We are investing the concept of licensing in connection with file-sharing and digital music. Licensing schemes that look similar to ASCAP or BMI for publishing rights have been suggested in various law journals, but the details of how a system might work remain unexplored. Questions raised include how much money would need to be collected to make the system work, how the movement of files through a system could be tracked accurately but in a way that does not endanger individual rights, and how a system would interact with current legal policies and record label practices.
In order to answer some of these questions, we are constructing a working model of what such a system would look like in a "real world" network, in this case at UC Berkeley. In order to construct our model, we will collect quantitative data on students' current music listening practices, conduct interviews with students and members of the Berkeley network infrastructure, and survey various tracking and distribution technologies available that might support our efforts. We will deliver a paper that outlines the licensing idea, a fleshed-out model for how to achieve it at Berkeley, and present further steps that remain to be taken regarding the idea's interaction with current music business practices.