Slashdot linked to an outstanding article in the LA Times about the need for a new type of property tax, an Intellectual Property Tax. Such a tax would discourage people from holding on to intellectual property from which they are deriving no income.
All works for which taxes are not paid would revert to the public domain, which means the author would still be entitled to attribution, but beyond that anyone is free to use the work as they please. Since intellectual property is such a huge roadblock to innovation, we should be thinking outside the box.
Of course, works licensed under the GPL would have to be considered tax-exempt. To keep it simple, at first it could just be a flat tax that gradually increases over time. It wouldn’t have to be very high at all to boost innovation immensely.
I’m not sure how feasible this would be in all circumstances. It would certainly be easy to implement for patents, but it would be way more complex to tax copyrights. In any event, we need to be thinking outside the box more, and this is a great example of that.