I'm new around here, but have been thinking about the issues the Pirate Party represents for some time. I was wondering if the party had any policy or thoughts regarding alternate mechanisms for the reimbursement of artists, while still allowing the free transfer and sharing of culture?
Hello jesse, welcome to PPNZ.
I think the proposal you suggest has actually already been tried. Sorry I forget the details, but I think essentially the outcome was that copyright holders repeatedly downloaded works they held copyright over in order to increase their share of the pie. To prevent this abuse, the cost of downloading would have to be higher than the income that copyright holders received from a download. If the cost of downloading is close to zero (ie just the cost of bandwidth), then the income that copyright holders could receive from downloading would have to be even closer to zero for the system to not be prone to abuse. This means such a system would be limited in how much it could pay to copyright holders, and, especially if the cost of bandwidth may continue to fall (which seems plausible), such a system may not be worthwhile. There are some attempts to do similar things with voluntary payments though, e.g., Flattr <flattr.com> and Airborne <airbornemusic.com>
Other related thoughts:
The idea of intellectual works as collective property (or public domain) is based on the false premise that intellectual works are morally property at all. An intellectual work is not a thing (or object), rather it is a form (or class). I own my CDs, and you own yours, as I own my chairs, and you own yours. The idea of property rights applying to forms (or classes) conflicts with the idea of property rights applying to things (or objects). Forms (or classes) have no real existence apart from the things (or objects) with which they are associated. If someone claims to own a form (or class), then, if they are claiming to own anything at all, they are claiming to own the things (or objects) associated with that form (or class). If someone claims to own a song, then they are claiming to own all the copies of that song, or they are not claiming to own anything, because the song does not exist apart from the copies of it.
Further, it is not true that artists must be paid for their work any more than that civil servants have a moral right to collect taxes. There is a difference between deserving something and having a right to take it. Certainly many civil servants do good work, and society is the better for it, however civil servants do not have a moral right to take money from people simply because they personally decided to do good work. Rather society democratically agrees to contribute money (tax) to provide an incentive for people to become civil servants and do good work. Likewise, artists do not have a moral right to take money from people simply because they personally decided to do good work. Rather copyright law can only be justified, like tax, as a democratically agreed means to provide an incentive for people to become artists and do good work.
Also, while the recording industry may be dying, that doesn't mean the entire music industry must die. The music industry is composed of two parts: the recording industry and artists. The recording industry has long served an important role in distributing music, but this middle-man role is no longer necessary, and because they're no longer doing anything necessary, we no longer need to pay them for it. Unfortunately, since the role the recording industry used to serve is no longer necessary, they are starting an aggressive war on two fronts. One is they are attempting to control the public with increasingly restrictive laws (e.g. controlling what people are allowed to do in their own homes), and the other is they are attempting to control artists with increasingly restrictive contracts (e.g. taking earnings from live performances). IMHO we need to free artists from the recording industry (e.g. by offering something similar to student loans to up-and-coming artists so they don't get locked into recording industry contracts) so we can leave the recording industry to die a due death without dragging artists down with them.