The "great fault line" in the debate over intellectual property rights in the digital age was clearly flagged up in the Law Society of Scotland-hosted event at this year's Festival of Politics at Holyrood.

The quote came from guest speaker Pete Wishart, SNP MP and former member of the band Runrig, a man of strong convictions about the need to safeguard the livelihoods of those struggllng to make a living from their music, but who also recognised the challenge of educating a generation who have grown up with the web to accept that you don't just get everything for free.

Inevitably the problem was more easily identified than answered. Wishart was well aware that the issue has become politicised and that there is little if any consensus on the way forward. His description of the Digital Economy Act 2010 - which had, he said, attracted more correspondence to MPs than any other in his experience - was that the (previous) Government had tried to appease everyone, and satisfied no one.

In his view the measures in the Act, such as sanctions against internet service providers, are necessary (or we will destroy one of the most successful sectors of the UK economy), but are only a partial remedy.

Co-speaker Paul Carlyle of Shepherd and Wedderburn took a similar view of the 2010 Act and noted that despite the high profile of copyright law last year, with cases such as Pirate Bay in addition to the legislation, sales of recorded music were down - indicating that the industry is good at promoting celebrities but not "the concept of value". He suggested that smartphones were the future of copyright, and that with each of the three global players - Google (as owners of Android), Apple, and Microsoft/Nokia - each seeking to control a sector of the creative industries' output, what you can access may in future depend on whose technology you choose to use. 

If that were truly to come about, we might at least have a situation where the by then monopoly providers could be made to pay for the privilege, leaving aside the question whether monopolies of that sort are otherwise desirable. Even that might not solve the problem of the member of the audience who complained that his copyright photographs had been used without his permission by such as Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government: the panel suggested that a code of practice on usage might be the answer there, but doubted that strengthening or enforcing the existing criminal offences in relation to copyright would be workable without a much greater degree of acceptance by the public.

A hint of the internet generation approach came from the final speaker from the floor, a school age youth who suggested that making music freely available encouraged people to experiment in listening and increased the exposure of new performers. Wishart indeed recognised that this was possible, and also that some big name bands regard file sharing as a "loss leader", but argued that those in the middle, earning a modest living from their music, deserved the protection.

You would expect it to be possible, if a protection regime can be enforced, that those who chose to do so would be able to expose their creative output to the public without insisting on reward, so the last point is not an argument against a general rule of protection. Equally it highlights the persuasion/education that will have to be deployed if the tide is to turn in favour of the artistes. Solutions may have been somewhat lacking, but it was clear that it will take a carefully thought-out package of measures to make an impact.