P2P Money Pool

From Adam Curry comes this post citing an article by Andrew Orloski talking about iPods, touching on podcasting but also calling for collecting buckets of money to distribute to music makers. I’ve written about this before and here is Orlowski saying similar things:

So here’s a modest proposal. Stop trying to prevent file sharing, and start counting it. Lobby to raise some money from somewhere. It could be a tax, it could be a fee on your phone bill, it could be a broadband tax, it could be an hifi or iPod tax. (Germany taxes CD burners) But the figures for these are very low. The United States alone could subsidize its movie and recording industries for two dollars a week per household out of general taxation. That’s everything. Permanent income for life – assuming people watch or listen to the stuff – for a rounding error.

If we compensate only a small part of what you say you’re losing – say twenty per cent of your revenues, then that’s $27 (ŽÂŽ£15.25) a year; 51 (28p) cents a week. For less than a bag of crisps per household per week, the record industry’s piracy problem will have disappeared.

Tangentially, I’m completely tired of hearing “It costs X to fill up an iPod.” That’s a bogus number, predicated on the notion that everything that goes on the iPod will be a 4 minute song for which $0.99 was paid. As we all know, there are plenty of places where you can get legal music for free, programs for free via podcasting, etc. Even if that wasn’t the case, this number is irrelevant. I have a CD shelf thing in my living room that holds about 200 jewel cases. I could talk about the fact that it takes $3000 to fill this up. Why does that matter? Does it have to be full?

3 Replies to “P2P Money Pool”

  1. I would certainly like the music industry to take a more realistic view of their industry and to lay off the heavy handed tactics they employ to “deter” piracy, but I’m not really very fond of the idea of funding an industry (particularly an industry as inefficient as the music industry) by mandatory taxation. The difference between being forced to obey absurd protections on copyrighted materials and being forced to pay taxes to support its development is one of degree, not of kind.

    Of course your point about the bogosity of the recording industries numbers are entirely correct. It is very odd that if I go to a record store and steal a single CD (which has a tangible material cost), it is a misdemeanor and I could maybe be fined $500 for my first offense, but if I download a single song, it’s prison time and hundreds of thousands of dollars, even though the tangible effects are very much harder to evaluate.

    The RIAA wants you to believe a fundamental untruth: that intellectual property (and music in general) is the same as property. But that idea is entirely foreign to the history of law in the US, dating all the way back to the Constitution which thought to give special provisions for patents and copyrights.

    Let them battle it out in the marketplace.

  2. Mark, you’re too hung up on reflexive anti-tax feelings. Substitute “fee” for tax and it all works the same. This isn’t crazy radical stuff, this is how lots of things work. All radio stations pay a broadcast music license fee, and then that big pool of money is divided up on a prorated basis (paid to the composer, not the artists). This is the same kind of thing – throw a $1/month fee on my broadband account, pool them all up, measure who gets downloaded and prorate out that pool of money. I’d gladly pay it to stop people (including myself) from getting sued and overall, they’d eventually end up making more money. In that world, every record label would have the incentive to get more people downloading (or at least buying broadband) and getting their music a higher proportion of downloads. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

  3. dave made mention of a register article, that i’d already read and enjoyed – mostly because i was imagining the chill that must have been in the air during the authors talk- best if you read it yourself 🙂 so

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