Downloading the “Fin Plan” in Copyright Law (January 10, 2005)

Most individuals will pay $.99 for a song, $1.98 for two, and perhaps $2.97 for three. Maybe, just maybe, if they are good, $3.96 for four songs. However, they are reluctant if not downright unwilling to pay $16.99 for sixteen songs of diminishing inspiration. This situation induces cognitive dissonance in individuals who may otherwise be inclined to do right and good. The cost of burning another cd is cheap; everyone knows the score because everyone does it. Why not create your own music, the thinking goes, when it is obviously free to produce and because many of the creators do not seem to be wanting for another Lear or Lamborghini.

Most individuals will willingly pay a fin for all sixteen songs. The last dollar and four cents pays for the other dozen songs. Even in the unlikely event that the sale of cd’s only breaks even or is a loss leader at five dollars a copy, the sales will lead to other gains. The real money is made at the concerts and from other revenue sources. Sell more cd’s, fill more seats. Harley walks away with little from the sale of its chrome ponies and makes its money on the gear, paraphernalia and calendars.

Keep honest people honest; keep marginally honest people honest. There is a “positive public externality” because citizens who respond to the collective incentives in society in an honest way tend to develop honest habits; the opposite is true. Do the Lord’s Prayer thing if that is your thing and lead them not into temptation. Deliver us from evil; keep the government out of the arena, including the inefficient and inequitable government entity collectively known as the American court system. Make money, not lawsuits. Voluntarily adopt the “Fin Plan” and track the gains.

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