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For example, if you give away or sell a book, you don't have it anymore. But if you give away or sell an e-book, you still retain the resource you have sold or given away.

You could think of this more abstract, too. For example, if you're an artist, you can "give away" your skills by making a drawing for someone and you have not lost your skills. However you can't get back the time it took to make the drawing, so your time is given away without you being able to retain it.

More poetically, love is something you can give away and you still have just as much to give.

Is there a word for this type of resource?

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    "bottomless" is a commonly used theme for this. It's handy because it's deployable over the entire gamut of uses you mention. – Phil Sweet Jun 25 '18 at 21:58
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    Well, up until that last part I was going to say you were licensing the resource. – Hot Licks Jun 26 '18 at 0:34
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    @Lambie we have words for classes of things, and there are all manner of classifications (and, in fact, a good answer, with, I expect, exactly the word the OP is looking for) – De Novo Jun 26 '18 at 0:47
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    @Lambie the common element is exactly what the OP said -- a thing that you retain even if you give away. Love, for example, is an abstract thing that we speak of having or owning and giving. And when you give it, you still have it. So it applies. I expect you can figure out how it applies to the other examples as well. – De Novo Jun 26 '18 at 14:55
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    It's an abstract concept, @Lambie. The thing in common is that they can be given away and still used. They don't need to be the same type of thing, or involve the same type of giving. We say, "I can give you my notes", and mean that we will give them an electronic or physical copy of the same content. Some people give their ebooks to the entire world via bit-torrent. Like love, it's something you speak of as having, giving, and then still having. That's the thing that links them. – De Novo Jun 26 '18 at 16:02
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The term for the goods that are such that their use by one person does not diminish their availability to others is nonrivalrous goods or nonrival goods. Accounts of the contrast between rivalrous and nonrivalrous goods are available in numerous sources; a couple of the easily accessible ones are http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/rival_good.asp and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivalrous. While this term captures precisely what the OP seems to be aiming at, it is a technical term, which will be readily understood only within certain theoretical contexts. The term undepletable, offered in another answer on this page, is less precise (it encompasses more than just nonrivalrous goods), but may be better suited for other contexts.

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    I'm a wee bit disinclined to apply that to love ;) – Phil Sweet Jun 26 '18 at 20:55
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How about using the word 'Perennial" since it indicates something that is everlasting, used and yet retained.

  • Why is this any better or worse than any of the answers? – Lambie Jun 25 '18 at 20:15
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    This is definitely not right. This means throughout the year... usually referring to plants that come back year after year. It can also be used to mean constant, but not what the OP wanted. – ringo Jun 26 '18 at 3:38
  • Perennial has metaphoric meanings as well. – Lambie Jun 26 '18 at 14:32
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They seem to be called virtual (or digital) products by e-commerce software.

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"Share" is commonly used in this context; it may or may not indicate that your own share of whatever it is gets smaller.

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Is there a word for this type of resource?

That would be an undepletable resource, according to many references given in Google books, including:

Uranium and Nuclear Energy: Proceedings of the ... International Symposium Held by the Uranium Institute, c.1980

Energy conservation: joint hearings before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the... and the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Development of the Committee on banking, Currency and Housing on title I of H.R.14205 and Title IV of Senate amendments to H.R.12169..., July 19-20, 1976

Handbook of alternative energy technology development and policy, c.1983

Gas World, Volume 180, c.1975

Solar Energy Fundamentals and Modeling Techniques: Atmosphere, Environment, Climate Change and Renewable Energy by By Zekai Sen, c.2008

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One might refer to these as "inexhaustible resources", denoting that they are infinite (and possibly self-replenishing); no matter how much you take away, there will always be more.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

protected by tchrist Jun 26 '18 at 1:25

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