Mon. Mar 31, 2008
Mandatory Music Tax
The music industry, bleeding profusely from largely self inflicted wounds, is proposing to volunteer your wallet to bind their wounds:
Edgar Bronfman Jr.‘s Warner Music Group has tapped industry veteran Jim Griffin to spearhead a controversial plan to bundle a monthly fee into consumers’ internet-service bills for unlimited access to music.
The plan—the boldest move yet to keep the wounded entertainment industry giants afloat—is simple: Consumers will pay a monthly fee, bundled into an internet-service bill in exchange for unfettered access to a database of all known music.
“Today, it has become purely voluntary to pay for music,” Griffin told Portfolio.com in an exclusive sit-down this week. “If I tell you to go listen to this band, you could pay, or you might not. It’s pretty much up to you. So the music business has become a big tip jar.”Portfolio.com Warner’s New Web Guru
Since they claim “it has become purely voluntary to pay for music,” the solution is obviously to make it involuntary. Mandatory.
It’s the only viable solution. It’s simply not possible for an industry to look at a changing marketplace and adapt to this new environment. It’s much easier to bully some common carrier into adding a tax on everyone.
Especially when you’ve been completely tone deaf to the coming thunder for about a decade, and have no clue how to ride the wave that’s been on the horizon for some time. It’s like standing on the beach facing a tidal wave, and rather than run (and prepare to swim), you continue standing there expecting others to build a protective wall around you.
“We’re still clinging to the vine of music as a product,” Griffin says, calling the industry’s plight “Tarzan” economics.
“But we’re swinging toward the vine of music as a service. We need to get ready to let go and grab the next vine, which is a pool of money and a fair way to split it up, rather than controlling the quantity and destiny of sound recordings.”
“We want to monetize the anarchy of the internet.”
What a lovely sound bite. “We want to monetize the anarchy of the internet.” The problem is, if you want to monetize anarchy, you’ve got to get some of it on ya. And that’s the core problem the recording industry has been unable to face. They can’t accept that their Digital Rights Management schemes don’t work, never mind consider the anarchic idea of selling music without them.
They haven’t got the brain power to see that terrestrial radio is long dead as a promotional tool, and has been replaced by the Internet and MP3 players. If they had, they’d pump their promotions in that direction the way they used to with radio. Instead, they do their best to throttle such means.
And now, they want to use those same means to tax us. The goal? Michael Arrington hypothesizes, “$5 per month from everyone, or fees of $20 billion per year. That’s double the current size of the recorded music industry ($10 billion).”
They even have a nifty name for it that they’ve used successfully already, “a covenant not to sue”:
US colleges and their alumni may be offered the right to P2P file-sharing under one of the most radical copyright reforms in a hundred years, The Register has learned.
The amnesty would be part of a “covenant not to sue”, covered by a collective licence that offers the right to exchange major label repertory over a participating college’s campus network. Rights holders would be compensated from a pot of money drawn from students’ tuition fees.The Register: US students, alumni to get legal P2P
So. An industry that once made its millions by selling hard products in bricks and mortar stores hopes to now makes its millions from a portion of college tuitions and your monthly ISP payment. And for that fee, it will provide … exactly what?
A promise not to sue us?
I’ve been a good netizen. I’ve made a comfortable living from copyrighted works, and therefore by nature, respect the copyrights of others. I dislike P2P applications, and do not allow them on the computers in my home. I’ve used a web based version of bitTorrent once, to download a large patch for a paid application. Last year, about a dozen new music CDs entered my home, via purchase or gift.
I’ve provided the RIAA with zero grounds for a lawsuit.
But should they succeed with this ploy, all of the above will change. I’ll not buy another CD … ever. I’ll download gigabytes of music per month. Probably start uploading it, too. I’ll eat much more than my $5/month worth, I promise you that.
You will have converted a law-abiding customer into a spiteful downloader. Good job!
Meanwhile, the RIAA’s counterparts in the movie industry have another plan:
The Motion Picture Association of America is calling on broadband providers to pull the plug on copyright-infringing users.
Jim Williams, the MPAA’s chief technology officer and senior vice president, said on Thursday that it’s in the best interests of Internet providers to sift through data traveling across their networks and interrupt transmissions that violate copyright law.CNET News.com: MPAA to broadband providers: Pull the plug on pirates
That’s going to be fun! Your broadband provider will be asked by the RIAA to charge a fee and allow P2P exchange of music, and by the MPAA, they’ll be asked to block the exchange of movies via P2P on the same network.
Two industries who have refused to adapt to the digital world will try to fix that by asking a third industry to do the impossible.