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Support Grows For Blanket Music Licensing 606

Posted by kdawson
from the pay-me-once-and-be-done-with-it dept.
Anti-Globalism sends in Ars coverage of a speech by Jim Griffin, who is a consultant for Warner, one of the big four music labels. Griffin is encouraging dialog on the idea of blanket licensing of music — a topic heretofore more likely to be heard from the EFF or the Barenaked Ladies. "Taking music without paying for it may not be 'morally voluntary,' Griffin says, but he admits it has become 'functionally voluntary.' No civilized society, he adds, can endure 'purely voluntary payment for art, knowledge, and culture.' So Griffin's job is to help Warner monetize digital music, and he's convinced that the issue of payment for music is nothing less than 'our generation's nuclear power.' Griffin's most intriguing idea, and one he's been pitching for some time now, is a voluntary, blanket music license; essentially, bringing the collection society model to end users. In this model, consumers would pay royalties into a pot (by paying an extra monthly fee to their ISPs, for instance) and would then have access to all the music from all the labels that participate in the scheme."
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Support Grows For Blanket Music Licensing

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  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:42PM (#24662221) Journal

    Under blanket licensing, how do I reward artists with good music preferentially to those who suck? Frankly, any business model that has talented artists like Radiohead, NIN, etc earning the same amount or less than crappy acts like Britney Spears is fundamentally broken. I will not give one penny to those talentless pop stars.

    • by the_humeister (922869) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:47PM (#24662303)
      It's just another form of taxation. I don't want my tax dollars going towards the "war" but it's going there despite the fact.
      • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:16PM (#24662891) Homepage Journal

        No, this isn't taxation, which actually pays for services.
        This is protection money, plain and simple.

        • by Wandering Wombat (531833) <mightyjalapeno.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:32PM (#24663143) Homepage Journal
          Amusingly, the same arguments used to keep your health care system privatized will be used to keep music downloading illegal. The ironing is delicious.
          • by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:35PM (#24663225)
            Delicious ironing? That sounds... painful.
            • by davester666 (731373) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @03:52PM (#24664297) Journal

              Once again, this is just a way for the big labels to a) get regular, steadily increasing income [as you can't vary what you pay, and the monthly rate will only rise over time], and b) obfuscate which artists should be paid what amount of money.

              The musicians will have no ability to check how much they should be paid or even how much the labels are skimming off the top from all the artists.

              For the defined goal of 'artists must get paid', of the three groups involved:
              1) customers always have to pay some increasing amount of money
              2) labels get a large steadily increasing amount of income
              3) artists get whatever the labels decide to give them

              Given that the goal of the labels is to maximize shareholder profit, manipulating 1) [assuming they can get people to buy into this stupid idea] is hard, because there generally is widespread displeasure at tax increases, but manipulating 3) is trivial and basically unverifiable by anybody except people within the labels themselves.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Music existed long before Hollywood came on the scene and will exist long after they have disappeared. Hollywood doesn't give a crap about music, only about controlling it via extortion "on their behalf".

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by arth1 (260657)

            Amusingly, the same arguments used to keep your health care system privatized will be used to keep music downloading illegal.

            The big difference is that I have to have a body. Music is voluntary.

            The ironing is delicious.

            Your hovercraft is full of eels. You should really give that up, you know.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Retric (704075)
          I agree, I don't buy music because I don't listen to music. It's not that I think music sucks as much as I don't care about it. Anyway, if your deaf and still forced to pay protection money to the RIAA then clearly the system is broken.
        • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @03:13PM (#24663783) Journal

          No, this isn't taxation, which actually pays for services. This is protection money, plain and simple.

          Yeah, but what they're protecting is themselves against the competetion. Their competetion is the independant artists and labels, who are NOT suing their best customers like the RIAA thieves do.

          Under their scheme, they get paid but the indies don't.

          No civilized society, he adds, can endure 'purely voluntary payment for art, knowledge, and culture

          This is an incredibly ignorant lie. Every society in the world had just such a voluntary system until the advent of copyright [wikipedia.org] in 1662.

          he's convinced that the issue of payment for music is nothing less than 'our generation's nuclear power

          WTF is that supposed to mean? Ironic though; when nuclear power was first engineered they said it would make electricity "too cheap to meter".

          I'd be willing to bet that this sleazy RIAA goon never heard of open source software or copyleft.

      • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:23PM (#24662997)
        It's described as voluntary. As in, you can pay X to the companies which join the scheme, and then get carte blanche to download music. Or you can just not bother, and continue to buy music from the specific artists you prefer. If it was mandatory, then it'd be pretty dubious.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by R2.0 (532027)

          "It's described as voluntary. As in, you can pay X to the companies which join the scheme, and then get carte blanche to download music. Or you can just not bother, and continue to buy music from the specific artists you prefer. If it was mandatory, then it'd be pretty dubious."

          Riiight. My guess is that it will be "voluntary" like expanded basic cable is "voluntary" - you don't *have* to buy it, but it is almost impossible to get basic cable at the super low rates. It's not listed on the web site, the CSR

      • by DirkBalognapantz (609779) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:37PM (#24663255)

        It's just another form of taxation. I don't want my tax dollars going towards the "war" but it's going there despite the fact.

        Exactly. It would be a tax. That is why I oppose this. Unless the government is collecting this money, not everyone is covered. I do not believe it is the role of government to ensure the health of a commercial entertainment industry through taxation. Why does this country dislike socialized programs for the protection of its citizens, yet encourages socializing the support of whole industries? I thought this was a capitalistic society.

        • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @03:39PM (#24664171)

          I do not believe it is the role of government to ensure the health of a commercial entertainment industry through taxation. Why does this country dislike socialized programs for the protection of its citizens, yet encourages socializing the support of whole industries? I thought this was a capitalistic society.

          You are misinformed. This is a corporatist society, not a truly capitalistic one. The corporations and the government work hand-in-hand for their mutual benefit (not really the benefit of the government as a whole, but rather its individual members), to the detriment of the citizens. This is why socialized programs for industries are highly popular here, while socialized programs for citizens are not.

      • by Brain-Fu (1274756) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:42PM (#24663333) Homepage Journal

        No civilized society, he adds, can endure 'purely voluntary payment for art'

        So charge for concert tickets, t-shirts, trinkets, datastream subscriptions, and so forth.

        • by gnick (1211984) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @03:05PM (#24663693) Homepage

          So charge for concert tickets, t-shirts, trinkets, datastream subscriptions, and so forth.

          I've seen downloaders use this argument a lot to justify downloading music and sometimes even asserting that charging for music is somehow immoral - "Information wants to be free" type stuff. Of course, you may just be trying to volunteer a band-air to the admittedly completely broken business model...

          I suspect that the same downloaders also download movies. I really would like to see somebody make the leap and extend that argument to defend downloading movies. Only pay for live performances? Hope that people will shell out $12 because they just have to see Office Space on the big screen in a noisy, crowded theater instead of the leaked DVD at home? The Big Lebowski action figures?

          Anyone care to make the leap?

          • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:36PM (#24667347)

            Hope that people will shell out $12 because they just have to see Office Space on the big screen in a noisy, crowded theatre instead of the leaked DVD at home?

            you have this backwards, like copyright (copywrong) pundits you don't understand why people go to cinemas. People don't go to cinemas to see a movie alone, however they will watch a movie at home on their own, the reason for going to a cinema is for social events, with friends and colleges or (shock horror) to take a girl on a date. I don't really know many people who will go to a cinema on their own, even for a movie they want to see.

            Problems with cinema's are three fold,
            1. overpricing, this is because cinemas are charged so much by license holders that ticket sales alone barely cover the cost of operation. Charges for cinemas are so high the copyright holders can make back the cost of production and distribution in just a matter of weeks at worst (the biggest movies can make back the cost of production in single weekend) but yet maintain a 70+ year copyright control over it.
            2. Cleanliness, I don't like going to cinema's even with friends or a date because they are dirty, smelly and the staff are just unfriendly. I didn't realise just how bad Australian cinemas were until I went to one in Thailand, ticket was 160 Baht or AU$5 (back to point 1, the copyright holders cant gouge the Thai's like they can with the Aussies) snacks were only 99B or AU$3.30, the lobby and cinema were well maintained and kept clean and staff were friendly (granted this was in the tourist area of Phuket where Farang (white foreigners) make up a significant portion of their business), whilst I could have gotten the same movie off a street vendor for 50B (less than AU$2) it just wasn't the same when taking a girl to see a movie. The movie in question was Indiana Jones 4 so at AU$2 I still would have felt ripped off which leads me into point number 3
            3. Quality of movies. Most of the films I've seen recently haven't been worth spending the bandwidth on to download (Indi 4, Clone Wars, Anything with Will Ferrell in it) let alone an A$16 ticket let alone sitting though 1/2 an hour of ads and obnoxious copyright warnings. This is the biggest reason that cinema sales are down in AU, above cost and cleanliness is the fact that movies aren't worth seeing and we get better entertainment out of seeing local musicians and comedians perform in clubs and pubs or going to an actual theatre (plays, with actors from a theatrical society that is grateful for your patronage and doesnt treat you like a criminal).

            I'd happily pay an entertainment tax so long as an "Industry Association" doest control it, part of my tax already supports the arts with includes the ABC(Australian Broadcasting Corporation, advertisement free public broadcaster that produces local content and broadcasts many BBC shows) and the AFI (Australian Film Industry) which pays for Aussie films to be produced and distributed (like The Castle, The Dish and Kokoda). Hell I'd pay the MGM and the other movie studios directly (not the RIAA or any RIAA like organisation) if it gave me unlimited access to the movies and shows I want to watch, when I want to watch them, ad free (I'm paying) and DRM free. But the "Industry" doesn't want to do this because they've had a good scam going, being able to set prices and no competition, but the average people have a vested interest in seeing this gravy train end. I can say that I've paid to see more live acts (mostly amateur comedy) in the last 3 months than I've downloaded movies.

    • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:48PM (#24662323)
      I'm looking forward to playing improvisational jazz on the lids of garbage cans and raking in the money from their big pot o' cash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      If it's done right, perhaps what a person puts into the pool only goes out to the artists he or she listens to. So if you just listen to Radiohead and NIN, your fee (less of course some admin portion) would get split between the two bands (perhaps based on number of listens, perhaps based on actual listening time) and trailer trash skanks won't get any of your money.

      Probably not how it'd actually turn out, but this would be the best case scenario for this plan, don't you think?

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:57PM (#24662515)

        I don't see how either mandatory or even voluntary reporting of the music I personally listen to can be considered a 'bast case' scenario.

        I would rather see a system where the release of a music recording is sold (rather than a copy). For example, a band records a studio album and goes on tour. They price the release of the album at 100,000 tickets. After they've sold their 100,000 concert ticket, they release the album to the public domain. That's just one example, artists that don't tour or perform live would have to come up with other mechanisms.

        • by Solandri (704621) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:35PM (#24663209)

          I think it's going to go the same route as wedding photography. In the old days, the photographer would shoot your wedding for a small fee or even free, but you had to pay like $20-$100 per print for the pictures. When scanners and color printers became widespread, people just started to make their own prints from the proof sheets. For a while the photographers tried to do things like print "SAMPLE" over the proofs. But now most of them have switched business models. They give you the prints (or a CD) at cost or even for free. But they charge you a substantial fee for shooting the wedding.

          If you think about it, it makes a lot more sense than the old way. The cost to the photographer is not the prints, it's the time, effort, and equipment used at the wedding and in post-processing. Once those costs are paid, they can run off as many prints as they want for almost no cost. So all that's happened is that the cost for the customer is now more closely aligned with the cost for the photographer. I can see the same thing happening with music, where most of the artists' revenue comes from live and commissioned performances. The music itself would be distributed at minimal cost or even for free as advertising for the performances.

          • by jacquesm (154384) <j@SLACKWAREww.com minus distro> on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @03:02PM (#24663651) Homepage

            That's spot on, it's really the only thing that would make any sense at all.

            The reason why it won't be popular with the industry is exactly because of the multiplier involved in 'running the copies', that multiplier is not in the hundreds (like a large wedding) but in the tens of thousands to tens of millions.

            Performing artists with a good income will be exactly that again, performing artists, not studio artists. We'll come full circle to lots of live music.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Alarindris (1253418)
          This is already how it works, and it's not in the artist's interest.

          The initial recording of the album is generally payed for by a loan from the recording company.

          The album is recorded and then the band tours and tours to pay it off while receiving pennies from record sales and almost nothing from playing concerts.

          Additionally, then The Beatles wouldn't have been able to release Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's, Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, or Let it Be.
      • by Talennor (612270)

        If it's done right, perhaps what a person puts into the pool only goes out to the artists he or she listens to. So if you just listen to Radiohead and NIN, your fee (less of course some admin portion) would get split between the two bands (perhaps based on number of listens, perhaps based on actual listening time) and trailer trash skanks won't get any of your money.

        And this is unlike iTunes or buying a CD how?

      • by maztuhblastah (745586) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:49PM (#24663469) Journal

        Probably not how it'd actually turn out, but this would be the best case scenario for this plan, don't you think?

        Christ, haven't we [Western society] figured this one out yet?
        Don't pass laws based on the "best case scenario". Doing so is a sure way to let the government fuck over the people using law passed with noble intent.
        Take a look at child protection laws, the war on drugs, and anti-terrorism laws if you want examples...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JoeBuck (7947)
      Money could be allocated based on measurements of whose work is downloaded most, but that kind of system could be gamed. Another way to do it is to poll the members that have signed up for the scheme to determine how the money should be allocated, but that could also hurt the little guys: you download 200 different artists and you only remember your favorite 20 or so when you fill out the poll. Or a combination could be used. But any fair system is going to handsomely reward the pop princess of the day,
    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      In that same token what about Grandma and Grandpa Internet, that doesn't download any music at all. Under the blanket of an ISP imposed fee, would they not be paying for something that they don't want, need, or use.
    • Just another ploy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:57PM (#24662517)

      Exactly.

      This isn't trying to be friendly to consumers, and work out a common ground.

      Instead, it's music execs trying to figure out how they can continue profiting from mediocrity, while also making it even more difficult for independent artists to find an audience and be compensated for their work.

      How do you think this is going to work? Most likely, the pool would be divided among the RIAA member companies, and allocated based on the artsts whose music got played or downloaded more. Considering that they are going to be the same artists that are going to be promoted by the RIAA, and the same artists whose music will be forced into my skull through paid arrangements (do we really deserve the punishment of hearing the same song on the radio 20 times per day?).

      Under such an arrangement, RIAA can just deposit their "proteges" into the playlist by paying the radio stations, and then proceed to collect 99% of all money from the pool, which will then be allocated by them - 99% to the company, 1% to the artist... and only a few artists are going to see that 1%. In other words, the system will be even more skewed and broken than it is now!

    • I think this should be tagged "suddenoutbreakofcommonsense". Truthfully, though, I already do this. Its called Napster. I pay $15 a month, download as much as I want. From what I understand, royalties are based on the amount of downloads a song gets. I may be completely wrong about that, but that makes sense.

    • Like on radio? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aleph42 (1082389) * on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:16PM (#24662893)

      *Again*, this is the same buisness model as radio royaty, and public TV in the country where it exists.

      People pay a fee, the audiance of each artist is measured using polling (TV audiance is not exact), and then you give the money according to that repartition.

      Last time this was discussed, I was modded into oblivion for simply pointing that the majors were changing their stance on this (before, they hated it). We'll see if slashdotters have smarten up on this.

      Look at how different p2p statistics and box office are for some movies: this would be a better system, because at the very least the medium is not controlled by the guy who sells the stuff. Also, no more bullshit about causing 10,000$ dammages for one song.

      • Re:Like on radio? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DrLang21 (900992) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:55PM (#24663561)
        I don't pay anything to listen to public radio or tv broadcasts. Those are funded entirely (at least in the USA) by advertising and/or listener donations. What makes you think that the RIAA will not be controlling the medium? They will need some way to measure the individual artist share, and they are going to want to make sure that those "measurements" favor the big studios as much as they can. They will also likely want some control over the format (DRM is go) to maintain some semblance of control over how you use the music. The only thing that the RIAA is changing their stance on here is that they are finally realizing just how much this scheme could be as profitable or even more profitable for the big labels.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Actually they could provide servers to d/l legitimate copies and use an ASCAP model and divide the revenue based on d/l volume.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Easy:
      Buy there merchandise. Go to their concerts.

  • by maniac/dev/null (170211) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:43PM (#24662229) Homepage

    "Our generation's nuclear power?" Seriously? You're comparing finding a way to sell music with SPLITTING THE ATOM?!?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I think this may be more about the size of the debate. More like "this generation's struggle with the environmental concerns pertaining to nuclear power."
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by QuantumPion (805098)

        Actually I think what he meant was the expectation in the 50's that nuclear power would be "too cheap to meter". If that had turned out to be true then you wouldn't be paying for electricity by the kilowatt-hour, but by paying some small average cost to cover the construction costs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pseudorand (603231)
      I think he meant in the sense that, just as Nuclear power screwed over people who live too close to a reactor site at the expense of rich men with lucrative energy deals friends in congress, so too will the music industry screw over consumers who have to either pay their fees or get hit with ridiculous lawsuits at the expense of rich men with lucrative record labels and friends both in congress and the judiciary.
      • by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:27PM (#24663083)

        How are people living close to a reactor site being screwed? Did you know that more radioactivity is released into the environment by the average coal burning plant than the entire nuclear industry in the US? Did you know that more people die from industrial accidents in coal power plants in one year in the US than have ever died in Nuclear powerplants (of any cause, including natural) combined with deaths caused by nuclear accidents?

        Nuclear power is many tens of times safer than the default energy production method in this country. And using Feeder-Breeder reactors, they could be 10 times safer and more efficient yet.

        There is little that annoys me more than people pandering to fear of nuclear energy based on their own ignorance.

        There is no greener and safer energy than nuclear (I would note that solar energy is a kind of nuclear energy).

    • by Random Guru 42 (687672) <[ten.dicadloc] [ta] [sirhc]> on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:50PM (#24662377) Homepage Journal

      Think 60s anti-nuclear protests. It's our generation's nuclear power issue because of the hell raised on both sides of the fence.

  • How do I know that the artist(s) I like will participate in the blanket license? How do I know that a current artist won't jump ship and I'll miss out on future albums? How does this account for people who "consume" more or less music than others?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by whobutdrew (889171)
      I'm finding myself in the same boat, but for a different reason. All it will take is one pointy-haired exec to look at this model and think, "We're not getting paid enough!" Then that label pulls out of the 'scheme,' bringing countless songs into legal-limbo. It sounds like a great idea, conceptually, but a lot of logistical wrinkles need to be worked out before I consider it seriously. Great pipe dream, though.
    • How does this account for people who "consume" more or less music than others?

      Indeed. Do people with hearing deficits get a refund? Or do they have to subsidise others?

      To me, this sounds like they're re-inventing the radio license fee, but without having to provide extra programming paid for by that fee.

      Or like charging everyone a high yearly library fee, and then expect people to build their own library buildings and populate them with books. Um, sorry, no, I won't have it.
      For a fee to be useful, the r

  • Public auction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:44PM (#24662241)
    In other words, the amount of money paid towards works will "liberate" that work for public consumption and the money will go towards the artist to create additional works?
    • Re:Public auction (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pilgrim23 (716938) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:14PM (#24662853)

      Mozart died in poverty and had his body dumped in a pauper's grave, John Fogerty wrote the anthems of a generation and later worked as a DJ while other reaped benefit of his songs. The list of artists who created art that made millions FOR SOMEONE ELSE is legion.
      Whatever license scheme is devised has only one purpose and the artist will not gain a cent from, it. PERIOD. Its all about money, its all about stealing it is all about business and not about art.
        I personally hold all rights on one song. only one. It isn't something that will stand the centuries like Bach but it is my very own. I decided to put it up on my web site to give it away. That right does not exists for Fogerty, Little Richard, and many others. Fortunately I did not get famous so I could buy back my song, and did.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:45PM (#24662269)
    Lets call this what is really is, an involuntary forced payment to one of the most evil and hated organizations in the country from many people who have absolutely no interest in downloading bad low quality music at all and never will.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I believe the word you are looking for is "Tax".

    • by Dolohov (114209) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:14PM (#24662847)

      They seem to be careful to emphasize that they see this as voluntary -- a service you sign up for alongside your regular internet service. It's not so much a "tax" as another commenter responded (which applies equally and involuntarily to everyone regardless of interest or opposition), it's a "license" (which applies, in advance, to anyone who indicates they will or might want to participate in an activity like hunting or fishing, regardless of whether they actually do).

      This suggests that they will make it very easy and attractive to sign up in the first place, but then make it tedious and difficult to make use of it, and very hard to get out of a contract once agreed to. Moreover, they will use the participation of some people as a weapon against others in their lawsuits -- they will claim not only infringement damages per-song, but also claim that they are undermining their pay service. Damages claimed will surely skyrocket.

  • They'll allow those the artists who don't pay more money than they'll ever earn through royalties (or anything else for that matter) enough to make up to get their royalties right? They wouldn't just steal the money from those who deserve it right? Right?

  • by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:46PM (#24662287) Homepage Journal

    Confucius say "Companies who invent terms like 'collection society' never bring good dishes to pot luck."

  • So Griffin's job is to help Warner monetize digital music, and he's convinced that the issue of payment for music is nothing less than "our generation's nuclear power." If our society can monetize music in a balanced, consumer-friendly way, the results will be awesome. If we can't... well, remember Chernobyl?

    I tried to read TFA and got as far as the first paragraph but I refuse to read the rest of it if they are going to make such ridiculous analogies.

    • by Osurak (1013927)
      Also, this guy is not a record company executive, he's just one of the Bobs (a consultant.) While he may be able to offer such radical suggestions, he has no real power to implement them.

      However, even disregarding the validity of the idea, I will admit it is nice to see something different from the usual stories about music company litigation and persistence in clinging to an arguably out-dated business model.
  • Labels only (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Esteanil (710082) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:47PM (#24662299) Homepage Journal
    At least one of the labels is seeing what the future holds: The end of the major music labels.
    With an "ISP Tax" they can maintain their businesses as a more or less useless parasite on society, getting large amounts of income and still holding the power of saying who is to become a star and who is not.

    Another problem is the small, independent labels, not to mention musicians who manage without a label. Think they'll get any money? Think again. The major labels have decades of experience lobbying government, so who do you think will end up administrating this?

    It will also require registering and logging what music is downloaded, which will be a hard task in itself... unless music on the internet is centralized.
    • by JoeBuck (7947)
      These problems can be fixed. But some kind of tax is coming, as the only alternative is either the end of professional musicianship or an Internet police state. Artists have to be compensated somehow. Any fair system would treat all labels, including a "label" consisting of one independent musician, equally.
      • I think you're overstating here. This might be perhaps the end of multi-millionaire rockers, maybe. But file-sharing wont be the end of live shows and merchandise. So there's still plenty of revenue sources for the artists.

        If by "professional musicianship" you're referring to the top-40 detritus on MTV and Clear Channel, let's hope you're right. I certainly wouldn't want to preserve that system with a federal tax.

        I have a revolutionary idea! Maybe we can go back to people making music they love because

  • No thanks. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bleckywelcky (518520)
    Um, over my dead body.

    Hasn't this idea come up before? With CD-Rs? Someone was proposing that every CD-R purchase was used for illegal music CD copies, so a "music label" tax would be applied to all CD-R purchases.

    This is basically the MPAA asking the government to enforce its copyrights yet again. Copyright is a CIVIL matter, not a CRIMINAL matter. The criminal judicial system has no business helping the MPAA enforce its copyrights.

    I don't buy music because I don't care about music that much. I liste
  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:48PM (#24662331) Homepage

    Fine and dandy, as long as I've got the option of not paying the fee and not getting access to the music. I don't care for most of the stuff the major labels put out, and I'd rather not pay for something I've no interest in getting. If I want music from them I'll pay for the items I want, thank you very much.

  • Ugh, I meant RIAA.
  • Voluntary payment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snarfies (115214) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:52PM (#24662409) Homepage

    ' No civilized society, he adds, can endure 'purely voluntary payment for art, knowledge, and culture.'

    Really. Because I'm pretty sure that almost every society on the planet Earth has had art, knowledge, and culture work that was for several millenium, if not longer. I'm reasonably sure nobody paid the guys who made cave paintings. Art, knowledge, and culture - the REAL stuff, as opposed to, say, Brittany Spears and the line, are produced by volunteers in their spare time. They do it because they have a burning passion to do so, and financial considerations tend to be secondary, if not tertiary.

    • by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:23PM (#24662995)

      Because I'm pretty sure that almost every society on the planet Earth has had art, knowledge, and culture work that was for several millenium, if not longer.

      I agree.

      Art, knowledge, and culture - the REAL stuff, as opposed to, say, Brittany Spears and the line, are produced by volunteers in their spare time. They do it because they have a burning passion to do so, and financial considerations tend to be secondary, if not tertiary.

      Oops, now your brush strokes have gone far too wide.

      Many of the greatest works of art ever realized were created, at least in part, to earn money for the artist.

      The Sistine Chapel is a perfect example. While revered as Michelangelo's greatest work, he supposedly reviled creating it for the Pope at the time, who was paying him to do it.

      Many classical artists, such as Mozart, created and performed art for money, usually a rich benefactor, monarch, king, etc. was paying them to create the work in their honor.

      My point is, I don't care why an artist creates something. If I like it, I like it. Don't try and diminish someone's work simply because you disagree with their lifestyle.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "In this model, consumers would pay royalties into a pot (by paying an extra monthly fee to their ISPs, for instance) and would then have access to all the music from all the labels that participate in the scheme."

    Haven't we already voiced loudly what this kind of shit leads to?

    music gets their cut,
    tv demands their cut,
    radio demands their cut (because everyone records the non-music time),
    movies demand their cut,
    video games demand their cut,
    book publishers demand their cut,
    magazine publishers demand their cu

  • No thanks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrroot (543673) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:54PM (#24662461)
    I prefer my ISP to be like a utility, and not a content provider. And if history tells us anything, most other people do too. Remember AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy all had their own exclusive content, but in the end the consumer didn't want to pay for that content, all they wanted was a link to the Internet where they could choose their own content.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:55PM (#24662469) Homepage

    In this model, consumers would pay royalties into a pot (by paying an extra monthly fee to their ISPs, for instance) and would then have access to all the music from all the labels that participate in the scheme.

    I have said it before, and I will say it again.

    I am not going to pay a monthly fee on my internet connection or anything else to "excuse" me for all of the copying I don't do.

    I don't download music, I buy music. I buy a lot of music -- this year, about $800 on CDs so far, most of that from 3 record labels, and not mainstream ones. The artists I listen to aren't covered under your Brittany-where's-my-panties-Spears tax, and aren't on those labels who are trying to benefit from this.

    The last thing I want to see if some *(&^%(*& monthly surcharge on having an Internet connection to help offset the losses to artists I don't listen to.

    Everybody who proposes one of these surcharges really needs to be fed their own head in very small pieces, because it's a stupid idea, doesn't address the issue, and won't be paying the artists I listen to. It basically is an attempt to have their revenue stream guaranteed by law.

    Cheers

  • How about they stfu and go out of business forever? K thx bye.

  • And Then... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:56PM (#24662495) Homepage

    (1) They have a guaranteed, mandatory monopoly forever.
    (2) And they don't have to produce anything anymore.

  • This looks like a pretty interesting (dare I say, good?) scheme to get us consumers to actually pay for the music we get off the web. However, the problem I'm feeling from it is that this is still very label oriented. What about musicians who want to make a living off their music online but don't have a label? How do they get involved?

    Another sticky wicket would be dividing up the cash in the pool for the artists. A good point had already been brought up by a poster to whom I replied earlier. How can we consumers use this system to benefit the artists we like, and avoid lining the pockets of those we don't? Is there some kind of download tracking? Registration (or other tracking) of songs? And then, do all artists get the same share of the pie, or does it vary based on number of plays, actual play time, or some other scheme?

    If the questions get ironed out, and this is something which can be opted into (as opposed to being unilaterally fobbed on us) I wouldn't mind paying a bit extra each month to support my favourite acts. But only if the concerns about how it works are answered.

  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @01:57PM (#24662529) Homepage Journal

    Let us ignore all the various government intrusions that try to subvert the real market laws: supply and demand.

    When you have a limited supply of an item, and some demand, the price tends to go up. When you have an unlimited supply of an item, and some demand, the price tends to go down.

    Music, or any content that can be distributed digitally, can have near infinite supply. The price, in such a case, may fall to zero. Some people will have some "moral imperative" to paying the original artist, but in reality the current distribution does NOT pay the original artist. Look at how the coward monopolists at BMI distribute royalty license fees.

    There's a great catch, though, and one that I've used to help small bands make a pretty decent buck: find out what you have that can be sold in limited supply.

    For musicians, their live performances are always going to be in limited supply. The music, since it is infinite in supply and has a value of zero in terms of quality between licensed and unlicensed copies, should be a marketing item.

    Make your money the way most of us here make it: by doing new work for new customers. Your old work, as ours, is a great portfolio tool to attract new clients. Once you've gotten the clients' attentions, offer them value added items. Instead of hoping to get $15 for a CD that they can download for nearly nothing, offer an autograph session and only autograph your CDs. I own an offset print shop, and we can do custom CD runs for almost nothing. Sell collector's items, autograph them, and you've got a valid limited-supply product. Sell limited-run T-shirts. Offer personal time for your wealthy fans to hang out back stage, at a fee, or even offer online or IRL lessons to groups of fans.

    A person's pay is not for work they've done in the past. No one pays their plumber a license to flush their toilet. No one pays their plumber a fee when they use the plumber's tactics to fix their own toilet again. Past work is relatively worthless if it can be mimicked by others, easily.

    Copyright only exists today because of the momentum of it. It is dying a quick death. There are artists out there who moan and complain about it, but they're the ones who just can't see the forest for the trees: writing music, creating drawings, etc, is no different than going to plumbing school. Your labor of creation is the lesson time you spend to figure out a way to sell your future labor. Write a song, learn to fix toilets: they've both education. YOu don't get paid to learn to fix toilets, you don't get paid to write your own music. Both steps take you to the next level: finding customers to sell your services to.

    • by AcidPenguin9873 (911493) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:35PM (#24663203)
      I couldn't disagree more. The thing in limited supply, and in high demand, is the musician's creativity - writing melodies that people like, expressive lyrics, cool guitar solos, interesting arangements, new instruments used in a different genre, etc. That's what I'm paying for when I buy music. The fact that copies of this creativity cost $0 to duplicate and distribute does not mean that the creativity itself is worthless. *That* is what copyright law was establish to protect. Everyone here on Slashdot justifies illegal copying by making quips about the poor quality of music, lack of creativity, etc., but that does not give anyone the right to take it for $0. The course of action in those cases is to not buy it.
  • If I burn a Linux boot CD to a Music CD-R, where do I go to get my media surcharge refunded?

  • by Dreadneck (982170) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:04PM (#24662657)
    It's called subscription music services - like Rhapsody and Napster. Keep it voluntary. I don't like the idea of having to pay the RIAA protection money to access the internet.
  • amazing solutions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquar ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:09PM (#24662739) Homepage Journal

    from people who still don't understand how the fundamentals have changed

    recorded music is now nothing more than an advertising vehicle for artists. if some old timers have a problem conceptualizing that, imagine the business model of radio: it gave music away for free in order to sell ad spots and create buzz. got that? apply that concept to recorded music now. welcome to present day reality

    artists: no more coasting on royalties. you'll have to do regular work, concert gigs, to make a living like the rest of us mortals, or be spokesman for advertisers. you'll still be disgustingly rich and get lots of blow jobs from eager female fans. i don't exactly empathize with your plight of losing royalties

    distributors: the internet has replaced you. you can't compete with free, sorry, enjoy your extinction

  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:13PM (#24662825)
    It's only taken them TEN YEARS to come up with what Napster tried to hand them on a platium platter a decade ago-and they responded then by suing them out of business. Now 10 years later they're slapping themselves on the back for coming up with this original idea?

    Will someone please give these clowns a clue pill?

  • Unusual economics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nasor (690345) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:13PM (#24662831)

    No civilized society, he adds, can endure 'purely voluntary payment for art, knowledge, and culture.

    That might be true for things like sculptures or books or theater tickets, but that's only because all those things are scarce and have a marginal cost to produce. If I can take all the books or paintings in a physical store home with me without paying, then yeah, that's probably not going to be workable. The marginal cost of a digital music file (or movie, or ebook) is basically zero.

  • I have some direct experience with blanket music licenses, and they work well.

    Churches are big users of music, both traditional and modern. They have to deal with issues of duplication and performance rights for 6-10 songs, every week. The level of effort needed to clear copyrights song-by-song would be impossible.

    Ten years ago, the Church Copyright License [ccli.com] was created, representing the catalogs of 120 publishers. After one year, they had 9,500 annual licensee holders. They now have over 170,000.

    The churches pay a very reasonable annual fee, and get blanket permission to reproduce and perform any songs in the combined catalogs. There are sensible limits on what can be done legally, all basically to the effect of limiting the use to a normal church service.

    A random sample of licensees are sent an audit form each year, and they record all the music they've used during the past few months. CCLI also provides software to do the accounting work, so the audit can be completely automated if the church wants.

    Payouts to the copyright holders are done in proportion to the usage audits. The payout ratio is very fair. I know several song writers and performers who receive royalty checks, so I know the system really does work.

    I've written some hymns myself (New Hymns for Worship [newhymns.org]), and have looked over the CCLI contracts in detail. They look pretty clean (but IANAL). Although I ultimately decided to publish under a Create Commons license instead, if I had wanted to make money, I would have definitely signed up with CCLI myself.

    So, blanket licenses can work. They don't need to be expensive. They let consumers roam freely through whole catalogs of music. It's a good model.

  • by Rudolf (43885) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:46PM (#24663395)

    "No civilized society, he adds, can endure 'purely voluntary payment for art, knowledge, and culture. [...] Griffin's most intriguing idea, and one he's been pitching for some time now, is a voluntary, blanket music license;"

    Wait. Voluntary payments don't work, so here's a voluntary payment scheme?

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @02:49PM (#24663445)

    If you globally replace "society" with "recording industry" in the article, then statements like

    If our [recording industry] can monetize music in a balanced, consumer-friendly way, the results will be awesome. If we can't... well, remember Chernobyl?

    become correct.

    I guess I missed the part where society is critically dependent on the recording industry.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @03:22PM (#24663949) Homepage Journal

    Blah blah blah Warner consultant blah blah blah mandatory payments to Warner blah blah society cannot otherwise survive blah blah blah here's my invoice.

    If record corps just used free distribution of music to promote the live concerts, T-shirts and other physical transactions they can actually control, and licensed hits to cross-promote other merchandise like in commercials, they'd have an excellent business model. Without the arbitrary overhead and guaranteed profits (despite terrible business work, and mostly terrible "art").

    Just admit that the record contract and sales model was a ripoff from the start that could last only a century, and harness the power of fans directly promoting the products they can sell. And stop insulting us with claims that "what's good for Warner is good for America".

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) * on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @03:28PM (#24664031) Journal
    The RIAA sez: Hey, you fuck. So's like yer gonna pay up cuz like it would suck if me and the boyz took you ta court and sued your ass. It would be like really expensive, and we're willin' ta do it, so like just FORK OVER THE FUCKIN MONEY ASSHOLE and we'll let ya go. Just pay up, so we can live like we likes ta live and everything'll be just fine - ya got that?

    RS

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @04:02PM (#24664445) Homepage
    Even if most music is rubbish. If all companies agreed to it and we received decent versions (ie preferably something like a 256 bit rate mp3 or better) and you can opt in and out of it then yeah why not?

    If the system is fair then those who have more of their music listened to would receive more money which sorts out shit artists but unfortunately also under appreciated artists.
  • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @04:18PM (#24664649) Journal

    First of all, it's blanket schemes like this which have allowed the existence and/or assured the continuation of the various music mafia groups -- RIAA (particularly in its SoundSource guise), ASCAP, and BMI to name three.

    Second, these blanket schemes often seem to somehow get manipulated to benefit not those who are better, or even more popular, but those who are best connected

    Third, where they do benefit those who are more popular, they do not do so proportionally; the superstar gets an even greater portion of the spoils than his superstardom should indicate, and the little guy gets not the little bit he should but nothing at all.

    Fourth, they ain't called the music mafia for nothing -- they're known for their shakedown tactics. With this, in addition to shaking down small restaurant owners with the temerity to host a band, or anyone with an IP address, they'll shake down ISPs as well.

    And finally, why the hell should I, as a person who does not listen to music, pay for you music-addicted freaks who can't put your iPod (oh, excuse me, Ogg Vorbis compatible music player) down for 10 seconds without withdrawal pains? You want music, pay for it yourself; you've got no legitimate claim on my money.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @04:22PM (#24664715) Homepage

    ...then only artists would get money for music!

    That would utter KILL the music copyright industry.

    It's hard to know if the music copyright industry actually serves the interests of the artists. It is unquestionably true that the massive marketing muscle of the music copyright industry makes marketed artists "famous." And it unquestionably valuable to the artists. But where the problem begins is where the artists compensate the marketers by assigning [exclusive] copyrights to their music. Marketers have a right to be paid, but I have to disagree with their right to sue without the approval of the artists.

    To that end, I don't believe copyrights, and especially the rights to sue for violation or infringement of copyrights, should not be transferable. If this were to happen, I believe sanity could be restored to the whole problem of the industrialized copyright where a copyright can extend to 99 years after the death of the artist ostensibly to take care of the families of the artists which we know is utter crap since it is not the 'families' but the copyright industrialists who are collecting the royalties on copyrighted material. So while the duration of copyright is still tied to the status of the creator, it is still all about the copyright holder, more specifically, the copyright industrialists who aren't creating anything at all. This goes well beyond the intent of copyrights which, as far as I understand it to be, intended to allow an author to benefit from his works exclusively for a limited time. Instead these extensions of copyright are serving and is in fact the basis of the copyright industry.

    And while many artists dream of becoming the next "big thing" I would argue that they don't deserve it. The best art has always been for the sake of good art and should always be for that reason. There's nothing wrong with being the next "big thing" if it happens to go that way and your work merits such recognition on its own. But the damage caused by the marketing muscle of the copyright industrialists has also caused the truly deserving to be ignored by thrusting the likes of B.Spears or whatever the current bubble-gum-pop-artist-of-the-day may be. So now the copyright industrialists have succeeded in creating an environment owned by them and controlled by them, and the price of admission into their world is that they must own everything you create... your life's blood. (Prince learned this all too well didn't he?)

    So much of this whole issue could be cleared up by taking away the ability to transfer copyright and leaving it, and derivative works forever in the hands of the original creator. Would their still be a "music industry?" Yup! There certainly would. And would they find ways to keep abusing artists? Most likely. But when the right to sue is removed from the industry and placed squarely in the hands of the artists, I think we would see a different kind of industry emerge... and one that would be a lot more friendly to the fans. (Imagine how the public could turn on an artist the moment a lawsuit is filed against a fan... the fans would fall away and "fame" would become notoriety and disappear.)

    Why is sanity so hard to achieve and so easy to lose?

  • No civilized society, he adds, can endure 'purely voluntary payment for art, knowledge, and culture.'

    When I go to the Symphony, and listen to "Pictures at an Exhibition", I'm voluntarily paying to listen to a piece that I probably have half a dozen copies of already.

    Is the logic here that the symphony isn't culture, or that it's not art, or that it's not civilized?

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @06:06PM (#24665985) Homepage

    ...it is probably a camel's nose for a compulsory scheme wherein all Internet users would pay a "tax" to the RIAA.

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @08:38AM (#24672525)

    In a way Canada already does this.

    For some time now Canadians have been paying a fee on every ipod, on every piece of digital media (CDR's and DVD-R's etc...) due to the supposed copying of music. These fees were then supposed to go to the Canadian version of the RIAA, which would then in turn disperse the monies to the artists.

    That is my understanding anyway. I wonder how that is working? I wonder if a single cent has ever made it to the artists themselves, or if this has just been basically filling the lobbyist's war chest for lawsuits and paying off political officials.

    By my tone you can probably guess how I think it will turn out.

    I am not sure these blanket schemes are the way to go. Perhaps if the wording was stronger and the enforcement more profound, then perhaps.

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