Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Music Industry Muscle Ploy

Click on the title to this post to read a story from Techdirt about Warner Music's plan to charge universities (and I suppose, everybody) a blanket license fee to cover file sharing. It's another form of extortion if you want to think of it that way: you pay the "blanket license fee" and we won't sue you. Techdirt has some pithy things to say:

The idea would be to get various ISPs to simply add an additional fee to everyone's internet access, have that money go into a pool that the recording industry would be responsible for paying out -- and then let people have free reign [sic] for file sharing. This is a bad idea for a variety of reasons. It's basically a music tax -- allowing the record industry to be lazy. Someone else gets to go out and collect all this money and hand it over to the industry to distribute (or, actually, not distribute). It effectively sets the business model of the recording industry in stone, and harms better, more innovative business models by inserting the recording industry (and not the musicians) into a role where they don't belong. [snip]

Of course, while the introduction frames this as a "voluntary" blanket licensing program, the presentation also mentions that they'll need some way to get all ISPs and universities to buy into the plan, or they'll have to work out a way to "avoid massive leakage." So, basically, it's not voluntary at all. It's either join, or get saddled with significant limitations. In other words: all ISPs and universities need to agree to pay a huge tax to the very industry that hasn't been able to adapt, and then trust them to distribute the funds fairly.

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