Copyright-related industries are often structured so that there’s a gatekeeper (or intermediary) between content creators and content consumers. Cory Doctorow argues that gatekeepers are bad for creators and consumers (which is all of us, so therefore society):
That danger is that a couple of corporate giants will end up with a buyer’s market for creative works, control over the dominant distribution channel, and the ability to dictate the terms on which creative works are made, distributed, appreciated, bought, and sold.
And the danger of that is that these corporate giants might, through malice or negligence, end up screwing up the means by which the world talks to itself, carrying on its cultural discourse — a discourse that ultimately sets the agendas for law, politics, health, climate, justice, crime, education, child-rearing, and every other important human subject.
And proposes a solution:
So, how do you use copyright to ensure that the future is more competitive and thus more favorable to creators and copyright industries?
It’s pretty easy, really: Use your copyrights to lower the cost of entering the market instead of raising it.
What if the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had started out by offering MP3 licenses on fair terms to any wholesaler who wanted to open a retailer (online or offline), so that the cost of starting a Web music store was a known quantity, rather than a potentially limitless litigation quagmire?
What if the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the North American Broadcasters Association made their streams available to anyone who paid a portion of their advertising revenue (with a guaranteed minimum), allowing 10 million video-on-demand systems to spring up from every garage in the world?
What if the Authors Guild had offered to stop suing Google for notional copyright violations in exchange for Google contributing its scans to a common pool of indexable books available to all search-engines, ensuring that book search was as competitive as Web search?
To a certain extent this relies on content creators realising that gatekeepers don’t act in their interests. Gatekeepers will always tend to keep all the wealth and power to themselves, and because they have lots of money they can change laws to favour their interests. Someone needs to stick up for the rights of content consumers, and that someone is the Pirate Party.