Until then, however, music will still share some vital qualities with lunar real estate. Music tends to the ephemeral -- is it located in the air molecules we push around, or in a score, or in storage media (scores, recordings), or is it a platonic ideal of some sort? -- and the ownership of a music is unclear. Does it belong to the composer or the performer or the passionate listener? Is it a gift channeled from (the) god(s)? Is it a state or public good or is it a gift to humankind? Can it be bought, bartered, or sold? Is it a gift without market value? Heck, even the very idea that one could own a music is far from clear.
Talking about music as property is always bound to be uncomfortable, and I suspect that we're in for some particularly uncomfortable times, as the parties with substantial material interests in this question are just getting warmed up.
In the western legal tradition, we've already been through three major historical steps in the development of ideas as properties. The first was biblical, in the Decalogue, in which God forbid the making of graven imagery (thus asserting state control over creative work) and in the latter books, in which authors receive attribution (again, the attribution is controlled by institutional apparatus; the veracity of those attributions has been controversial ever since). The second step was in the assertion of states, royal, republican, or authoritarian, that intellectual property was a public good to be licensed and authors were granted (very slowly, in the case of musicians), limited periods of limited control over their work, after which the work fell into a "public" domain (we owe the word "royalties" to this). The third stage came with the age of private capital, and private persons, individually and collectively, sought to create a number of measures and institutions designed to protect and extend rights as well as to maximize income from the protected properties. We're still somewhere in this stage, but witnessing significant changes in the circumstances: "legal persons", corporations, which do not live naturally long lives, are now asserting rights well beyond those demanded earlier by real persons and technological developments in the media and transmission methods for intellectual property are changing at breathtaking speed, with unclear implications for the future of control over and income generation from that property. Furthermore, we're witnessing an intense conflict between the beneficiaries of this third stage, associated still with a liberal assertion of rights around the turn of the 20th century, and those who view the new technological circumstances as an opportunity to move away from, if not eliminate, the notion of property, a liberal assertion in its own terms, but one connected with the turn of the 21st century. How this will all turn out is anyone's guess at the moment, but I think that the moment is an opportune one to step back from the legal questions and consider instead exactly what it is we would like to achieve from an assertion of property rights to intellectual property, and music in particular, and do so in ethical rather than legal terms.
The estimable Carl Stone has a nice item over at the New Music
* I've had a long argument with open source advocates about music, among them Richard Stallman, that music is substantially different from software in that the source code of music is always open to anyone with ears, so that protecting property rights for music is not a barrier to the further development of the underlying codes.