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Natural scarcity…

Any copies of an artwork are absolutely identical in SL so the old RL concept of a limited edition is at best a misnomer and highly suspect. Each copy made of an artwork reduces the collector’s market value of the work by a factor equal to the number of the artifacts divided by some nebulous overall valuation of a theoretically original artwork.

Uniqueness (what has been called phony scarcity in this blog) is an important element in determining the market value of an artwork in RL and SL. Let’s face it SL is a capital construct, an unregulated free market economy where scarcity is a factor in the creation of value. The question is what kind of value do you want to create in SL with your art? How much do you believe in yourself?

Do you want to make mass consumer goods that anyone can have, that constantly lose value and compete at the broad base of the pyramid? or do you want to make unique objects that have the potential to increase in value with the integrity of the artist that creates and protects that uniqueness?

Other kinds of value, like “use value”, (the practical value of an object as a tool or useful object) do not apply comfortably to objects of art whose use value is subjective, aesthetic and difficult to determine. To disallow artists to acknowledge uniqueness as a factor in valuation of their work, denies that their art has value beyond wallpaper for a SL shoe store, or as free game development for Linden Labs (bless their capitalist hearts).

Artists, like the plumber deserve to garner compensation for their contribution to the world. Anybody who doubts the value of a plumbers might be well to take note their scarcity at 2AM. Valuable indeed, and more so when they are scarce. The same goes for the work of artists, who should be compensated for their contribution to the world.

Because in the end, if part of the value of something to a collector it’s uniqueness, that value is very literally created by the artist in their decision not cheapen a collector’s investment by mass production. This pledge of integrity of the artist is a real way of creating value, value that can increase considerably when multiplied by demand for the other qualities found in, or substantiating the artwork.

I am convinced that there are different modes of value in SL commerce. Shoes for instance are not of transferrable value outside of SL. Buy them in SL, enjoy them in SL. Art and Music are of real transferrable value in both worlds, in fact I believe that Art and Music are the only things that transfer value well between both continuums.

Perhaps more distressing to the artist are very real, insidious institutional errosions of IP rights contained in the SL Terms of Service, sections 3.2 and 3.3 that impinge on the ironclad rights of artist to control their own creations.

As SL matures and grows, these terms of service increasingly become more like doctrine imposed from afar by a colonial power, on a culture that has grown apart from the mother country. This colonial scenario has played out over and over in RL nearly the same way. How do you think it might play out in SL?

But, this is yet another conversation…