You may have seen the NY Times article going around, but Slate's got a quick summary if you prefer. A bunch of authors (James Shapiro among them - is he our James Shapiro?) get together and argue that only through the invention of the paybox, so that authors could profit from their works, did the world see the likes of Shakespeare, Marlowe, etc.... If they weren't getting paid for their work, they would not have existed.
That may be a gross summary of a summary, but I don't have time to get into it right now. The whole point of the article is pro-copyright, anti-Web (at least, the aspect of the web that says "blah blah blah everything should be free").