Compulsory Licensing Rules Are Needed For Online Music?

from the would-this-work? dept

John was the first of a few to submit this story about the EFF’s Fred von Lohmann writing up a suggestion that Universities start experiment with compulsory licensing for downloadable music. The idea is that the universities charge a modest fee to all students, and then figure out a way to hand that money over to musicians and copyright owners, in exchange for letting people do what they want with their music. The payments would be bsaed on some sort of “P2P chart” that tracks what files are being shared – but not who is doing the sharing. I know people have a negative reaction, in general, to compulsory licensing schemes, but I’ve been intrigued by such an idea for a while. In the past, I always thought that AOL was missing a huge opportunity by not doing the same exact thing. They control a bunch of musicians through Warner Music, and could use that as incentive to get more people to sign up for their broadband offerings. Since the music would bring in more customers, they could easily take some of that money and pass it on to the copyright holders. This also takes out the “double billing” problem of all these companies that want to charge directly for content. People pay to get online – but they do so to access content. If all that content then goes behind toll booths – the incentive to pay to get online goes down. However, by guaranteeing free content, the incentive to pay for the connection goes up. Thus, it makes sense for the connection providers to take some of the money they’re getting, and give it to the content providers to provide incentives for their customers to get online.

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