Today's Library Link of the Day was a December 2002 article entitled "Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution" by Tim O'Reilly. The arguments made in this article, in particular that obscurity and shoplifting are bigger threats to publishers than piracy is, are very interesting.
Another argument, or "lesson" as O'Reilly calls them, that I liked was his "Lesson 6: "Free" is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service". He states that free services such as local TV and limited dialup Internet are being replaced by fee-based, higher-quality services such as cable TV and dialup/dsl/cable internet. He foresees music file sharing heading in that direction as well, which we are already seeing with services like iTunes. The quality of music found on free file sharing sites is questionable so people may be more willing to pay if they have the assurance of higher-quality files. He also mentions that he thinks that an "'all-you-can-eat' subscription package" would be much more popular than a pay-per-song type deal (an opinion with which I completely agree).
How does iTunes work anyway? My impression is that it is pay-per-song, but since I only use iTunes for streaming audio, I don't really know. I suppose I could look it up - I am a librarian...
Anyway, definitely interesting stuff.