Authoright, at its core, is a perpetual right of makers of an “intellectual product” to be credited for their work. In case of a writing, this includes authors, publishers, and distributors. It also means otherwise unrestricted distribution and creation of derivative works. Most common way of achieving this effect today, is creating a license, which works within certain jurisdiction, and presuming that each person making use of the work, enters a contract with author and distributor under that license. Such is the case of the all-famous GNU GPL, as well as Creative Commons licenses.
There is, however, a problem with this approach… More then one, in fact.
First of all, such licenses have to work within certain jurisdictions. Which does download of “Culture vs. Copyright” fall under? State of California (where our servers are located)? The location of the person downloading the book? Something sort of international law? As far as I understand any of the above can be the case, depending on the location of both sides of the transaction. Thus, now, depending on the jurisdiction, the license should be supported by different laws. In case of the US, it is the Copyright Law.
This is where we move on to the next problem. The US Copyright Law (as well as similar laws of many other countries) give the author huge amounts of exclusive rights, which he or she can sell or give away, as they wish. Problem is that in US these rights are limited in time, so, while we can create a situation where the work is distributed under Authoright-like conditions for a while, there is no way to ensure it will continue to be so indefinitely.
There are attempts to address the first problem. For example, there is an “International” subproject of the Creative Commons project. It would be nice to have a similar effort focused specifically on the Authoright idea. Of course, neither any of CC licenses, nor GNU GPL versions were tested in court so far. At least not to my knowledge. How well would this web of license versions for different jurisdictions hold, should some author try to take some CC license violator to a court is still a big question.
The second problem, however, does not seem to have a real, even if messy, solution. Best we can do is state the way we want our work to be used and distributed, and hope that following generations will respect these wishes.
Bottom line is: until Authoright itself is an international law, we are stuck with legal hacks, which will break over time.