Fred von Lohmann on possible solution to P2P copyright infringement issue:
- Here’s the only grand solution for P2P that I can imagine (other than
compulsory licensing) — copyright owners grant blanket licenses to
end-users thru P2P vendors. Like this:
Copyright owner appoints any and all P2P vendors as “licensing agents”,
authorized to pass blanket licenses (or, more realistically, covenants not
to sue, since most labels don’t know what digital rights they actually
possess) to end-users, in exchange for a royalty (flat fee, maybe monthly
maybe one-time, paid thru P2P vendor to copyright owner).
In this arrangement, P2P vendors do not admit that they are liable (in other
words, they don’t need the license, the end-users do), but the issue of
secondary liability is diminished (since if the end-users are licensed,
there’s no direct infringement on which to base secondary liability).
The end-user, by paying for the application + license, is relieved from
uncertainties regarding their ISP cutting them off (under 512i) or fingering
them for a bust (under 512h). Assuming enough of the majors offer this, the
end-users wouldn’t have to worry about what to share (just like DJs don’t
much worry about what to play on a radio station with BMI+ASCAP+SESAC
licenses). Let’s imagine the apps are limited to sharing audio formats, to
assuage the movie guys (of course, this will be circumvented by some
minority of users, but I’m betting it could be lived with).
Owners get paid, P2P tech flourishes (since the license is available to all
comers on identical terms, you can imagine rapid and cut-throat innovation
and competition among tech vendors), and end-users get what they want.
Presumably, there would always be a few copyright owners who could hold out
and try to break the system. But once the checks start rolling in, I think
the emphasis would shift to getting in on the $$, rather than suing end
users and P2P tech companies. See PROs and radio (you don’t see many smaller
copyright owners staying out of the PROs, and then lying in wait to spring
on radio that plays their stuff).
Also, there would likely remain P2P apps that don’t pay the fees (see LAME
in the mp3 encoding world), but they would likely diminish in importance
against the value-added that the royalty-paid apps will provide.
Of course, a compulsory license could accomplish much the same thing with
less complexity, but everyone should prefer a “market” solution like this
one, right? 🙂