>>>What if the world has changed in such a way that intending to "sell" some easily-copied series of ones and zeros is no longer a viable business plan?
I can not imagine such a world. A computer without software is pretty worthless, so there will always be a need for programmers and they deserve to get paid for their labor. [...]
Of course if you know of an alternate way to get software for computers without having to pay the laborers, please share. I'm open to new ideas.
First, so there isn't any straw-man thrashing, of course a worker deserves to get paid for his labor. A programmer is like any other laborer. You agree to a contract, that contract is enforced by the state, you do the work you agree to do and you get paid as agreed to. If you are working without an agreement to get paid, that's a poor decision if payment is what you're seeking!
That said, we're on the cusp of a new era. We are very close to a world of ubiquitous robotic labor and a world without scarcity (robotic resource gathering, digital replication, robotic manufacturing/artifact printing). Advances in technology will reach both of these at some point (though probably not at the same time). As fantastic as it sounds, 'computer programming' is another form of labor that will eventually be automated with technology. Software that writes software only has to be written once, if you will. The process has already begun. The research is already happening. We already have replaced millions of jobs with robots and will surely replace many more. Artificial intelligence in general and genetic programming research specifically has marched on for years. Robots will manufacture other robots; Computers will program themselves or each other. I don't think this prediction is controversial.
Sure we'll get to keep wage slaving for a couple more decades until India and China completely corner the market on programming, but you really need to start coming to terms with the reality of technological advancement.
The current IP-regime simply cannot cope rationally with the changes that are just beginning. I mean, imagine it, how is copyright going to handle an age where kids have media devices in their heads and are vlogging straight from their eyes? Will there be some giant royalties agent monitoring all IP witnessed and licensing it or censoring it out? How far away is this future? (Surely we'll be there before the end of scarcity.) Will any relevant cultural artifacts have reached the public domain? Creation of protected works has skyrocketed and is accelerating, but expiration into the public domain has all but ceased -- if IP laws aren't restructured will we need tamper-proof Rights Management implants to protect the vast expanse of expression monopolies? (That's the reality of the current "copyright by default" 1976 Act. Every cocktail napkin scribble, every email, voicemail, lecture note, every action caught on every recorded cctv and security cam, etc. It's all 'rights managed' for the next 100 years or 1000, because no one really knows when Congress will stop extending terms. Those are your rights that are getting managed by the way -- your 1st Amendment right to expression ends where expression monopolies begin.)
I guess my point is, if technological advancement continues to accelerate 'the future' is going to be here a lot sooner than we realize. We need to start thinking about how our laws, businesses --really, relationships of all kinds-- have to change to accommodate the new reality. Essentially infinite copyright protection on essentially every expression since 1976 is not "promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts."
Sibling posts make good points too.