Alternative compensation systems for digital media

John Palfrey of the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School provides an excellent overview of proposed compulsory license mechanisms for digital music: 

“These proposals suppose that the copyright system currently used in the
United States, Europe, and many other countries, to stimulate and
reward the development of digital content would be replaced by a system
in which the creators and producers of such content were compensated by
governments in proportion to the frequency with which their products
were consumed.”

The folks at Berkman, which just received a substantial grant from the
MacArthur Foundation to explore such “alternative compensation
systems,” are to be complimented for their honesty.  These are
mechanisms for governments to subsidize musicians by taxing ISPs. 
I think that’s a bad idea.  Why not subsidize bloggers who create
popular posts?  Or creators of popular shareware?  Or great
CSS templates?  Let’s all get on the gravy train! 

I just hope the meeting at Berkman on December 5
includes opponents as well as proponents of these compensation
systems.  They are worth debating and exploring, but it’s wrong to
position them as the only alternative to the status quo of RIAA
lawsuits against file sharers.