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Copyright

Dr. Richard Hill has published various papers regarding intellectual property issues related to information and communications technology, in particular "Remunerating Authors and Publishers in a Digital World", The Journal of World Intellectual Property, Vol. 2, No. 1 (January 1999), p. 39.

Following up on that work, Dr. Hill has submitted an entry to the Future of Copyright Contest 2.0.  That entry is reproduced below.

This work takes part in the Future of Copyright Contest, see http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/future-of-copyright-contest-2-0
 It is published here under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.


Characteristics of an ideal future copyright system
Richard Hill
July 2013

A future copyright system should take into account the changes brought about by digital media:

  1. Works can copied at essentially no cost.
  2. The copies are identical to the original.
  3. Works can be distributed at essentially no marginal cost.
  4. Works made available digitally are public goods in the sense that one personís enjoyment of the work does not prevent another person from enjoying it at the same time.

The fundamental purpose of a copyright system is to encourage authors to produce new works by ensuring that they are paid by the people who enjoy their work or use it for some commercial purpose.

The issue of ensuring payment to authors can be decomposed into two separate sub-issues:

a)      How to collect the money from users of works.
b)      How to distribute the money to creators of works.

The current copyright systems works well for non-digital media, but not for digital media.

A new system should be put into place for digital media, while retaining the current system for non digital media.

In an ideal future system for digital media, money would be collected through a tax on blank media (where computers and other end-devices attached to networks are considered to be blank media), and through specific charges for commercial use of works.  This is nothing more than a generalization of the current compulsory licensing schemes that already exist, and function well, in many countries.

In an ideal future system for digital media, money would be distributed to authors on the basis of surveys that show how many people have accessed their work, and on the basis of commercial use of their works.  Again, this is nothing more than a generalization of the current compulsory licensing schemes that already exist, and function well, in many countries.

In addition to the above, authors can include advertising in their works and get money directly from advertisers.

The system described above would do away with all the annoying attempts to prevent copying of digital works and with all the legal costs associated with attempts to apply the current copyright system to digital works, which it was not designed to cope with.