, as type B points, which is the reward an artist gets for her work.

The creation of type A points by government (or others) can be the cash -> point conversion part of the system, corresponding to a loan payment after which the bank destroys the loan money.

[2] Some interesting ideas can be layered on top of the "like-points" payment infrastructure. Suppose a scientific paper has a list of citations at the end, and this paper gets 100 like points. The system could easily provide a scheme where a portion of points received for the paper is distributed to other papers in the citation list. So everyone who contributed to the formation of an idea, research is included in the payment.

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