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?

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Comments on “Taxing ISPs To Fund Newspapers?”

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34 Comments
Cygnus says:

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.

deadzone (profile) says:

Re: 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.

usmcdvldg says:

Re: 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.

kiba (user link) says:

Re: 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.

Lonnie E. Holder says:

Re: 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.

deadzone says:

Re: 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.

Lonnie E. Holder says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

define the scope please says:

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 ?

Lonnie E. Holder says:

Re: Re: Re:2 ... 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.

nasch says:

Re: 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.

Lonnie E. Holder says:

Re: Re: Re:4 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.

Overcast says:

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.

Lonnie E. Holder says:

Re: 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).

Emmet Gibney (user link) says:

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.

Pieter says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Lonnie E. Holder says:

Re: 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.

Douglas Gresham (profile) says:

Re: 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 🙂

Lonnie E. Holder says:

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?

Twinrova says:

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.

Hammad Haseeb (user link) says:

Knitted fitted sheet & Yarn dyed and plain dyed fabrics

Zephyrs Textile manufacturer and exporter of

Using pure cotton and various blends of cotton and polyester yarns.
We are exporting these to several retail chains, hotels, importers and wholesalers in EU, Middle East and USA. Continuous production has enabled us to serve both the large and small customers, successfully.
An experience of 15 years made us compete by prices and quality.
Firm supervision of each order distinguishes us from our competitors. To our pride, we are now serving our own competitors in china.

http://zephyrstextile.com

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