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
    Corey, 26 Feb 2008 @ 12:52pm

    Dumb analogies

    I agree that the tax is bad idea, although unlike you I don't think everything digital should be free - there's nothing wrong with people be paid for the product they actually produce by the consumers who use the product.

    The reason for my post is that those might be the dumbest analogies you have ever used. Every one on them is about something on the internet that competes with another product by offering a similar service or information. But in the music case, we're talking about people having to compete with their very own product which is being given away for free.

    Do you really think the newspapers to google/craigslist is at all the same thing? You might have a point if Craigslist was copying the complete content from newspapers and putting it on their site.

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