Here's a 40-minute video of author, pirate DJ, magazine editor and economist Matt Mason giving the keynote speech at the Medici Summit; Matt talks about the theories in his book The Pirate's Dilemma, which discusses the ways that pirates can benefit society, the economy and the businesses they profit upon.
Matt's spiel is great, and for the first 30-or-so minutes, I found myself just nodding along as he expressed — eloquently and delightfully — things I'd heard others like Lessig, Barlow (and me!) say. But then he got to his kicker, and I sat up, electrified: "The best way to profit from pirates is to copy them."
This is one of those eloquent little aphorisms — like Tim O'Reilly's "The problem for artists isn't piracy, it's obscurity" — that just nails it. Pirates are out there figuring out all the ways that products and services might catch on, outside of the realm of the managed, slow-moving corporate environment. It turns out that there's a market for DVDs sold on blankets on Canal Street; that the public likes using BitTorrent even if it starts slow and doesn't stream; that there's a bottomless appetite for short, embeddable clips, and that the audience wants to do all the work of selecting, converting, uploading and tagging them.
If you want to get rich off the pirates who are leeching off you, just copy their best ideas.