Digital Media Project
A research initiative of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
Entertainment Co-op Scenario


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This scenario mirrors the idea of a state-run alternative compensation system except that participation would be voluntary: creators would choose to register their works with a private organization, and the system's funding would come from members' subscription fees.

The voluntary nature of the system could be both its greatest advantage and its greatest weakness over compulsory alternatives.  Unlike a state-run alternative compensation system, a voluntary co-op could succeed independent of the government's willingness to overhaul copyright law -- a change that many policymakers are likely to resist -- because members could create license agreements to effect the same results.  On the other hand, a voluntary co-op would be more vulnerable to gaming and misuse than a compulsory system because of the potential for nonmembers to trade and distribute content without authorization.

This scenario was addressed at the Berkman Center's conference on Alternative Compensation Systems on December 5, 2003, and will be the focus of future investigation.

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