Copyright scholar Neal Netanel has written a thought-provoking paper on compulsory licenses and P2P. He views P2P networks as valuable in themselves, but threatened by copyright law, the ultimate purpose of which is to make information available to the public.
For the purpose of compensating artists AND promoting use of file-sharing, Netanel proposes that ISPs pay a small fee per connection that is passed on to a collecting society, which uses part of the money to monitor usage, which is then distributed to content-owners accordingly. It’s win-win-win-win, which is a lot of winning and why the idea is probably doomed to fail – just kidding, indulging a cynical moment. The paper can be found here:
- Commentators and courts have universally hailed the Internet as an abundantly fertile field for self-expression and debate. But this acclamation masks sharp disagreement over whether certain Internet activities rightly fall within that favored category of constitutive speech. A prime example is the unlicensed use of copyright-protected material. The explosion of sharing and remixing popular songs and movies over Internet-based peer-to-peer networks like Napster and Morpheus has evoked sharply discordant reactions. Some commentators embrace that collection, exchange, and transformation of existing works as part and parcel of the individual autonomy, self-expression, and creative collaboration for which we celebrate the Internet. Others denounce those activities as the massive piracy of intellectual property. They fear that P2P file swapping poses a mortal threat to the copyright system that sustains authors, artists, and a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry in the production and dissemination of creative expression.