Prof. Terry Fisher’s alternative compensation scheme — focused initially on the music industry and extensible to film, books and other forms of content — has four parts: Register, Tax, Count, Pay.
How much money would you have to raise to make this system work? About $2.4 billion, he calculates.
Merits of such a system: large cost savings; elimination of deadweight loss; convenience for consumers; no price discrimination; gains from semiotic democracy.
Demerits: Who gets hurt? Manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and possibly record companies and studios. But the last community might not get hurt at all, if they’re as good as they say at selecting winners among artists. Distortions and cross-subsidies. Danger of giving discretionary power to a government agency.
Advantages over the current arrangement seem sufficient to try it out.
For more details and continued iteration of the model: see Chapter 6 of Promises to Keep (forthcoming) at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/PTKChapter6.pdf.