Our friends over at Google are well known for having a corporate motto of "Do No Evil." Searching through their site today, couldn't find that nugget, but what they do say, (over here) is 'You can make
money without doing evil". I should hope so! The fact they need to say that shows us how some people's perception of the world and human nature has sunk so low that we need to state such "bold" declaration.
On the opposite end of the spectrum (in terms of belief in essential goodness of humanity) is the recent Radiohead experiment. Radiohead released their new album, InRainbows, as a digital download back in October. The price: up to you. Completely was based on a voluntary payment scheme. While exact results are hard to come by, according to this report 38% of the people who downloaded from the site paid an average of $6 each. Meaning around 450,000 people (out of 1.2 million downloads) resulted in $2.7 million of revenue for the band (with no middle people, no packaging costs, net revenues). Well, it would be better for my argument if 50% paid, but 38% is good enough...one can look at that and say, wow, 60% didn't pay anything...or that close to 4 out of 10 people paid when they didn't "have to," and paid more to the band per album than what the band would have received from CD sales in stores.
While we could discuss the Radiohead experiment for a long time, and there are no end of analysis on the web about it, for me it was good news about the essential goodness of people. With no restrictions, guidance, limitations, but rather a completely open environment, a significant percentage of the audience decided that Radiohead deserved to be paid for their creative output.
Continuing with my mantra of people need to pay for things (i.e. not everything can be "ad-supported"), it is refreshing to see that when given free reign, the public chooses to pay. I believe is Radiohead, and others, would put out material with no DRM but the need to pay something before downloading, most people would pay, if it were easy enough, and a direct relationship with the artiest was possible. Would I pay Madonna less than a little known struggling artist, yes, b/c she can afford it. But that should be above board, not a rationalization for stealing Madonna's music.
I continue to believe that if friction is kept to a minimum, a good percentage of people would voluntarily "be good," not just not evil. And I for one prefer being good than "not doing evil."