RIAA Now Open To 'You Must Be A Criminal' Tax On ISP Fees

from the not-the-answer dept

This certainly isn't the first time it's been proposed, but it appears that the RIAA is potentially warming up to the idea of a "music surcharge" that would have ISPs pay $5/month in order to allow anyone to share music online. Just a month ago, we were discussing why this is a bad idea. First, it's effectively treating everyone as a criminal, and forcing those who don't download or share music to subsidize everyone who does. Second, and much more importantly, it's not necessary. If there's anything that the past five years (and the past year especially) has taught us, it's that there are many different ways for musicians to make money without requiring the government to step in and set up a business model for them. In other words, there's no compelling need for such a mandated system. Third, once you do this, it opens up additional questions from other industries. Will the government need to set up laws that prop up their business models as well?

Some people are comparing this new RIAA proposal to the one that the EFF proposed four years ago. However, that one was quite different, in that it was a voluntary licensing system, rather than a mandatory one. In that system, anyone who wanted to could voluntarily pay $5/month to have free reign to share and download music. This new proposal would mandate that ISPs pay the fee (meaning that ISPs would quickly pass the costs on to everyone). That's quite different. It also might be a different story if ISPs voluntarily offered this as a feature for customers -- where they would license the music so anyone could freely share it. That's a case where the ISP would effectively be paying for the creation of music and using its free nature as a promotional good for its service. However, that rationale goes away if it's mandatory. So, while it's nice that the RIAA has woken up (about a decade too late) to the idea that new business models are needed, this proposal isn't a very good idea.

Filed Under: copyright, isps, levy, mandatory, music, riaa
Companies: riaa


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  1. identicon
    Astrid, 14 Mar 2008 @ 5:19am

    Another point

    Third, once you do this, it opens up additional questions from other industries. Will the government need to set up laws that prop up their business models as well?

    Your comment reminded me of the travel industry reps who were bawling in front of Congress after 911, demanding the same kind of taxpayer prop-ups and bailouts that the airline industry was asking for.

    I remember thinking about how these travel agency bitches wouldn't give me the time of day to process a $400 airline voucher in the months before 911. It took about 2 minutes for the Delta employee at the airport to print out what I wanted, which was an airline ticket, with an itinerary and flight numbers I'd already chosen online.

    All I heard from all the travel nazis I called was whining about how I would have to make an appointment, and it would take a couple of hours, and I'd have to pay a service fee of at least $50. Yeah. Asta la vista, unnecessary travel agents. You're about as useful as the RIAA and their demand to be subsidized at the tune of $5 a month at the expense of every internet user in America.


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