Record companies kind of have a problem on the go here, and the problem is not going to go away. That fact is that its easier now than ever to download music from the internet. And its VERY popular. I personally know of several people who are not even remotely interested in computers, who have bought a PC and broadband internet connection just for downloading music.

The problem gets worse when we look at the big picture: any attempt to squash one means of obtaining music or video from the net tends to lead to a superior technology springing up in its place. From the ashes of Napster rose Kazaa, able to find not just music but software and video content. When Kazaa is finally nailed to the wall through legal action, another system will simply spring up in its place, more reliable and smarter than what came before, ready and willing to serve.

ISPs are winning with more and more broadband subscribers, and consumers are winning with more and more free content. The only real loosers are the music companies. And boy, don't they know it.

One possible solution is reported by SLASHDOT.ORG in this article here. The "software, to be available in the second quarter of this year, that will enable file-sharing providers to capitalize on the unused CPU cycles of their members. That in turn would allow them to raise money to compensate artists for the use of their material. Honest Thief said the software, known as ThankYou 2.0, enables a peer-to-peer file-sharing client to turn the computers of digital music fans into nodes in a distributed net. By leasing out the processor power on distributed nets to research facilities the firm could generate revenues that would be distributed back to the musicians."

Sounds pretty fair to me - during the time you spend downloading a music file, or whatever, your CPU's processing power can be tapped for commercial purposes. You are indeed paying for the download, as the record company can sell that leased time on your machine to a fee paying research company.

I reckon this is the first sane and practical solution to the p2p copyright problem suggested thus far. I dare say I would even be willing, as a power user, to build a dedicated machine for these purposes, which can have its CPU power tapped as much as anyone wants. Wanna use the power of my aging 486-DX100? You are welcome to if I can get an mp3 I want downloaded legally.

More here, and here.