Problems with matching payments to goods and services

This originally was posted to Reddit on 2018-02-26.

An entertaining argument recently reminded me that the proper matching of payments to goods and services can be impossible. For example:

I probably would pay fifteen or twenty dollars to ShaperV to reward him for writing Time Braid and to encourage him to finish Indomitable. However, copyright laws forbid me from doing so (or, at least, forbid ShaperV from accepting such money). Instead, if I want to buy anything from ShaperV, it must be one of his original works. However, I don't find his original works to be worth rewarding or encouraging (based on several chapters of Fimbulwinter and several summaries of his other works, at which I glanced years ago). I therefore find myself in a dilemma: I must, either buy ShaperV's original work and run the risk that he'll be encouraged to keep writing books that I don't like, or not buy it and run the risk of his being discouraged from ALL writing.

Likewise, shortly after the completion of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (for which I probably would pay ten dollars if I could), the organization that employed Prophet Yudkowsky (pbuh) saw fit to publish (on a "pay what you want" basis) another, nonfiction work of his, Rationality: From AI to Zombies. I was forced to confront a similar problem: Should I pay an extra sum of ten dollars (above the five-dollar suggested price, which I found reasonable for the nonfiction book on its own merits) and risk sending the wrong message, or should I refrain from paying that premium and risk damaging the author's future willingness/ability to entertain me? I eventually chose a middle course of paying only a two-dollar premium. (Alternatively, did I actually consider From AI to Zombies valueless and intend the whole seven dollars for HPMoR? At this late date, I am unable to remember.)

A third example is FilthyRobot. After watching hundreds of this Twitch streamer's videos on YouTube, I subscribed to his Patreon for five dollars per month. However, he produces both videos that I watch (e. g., of Battle Brothers, XCOM 2, and Darkest Dungeon) and videos that I don't watch (e. g., of Northgard, Mordheim: City of the Damned, and They Are Billions). I can't mark my Patreon subscription "Do not interpret as supporting Mordheim content", any more than I can mark my Amazon purchase of a ShaperV book as "Do not interpret as supporting the Daniel Black series" or my MIRI purchase of From AI to Zombies as "Past five dollars, do not interpret as supporting From AI to Zombies"—and, even if I could, I would refrain from setting such a precedent because it would be ridiculous to expect a content creator to read and interpret all the hundreds or thousands of messages that he would get. So, my monetary support of FilthyRobot is on very unstable footing.

The conclusions of this random comment: (1) Bundle deals that force people to buy what they don't want are bad (see also ESPN's problems with r/cordcutters); (2) as applied to the sale of derivative works (leaving aside the argument linked above, which was about unauthorized distribution), copyright laws are bad (see also openly-sold Japanese doujinshi and the open proliferation of commissioned fanfiction stories on FIMFiction).