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 @ 5:56pm


    I don't like the implications and assumptions made by such a law.

    1) The obvious, which is that it essentially treats every internet user as a criminal with no evidence. If I buy a car, I don't have to pay a $200 tax in case it's used in a bank robbery get away. This is the most morally offensive idea behind it, to me.

    2) It kinda proves that the whole "crusade against piracy" thing is purely about the money. This has absolutely nothing to do with stopping piracy, it's just a scheme to grab as much money as possible. And I also doubt that they'll stop suing people they find with illegal downloads, either, so they'll make lots of cash.

    3) They're essentially admitting that they can't find and/or stop the majority of illegal music sharers, so they're just punishing everyone in an attempt to recoup losses. It's as if there has been a riot in a town that has caused property damage, the police couldn't catch any of the rioters, so every town member is fined $100 to pay for it.
    It also points to them not being confidant at all in any DRM pursuits, so the fact that they continue to insist that DRM is useful etc... is even more annoying.

    All in all, this entire thing is annoying. The fact that someone thought it was a good idea in the first place is actually offensive. That other people agreed with it and support it is even worse. It actually offends my common sense.

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