Mike O’Hare, in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, argues that “Free music needn’t be stolen music.” I think he has an important idea here, which could be adapted to cover text and film as well. As always, there are complexities, but the potential gains are huge. For $40 per capita in tax money, you could have access to whatever music you wanted, while providing the same revenue stream to the makers, recorders, and producers of music as they receive today.
Mike doesn’t mention the side-benefit in terms of cultural imperialism. That benefit would be smaller for music than it would be for other media, though if we’re really concerned about China as an economic rival inflicting hip-hop on the Chinese might be a useful form of sabotage.