Cory Doctorow writes far better op-ed pieces than fiction, and this one in The Guardian is a beautiful eulogy for the music industry. The music industry has struck a Faustian pact with ISPs to monitor copyright infringements, violating privacy and probably doing itself no favors with the public or its shareholders.
What it needs to do is simply work out an all-you-can-eat license for the ISPs that they could pass on to their customers. I'd happily have $10 or more added to my monthly cable Internet bill so that I can freely download songs. I currently buy them "by the drink" on iTunes, but a blanket license would be easier.
It would also return control to the music labels, control that they've ceded to Apple.
Under the new scheme, the rule of law is replaced by a cosy inter-industry deal. Whereas before, anyone who wanted your ISP to spy on your internet connection would have had to show evidence to a judge and get a court order, now any joker who claims to be an aggrieved copyright holder can do so.
And whereas actual criminals are punished by judges who make rulings that are proportional to the offence, and which are calculated to minimise external harm, the new scheme allows ISPs and their pals in the record industry to randomly shake up your connection like a snow-globe, dropping some or all of your services - whether you're using your VoIP phone to speak to your dying granny in Australia or downloading the latest hit single from the guy who did the "Crazy Frog Song".
It's a gross violation of privacy, one that won't deliver the hoped-for results, and which could be easily resolved simply by promoting a "download toll" on ISPs or their customers. The ISPs win because it's another monthly subscription that drives revenue. The music industry wins because it finally starts getting paid for its products. The consumers win because we don't have to think about it anymore.
Am I missing something?