Taxing ISPs To Fund Newspapers?

from the *sigh* dept

In trying to explain why a music tax is a bad idea, I pointed out that if you start with music, you quickly have to start adding pretty much every industry disrupted by the internet. The obvious one is movies, but what about newspapers? They're struggling due to the internet, so why can't they demand an ISP tax to support newspapers? The idea, of course, is that this was a ludicrous suggestion... but apparently some people have thought seriously about it. Reader Emmet Gibney points us to a blog post on the Macleans site (the same magazine that once told us that the internet and blogging sucked) where the concept of taxing ISPs to pay for online media publications is apparently seriously suggested. It appears to be an adjustment on the already ridiculous suggestion that some folks have made that newspapers should collude to charge for access to newspaper websites. At least the Macleans author recognizes this is unworkable... so, rather than looking at alternative models, he suggests that "the only solution" he sees is to create a "royalties" system that ISPs would be in charge of collecting for media publications. Who's next? Did the buggy whip makers ever suggest a "buggy whip tax" on automobiles?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    Why should they?

    I doubt buggy whip makers proposed a tax on automobiles. However, buggy whip making continues to thrive. It is a niche industry, but the prices are higher than ever...

    http://yp.bellsouth.com.wvproxy.com/sites/buggywhips/page3.html

     

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  2.  
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    Cygnus, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:45pm

    There is a fundamental difference in the harm caused to the music industry by the internet and the harm caused to the newspaper industry.

    One might be able to support an internet tax payable to the owner of music rights because the harm caused to them is due to the theft of their property. I wouldn't support such a tax because it does not target the thieves with particularity but at least one could find some coupling in the harm and the solution.

    The problem caused to the newspaper industry by the internet is not theft, it's competition. Newspapers are losing out because people no longer want the product that they offer. Too bad, so sad.

    Now, I know we are becoming this ridiculous society where we bail out industries and individuals that can't keep up, but let us not delude ourselves into thinking we would be protecting an aggrieved party if we transferred internet usage funds to newspapers.

     

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  3.  
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    deadzone (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    "theft of their property" Seriously? Essentially, making a copy of a copy of a song or songs is theft of music rights and thereby theft of property? So the "owner of the music rights" no longer owns anything?

    Unless someone is somehow able to use the Internet to go to this "owner of the music rights" home, bust in, and steal the physical master copy of an album containing songs that the copyright holder owns the rights to, I am sorry, it's just not theft. The artist or whomever this "owner of the music rights" happens to be still OWNS, in essence, the rights.

    Thereby, it's really the same problem and challenges the Newspaper Industry is facing. Competition, and an unwillingness to embrace change.

     

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  4.  
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    kiba, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    How many time must somebody must repeat the fallacy that copying music is theft of property?

    It is intellectually dishonest to refer to it as theft no matter how wrong and immoral the crime of copying musics is.

    That said, I think "intellectual property laws" don't have a place in a free market society because it is ultimately market privilleges granted by the government. Not only that, the ability to control the usage of somebody's property just because they made a copy of your music is just plain outright unethical if not immoral.

     

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  5.  
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    Overcast, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    We should tax makers of CD's and give the money to the companies that make vinyl records too.

    And what about the people who used to make chisels and tools for etching writing on stone tablets??? Where is the JUSTICE for them????

    And what about politicians who actually had a brain - why should we not tax these brainless ones and give the money to the ones with brains - obviously the demand for politicians with a brain has dropped off big-time.

     

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  6.  
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    Greg, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:16pm

    They can do it

    Why can't they publish their papers online?

    I'm sure people would pay to have access to breaking news covered by real journalists.

    Or they can advertise on their e-papers just like everyone else. They just need to move with the times instead of dying with them.

     

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  7.  
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    Johnny Canada, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Macleans

    Macleans magazine is owned by a company called ROGERS.

    They are the largest ISP in Canada.

    Talk about the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

     

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  8.  
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    Emmet Gibney, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    The author makes it seem like media (in particular print media) is comparable to universal health care (very important to us Canadians), or like the homeless shelter that is completely incapable of sustaining itself without charitable contributions. It kind of reminds me of the auto manufacturers who are asking for a handout.

    My favourite comment of his is "To be clear: This is not a lament for the decline of print." Well, actually that's exactly what it sounds like. "I miss the golden age of journalism, where writers were paid to write and weren't interfered with by the likes of Rupert Murdoch", the author didn't say that second part by the way, but I could imagine it. Media is a business, if you want try and start the PBS of print and see if you can get support from subscribers that way.

     

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  9.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Re:

    Actually, tools for carving writing into stone are also made. Again, niche market, but it exists. Those tools are also expensive.

    http://www.stonesculptorssupplies.com/New-site-pgs/Hand-tools.html#chisels

    I guess the point is that old markets rarely die, they are just transformed. In the case of buggy whips and stone tools, the markets are much smaller than they once were, but the niche market is able to command significantly higher prices than when the demand was much higher. Seems counterintuitive, but it is true. The demand is so low that it supports only a very limited number of competitors, so the prices go up.

    As for taxing brainless politicians, that would generate you zero revenue. All politicians have brains. The bigger question is whether they actually do anything with their brain other than having it serve as a foundation for their hair (or scalp).

     

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  10.  
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    Emmet Gibney, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    By the way, thanks for the link : )

     

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  11.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re:

    I keep seeing people say that intellectual property gives someone "the ability to control the usage of somebody's property." I disagree.

    Once you have legitimately purchased an item, you are free to do anything with that item that you wish, subject to whatever contract terms are printed on the item, and subject to various other laws (like not burning tires, etc.). Now, if you want to create a new item based on that item, then you have created new property and you are no longer doing something with the item you purchased, you are creating new property and creation of the new property may be infringing upon someone's intellectual property, which is just plain outright unethical if not immoral.

     

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  12.  
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    TPBer, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    I am a FILESHARER!

    And very proud of it. Hell I don't have to wait for digital stuff to be released, it's there way before official releases.

    You can call me whatever you want, but it won't EVER stop people from FILESHARING.

     

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  13.  
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    usmcdvldg, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re:

    Not exactly

    Your right, its not theft, its piracy.
    Theres a big difference.

    And were it not for the greed on the part of the music industry, and there perversion of copyrights intended use I would agree with them.

    that being said it is not the same with problem of that as the newspapers. As the laws stand(because there quite dumb) the music industry has a legitimate legal problem on there hands because technology has made it nearly impossible to enforce there legal rights. The newspapers are just greedy lazy bastards.

     

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  14.  
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    Pieter, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:53pm

    Why call it buying when I don't get actual rights over the music

    I just want to know why they call it "buying" when you buy a music cd in a shop. If I bought something and it becomes my property, I can do with it what I like. If someone still has full rights over it, and I can only use it as they prescribe, I only rent it. I didn't buy it! Therefore I suggest it is incorrect advertising when they call it buying a song on a website, cd, or any other media for that matter, because if I "buy" something. I expect to have the right to do with it what I want to.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:10pm

    you are creating new property and creation of the new property may be infringing upon someone's intellectual property, which is just plain outright unethical if not immoral.

    So someone created something, and now it's immoral for me to create? Surely you must see how ridiculous this is.

    I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls recently. First off, lame presentation NC Museum of Natural Science. Secondly, I got a lecture on the way in. No photographs of the actual scrolls due to copyright law.

    These scrolls are 2000 years old.

    I was told that photographing them was actually stealing. I asked if the guide could tell me the difference between these two sentences:

    A) I infringed on the copyright of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    B) I stole the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    You see when you steal, the museum doesn't have any scrolls left. The guide didn't think I was funny though, so I quieted down.

    There's nothing immoral or unethical about it. If anything, it's unethical to restrict the freedom of others to insure profit for yourself.

     

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  16.  
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    Ira Feldman, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:14pm

    A tax on isps to support papers

    Didn't you ever hear of that calculator tax we all pay to help out the owners of the old slide rule companies?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    SIlver, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:56pm

    How about this?

    Let's tax plunger manufacturers to fund plumbers, because I'm sure that plungers decreased the business of plumbers somehow..

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:08pm

    Re:

    So someone created something, and now it's immoral for me to create? Surely you must see how ridiculous this is.

    Where is your "creation"? All I see is copying. That is not ridiculous, that is immoral. I am sorry that you consider my morals ridiculous.

    I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls recently. First off, lame presentation NC Museum of Natural Science. Secondly, I got a lecture on the way in. No photographs of the actual scrolls due to copyright law.

    These scrolls are 2000 years old.


    Someone got something wrong. Copyright does not cover the Dead Sea scrolls. There may be an argument for copyright of images taken of the Dead Sea scrolls, but that could only be enforced in an enclosed environment, like a museum.

    There's nothing immoral or unethical about it. If anything, it's unethical to restrict the freedom of others to insure profit for yourself.

    I am sorry that your morals conflict with mine. However, my ethics are that it is immoral and unethical to take the works of others for your own. Again, I am sorry that you have no respect for my morals.

     

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  19.  
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    Douglas Gresham, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Re:

    I think you'd have a case for infringement being objectively immoral if you could show it had a detrimental effect; the evidence points the other way on that one. I think you need to recognise that critiquing your opinion isn't disrespectful, it's healthy. I also think you need to realise there's all kinds of shades of grey between creative influence and copying that fall under the umbrella of "infringement" as-is.

    Finally, I think I use the phrase "I think" too much :)

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Detrimental

    Douglas Gresham:

    I have read the numerous studies cited by the folks over at Against Monopoly.org. Interestingly, those studies that they so gleefully point out as anti-IP are not, or not as much as they would like. The studies point out that the following categories benefit from patent protection...

    o Pharmaceuticals
    o Capital intensive industries
    o Small to medium sized companies
    o New industries; e.g., biotech.

    Regardless, intellectual property is embodied in our laws. I was taught that violation of the law of the majority is immoral and unethical. In some countries murder is considered okay in some circumstances. If you do not consider violation of the law unethical and immoral, at what point down the slippery slope do we stop?

     

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  21.  
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    deadzone, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Lonnie - what you are saying is ridiculous. Based on what you are saying:

    If I go to a store and legally purchase with real money something like I dunno - a ball of yarn I suppose - and go home and make a cute ducky for my daughter that I have created NEW property and am suddenly infringing on the intellectual property for the owner of yarn?!

    Give me a break man! A digital copy is not a NEW thing, it is a copy of something, in most cases, a copy many times over of a copy. The person that owns the copyrights of the copied material still retains ownership, nothing has changed. There is no sale to begin with so it can't be that. It's not physical property so it's not theft. It's nothing but technological progress on a digital level.

     

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  22.  
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    define the scope please, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: ... creating property etc

    Lonnie -> "Once you have legitimately purchased an item, you are free to do anything with that item that you wish, subject to whatever contract terms are printed on the item, and subject to various other laws (like not burning tires, etc.). Now, if you want to create a new item based on that item, then you have created new property and you are no longer doing something with the item you purchased, you are creating new property and creation of the new property may be infringing upon someone's intellectual property, which is just plain outright unethical if not immoral."

    I think you need to limit the scope of your statement.
    Lets say I purchase some 2x4s from the lumber company. Are you suggesting that I can not made anything with them ?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    nasch, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Now, if you want to create a new item based on that item, then you have created new property and you are no longer doing something with the item you purchased, you are creating new property and creation of the new property may be infringing upon someone's intellectual property, which is just plain outright unethical if not immoral.

    If I have created something new, why should someone else be able to control what I do with it? Morally, I mean.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    nasch, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Detrimental

    I was taught that violation of the law of the majority is immoral and unethical.

    Sounds like you need to go back to school, Lonnie. According to this statement, there's no such thing as an unethical law. Do you really believe that?

     

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  25.  
    icon
    Nick (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:00pm

    WWSD? (What would Schumpeter do?) Let the newspapers die!

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Detrimental

    Nasch...

    Good question. I think that Sarbanes-Oxley was intended to be an ethical law, and perhaps it is, but it has cost far more than IP has ever cost. Is there such a thing as an unethical law? Maybe. Usually those laws do not survive a Supreme Court challenge.

     

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  27.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nasch...

    Because the Constitution of the United States of America says that inventors should be permitted to control their inventions for a period of time. Allowing someone to make copies violates that control.

     

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  28.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: ... creating property etc

    Define the scope please...

    Paradigm on my part. You can make anything you like with the 2 x 4's. What I was referring to, somewhat obliquely, are those people who think that they can take a patented mechanism and make a copy of it, legally, or that they should be able to make a copy. Somehow they think that is "doing something" with the item they purchased, when they are creating a new item that is separate from what they purchased.

     

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  29.  
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    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 8:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Deadzone:

    Pardon the error. See my response above with respect to what I meant. Make whatever you like with your ball of yarn.

    I was not speaking of digital copies and generally attempt to avoid the issue of digital copies. Copyrights and copyright infringement is not my area of expertise, patents are.

     

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  30.  
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    Twinrova, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 4:35am

    Internet's moving to cable tier pricing structure.

    As a Brighthouse customer, I've had to deal with two "fights" over fees for carrying signals. Why? Because these companies lost millions on a dying business model (using ads).

    So, instead of finding an alternative solution, they've agreed (behind closed doors and without comment to the public) on a deal.

    Want to bet this deal will eventually increase my cable bill?

    So, those with cable are already paying this "tax" to keep dying business models alive.

    What the hell would be the difference with the newspaper tax? Music tax? Hell, why not add a damn automotive tax so when the Big 3 spend their billions, we can keep them alive too??!!

    I was for the music tax only because it stopped the lawsuits. But I can now see the internet is going to be used to justify revenue streams, especially when more people are ditching their TVs for the LCDs of their computers.

    So it won't surprise me to see quite a few jumping on the "let's screw the consumer with fees they shouldn't pay because we're shoving ads down their throats" all the while they're whining about "lost revenue" because they failed to adapt.

    What truly sucks for these businesses is that this current model is the only one they can use. To spend monies on other alternatives doesn't give them much room to try something new. At least I recognize this, but it's still not excusable to screw the consumers to pay for their mistakes.

    They had plenty of time in the past 10 years to think ahead, but they failed to do so.

    Now, expect to see IP issues truly get complicated, entertainment prices to skyrocket, and other ideas like this blog presents to come forward.

    And every damn one of them is against the consumer.

    Maybe these businesses should contact Trent Reznor, who seems to not only understand today's technology, but has looked into the future for ways to use it long before everyone else does!

    Anyone have Trent's email? Post it here for the few business managers that do read this site.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 6:40am

    You do know that in some parts of the country, buggies are still in use, which tend to indicate that buggy whips manufacturers might still have a niche.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    nasch, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps if you read all the way to end of my question... I said morally. Not legally (which is what the Constitution is), but morally. Which is what you were talking about.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    nasch...

    I have never had an issue with what someone does with something that they legally purchase, except for the limits that society places on those actions. I consider every one of the following to be a moral issue for a variety of reasons. If you would like to discuss any one of them in more detail, I would be happy to...

    o Burning trash on your land in the city.
    o Firing a gun on your property in city limits.
    o Dumping your stuff alongside the highway.
    o Entering someone's property without permission.
    o Blocking water that flows through your property.
    o Dumping anything into the water system that did not originate from that water system.
    o Causing harm to another person through your actions.
    o Making a copy of a patented product without permission.

    As I have noted previously, making a copy of a patented invention is not doing something with what you own. It is making a copy of a device to which you do not own the rights. That is immoral in my mind. You effectively took the design of another and copied it without permission. Even though I was taught that doing so was stealing, others seem to object to that characterization.

     

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