"Monetizing Anarchy": Jim Griffin on the economics of digital entertainment

Mobile industry news site The Feature
just published a great essay by Pho list
co-founder and Cherry Lane Digital CEO Jim
that explores whether or not it's possible to "pay for art
without controlling art." Disclosure: bb's own Mark Frauenfelder is a contributor
there, too. Excerpt:

If there’s a copyright war between technology and entertainment, between
delivery and creativity, between left brain and right brain, between people
who use stuff and people who make stuff, here’s a prediction for how
it ends: A pool of money, and a fair way to divvy it up, all of which will
be supervised by government.

This is a safe prediction: Effective control is impractically elusive, inefficient
and counterproductive, and we know it. The history of the intersection of
electricity and art is actuarial, not actual control. Pleas for copy protection
are elaborate misdirection akin to sending the husband to boil water while
the wife is having a baby.

The real battle is where the money is: Control of the pools. Simply for music
in the United State alone you can count ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, RIAA-SoundExchange,
Royalty Logic, NMPA, Harry Fox, AFM, AFTRA – well, the full list of acronyms
and their translations would require pages; still worse, multiply it by well
over a hundred countries worldwide.