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by Mike Masnick


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

Companies:
riaa



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.

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  1. identicon
    SteveD, 14 Mar 2008 @ 3:46am

    Re: You pay a similar tax in regular stores

    That’s not a tax, it’s just an added distribution cost no different from lost CDs being lost or damaged before they reach the store.

    There can be any number of distribution issues that can drive up the cost to the customer, but those sorts of costs revolve around recovering costs from wasted production or investment. It comes back to the differences between normal property and intellectual property; when you steal physical property from a store they loose money because they can't sell that property to someone else. When you steal intellectual property you’re instead denying them a potential sale, which is different.

    A better comparison might be the VCR in France, which (I think) had an extra tax on the cassettes to compensate production companies for home-recording.

    But it seems that the worlds recording industry seems intent on forcing ISPs to regulate the internet in some manner. How will Governments respond with powerful corporate lobbies on one side and public liberty on the other?

    The IP war looms…

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