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by Mike Masnick


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

Companies:
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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
    Twinrova, 14 Mar 2008 @ 3:57am

    Hold on just a second...

    If the MPAA gets on board with this, the idea may not be that bad, actually. Of course, the objections would come from pay-per-song download sites, like Apple's iTunes.

    Correct me if I'm wrong here, but what I'm seeing is "Pay $5/mo and download as many songs (movies?) as you'd like!" as opposed to "I'm suing your children for file sharing" and that's something to really think about.

    IF (big one here) these funds go to the artists as RIAA says it does, I'm actually open to having my cable bill go up $5/mo.

    Because the next step would be to download a P2P program and start hogging up tons of songs I've been wanting.

    It sure as hell beats paying $0.99 per song!!! And EVERY consumer would see this as an advantage and wouldn't mind a $5 charge (especially if it gets people like me to download when we usually don't).

    But I've a feeling this isn't what RIAA's intentions are. Given how idiotic these people are, it seems the $5/mo will be in addition to charges at online stores and the lawsuits will continue.

    I fully understand that artists need to be compensated for their works but I absolutely abhor the music industry for screwing up the "math" for these artists.

    Back in the CD days, it was believed that artists received less than 20% per CD sale. I don't believe the 80% should have gone to the industry simply because they need to spend on advertising and push crap artists to the radio.

    I've found more artists I enjoy online that I have on the radio these days. Thanks to many free mp3 websites, it's amazing the music people do make.

    Which brings me to one more point: How in the world can the music industry try to sustain EVERY SINGLE ARTIST out there? It can't! Especially with the prices they're charging consumers for songs!

    I guess it's more important to support a drunk, child-ignoring, crotch-shot showing, SUV beating singer than it is to support a group no one's ever heard of because they lack radio play.

    Pathetic.

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