Why A Music Download Tax Is A Bad Idea

from the unintended-consequences dept

In the last few weeks, a lot of folks have been submitting the story about the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) proposing a $5/month "tax" on ISP connections, which could then be used to reimburse songwriters and musicians for downloading. I've resisted writing about it, because it's been discussed at length in the past when it's been suggested. The one difference here is that a group of musicians is actually supporting it. However, Michael Geist does an excellent job explaining why it's not a very good idea. Beyond pissing off those who don't feel they should subsidize the rest of the industry, it's not at all clear it's necessary. There are plenty of other business models that the music industry can use to support musicians and songwriters that don't require a special tax. However, the biggest reason, as Geist points out, is the second you do this, plenty of other industries will come out of the woodwork demanding a special fee get applied to internet connections as well. Newspapers that think Google and Craigslist are "stealing" from them will demand a special "news tax." And then think of all those other industries who claim they're being impacted by the internet. You'll have a special auto-mechanic's tax, to pay for mechanics who are upset about the DIY info found online. The "knitting tax" for all the free knitting patterns online. I understand that AAA may be upset about Google maps. Travel agents want that "travel tax" to pay for all that business that Expedia has cost them. Where does it stop?

Filed Under: canada, downloads, isp tax


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2008 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: hotels and diesel fuel

    The watermark is not just a simple tag, like the artist or song title. It would be a tiny datastream encoded throughout the whole file, which would make it very difficult to filter out. Could it be done? Probably. The key to good security is not to try to make something 100% foolproof, because that's impossible. The key is to make it hard enough to crack that most people won't bother trying, unless they're serious about pirating in the first place. The idea here is to eliminate casual file-sharing, not stomp out real pirates who profit from mass-producing and selling illegal music.

    I think the fact that watermarking can allow the consumer to use his music however he chooses while still providing law enforcement with a tracking method is a great idea, not because it can't be cracked, but because most consumers won't have to bother cracking it because they can use their music the way they want. If you can freely listen to music you purchase on any device you own, you have absolutely no reason to crack the watermark protection unless you are intentionally trying to pirate the music without getting caught.

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