Ways to Approach the Problem
I believe there are a number of ways in which we can approach solving the problem of protecting intellectual property and preventing economic gain from piracy. Here are a few:
- Digital Rights Management (DRM). This is where the intellectual property is wrapped with security so that anyone can gain access but only those who have paid can use the property. This has been tried a number of times in music with poor results. Technically, this is great, but logistics and broad implementation have proved difficult. Perhaps we can put together a new form of DRM that will work and protect intellectual property.
- Taxation. In this approach, a tax is placed on all access to content so that it doesn't matter if someone steals intellectual property as long as the tax is collected on the distribution of the property. This ensures that artists and those who create intellectual property get paid from those who access their property. Since thieves don't like to be taxed, they find ways to go undetected.
- Value Added Services. This method is currently the one that seems to be gaining popularity. With this method, the original intellectual property is given away free but is surrounded by additional valuable services in which money is collected. A music site might offer free streaming of music but also offers other services that, in effect, pay the artists who created the songs.
- Embargo. Here, the site that is attempting to distribute stolen intellectual property has an embargo created by both government and private industry so that outsiders can't easily get access. This is close to censorship as someone or group has to determine which sites should be under embargo, although with an embargo, the site is not ever actually shut down.
- Throttling. In throttling, Websites that distribute illegal content stay live, but access to them is slowed down. Or the books are still printed, but the trucks' engines are throttled to a very slow speed. Obviously, this is very difficult or, in some cases, impossible to manage. Most colleges do this today to manage access to sites that distribute rich media.
We have to reach a point whereby access to intellectual property remains unlimited but illegitimate use and financial gain from such use are prevented.