I don't know how true or reliable it is, but this article indicates an interesting and innovative solution to the internet copyright mess of a different order. Basically, China is considering a compulsory licensing scheme for media three months after it is published.
Now, I don't care for it, because it's still nickel and diming bits and bytes, but it is, at least, an innovative idea. Basically the artist gets three months of monopoly over their work, but after that anybody can use it as long as they pay the appropriate fee. This would at least have the virtue of allowing anybody to make mashups, remixes, and even potentially create their own internet radio/tv stations on an ad hoc basis--legally.
I still think the expansion of fair use is a better idea, as even I have to admit that three months is a bit of a short time to keep someone from using your new song in their used car commercial, or to re-record it with commercial lyrics selling the latest brand of inflatable condom or whatever. Hmmm. I just kinda threw that out there, but you gotta admit it's got possibilities....
Ultimately, though, I don't think that God invented art so that we monkeys to sell it to each other. And so I don't think a compulsory license fee is the right long term solution because it still restricts the free flow of personal communications with the drag of licensing fees. Think about a mashup that uses pieces of a hundred songs--that could get quite expensive, for something which truly is new and original at that point, despite it's components.
However, kudos to China for potentially seriously considering more liberal laws than we do here in the U.S. Has anyone noticed how China is thriving while ignoring our intellectual property laws? Just thought I'd throw that out there. I've been looking for references to how industrialists in the early U.S.A. did similar things with British patents, and would be grateful if anyone could throw one my way--I've always understood that was the case.