[MUD-Dev] LEDO revisited (part 4)

Crosbie Fitch crosbie at cyberspaceengineers.org
Thu Jun 6 12:41:39 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: Frank Crowell

> I am skipping over the whole subject of market makers or lack of
> -- such as Ebay, EQprices, Playerauctions, Renderosity, DAZ,
> Turbosquid and probably a few I don't know about.

Here's one: 


> Although there are a lot of obstacles to virtual object
> marketplace, the biggest obstacle still goes back to the concept
> of LEDO.  This means the notion of limited numbers and a method
> for controlling transactions and detecting forgeries.

Why not abandon the burden of assuring the 'limited edition' and
pass it on to the customer? In other words, rely on the customers'
interest in preserving the limited circulation of the digital items
they've purchased.  You only need to be able to assure the customers
at the time of the transaction that the content is strictly limited
to them and them alone.  Would they trust one another though to
maintain this exclusivity? The question is, would they sufficiently
trust their mutual self-interest in preserving the exclusivity long
enough to make the purchase value for money.  It's a bit like the
prisoners' dilemma. If the punters don't buy, they don't get. But,
it they do, they have a choice of selling out and devaluing the
product for others or co-operating and maintaining exclusivity
(monopoly) and exploiting this.

But, what you can do is just offer up the item for sale (at a price
you require) and facilitate the formation of cartels to arrange
their own security devices (or none) as they see fit.

The choice is:

  1) Sell the item a copy at a time and have the burden of
  protecting it from copying


  2) Sell the item once to a group of purchasers and leave it to
  them to determine copy control measures.

> Honestly, isn't this a candidate for killer app, or am I just
> plain nuts?

I think copying, even proliferation or diffusion, is the natural
state of affairs in the digital world, and uniqueness (or limited
duplication) is a natural condition in the physical world. No two
snowflakes are the same.  Every one bit is identical, every zero bit
is identical.

In the physical world you make money by mass duplication. In the
digital world you make money by selling uniqueness en masse.
However, whilst in the real world you can sell millions of physical
commodities to one person at a time. In the digital world you sell
one digital commodity to millions of people at a time.

The thing that's creaking at the seams is people's insistence on the
idea of selling to one person at a time. Instead of the obvious
solution of selling en masse in one go, we resort to the much more
difficult problem of keeping secrets in a community of
gossips. Making a rod for our own back!

That's what's plain nuts.

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