I know Brad from my days at IBM. He's developed an economic model called
superdistribution, which basically says that in the digital era, when the
costs of distribution go down to zero (bits transferred over the Internet,
for example), consumers only pay for the true value of the intellectual
property. This is actually pretty easy to see from the Napster experience.
Most of what we pay for when we buy audio CDs are the atoms and their
distribution. When that audio becomes digital, those costs drop to zero and
the price of the audio then must truly reflect the value of the intellectual
property. The profit models for intellectual property are clearly different
then the profit models for distribution of atoms. As we're seeing with
Napster, it's likely that the value of audio is probably about 5 to 10 cents
per song, compared with the typical $1 per song of most audio CDs (assuming
around 16 songs per CD).
The superdistribution concept kicks in heavily in the redistribution of
those intellectual properties. Essentially, with distribution costs at
zero, anyone can become a redistributor. The interesting aspect of this is
that redistributors can benefit in the model, as in if you purchase a song
that I've sent to you I could get a rebate or credit. You could also
aggregate things and redistributed them using the same model. For example,
I could take my favorite 16 songs and bundle them into a "Jeff's Favorites"
package, charge you an extra 10 cents for my efforts, getting you to pay for
the collection as well as the individual songs.
This is all a pretty reasonable idea presuming that a digital rights
management (DRM) scheme exists and works. And therein lies the problem --
without a reasonable DRM you really can't take advantage of
Brad's company is basically attempting implement a DRM system.
Unfortunately, to the best of my recollection, there is only one DRM system
that works and that is because of an accident. Essentially the only try DRM
show around is try and buy Windows software. The only reason that try and
buy Windows software works is that once the software is installed, it's too
hard (for most humans) to collect all pieces back up and hand them over to a
friend. Other digital works fail that test -- once the wrapper is removed,
the DRM is effectively defeated.
I know a fair amount about this because I developed DRM software for IBM
called Cryptolope. It was designed to deliver "high value content" in a
digital container that could collect the fees for use and be redistributed
in this model. Like all DRM, it protects the content hopefully to the
extent that the price of the content is lower than the cost of defeating the
protection scheme. That is, of course, where all DRM has failed to date --
the cost of defeating the protection scheme tends to be very low. DeCSS and
"unfuck" were two great examples of that.
Hope this helps -- let me know if you'd like more information.
jeffrey kay <firstname.lastname@example.org>
chief technology officer, engenia software, inc.
"first get your facts, then you can distort them at your leisure" -- mark
"golf is an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle"
-- sports illustrated
"if A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y plus Z. X is
work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut." -- albert einstein
From: Meltsner, Kenneth [mailto:Kenneth.Meltsner@ca.com]
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2001 2:22 PM
To: Tom WSMF; FoRK
Subject: RE: Comments please
He's one of the early "software IC"/component programming types --
superdistribution was his silver bullet to get people to not only buy and
use components, but then resell them to others.
Sort of like multi-level marketing for software engineers.
From: Tom WSMF [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2001 1:00 PM
Subject: Comments please
There is a little thread going on with another mailing list im on (dist
obj /me ducks) and there is one fella that I am dying to flame a new
butthole, but im missing some vital clicks in my head as to the details of
This fella is touting his methodology called superdistributed.com and to
these ears it sounds like a load of horseshit warpped in a PHd. Has anyone
had any dealings with or insight to this "New Paradigm for a new
You know I dont mind looking like a fool, but i want to at least be an
Heres the particulars.....
Dr. Brad Cox; firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 703 361 4751 Fax: 703 995 0422 Cellular: 703 919-9623
http://superdistributed.com: A new paradigm for a new millinneum
PGP Signature: E194 C6E5 92D8 B8FB 20E8 8667 929A 95A0 FCB6 7C62
(if your on dist-obj dont be tatling on me over there for my inquiry over
here. Im simply trying to educate myself before a well postioned attack.
Consider this an act of courtsey on my part:) )
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:13:49 PDT