Court Rejects Argument That The Music Industry Deserves 'Pirate Tax' On Every Internet Connection

from the not-how-it-works dept

The legacy recording industry continues to seek any possible way to force people to pay, now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money to the old gatekeepers. After years of seeking increasing “you must be a criminal” levies on hard drives, blank CDs and other media, there has been a more recent focus on just trying to get broadband access providers to add a “piracy tax” to all internet connections. Over in Belgium, the collection society SABAM has been leading this charge. Back in 2011, it suddenly started demanding 3.4% of all internet connection fees from ISPs in Belgium. When the broadband providers refused to just pay up, SABAM sued in 2013. And it’s not going particularly well. The court has now rejected SABAM’s claims, noting (correctly) that internet access providers are mere conduits and shouldn’t have to pay for the actions of their users.

This is the right decision, though there’s a decent chance that SABAM will appeal. Either way, this shows the incredible entitlement felt by some in the industry. They feel that if people no longer want to pay them, that everyone should be forced to pay. That’s really quite incredible when you think about it. In most businesses, if customers are no longer interested in buying what you’re selling at the price you’re offering, you have to learn to adapt. But the legacy recording industry still seems to think the problem is with the public, rather than with its own business model.

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Comments on “Court Rejects Argument That The Music Industry Deserves 'Pirate Tax' On Every Internet Connection”

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46 Comments
Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

These “we collect from everyone, and somehow will magically know how to divvy the money fairly” kind of collection societies fail miserably for a good reason. Namely: no accountability, no incentive to be fair, no reason not to be corrupt as hell, no sense of fairness and justice.

I’d happily pay a tax for media if there were a workable solution, but there is not, and I doubt ever will be.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'We'll turn you into a pirate whether you want to be one or not!'

Right now, thanks to the toxic reputation the major labels and movie companies have gained, I refuse to give them money if it can at all be avoided. Now, this is not to say I pirate, no, I do what they claim to want if someone doesn’t want to pay them: Do without.

I completely ignore the rubbish they toss out, and instead give my time, money and attention to those that actually deserve it, those creators and companies who see me as an actual person, not a barely restrained criminal who’s only use is handing over money, and who needs to be treated as though the only thing keeping me from stealing or downloading everything they have are laws and their ever watchful eye.

However, force me to pay those that I despise and boycott, whether I want to or not? At that point, I’m already paying, why would I not start downloading to my heart’s content? Why not act the part of a criminal, if I’m to be treated like one?

Yet again, the entitlement industry, which tries to pass itself off as the ‘entertainment’ industry, has shown that there is no greater creator of piracy than their actions and their belief that the world revolves around them, and needs to adapt to their needs and desires, rather than the other way around.

Anonymous Coward says:

"now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

Right off, Masnick states the crucial first problem: someone has to pay for content to be produced. Advertising won’t support content unless it’s seen, and many here say they want advertising stripped out.

So tell me: How is anyone entitled to enjoy content without paying for it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

I should add, if I am forced to pay for content I don’t get, I will go get that content. So if they are willing to sell an unlimited supply of books, movies and music for 3.4% of my internet connection fee, then I guess I will be the one that is better off.

RD says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

Wrong. Or do you think creative content was never created prior to the formation of the music and movie industries? People WILL create. This is simple fact that even you should acknowledge, but you are so far up the asses of your Big Media Copyright bosses that you refuse to ever admit it. It is proven by all of human history. MAKING MONEY or earning a living from art is a more recent phenomena. Being paid for your creative efforts is NOT A RIGHT. IF, and I say IF, you create something, then it is upon YOU to give people a reason to give you money for it. It is NOT their responsibility to do so just because you chose this as a career path. We aren’t here to subsidize your bad career choices if you fail to incentivize people to pay you for your work. You don’t like that arrangement? Then get a regular job like the rest of humanity. If making money from your creative art/movies/music endeavors is you primary motivation, then you have already failed. Don’t put the onus on the rest of us to bankroll your experiments. Make good shit, not shit, and you will find an audience.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Give people a reason to pay and they will.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/strawman

Point me to the quote that says people are entitled to enjoy content without paying for it. Go on, I’m sure you’ll be able to find it easily enough if it’s such a core part of your argument.

With ‘taxes’ like this, you’re paying money whether you want the content or not, or want to give money to the parasites pushing it or not.

If I eat at Restaurant A, because Restaurant B is staffed by people I can’t stand due to how they act towards their customers, Restaurant B does not deserve a cut of the proceeds because someone else might have walked out without paying the bill at Restaurant B.

Similarly, if I don’t care to give my time, money and attention to a given label or studio, they do not deserve the ‘right’ to shake me down and force me to give them money, whether I want to or not, because someone else might have the poor taste to download their crap.

As for how content can be produced, and where the funding comes from, services like Kickstarter and Patreon make it abundantly clear that if you offer a product/service that people want, and act in such a manner that people actually like, or at a minimum can tolerate you, people have no problem throwing money at you.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Give people a reason to pay and they will.

“If I eat at Restaurant A, because Restaurant B is staffed by people I can’t stand due to how they act towards their customers”

The analogy’s more like: lots of people have tired of how they’re being treated by most of the restaurants in the area, finding the menus limited, overpriced, and being pissed on (both literally and figuratively) by the staff. Lots of people have therefore decided to stop eating out, and have started cooking at home and buying better ingredients. Restaurant A recognises the problems, and drops its prices while upping the quality but maintaining profitability. Other restaurants have appeared offering more niche menus but of a higher quality, and are raking it in despite not necessarily being cheaper.

Restaurant B responded by firing half its wait staff, reducing its menu and increasing the urine input. Then whines that it deserves a cut of the home grocery market because it’s losing money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

“Advertising won’t support content unless it’s seen ..”

And seriously, who wants to watch content that increasingly is feature gay couples? That is not something that I would want to pay actual real money to support.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

They can either create content at their expense – or not. I personally don’t give a shit, and owe no one a living just because they felt they “created something.”

If you straight out want welfare, then please have the balls to call it just that.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

Right off, Masnick states the crucial first problem: someone has to pay for content to be produced.

Right off, you forget someone needs to produce content that’s worth paying for. They’re not. I don’t want what they’re selling, yet I pay a blank media levy to pay for my non-sins anyway. Some of my favourite music I’ve owned in LP record form and cassette tape and CD, and now I have it on a computer disk. I paid for the former. The media levy pays for the latter.

Ed Allen (profile) says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

http://sitasingstheblues.com/
There is the question of how I’ll get money from all this. My personal experience confirms audiences are
generous and want to support artists. Surely there’s a way for this to happen without centrally controlling
every transaction.

The old business model of coercion and extortion is failing. New models are emerging,
and I’m happy to be part of that. But we’re still making this up as we go along.

You are free to make money with the free content of Sita Sings the Blues, and you are free to
share money with me

People have been making money in Free Software for years; it’s time for Free Culture to follow.
I look forward to your innovations.

And of course, Wikipedia is just a shared delusion.

Get back under the bridge where you belong.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

If he’s a regular AC, his response to that would be something along the lines of “I watched Sita and didn’t personally care for it, therefore no new business model is valid”. Seriously, one of these guys actually went through a phase of personally attacking both Nina Paley and anyone who cited Sita Sings The Blues as a relevant example.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

So tell me: How is anyone entitled to enjoy content without paying for it?

Let’s not talk about the paying for it. Let’s talk about enjoying it.

Can you name me one single thing that your paymsters produce that I would be remotely interested in listening to? (Whether I had to pay for it, and how much, is irrelevant. You can assume that if I don’t want to hear it, I’m certainly not going to listen to it, nor be forced to pay for it as you seem to want.)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

“So tell me: How is anyone entitled to enjoy content without paying for it?”

I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I’m absolutely willing to pay for it, and I do.

So tell me: How is the music industry so entitled that it feels it can demand payment from people who aren’t even using their product?

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

So tell me: How is anyone entitled to enjoy content without paying for it?

Bridge trolls are not required. There are no natural rights when it comes to this sort of thing. That’s why such rights have always had an expiration date.

Even most modern content is far past the point it should have expired into the public domain.

Beyond that, plenty of people are willing to pay for ad free content. The most successful TV channel today uses that model and always has.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

“Advertising won’t support content unless it’s seen, and many here say they want advertising stripped out.”

Are you really so lacking in imagination that ads or forcing people to pay upfront even if they DON’T use the content provided are the only ways in which to go?

“So tell me: How is anyone entitled to enjoy content without paying for it?”

I’ll flip this around to the subject of the actual article – how is anyone entitled to MY money to produce content I don’t want? I don’t enjoy the crap dished out by the major label, why should I pay for it? my money already goes to music I enjoy, thanks.

So tell me, where is anyone saying that nobody will? We’ll ignore the fact that a great number of things are produced every day without someone paying upfront. You just have to justify this strawman before we go into the many, many real ways in which the answer has already been discussed.

Pragmatic says:

Re: "now that many people see no reason to continue to fork over money"

So tell me: How is anyone entitled to enjoy content without paying for it?

That’s the wrong question, AC. The correct one is, “What’s the most effective business model for funding content creation and paying the creators well enough to keep it coming?”

But since your question was a straw man, you’re not really interested in the answers, are you?

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Canada recordable media tariff was coupled with the legalization of copying music for personal use. In effect we got involuntary “music as a service.” Copying wasn’t unethical, because you were paying for that right whether you used it or not. Paying a *second* time became a stupid thing to do.

But that was just music. It didn’t apply to video or software.

Does SABAM’s 3.4% go to just music? If so, how much more will be demanded for the TV and movie industry? For photographers? News stories and science articles? Companies that claim copyright on negative reviews?

Will SABAM concede that if ISP customers are paying money to the music and video industries to cover copying, then they now have the right – nothing unethical about it – to do that copying?

Anonymous Coward says:

In the event that there was a nation wide pirate tax/license for all copyrighted content, this would mean that the payment for content would be completely decoupled from its consumption or popularity. Some entertainment company would be receiving money from taxpayers without any kind of proof that it was their content that was being consumed.

In such a world, the only fair thing to do would be to split that fee among all content creators. So, I for one would build me a bot that automatically generated randomized video and uploads it to a youtube channel.
Then, I should get a cut of that tax pie because clearly, the reason my bot generated videos are getting so few views is because some one comes along, downloads my videos once, then shares them on the uBitTorrentBays and all the pirates watch my copyrighted material for free losing me billions of dollars.

CanadianByChoice (profile) says:

Why should I be forced to pay?

I don’t buy music.
I don’t download music.
(I can’t HEAR music.)
I have a 70+db hearing loss; by legal standards, I’m deaf.
Why should I be forced to support people that choose a profession that has zero value to me?
(Note to Tech-Dirt: I was really interested in your podcasts. Unfortunately, I can’t hear those either.)

Pragmatic says:

Re: Communists punish all for the sins of the few.

The trouble with using the word “communist” is that it assumes this is a leftist problem. It’s not, it’s coming from the capitalist right. The word you want is “authoritarianism.”

Besides, it’s not for the artists. Rightsholders and creators of copyrighted material are often different people.

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