Author Topic: Who makes money when AI reads the internet for us?  (Read 1202 times)

rcjordan

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ergophobe

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Re: Who makes money when AI reads the internet for us?
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2024, 10:08:26 PM »
I just finished reading Cory Doctorow's book, "Information Doesn't Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age."

One of his points is that copyright protection has typically served incumbents and currently serves dominant incumbents, more than it serves creators or consumers of art/news/fiction/etc.

The movie industry ended up in California because prior to that, a single company was the gatekeeper for movie-making: Edison, Inc. If Edison didn't sign off on your movie and get a licensing fee, he would sue. So the studios - Fox, Universal - fled to California where the courts were less interested in enforcing the patents of a New Jersey company. But once they had wrested control from Edison, believing it was just unacceptable that a single company should control all movies, they came to believe that the right number was six companies that should control all movies.

He says that at every turn, people said THIS will ruin THAT. Recorded music would destroy music as we know it. Then radio would destroy music as we know it. Then the internet and so forth.

As a person who makes his living from his copyrighted works, he is sympathetic to the idea that creators need to make money to create, but our system is skewed to reward publishers and, increasingly, intermediaries.

But he also points out that one thing he is sure of is that copying has always gotten easier and will continue to get easier. In fact, as he says, copying something will never be harder than it is right now, today.

That being the case, we need to think of compensation models and incentive structures that work in a world of costless copying. Trying to stop copying is simply not going to be a solution and the proposed solutions, digital locks (i.e. things like DRM) are typically now uses against creators and consumers and benefit the intermediaries more than anyone (have a collection of Kindle books? Now try to export it to read that on a Nook).

So I'm not sure what to make of all this. It's a threat to creators using the current model, but what model can we envision that promotes creators and avoids increasing concentration of power. AI, given the scale of investment required, will likely concentrate power even more than search did.

And that gets me back to another thought. We have come to think of search as natural, normal, native to the internet. But is it? Should it be? Maybe the answer is that creators need to just opt out of search, block crawlers and find other ways to find audience.

If I'm a merchant of a unique item, I love it when Google or ChatGPT steals my content since ChatGPT doesn't sell dinosaur-shaped lawn chairs, but I do. If people learn about them due to text or images on Google, eventually they have to pay me, not Google, to get those lawn chairs. Steal away Google!

But if I am a writer or cartoonist, I want people on my site not some Google/Bing/Arc Browser.

So I can do the deal with the devil and let them crawl my site and repurpose my content on their site and hope that the leavings are enough for me, or I can tell them to stick it and find users some other way. But I don't have to let them in. I just have to let them in if I want to make a lot of money off the ads that surround and drown out my content. I'm not sure the right to that traffic is protected in the Constitution.

If you don't want your neighbors to use your tools, don't give them a key to the shed. Granted, my neighbors all have the key code to my house and storage area and I to theirs and that brings great benefits to us all. But it is a choice.

Lately, much of the material I read and listen to is either a Substack or a podcast that I learned about on X or on another podcast. And some of them I pay actual cash money for each month. No search engine or AI standing between us.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2024, 10:13:30 PM by ergophobe »

littleman

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Re: Who makes money when AI reads the internet for us?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2024, 10:15:32 PM »
Post written note:  Sorry, this went a bit off from RC's original topic!

Hmm, interesting points here.  Your points kind of remind me how Disney started out with Mickey Mouse in 1928 as a way to circumvent Universal's copyright but then became a titan of copyright enforcement.  They actually managed to get the law changed in 1999 to keep the mouse out of public domain.  Now, finally, the Steamboat Willy version is public domain and a lot of creators are having fun with that.

As a merchant, I feel like the exchange of use of content for traffic is a much, much better deal than the likes of Amazon which controls all aspects of the display, communication, sale  and even the price of an item.  Even PPC traffic is much better than these controlled market places.  When one does the math they generally get about 1/3 the sale.  Content for sales is a much better trade. 

>So I can do the deal with the devil and let them crawl my site and repurposed my content on their site and hope that the leavings are enough for me, or I can tell them to stick it and find users some other way. But I don't have to let them in. I just have to let them in if I want to make a lot of money off the ads that surround and drown out my content.

Obviously, it is a much different dynamic when it comes to content creators, but I think one has to ask if s/he is net ahead or behind with the exposure.  If you have content and no one sees it why bother to publish it?  Why not just save it in an email or keep it in a diary?

The trick is to:
1. create content worthy of traffic
2. keep the forces of exposure (search engines, social media, etc.) from completely removing the ownership of reason for that exposure
3. benefit from the exposure (usually monetary, but surprisingly accolades are often greater motivation)

I am currently attempting to again squeeze profit from an open source project.  As of right now the alpha release has had a little under 25 thousand downloads in the first week.  I've gotten about $45 of tip money and about $30 of ad revenue from that in the last week.  Most of you all know what the project is, but I'd rather it not be associated with this place in a public way -- mostly so I may have freedom of conversation without self-censoring.  I'll shut up about it if you all aren't interested, no one in here is really talking shop too much these days.

Anyway, I am facing a task of trying to cultivate earnings from something that is free and very close to public domain.  What I have is the website, the name and the reputation.  I control the product brand, it's schedule, the product content, quality and the wears associated with the product.  The wears are coming again after some refinement.   

The project sat for a very long time without any development, but when it was hopping last time (back around 2008) it was pulling in about $100/day which was pretty good for something that was essentially free.  It will be interesting to see how it shakes out this time.

Making it work requires multiple small streams, like eating a meal from a selection of topas.

rcjordan

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Re: Who makes money when AI reads the internet for us?
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2024, 10:43:37 PM »
Something I have seen happen more than a few times on /r --mostly with art works; a creator creates a piece in a video, posts the vid, then someone wants to buy it and it is sold.

>shut up

Talk away, please LM.  In private if necessary.