Before the Gutenberg press, many wealthy families in Europe owned richly illustrated volumes that were displayed as works of art. After Gutenberg, many more families and institutions had books, but they were no longer treasured as museum pieces. Books had become a commodity.

So it is with the Internet. Content is a commodity driven by the simple rule of supply and demand. When content can be endlessly and cheaply duplicated, the value drops as supply increases, just as the value of those illustrated tomes fell as presses and book piracy became a booming business in medieval Europe. (Imagine how greatly literacy and learning would have been retarded if the book publishers of the day had been able to mount an anti-piracy campaign. But that’s another subject.)

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