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Amazon Patents 'Maintaining Scarcity' of Goods

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the moldy-bits dept.

Books 240

theodp writes "Back in Biblical times, creating abundance was considered innovative. That was then. Last Tuesday, GeekWire reports, the USPTO awarded Amazon.com a broad patent on reselling and lending 'used' digital goods for an invention that Amazon boasts can be used to 'maintain scarcity' of digital objects, including audio files, eBooks, movies, apps, and pretty much anything else."

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And of course ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795607)

Artificial scarcity is designed to keep prices up and screw consumers.

Tell me again how this lovely free market reaches optimal solutions and we all pay less? Someone has just patented a way to make us pay more for no other reason that corporate profit seeking.

Re:And of course ... (1, Redundant)

fatphil (181876) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795655)

Yeah, but because it's patented, the companies who are now able to gouge us for more money will have to pass on that extra income onto that well-known humanitarian charity - Amazon; and I'm sure nobody objects to donating to such a good cause. They do so much good for the world - they're world leaders in patents, don't you know?

Re:And of course ... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795913)

Jeff Bezos registered himself as a charity? When did that happen?

Re:And of course ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795689)

Wut? When does copyright, by definition a government issued monopoly, have anything to do with the free market?

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795821)

Because it's "teh evilz!!!(tm)" and it involves money. That's the Slashdot definition of a free market.

Re:And of course ... (1, Redundant)

emilper (826945) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795703)

since when is a government enforced monopoly the expression of free market ?

Re:And of course ... (5, Interesting)

TarPitt (217247) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795925)

Any form of private property is a government enforced monopoly

The owner of the property has exclusive rights to it backup up by government

Private property is the core of "free enterprise"

The birth of industrial capitalism was formed by the "privatization" of traditional agricultural commons, impoverishing the peasant class and creating a cheap workforce for the factories of free enterprise.

The privatization of innovation eliminates the intellectual commons in a similar way

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795979)

Any form of private property is a government backed monopoly

The owner of the property has exclusive rights to it.

Backup up by government is optional.

Re:And of course ... (2)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796047)

In order to maintain a consistent position, you've switch from libertarianism/minarchism (a little nutty) to anarcho-capitalism (abso-fucking-lutely insane).

If government does not back up property claims with the threat of force, individuals must do so themselves. Congratulations, you've just handed all land over to whoever has the physical power to conquer it. Exclusive rights are only possible in this world by having a massive superiority of arms over all your neighbors - which of course means that they don't have exclusive rights over 'their' land because you can just take it at your will.

You posit a world where disputes over the positions of garden fences would be resolved at gunpoint. Thankfully, most of the rest of humanity is smart and mature enough to see that this is ridiculous, and disregard you.

Re:And of course ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796225)

Now you can appreciate why a truly freemarket may never exist.

A freemarket requires government style enforcement of private property, but any existence of government and you cease to have a freemarket.

It's a paradox.

The best you can get is somewhere in-between the two extremes.

Re:And of course ... (5, Informative)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796213)

Which planet's history did you study? Because it sure as hell wasn't this one's. With a few tiny marginal exceptions, there has never been an 'agricultural commons'. Farm land throughout the ancient and medieval world was always owned by somebody, whether it was quasi-state aristocracy, wealthy oligarchs, or more modest private farmers (the lattermost being rather rare actually before the modern capitalist world you disparage). Frequently land was awarded to soldiers (*privately* not collectively) after campaigns, Rome was famous for doing this, though it was by no means the only civilization to exercise the practice. Of course the next time those soldiers were deployed, they frequently came home to find their land had been 'reassigned' which underscores the dangers of the state. (Jefferson rightly said that any state powerful enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take everything you have.)

I could give you a whole lecture on feudalism and how the ages of exploration and enlightenment laid the political theoretical foundations for the sea change in civic life enabled by the industrial revolution. You really need to study history in depth and realize how oppressed humanity was before the development of capitalism created a middle class society to counterbalance previous aristocratic/oligarchic power structures. Power structures that recreate themselves whenever an anti-capitalist ideology seizes control of society, since redistribution of wealth by force crucifies the middle class and puts the bulk of society under the boot of a politically empowered few.

All this being said, any kind of intellectual property law is a farce against the nature of any truly free market because it violates real property rights. It essentially posits that I cannot use my materials to make things I want to make because somebody else "owns" the "idea" of using materials that way. No government should be able to tell somebody that they cannot make things with their own property, or configure their property in some way that another lays claim to. Either you own something (physically!) and have control over its disposition or you don't. The whole concept of "intellectual property" should be excised from society.

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795707)

But you said it yourself...

If a company ratches up prices artificially due to patented artificial scarcity, what stops competition from offering the same products without the scarcity? Nothing.

This can hurt noone but Amazon, or any company that uses it. And if all fails, theres always your friendly neighborhood torrent tracker.

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795713)

Maybe it's a helpful attempt to destroy the secondary market for digital goods. That would keep their business partners happy.

Re:And of course ... (3, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795755)

But think of the Economy!
All hail the Economy. Listen to your lobbyists. Listen to your advertisement. Buy, but don't complain. There is no other Economy than the one and only Economy. There is no alternative. All hail the Economy.

LOL, people wonder why the crisis does not end. The answer is right there. Because more and more people are leeching off the few people who actually produce something tangible.

Re:And of course ... (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795795)

You forgot:

The number one enemy of progress is questions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMQHVzSPTec for those that don't recognise the line.

Patents are by definition not the free market (5, Insightful)

hawks5999 (588198) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795767)

Patents are a monopoly issued by government. They are the antithesis of the free market. This government intervention in the free market leads to ridiculous patents like this.

Many patents are filed defensively since someone else could use the force of government to prevent Amazon from conducting free market business in the future by getting this patent.

The patent, copyright and entire IP systems is not a construct of the free market and we could be so much further advanced without these government interventions.

Re:Patents are by definition not the free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795941)

Patents don't create monopolies. What a company does with the patent can, but it is earned...usually. If a small company comes up with a great idea or invention, it would be quickly stolen and used by the 'big guys' if they didn't have a patent. Without the patent PROTECTION, no small companies in America would ever try to invent anything. As soon as they do, it is taken and mass produced by those can quickly produce and market.
 
When the big companies invest in new ideas or products, it is the same. There would be few new drugs or medical equipment or any innovations without patents. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

Re:Patents are by definition not the free market (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796007)

It's true that they are anti-free market. But no sociological construct can be pure. The patent system could work if the government or businesses had any interest in it working properly. But they don't. What we have no allows them to manipulate the market, drive out upstart companies, and drive up prices. Amazon takes more of the profit from digital books than real ones. Figure that one out for me.

Re:Patents are by definition not the free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796069)

Patents are a monopoly issued by government. They are the antithesis of the free market. This government intervention in the free market leads to ridiculous patents like this.

Many patents are filed defensively since someone else could use the force of government to prevent Amazon from conducting free market business in the future by getting this patent.

The patent, copyright and entire IP systems is not a construct of the free market and we could be so much further advanced without these government interventions.

And a ban on slave trading is also not a construct of the free market. We made it unlawful to sell other humans into slavery for moral, religious and social reasons thus limiting free market. In fact we also limit the free market for all manner of practical reasons like using patents to allow innovators some protection against parasites who'd like to profit from using the ideas innovators sunk their money into perfecting. No system is perfect, patents can help you if your primary function is to innovate but they can also be used as a weapon to stifle competition. Stifling competition is a very correct and proper thing to do in a truly free market. Since a truly free market has no rules, anything can be traded in it and since there are no rules who is there to say that it is wrong of you to use all manner of underhanded tricks to kill off your competitors and dominate the market?

Re:Patents are by definition not the free market (3, Interesting)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796073)

False.

The 'free market' is not a real entity, its a social construct, and it can only exist where property rights are defined and defended - by government force. ALL property, patents or land, is created in this way. Its called enclosure (or inclosure, as it was spelt when this first happened to land in England.

What is going on here is entirely consisted with the 'free' market (quotes because I refuse to pass on the propagandistic notion that markets have anything to do with freedom) - it is in fact what has been going on since the very dawn of capitalism. You secure exclusive access to something by force (generally via a government, which markets cannot exist without) and then you sell it back to the people you have denied it to.

Re:Patents are by definition not the free market (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796109)

I assume that the post you replied to is referring to the practice of colluding to maintain the artificial scarcity of some product, and not the patent itself. It's either that or assuming that the poster was completely drunk.

Re:Patents are by definition not the free market (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796181)

You are absolutely right, of course, but capitalism and the free market have proven time and again that they cannot survive without some government intervention. The patent system was created with another, more noble, intent: to encourage innovation by rewarding an inventor a small and exclusive window to market something new and ingenious. Like many other well-intended pieces of legislation (disability pay, welfare, and lawsuits, for instance), the number of abusers of the system has grown disproportionately. There is no conceivable way the framers of patent law were able to imagine the creation of this interweb thingie, and it's way past time for an update. Problem is, the present rules favor too many present users.

Re:And of course ... (3, Informative)

holiggan (522846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795775)

You have a choice: do your business somewhere else. That's part of the "free market" you talk about. The freedom to do business with whoever you choose. Nobody is forcing you to buy with Amazon. Just "vote with your wallet". You are part of the free market too.

Re:And of course ... (2, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795835)

Not if they have exclusive rights over what you need. Then they can pretty much do whatever they want, because nobody else can compete with him. That is not even remotely a free market.

Re:And of course ... (2)

Lisias (447563) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796013)

If the "Free Market" screws you, go for the Free and screw the Market.

This is exactly what bittorrents and other "generics" source of intelectual goods provides to you. Your wallet is not the only way you can use to vote.

Re:And of course ... (2)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796107)

I generally agree with you, but there is no dichotomy between doing that and fighting for fair laws. Both things can be done at the same time.

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796183)

Not if they have exclusive rights over what you need.

Except Amazon doesn't have exclusive rights to anything people need.

Re:And of course ... (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795845)

Just "vote with your wallet".

Sounds like rich people get more of a vote than poor people.

Re:And of course ... (0)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795935)

This is a first world problem(TM), so I would expect poor people to give a rats ass about this one.

Re:And of course ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796049)

You assume that there are no poor people in the first world. I'm pretty sure that's wrong.

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796275)

an empty wallet votes just the same as a full wallet. we've seen that in this past u.s. election. those that have little have determined they can vote themselves more, and thus, the socialist agenda continues.

Re:And of course ... (1)

drrilll (2593537) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795781)

You are equating one aspect of the freedom of our system with the entire free market. Freedom requires a cost in vigilance. Artificial scarcity is a reprehensible practice, but to say the entire system is broken is overkill. There will always be better and worse parts of any market, and consumer vigilance is a necessary part of our system, as is bringing corrupt practices like this to light.

Re:And of course ... (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795849)

The entire system isn't broken, it's crooked, running as designed by the gangsters that built it.

Re:And of course ... (0, Troll)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795985)

Really? Gangsters? These are just a bunch of smart guys who happened to be the right age at the right time, in the right place. After that its just following the laws of the land and trying to make their investors happy (and their customers satisfied).

Re:And of course ... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796315)

Yes, gangsters, with guns. They aren't following the law, they're writing it.

Re:And of course ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795789)

As someone who sells software online from home as a part-time business, I use artificial scarcity (a product registration keying system) to motivate consumers to pay. The best way for them to get screwed would be for me to remove all incentives for them to pay, which would remove all incentives for me to be in business at all. Then, they'd get nothing - for free.

Imagine a world in which you had to pay for new cars but you couldn't resell the car after you used it. At that point, you'd really feel screwed.

Re:And of course ... (1)

bio_end_io_t (2771123) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795797)

A free market grants us the freedom to restrict the market. Beautiful, ain't it.

The corporations are our enemy (5, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795891)

Terminator was far too optimistic in portraying our future as the War Against the Machines, a nice and clean them-versus-us scenario in which the machines would be non-human. The enemy would be easy to identify.

The reality is likely to be rather more ugly and messy. It'll be a War Against the Corporations, and unfortunately they are us. It will be man against man, those who care about their fellow humans versus those who perceive their only duty is to be a cog in their corporate machine, and society be damned.

It's all a bit bleak, and every day seems to carry us closer to that nightmare instead of towards a post-scarcity civilized future.

Thank you Amazon. Not.

Re:The corporations are our enemy (4, Funny)

ph0rk (118461) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795921)

Terminator was far too optimistic in portraying our future as the War Against the Machines, a nice and clean them-versus-us scenario in which the machines would be non-human. The enemy would be easy to identify.

Uh, yeah. Did you actually see Terminator?

Re:And of course ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795907)

Because if Amazon does this and starts screwing customers, then a person will look at Google Play, Apple App Store, Microsoft Store or any other service, see the lack of scarcity and lower price, and not shop at Amazon until it is reasonable again. Nice little thing called competition. If you overpay for something, shame on you but good for the seller. Lazy consumers are not an excuse for calling capitalism evil.

This happened in the 90s with cereal. Kellogg's over priced their cereal and people stopped buying, they lost a ton of money. They had to reduce their price to be reasonable again.

With "evil corporations" we can go down the road (or click a different bookmark) and shop elsewhere. With "evil governments" I can't go down the road and purchase a new State.

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796065)

That's when lock-in comes into play... If iTunes decided to not sell files for a bit, yes one could download the same audio from another source... but it wouldn't play unless one used a special app, or got to a machine, dumped the files, added them to the library, then manually synced them up.

Take the Kindle as well. If Amazon decided to make some files unavailable, one's options are pretty limited. Even on an iPad, it would mean having to have multiple apps for one's book library (Nook, iBooks, Kobo), and having to change apps to find what one needed.

When a company controls the vertical and horizontal, things like artificial scarcity do make sense.

Re:And of course ... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795929)

Tell me again how this lovely free market reaches optimal solutions and we all pay less? Someone has just patented a way to make us pay more for no other reason that corporate profit seeking.

I take it noone ever explained to you that "patents" and "free markets" are NOT that same thing?

HINT: who issues patents? (answer: government)

For all the hypothetical benefit of patents, they are a government interference in free markets.

While it is arguable that some government interference in free markets is necessary, government interference in free markets should be treated as necessary evils. Which each should be evaluated on its own merits, rather than being given standing because "well, last time we interfered in the market, everyone benefited"....

Re:And of course ... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795959)

Your first mistake was believing we lived in a free market.

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796197)

I live in a house. Some people apparently live in a yellow submarine. But I don't know of anyone who lives in a free market. There may be many who sleep in pay markets. But free ones? As in beer?

Re:And of course ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796075)

Artificial scarcity is designed to keep prices up and screw consumers.

I don't see how they can get away with this. Not only is there plenty of prior art (places like Game Stop has had a used marketplace for years and although there is a physical component, a CD, its still digital data being re-sold). Besides this sounds way too much like an obvious "on the computer/internet" type patent anyway.

In many markets deliberately creating an artificial shortage in order to drive up prices is highly illegal (and in the US, highly regulated). The trading card industry comes to mind as does things like commemorative coins and plates.

Re:And of course ... (3, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796123)

The problem with digital media is too cheap to produce. So the idea of supply in essence goes to infinity (or at least such a high number that it doesn't matter anymore) So using good old Supply and Demand the price of all digital media goes down to 0, no matter what the demand is, or the elasticity of supply and demand.

Free stuff that is good right? Well perhaps in the short term, but in the long term it creates the problem that it isn't free to create the information. It takes time and talent for writer to write a story good enough to be well liked and published. Software takes man hours of people with skill sets. Music takes talented people who need to dedicate good portions of their life for to their art...

My career is in writing software, I get paid to offer my services to an organization. The organization is willing to pay for my services as long as it deans my cost to be equal or less then the value I provide them. If I am producing stuff of little or no value due to a saturated market where anything I write already has a free version of it, and what ever I write must be offered for free too, means my value is 0, thus my bargaining costs will be 0 too (AKA I will not get paid for my work, or have no work).

If out of work, I will need to change my profession to a skill that has a lower supply and a higher demand. That means giving up skills that I am good at and go to something else. Now enough people do this we loose quality digital media and we get "Fan Fiction" quality stuff where if we are lucky we may get a good product every once in a while, but most of it will be complete garbage, or just rehashing what already exists with little innovation or new ideas.

Now here comes the Alternative Open Source business models and touting the profit of such companies such as Red Hat and IBM.... Sure Consulting services, and special distribution and configuration and training services are still in effect for some software. But that really works when you have something of a decent complexity. Now a lot of innovative stuff is too easy to use to be Consulting on. RMS who made money selling Tapes of Emacs. Well those tapes cost money to buy, and he had limited resources to create such tapes and mail them out, allowing supply and demand, as they didn't have the internet widely available at a fast enough speed, making media distribution obsolete.

There is greed, and there is being valuable and compensated for your value. If amazon flooded the market, there will be less authors willing to make digital media and will go back to printed, just because they can make more money off of printed books, even if they sell less. As with all things in life there is a balance, Greed is the case where the balance is broken. But most people who are not greedy do want more out of their lives.

Big business dominates all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795621)

In the very near future, all startups will be squashed in the courts because of these silly, sweeping patents.

My money is also scarce (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795627)

Does this cover the fact that my money is also scarce? Perhaps they should make my money mnore abundant so I am not infringing their patent :)

Re:My money is also scarce (1)

Lisias (447563) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796061)

Talk to the iranians. I think they have a solution for your scarcity. :-)

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795643)

There is prior art for this, a website called the 9thxchange.com was doing this years ago.

Re:Prior Art (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795897)

It's DAMN more than that. Every form of DRM is a way to make a digital "object" have a false form of scarcity.

Corporate suits can't get it through their fat heads: the digital world has different rules. Build your business based on those rules. You can't have the same type of scarcity as a physical item. Every attempt fails and will continue to fail.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795673)

So this one is directly and explicitly opposed to the reason for patents: making things unscarce. And the USPTO passed it why>

Wut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795675)

Excuse me? Since when does copyright, by definition a goverment monopoly, have anything to do with the free market?

For real? (3, Funny)

Quakeulf (2650167) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795691)

I... I don't even want to know anymore.

Ultimatly, it will fail (2)

Stu101 (1031686) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795705)

I have an Amazon account and a Nexus with Kindle reader. They go together good. I buy the odd book here or there, between a few books of varying prices. A fair exchange for a fair price. This kind of stuff really annoys me though. It is as if they wanted to annoy people to go the root of firing up a browser and typing "latest best seller torrent" and side loading it.

I admit I have sideloaded a lot of stuff, but mainly stuff that is useful, but in PDF (i.e. tech docs).

Ultimately, a few people will put up with it, but when you are part of a group of "digitally intelligent" people, they will just rip and share their stuff, either through online or large removable media.

Re:Ultimatly, it will fail (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795747)

I have an Amazon account and a Nexus with Kindle reader.

But when you have finished reading your book(s), can you freely give them to a friend ? I can do that with the paper books that I have, but electronic ones ?

Re:Ultimatly, it will fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795865)

I can give them to a friend even before i have read them. It's called copying (it's also called theft by some, but i really don't give a damn, as i'm surely breaking some law or other anyways ) I'll get the books from whichever place is the most convinient as long as the price doesn't make me think twice. Easiest way i could think would be integrated bookstore, but those usually have crippled copies that cause problems down the road. Piratebay is also pretty easy, but you'll never know if you are really getting what you are trying to get w/o extras.

Re:Ultimatly, it will fail (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795961)

But when you have finished reading your book(s), can you freely give them to a friend ? I can do that with the paper books that I have, but electronic ones ?

I use an old Sony eReader. It supports ePub format, with or without DRM.

And I also have Calibre, which can remove DRM for legally acquired eBooks.

So, yes, I can give my ebooks freely to friends.

Re:Ultimatly, it will fail (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796071)

I have a Kindle Touch and have bought a few books from Amazon. Once downloaded I copy them to my PC and strip the DRM out of it with some freeware apps, then convert them to ePub. That way, if Amazon ever decide that I'm no longer eligible to give them my money (as they have with others) I lose nothing, and can use them on any eReader in the future. I'm happy to root my phone, I can do it with the Kindle if need be.

To answer your question, thought, yes you mostly can. You can lend your purchased books to other Kindle users. Here [amazon.com] are the details.

when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795717)

when is someone gonna slap the USPTO chief around and make them aware of the market conditions they're creating?

And then..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795719)

Noble King Amazon did proceed to the beach, stood at the shore in his most regal boots, and commanded that the tide should recede before his digital majesty.

With predictable results.

Value beyond money (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795721)

The phrase “maintain scarcity” has the same feel as "monatize" to me - it indicates a world view where commerce is the be all and end all of existance.

"Maintaining scarcity" is in essence the exact reason our copyright laws on this planet are so messed up - the notion that something that is no longer commercially viable might still be of historical or cultural interest is heresy. In fact, availability of "assets" without requiring payment from users of those assets is an active attack on capitalism and our way of life, according to some people.

I know what kind of world I want to live in, and it isn't one where the goal is to "monatize" art, culture, history and literature to line our pockets. Maybe, just maybe, those things have a value that transends price tags - maybe intellectual stimulation, artistic enjoyment, and knowledge have their own intrinsic worth that doesn't rest soly on whether people have paid to acquire them.

Although I think this is a sleezy smelling move on Amazon's part, it's more properly seen as a reflection of our broader culture. What kind of world do we want to live in?

Re:Value beyond money (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795879)

What kind of world do we want to live in?

The one we have, obviously... I mean, if we didn't, we would change it.

To promote the progress of (5, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795737)

science and useful arts.

USPTO, please read the Goddamn Constitution.

Re:To promote the progress of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795791)

useful arts.

It's a useful art if you're Amazon? :)

(Or in American-ese: guns are generally considered useful, even though the utility of a loaded gun pointed at you is certainly up for debate)

Re:To promote the progress of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795949)

They did, and it protects it's citizens. The corporations.

You know the funny thing about Amazon? It has a VERY low profit margin. Once the world economy starts, not just recovering, but continue growing, they'll be in serious trouble.

Re:To promote the progress of (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796149)

science and useful arts.

USPTO, please read the Goddamn Constitution.

... by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. Sounds like they're doing exactly what the Goddamn Constitution says.

If you don't like how digital goods are handled... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795745)

... don't buy them. There are still enough non-digital alternatives to maintain a market. Yeah it takes up a little more space to have a physical object but you can give, sell or lend the thing to others when you're done with it.

Good and evil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795753)

So Jesus created abundance. Therefore creation of abundance is good.
Creation of scarcity is the opposite of creation of abundance. Thus it is the opposite of good.
The opposite of good is evil.

Yeah sure go ahead (2)

fleeped (1945926) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795773)

For my digital goods, I can find other ... marketplaces. Without DRM, reselling issues, artificial 'used' tags and more neverending crap. Guess what, they are cheaper too.

Re:Yeah sure go ahead (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796305)

For tech books, I have been buying a lot from O'Reilly [oreilly.com] recently; they have fully DRM-free ebooks and half off sales about every month or so. It takes a little more time to get them to my Kindle (you have to email them to a special Kindle address or sideload them directly) but it's worth it.

Sure, give us ANOTHER reason to prefer piracy... (5, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795783)

Psst - Dear merchants and content providers...

You will sell countless millions of your products at under a buck each. At >$10 each, a significant number of people will pirate it. And if you don't even offer it for sale (or play tricks to have a limited number of copies available), you guarantee everyone who wants it will just pirate it.

Don't like it? Starve in the gutter. We don't care. Give us what we want or vanish, simple as that.

Re:Sure, give us ANOTHER reason to prefer piracy.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795893)

Like most of the Slashdot crowd, it's always black and white with you. Over $10 or under a buck? A rational debate would include a reasonable price for the effort put into say writing a book, maybe it's $5. Maybe $3? I don't advocate Amazon & co making a lot of money, but writing a novel or a reference book isn't free. Frankly if authors made more as a % (thus more absolute dollars), we might see more people go into this field of work.

you guarantee everyone who wants it will just pirate it.

Crazy, it seems Amazon, Google, Apple are having no trouble finding customers. Yet you guaranteed everyone would pirate their content? And yes, lets remember that in the end, you barely hurt Amazon, while taking money out of authors pockets at the same time... Yes yes, everyone on Slashdot mails their favourite band/authors/developers $20 to make them feel better about themselves...

Don't like it? Starve in the gutter. We don't care. Give us what we want or vanish, simple as that.

Starve in the gutter? Too bad most people aren't malcontents / sociopaths like yourself. This might actually work. Until then, seek help for the anger issues.

Re:Sure, give us ANOTHER reason to prefer piracy.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796133)

At under a buck for a book it will be the writers who will starve in a gutter unless their work sells millions. You'd have about a whole dozen profitable writers under your plan. Or maybe you want them to "go on tour" like you demand out of musicians?

Sorry, but... (1, Troll)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795807)

...Apple's been maintaining a false scarcity of their products for who knows how many years.
I'm surprised they didn't already have this patented.

Re:Sorry, but... (1)

TheBogBrushZone (975846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795931)

This is maintaining the scarcity of digital goods - i.e. when you lend someone an eBook or music track you can't use it yourself or lend it again until the original borrower has returned it.

Physical objects wear out, digital objects don't (5, Interesting)

markdj (691222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795823)

This has to do more with the fact that physical objects wear out and digital objects don't. Publishers have complained that when a library lends a physical book, it can only do so for a limited number of times before it has to buy another copy because the first wore out. When libraries lend digital objects, they never have to buy another again. So publishers want a limit to the number of times that a digital object can be lent before requiring a repurchase. The same goes for CDs/DVDs.

Re:Physical objects wear out, digital objects don' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795955)

CDs and DVDs wear out at a library, trust me. People don't seem to care what they do with them. I'm not sure if they are throwing them into a pit of gravel or something, but you see a lot more scratches on physical media that has been rented/borrowed. If its digital, do they loose it if the device that it was on was lost or destroyed? Or do they just make an illegal copy?

Re:Physical objects wear out, digital objects don' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796155)

Markdj is talking about digital downloads from the library. Libraries have to buy individual 'copies' of each digital title that are laden with DRM so they can only be checked out to one patron at a time and 'expire' after a certain number of checkouts so the library has to buy a new 'copy'. It is pretty ridiculous.

Physical objects require additional work to copy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796025)

Does the IP holder have to perform extra work to create another copy of a digital object? When a physical object wears out, the business has to perform more work to create an additional object if they want to sell it to the consumer. Artificial scarcity should apply both ways.

Re:Physical objects wear out, digital objects don' (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796097)

It has to do with enclosure and rent seeking.

1. Take something that is abundant and/or common, and fence it off so people can't get to it.

2. Sell access back to it to the people you closed off from it.

3. Profit

This is the very method by which capitalism was founded - and it continues to this day.

Re:Physical objects wear out, digital objects don' (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796189)

People still need time to read a book (or listen to music), which limits the number of people that will read the book even if the ownership can be transferred indefinitely. However, we have effectively perpetual copyright at the moment and it just wouldn't be fair to the starving writers' grand-grand-grandchildren if the market for the book would eventually dry up because there are a sufficient number of copies sold such that every person who wants to read it can get a second hand copy.

Re:Physical objects wear out, digital objects don' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796321)

Publishers have also complained about libraries lending books.

This is proof (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795833)

The U.S. a land of takers.

more reasons to stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795883)

And here are even more reasons to stop shopping at Amazon.

Amazon is not exactly making huge profits now... (1)

njnnja (2833511) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795887)

A quote from Matt Yglesias: "Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers."

So they need to sue Debeers and OPEC, eh? (0)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#42795895)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Beers#Diamond_monopoly [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPEC#Economics [wikipedia.org]
.
So if Amazon somehow "won" a patent "maintaining scarcity" of goods, doesn't that mean they can go ahead and sue DeBeers and OPEC for what they've been doing for more than 50 years so far?
.
Artificial scarcity is what can keep prices up for oil with OPEC and for diamonds for DeBeers, along with the faux-brouhaha about so called "blood diamonds" being made up so as to fool those guillible buyers of compressed carbon into not buying it from non-DeBeers-approved channels. Why if you don't buy it from approved DeBeers vendors, you're buyng "Blood Diamonds" and leading to the killing of human beings; they even got hollywood morons to make a movie about the topic to seriously delude the public.
.
And OPEC has been a cartel devoted to controlling the oil output of their nations so as to keep the price of oil buoyed up as necessary. No need to just make prices jump up immedately at any wacky political instability and then drop down never or oh-so-slowly; no need to have made-up pretend refinery fires like they do here in California to justify the rate increases. It's all about keeping the prices as high as the market will bear.
.
So it's not as if Amazon has really developed anything new. Why does the patent office keep dropping the ball on the obviousness of things? "Screwing people over with artificial scarcity on the internet or in the fucking cloud" is not really different from "screwing people over with artificial scarcity IRL" as OPEC and DeBeers and other cartels do. There's no reason that doing X on the internet needs patent protection when X has been done IRL for ages, eh?
.
autoreply for responses to fucking cloud instead of to the actual topic of this post: Why yes, it is indeed cloud #9 that is the fucking cloud. ;>)

The other side of the artiifical coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795903)

If IP holders are getting profit off artificially scarce goods, are they performing additional work to create copies? Scarcity should apply to both sides, not just the consumer. The virtual goods should also be "scarce" to the one profiting off them.

Think about it, if I mow my neighbors lawn, do I get to collect profit off it for 70+ years? What about the nice waitress at the diner down the street, does she get 70+ years of tips for one night of work?

People shouldn't get something for nothing, and this doesn't just apply to consumers. Why should IP holders be able to retire and live off profits of a finite amount of work if no one else that produces a physical good or service is able to?

If you can force your artificial goods to be scarce then we should be able to force them to be scarce to the IP holder as well. Otherwise you just create another welfare class.

igNobel Peace Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795909)

For this amazing achievement, Amazon should be awarded the price.

Are we near the bottom? Does this thing go deeper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795915)

In the off chance the summary isn't actually sensationalizing this (rare, but possible for this one), then seriously- why would you patent that? Encouraging such a business method in the first place is certainly quite questionable, but then actually going for a patent? It's ballsy but certainly not something that's about to enrich the world for the betterment of all peoples. I don't think moving to Canada will even be enough anymore. I think I need to just move to Mars. Maybe hang out with the rovers. At least Curiosity is honest, hard-working, and trying to achieve something constructive.

Can't we just forget patenting crap like this, and work more on investing in improving the world? I mean having three swimming pools made of platinum is probably nice and all, but doesn't it feel better to cure cancer or reduce pollution or teach farmers new sustainable farming strategies for more effective food production?

Sigh.

WTF! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795957)

I was "" this close to setting up an account to buy used CDs from them; now never. Everything Amazon is is a luxury,
i.e., you don't need it to sustain life. I pride myself on not being a iWeenie (new meme for 2013) - complain about things
then go buy some iApple product built by young girls in a labor camp (confirmed by presidential candidate Mitt Romey).

BTW, isn't one of USPTO's responsibilities to not grant patents on ideas, but rather grant patents on
inventions (yes, there is a difference -- think about it).

More Republican Bush-ism's people have to deal with. Very sad.

CAPTCHA = normally (yeah, like that's going to happen)

no prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42795987)

DeBeers, and any trading card manufacturer knows this quite well. ( also OPEC as someone else pointed out )

Relevant rant (1)

deains (1726012) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796015)

Once again, Webcomic rants are the precursors of life itself: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2834 [smbc-comics.com]

Artificial scarcity (2)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796035)

Artificial scarcity is not new and the patent office is beyond broken IMO.

Did Amazon just save us... (1)

wienerschnizzel (1409447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796081)

...by getting exclusive rights to create artificial scarcity. Like if iTunes or Google Play tries to implement it Amazon will sue the shit out of them?

Sounds great to me!

Same thing will happen with Asteroid Mining. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796089)

They don't really care about bringing on a resource-rich society.

They really want to sell resources to secondary investors who would pretty much use their asteroid mining company as a boost to get out further in to space.
And since they'd be the only handful around, they'd be used by so many companies. They'd be like a town whore at that rate.
In the case of them, they have a completely legit reason to do so. Overall it would allow them to amass a huge amount of resources which could be used for massive engineering projects instead of being used to trickle the human race up at a steady rate, a catapult for society if you will.
Will it happen? Who knows, but I have some hope that it would at least be their goals for the long-term. But it could easily end up being Oil Industry 2.0.

Amazon have no excuse here. Neither does EA, or Apple and others. (I remember EA saying a digital product was out of stock once, my blood boiled even though I knew it likely meant "our servers are crap because we cheaped out on them, PLEASE DON'T HATE US WE LOVE YOUR MONEY", which still annoyed me anyway.
Artificial scarcity of digital products is retarded. They are virtually infinite in comparison to a physical product on physical media. The amount of energy and effort it takes to move around bits is stupidly less than it is to cart off thousands of discs in a truck to a ship / plane and move them around the world, or similar goods.
Even the 3D model of a rubber+plastic chair would be considerably less than an actual chair, since the model would basically be a vector that would be converted to voxel points to be printed out.
Many companies are taking up 3D printing quite happily as well, might I add. But some are trying to kill it off since it is a "threat to their model", is it HELL, YOU take up 3D printing and become a reseller of 3D printed goods for those who cannot take advantage of 3D printers due to the expense.
Industrial scale 3D printing can save considerable money over most fabrication systems (some, absolutely not, a good example is you are not 3D printing a standard car any time soon)
They are pretty expensive initially, and require a bit more maintenance, but a decent printer would save considerable money in the long run, and if built right, might even be considerably faster. (we won't be printing any Blurays with the pits already written to since those resolutions are tiny, and molecular 3D printing is extremely lacking in that regard, we are only just beginning to get a grip of moving things at those scales effectively)
It saddens me that they do this. I actually respected Amazon quite a bit as a company, more so than most companies, for some of the things they have done.
But this puts a bit of a dent in said respect.

Don't stop the future. It will only hurt you in the end. It might take years, but it will catch up to you.

Kim Dotcom said it best (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42796185)

How to end piracy:

Create great content
Make that content super easy to buy
Release the content worldwide on the same day
Give it a fair price
Make sure it works on any device

Online games? (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796209)

of digital objects, including audio files, eBooks, movies, apps, and pretty much anything else.

How bout MMORPG gold / credits / ISK / character skins / avatar bling / WTF?

Don't online games already have this all patented 89 billion ways already? And if not isn't this entire industry sector a pretty obvious prior art?

keyword (1)

DriveDog (822962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42796279)

Once George Carlin commented that to him, "bipartisan" meant "larger than usual deception". A keyword for me is "broad" just before "patent". I have trouble thinking of any invention worthy of that since, say, the transistor.
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