University music tax: sharing and caring?

University music tax: sharing and caring?

Summary: In the last few days, a plan devised by men in shiny suits, employees of the devil himself and the occasional dictator-regime supporter to create what can and should only be described as a "music tax for students". But wait, because this is a good thing.

TOPICS: Piracy

Music taxIn the last few days, a plan devised by men in shiny suits, employees of the devil himself and the occasional dictator-regime supporter to create what can and should only be described as a "music tax for students". But wait, because this is a good thing.

I'd let that sink in for a minute.

There have been calls from far and wide to regulate illegal music downloads by university students; using an academic network to illegal obtain files (which is probably part of the original constitution anyway; we all know Washington loved his iPod) has resulted in arrests (well, lawsuits anyway) of many university students in the United States.

Not to mention, I wrote about the legal vs. illegal downloading of music some months ago, and whilst I don't condone illegal behaviour, I came to the sound conclusion that if you could get away with downloading music illegally, then go for it, but solely at your own risk. That certainly got some controversy, and I'm off the lawyer's Christmas card list this year.

The Warner Music Group have proposed an "tax" which includes a small fee in part of the tuition fees paid to the university, which goes towards a blanket licence which is applicable to every student in the university. This would enable students to download music how they want to, regardless of whether it's through Torrents, Rapidshare, browsing iTunes or browsing other people's iTunes; regardless of which method of download is used, the artists will still get a cut. It may not be the cut they'd get had they sold their music directly, but it's better than nothing.

The institutions collect the payments, which would be an extra few dollars on top of tuition fees anyway, and that pot of money is handed to an intermediary to then fairly distribute it to the artists, like handing out Christmas presents at an orphanage.

So, not only does this make every element of illegal music downloading totally legal, with no DRM and little restriction. Universities and students won't be hauled out of their beds at 3am and interrogated because they have a drunken craving for Barry Manilow. And finally, it gives back to the artists who are whinging on piracy when it's their lot who are jacking up the price so high, the rest of us just lose interest. Let's face it; James Blunt just isn't that good.

Although this hasn't been set in stone yet, there are still many details which need to be ironed out for this to work. I'm confident this will be a positive step forward in the process of "semi-legal-but-actually-perfectly-morally-acceptable" downloading. We're taking the mess with the amount we illegally download, and yes, it's convenient and quick, but this new solution would make it so much cheaper overall.

To be honest, I'd be surprised if any of this made sense considering I have a fever spiking at 102°. If so, please leave a comment; this could be an interesting one.

[poll id=11]

Topic: Piracy

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  • #5: I'll keep the bullseye off my back

    if I were an IT at a college, there's no way I'd agree to this....

    1. If I "unsubscribe" from this, what are the odds that the RIAA wouldn't pounce on the ability to sue?

    2. the RIAA wants me to not just pay X amount per student for the licensing, they also want me to pay around 3X for the ability to track what the students are downloading, plus the time and manpower for the maintenance on the additional infrastructure...oh, and of course for the second and third OC-3 connection to handle all that bandwidth. And then there's the privacy issues with tracking what kids are downloading.

    3. Does this cover students if they're at home? Prolly not, which means that my bandwidth bill is going up even more, because all the downloading is going to happen on my LAN.

    4. do the students who don't download have to pay the cost? If we do it on a per-student level (i.e. each individually registered MAC address on the LAN), are the students who don't bring laptops still stuck with the bill?

  • Blanket tax is okay by me, but only with a few conditions.

    It must accompanied by a blanket prohibition in perpetuity against any and all prosecution for any "infringing" activities past, present, and future by anyone, anywhere.
    • Would a"blanket speeding ticket fine" be okay?

      Just a couple hundred dollars you have to pay your local municipality every year to cover any actual speeding you did but at which you weren't caught. I mean, essentially <i>everyone</i> breaks speed limits, at least once in a while, and why should your jurisdiction have to go to all the trouble and expense of paying cops to catch you and running courts to convict you? It would just be so much easier just to make you pay up, regardless of whether you broke any laws, just on general principles.
      Henrik Moller
      • Another perspective

        If people have kids and they have a propensity consume items where they technically shouldn't, wouldn't it be reasonable for them / you to pay a fee to clear up the matter and make their activity legal? Some may pontifocate that kids should learn to pay for stuff. But if history shows us that simply doesn't work with digital files, why is having a tax unreasonable?
        P. Douglas
        • Why is having a tax unreasonable?

          Because it's a presumption of guilt and punishes people who have done nothing wrong.
          Henrik Moller
          • Maybe ...

            ... having a tax is an acknowledgement of illicit activity, and a viable solution to the problem. I am for the most part a conservative Republican, and I generally don't like taxes. However, can you suggest a better, workable solution?
            P. Douglas
          • It's not really my job to find solutions...

   the music industry's problems. But that neither I nor the music industry have a good solution is any reason to accept industry's "they've got to guilty of <i>something"</i> appallingly bad proposal.

            The burden is on the party alleging injury to be highly specific not only as to the nature of the injury but as to the agency of the injury as well. The music industry is basically asserting that because some college kids steal music, all college kids must pay for it doesn't meet the requirements of specificity.
            Some people steal cars, but that doesn't mean all people should have to spend one week a year in jail. Theft, either of music or of cars, is not a collective act of a class of people, and it's utterly intolerable that it should be subject to collective punishment.
            Henrik Moller
          • Okay, see ...

            ... [url=]here[/url].
            P. Douglas
      • Check Canada out for how this works.

        Essentially, the way it works there is that everything that allows you to record media has a surcharge that goes to their equivalent to the RIAA. The downside is that everyone pays more for their iPods, HDDs, CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, etc. The upside is that no one can be sued for downloading and recording music, ever. A while back, a judge there ruled that downloading and recording music is legal, but uploading isn't.

        At least that's the way it is right now. The industry is trying to get the laws changed so that they get their cut and can still sue.

        I was being somewhat sarcastic originally though. The limitations I listed would essentially make all music copyright free, and thus could never be accepted by the industry.
  • RE: University music tax: sharing and caring?

    If there is a lawyer involved at any step in this process, you are crazy of you think the artist will get a cut.

    This is nothing short of extortion. Failed business model, RICO tactics by the RIAA and the rest of that crowd do not add up to progress or a solution.
  • Quite possibly the worst idea I've ever heard.

    Problem: Illegal music downloads.

    Solution: Ask for more money and ignore the problem.

    I think you have a few screws loose if you really believe that you have actually proposed a solution to the problem.

    How about this: We actually start teaching students that they are responsible for their actions for once in their lives, and quit handing them everything on a silver platter. Network access should be considered a privilege, not a right.
    • Blanket Taxes only suppor the most popular

      Unfortunately, such blanket taxes only perpetuate the most popular artists getting the bulk of it. This is because, if EVERY person downloading doesn't send in a list of all the items downloaded, there is no way to actually send the artists share to those artists. So if we put out tracks, most likely our copyright royalties will go to Britney or Celine, but not us, even though students are more likely to be listening to alternatives.

      Listeners are becoming like the large record companies, only concerned with costs and not equity. It is a privelege to be able to have music cheap (try hiring your favourite artists every time you want some music - only way prior to mass production), but with no money, artists will do something else!
      • Excellent news! Great first step!

        Finally the music industry is turning towards creative, workable solutions. One thing the music industry could do, is encourage services such as iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, and Zune, to have accounts for students, so that they can download music very cheaply or for free. This would drive a lot of students away from P2P services and maybe casual copying, and would allow for a more accurate accounting of the downloading of artists' IP.
        P. Douglas
  • No solutions

    There are two majors disavantages to such a solution.

    1 - Illegal download is not limited to music. Software, movies, books are concerned also.

    2 - in some country, the act of downloading is not clearly legally defined, whereas the act of providing to other is clearly forbidden.; such a solution would create island of legal music distribution to illegal downloader that the industry wouldn't be able to prosecute. as the result, once they think this out they will not adopt the solution, or had such conditions that it will simply won't be acceptable
  • RE: University music tax: sharing and caring?

    If a student didn't down load music, or got all their music legally (far fetched but possible), would they still have to pay the "tax". And do you prove one way or another unless the school has the resources to monitor what each student downloads.
  • Looking for a job

    I'm a music industry (engineering/biz focus)
    major from a well-known University in Virginia
    (graduated with honors). I have written for,
    engineered, produced several songs some of
    which have hit Billboard's Top 5 pop chart. In
    the last few months I've been struggling to work
    extra hours in addition to the day job I have
    working in Accessibility for a government
    (healthcare focus) customer. The last 3 days
    I've been suffering from a bad intestinal bug of
    which the outcome has been messy. I feel a
    little better today but have developed a sore
    throat which more than likely will turn into a
    full-blown sinus infection just in time for the
    holidays! I have a family with 3 children to
    support and am a veteran of the industry with
    over 20 years of experience. My plea is to

    1) get back in touch with my old network of colleagues, if they will ever accept me back as a
    professional and pay me to work

    2) continue working in Accessibility and
    perhaps earn a PhD or law degree (expensive)
    and build my own studio and work to enjoy the
    music I perform and write

    My kids enjoy listening to the aging demo tapes
    and "chewables" I have, and bug me to re-play
    them every chance they get. They desperately
    want me to get back to the music biz... Are
    they smart? I'm biased to their opinion no

    I'm writing this because I thought a few folks in
    your neck of the woods would be able to help
    provide input on where my livelihood should go
    at this point in terms of working extra hard to
    pay the mounting bills I have and hopefully to
    somehow pay off the ten of thousands of $$$ I
    put toward my formal education. Thank you.
  • This is what is colourfully called...

    ...a "protection racket." I.e., proposed extortion by the Warner Music Group directed at the schools: "Pay us now and nobody gets sued."
    The music industry is perfectly at liberty to try to <i>prove</i> people have stolen something from them, but until that proof is forthcoming, the only crime being committed is the attempted extortion.
    SCO tried this tactic against Linux users, and look where it got them.
    Henrik Moller
  • Madness

    So just when do we stop paying Barry Manilow for something he sang 30 years ago?

    I invested $30K in a couple of patents; those have a very finite lifespan and then they are open to anyone. It should be so with music.

    Until then, they can go pound rocks.
  • RE: University music tax: sharing and caring?

    Well, if it'll keep the feds looking the other way, maybe I will take a class in the spring and get my "license" to download all I want... OH, wait. Does it have to be over the school network?

    Also, how will they know which artists to give the $$ to? Does that mean they will be monitoring everything anyway and this gives them a legal way to monitor university network traffic?
  • Taxes: Worse than crack addiction :(

    The problem is that once a tax is implemented, it can NEVER be rolled back. And the agents of the devil will just come back year after year and demand more money, put more conditions on top of conditions, and we will be right back at the same place, only students will be paying an extra $1000/yr for NOTHING.

    You want to make it "fair?" Then try this: student goes into the bookshop or student union and buys a "license" for some amount per semester and fills it out. IF anyone snoops his PC and sends him a "pay-up-or-suffer" letter, then he mails them a copy of his license to show he his a good little boy. If he doesn't have the license, then he pays through the nose.

    That gives students some choices: pay, copy and be legal; don't pay, copy, and possibly get slammed; or don't copy and keep your dough safe from the agents of the devil.
    terry flores