Having covered Internet business models for well over 10 years now I have been anxious to see a settlement to the Copyright Wars.
While its trade groups continue to go after file hoarders as thieves, the music industry has been quietly backing-away from the implications of the DMCA, which was supposed to be its nuclear deterrent in this war on its customers.
Now CBS is trying to apply the lessons of past to the Internet revolution. Its Last.FM will give you three free plays of any song in its catalog, at your convenience, on the device you choose. The hope is you'll eventually buy the song.
I don't know if three plays is enough. But there are lots of ways to tweak it. Click listeners through to the band's MySpace page. Give them ways to "earn" more free hearings, perhaps by doing their own promotion for the artist.
Point is this is not the last word. It's the first, for CBS. It's one of many, many negotiable offers being shown to music consumers, in an effort to eventually get money to artists.
After all, Chris Anderson says, he's seen the future of free and it's not free at all. It's a dystopia.
Worse, perhaps, is there's no long tail for music in China. The number of songs available is pitiful next to the American catalog. No tickee no shirtee.
So let the market negotiation begin.