In the past copyright was protected on a physical object. For hundreds of years books and newspapers were physical objects.
Way back in the 1990s copyright material was sold on physical objects, and it was relatively straightforward to manufacture, distribute, manage the supply and set the price. Whether records, pictures, books, articles, the creative ‘content’ was captured on paper, vinyl, CDs, DVDs and sold in a controlled market.
Yes, there was piracy, which in the music business was considered to be about 10% of worldwide sales in 1999 when large scale online piracy began with Napster.
When all consumers of IP and copyrighted material have an electronic device they have a manufacturing plant which takes the place of the printing presses, the record manufacturers, the movie cinemas, the TV broadcasters and cable/satellite companies. Each consumer is a hyper manufacturer of potentiallly copyrighted material. They are encouraged to be creative, and share (facebook, twitter, linkedin and more).
So the result is that the creative content, the IP, is ubiquitous. It is everywhere. The artists must survive. Somehow. That has been the struggle of the last twenty years. Read on for ways in which the challenge was addressed.