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Warner Music Pushing Music Tax For Universities 375

Posted by timothy
from the randian-villains dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Warner Music is pitching the idea of a 'music tax' for various top universities. The idea is that students would be free to file share, but the university needs to monitor and track everything, create a pool of money, hand it over to a recording industry entity that promises to distribute the proceeds fairly. In exchange, the university gets a 'covenant not to sue' from the music labels. It's not a full license, just a basic promise that they won't sue. It's also claimed that this is 'voluntary' but the Warner Music guy says that they need to include all universities and all ISPs to really make it work. It's basically a music tax, where the recording industry gets to sit back and collect money."
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Warner Music Pushing Music Tax For Universities

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  • Indie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rinisari (521266) * on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:05PM (#25997863) Homepage Journal

    I'll allow it only if I can sign up as an indie artists and get some of the money, too.

    (read: this is ludicrous and will never happen)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No Taxation without representation!

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        "It's basically a music tax, where the recording industry gets to sit back and collect money."

        No change there....

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ppc_digger (961188)
          It's more than that. The second students graduate, their "protection" expires and the RIAA sues.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Xaoswolf (524554)
        IN SOVIET RUSSIA, YOUR REPRESENTATION TAXES YOU... Wait, no, that's here also... And since when did the music industry become our representation?
    • by langelgjm (860756)

      Well, according to one of the slides, "an indie association" is one of the members. However, slide 7 also claims that this approach is supported by the EFF and Public Knowledge. Is this true?

      Furthermore, why should anyone trust a "covenant" not to sue? I'd sure want more assurance than Jim Griffin's word.

      • Re:Indie (Score:5, Informative)

        by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:59PM (#25998363) Journal
        However, slide 7 also claims that this approach is supported by the EFF and Public Knowledge. Is this true?

        Sort of.

        There was a white paper [eff.org] put out suggesting a superficially similar scheme. Unsurprisingly, the key word the RIAA have missed from the EFF proposal is "voluntary", which makes their claim that their tax is EFF supported highly misleading.

        The EFF have published a clarification titled Collective Licensing Good, ISP Tax Bad [eff.org] in case anyone is still uncertain.

      • Re:Indie (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:59PM (#25998371)

        slide 7 also claims that this approach is supported by the EFF and Public Knowledge. Is this true?

        Perhaps. The argument is that the average American spends something like $50/yr on copies of movies/music so if we funded that indirectly through taxes then downloads would be legal. (I'm not an American, I'm a New Zealander, but I believe that's what they say).

        Richard Stallman advocates for a similar thing, a music tax on ISP connections or blank media. Like a radio station that pays an annual fee and and just reports back what they played so that the artists who were broadcasted get their cut.

        The problem of course is that these music companies are the middlemen (they're not the artists themselves) and yet they want the majority of the money. In most cases these music companies expect artists to turn up with premastered CDs, so basically these companies are just advertisers and distribution channels. The internet can do some of that.

        Any agreement that goes via these middlemen will probably mean that artists will continue to get the same bum deal except now it's institutionalized. And you just know that the amount will increase every year. And what if the university wants to leave the agreement after 5 years... now what? they get sued because they don't have legal safe harbour? Fuck that. These universities are just conduits or common carriers for what the students do. They can't monitor every bit of traffic. If they sign up to this Warner scheme they're taking responsibility for piracy and that threat will never end. I don't see why the university needs to do this as a whole... why not optionally, per-student?

        More to the point, Madonna showed that the big money is in touring (she ditched her record label and went with a touring company, and the touring company now release her CD). Madonna doesn't like piracy (presumably) but for her the CD is a promotional tool for the concerts so piracy can actually work for her. Until these music companies turn into touring companies (which is where they should be going) they'll continue to try and force their outdated business model on the world.

        So while I'm generally in support for an artistic tax (of perhaps $50/yr on an internet connection) this is more like a ongoing threat. This Warner scheme seems to be quite different.

        I would hope that the EFF and Public Knowledge would support a scheme that gives artists a fair share, not one that propagates this music industry.

        [*] there are some musicians who don't tour, sure, but for the majority it's where they currently earn their money.

        • Re:Indie (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Gerzel (240421) <brollyferret@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:18AM (#25999227) Journal

          The problem I really have with the RIAA and music taxes is that they are the middle men and they are private entities in charge of taxation.

          They do not answer to the public or even the people who they are supposed to protect. They are in it to make a profit for themselves with government sanctioned rights to collect and operate in ways no other private corporation or individual can.

          If it comes down to a music tax I'd rather see the IRS do it. Taxation should be only be done by a government on those who have representation in that government.

          The RIAA is taxation w/o representation!

          • Re:Indie (Score:5, Informative)

            by lysergic.acid (845423) on Friday December 05, 2008 @02:27AM (#25999605) Homepage

            the sad thing is, this sort of music tax is already in effect. BMI [wikipedia.org] and ASCAP [wikipedia.org] already collect royalties from any public venue that has a jukebox or plays CDs/radio over a PA system. basically, if you operate a bar or club you have to pay them a yearly licensing fee, regardless of what kind of music you play or don't play. they have their own auditors that they send out regularly to check up on venues and operate in a similar fashion to the IRS.

            even if you play international music that is in the public domain, or music by indie artists that aren't members of their organization (meaning don't pay them a membership fee and thus don't receive their royalties), you still have to pay them. unfortunately, this system removes any incentive a venue owner might have to play music by indie musicians who actually want their music played in public for as many people to hear as possible. i don't know what gives them the right to collect royalties on music they don't hold the rights to (or have the copyright holder's permission to collect royalties on), but most bar/club owners just pay the licensing fee to avoid legal repercussions.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by theaveng (1243528)

              If I owned a bar I'd tell BMI/ASCAP to "fuck off; I only play public domain stuff here". A commercial entity only has power over you if you give it to them. Don't give away your power so casually.

        • Re:Indie (Score:5, Insightful)

          by earlymon (1116185) on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:19AM (#25999237) Homepage Journal

          I'm not an American, I'm a New Zealander...

          So while I'm generally in support for an artistic tax (of perhaps $50/yr on an internet connection)...

          What a great idea.

          Any more taxes you'd like to add for Americans while not being one yourself?

          You missed the film industry completely. DVDs cost more than CDs. If $50/yr is fair artistic tax for music, then naturally you must be all for $100/yr for movies as well. How about the software industry? I hear that Microsoft products are pirated and that involves the internet. How much additional tax shall you add to protect Microsoft and other software vendors?

          Of course, taxes require oversight. It's an odd thing in America - you can't force a business to collect taxes without also allowing them to recoup the costs of so doing. So - how about we add in a just a bit of an extra ISP charge to account for that?

          And, there's a precedent for it - how about the add-on charged for every blank cassette recording tape - not a dime of which has gone to a single artist.

          Yeah. Great idea pal. Really interesting. And please don't mind if add, fuck me.

    • Re:Indie (Score:5, Informative)

      by Animaether (411575) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:19PM (#25998035) Journal

      Your argument doesn't make sense...

      Note that I don't think that the RIAA's proposal here makes sense.. no more than do the levies on CDs and DVDs (and tapes, etc) in most European countries and I believe in Canada.. at least; both assume that you will be making copies of music/video that they hold the copyright 'policing' rights to -onto- those media. If you don't.. you only put, say, your own photos onto them.. tough luck, you're still paying the levy. You can get exemption, but.. you guessed it.. to get exemption status you need to pay a yearly fee. Ho-hum.

      But back to your argument, and it ties into something I said above... the RIAA looks after the copyrights and whatnot (yeah, I know, they look after their own wallet, blabla) of -their- members. If you are an indie artist, they don't much care about you (other than your diluting the market and such) or rather your copyrights.. as you are not a member.

      So if you have a problem with students (potentially) copying your works... hey, that's great... but it's not the RIAA's task to deal with it.. it is your own.. or whoever you signed with (unless you're truly indie and just do your own pressing/burning, distribution, etc.).. it falls onto you/them to have a similar 'I won't sue you' agreement with the university/ties in question.

      So yes.. it will never happen.. but the biggest reason why that wouldn't happen is because you are independent artist and simply don't deserve - technically, legally, etc. - any slice of such an agreement.

      Just to make this absolutely clear.. I don't think the RIAA deserves any slice of.. well.. whatever - a university's budget, I suppose - for hypothetical / assumed copyright infringing activities where copyrights they govern come into play. I firmly believe they should have to prove it.. of course the laws, regulations and technical aspects make it very difficult to prove who violated what copyright, while at the same time it's clear copyright violation -does- occur.. so if the RIAA wants to get this sort of agreement in action and a university agrees to it... then so be it. I'd frown upon the university but if they figure it's less of hassle / moneysink than is battling RIAA lawyers all the time, then I can't blame them for being pragmatic at least until the laws are more firmly on their side (which is slowly happening, so I wouldn't sign such an agreement just yet).

      • Except for the part where the RIAA has never shown much of a tendency to not correct for ALL music as if they owned the idea.
      • Re:Indie (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Psychotria (953670) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:09PM (#25998425)
        And what about people like me who don't listen to music? Why the hell should I (indirectly through the university) pay their stupid "tax" (it's not a tax... I don't think anyone but governments can create a tax)?
        • Re:Indie (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:41PM (#25998675) Homepage

          That's no tax.... that's extortion.

        • Re:Indie (Score:5, Insightful)

          by malv (882285) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:45PM (#25998697)
          It's basically a mob "protection" fee. Rather than break your legs and burn your business down they do the economic equivalent, sue you with high priced lawyers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by chebucto (992517)

          The two classic counterexamples to your curmudgeonly and frankly unbelievable assertion (seriously, who doesn't listen to music?) are:
          - Public schools. If you don't have kids, you're paying something for nothing
          - Gas tax. If you only gas up your lawnmower and don't own a car, you're paying something for nothing.

          Neither of these examples are perfect; you do gain something from both public schools and roads (a functioning society, and a quick way for the local FD to get to your house).

          The real argument, IMHO

          • Re:Indie (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Psychotria (953670) on Friday December 05, 2008 @12:15AM (#25998911)

            The two classic counterexamples to your curmudgeonly and frankly unbelievable assertion (seriously, who doesn't listen to music?)

            I seriously do not (intentionally) listen to music. I have zero music CDs and zero music files on any of my computers. Hard to believe? Maybe. But I don't... music doesn't interest me.

            • Re:Indie (Score:5, Insightful)

              by lgw (121541) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:40AM (#25999969) Journal

              I seriously listen to music all the time, but I don't steal any of it and would *hate* paying a tax. I listen to the radio, and occasionally buy used CDs. That's about it.

              I odn't know why the /. mods think you're trolling. It must be the same mods that mod medown whenever I mention that I don't have cable because I don't watch live TV. Some people just can't understand that others have different priorities! Either that, or its the crack that's standard issue with mod points.

              UNlike schools, which I benefit from even though i don't have kids, I don't receive *any* value from an RIAA tax. It's not some kind of social benefit, it's just a damn consumer product. For most of human history, there was no recorded music distribution and people *still* listened to music - often if you lived in a city. Heck, even water and power are paid for on an as-used basis, not by taxes, and they're a bit more important than mp3s!

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by dougisfunny (1200171)

              And how is it even hard to believe? He could be deaf you know. Not saying they are, but that's one fine reason. And there are many others (aside from just not enjoying it) to choose from.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:20AM (#25999251)

            The two classic counterexamples to your curmudgeonly and frankly unbelievable assertion (seriously, who doesn't listen to music?)

            You must have been living under a rock for half a decade to think that there is only commercial music.

            I listen to music all day long ... and every single album is Creative Commons licensed, either from Jamendo (14,000 albums) [jamendo.com] or from Archive.org (300,000 recordings) [archive.org], so I will never exhaust those catalogues in my lifetime. What's more, the albums are vastly better and more diverse than the charts crap.

            And your comparison with public services is irrelevant. Music is not a public service, it's entertainment, so my subsidizing someone else's choice of commercial entertainment is completely without basis.

          • Re:Indie (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jamstar7 (694492) on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:45AM (#25999395)

            The two classic counterexamples to your curmudgeonly and frankly unbelievable assertion (seriously, who doesn't listen to music?) are:
            - Public schools. If you don't have kids, you're paying something for nothing
            - Gas tax. If you only gas up your lawnmower and don't own a car, you're paying something for nothing.

            Public schools? You're paying to help educate the next generation of doctors, scientists, and other useful people. These are the people who will help save your life, extend your life, make your life more comfortable and pleasant. Of course, you're also helping educate the next generation of politicians, but on the whole, they're a minority. Thank (insert name of invisible friend here).

            Gas tax? That's supposed to go into road construction and maintanance. Where it really goes, well, talk to your friendly politicians and maybe they'll tell you where it really goes. Or maybe not. Did you contribute massive sums to their reelection campaign?

            What Warner Music is seeing is an untapped 'revenue stream' in the form of college tuitions, and figuring that most college students are so broke they can barely pay attention and thus automatically filesharers, then Warner Music somehow, by some sleight of hand and language refinement, is due a percentage of said tuition fees and other contributions to said colleges. Never mind that college radio already pays a yearly fee in order to play music on their stations. Never mind that commercial radio pays a yearly fee to play music on their station. Somehow, if one student downloads one music track, then all students everywhere download every piece of music in sight, and thus Warner Music must be paid. The alternative is massive lawsuits by RIAA et al until the colleges do bend over and pay. What's next, manditory insurance premiums on college students with a 3rd party as beneficiary?

        • Re:Indie (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday December 05, 2008 @01:23AM (#25999279)

          People who don't listen to music and people who can't. Should a deaf student pay a music tax allowing him to download all the music that he wants if he can't hear it at all?

          And why must this be limited to a music tax? Why not a video game tax? A software tax? A movie/TV show tax? A book tax? Hell, let's throw a blog tax in there so I can get some money in the rare event that someone infringes the copyright on my blog posting. Add up all of the taxes and you'd better hope you can download the content for free, because you're going to be bankrupt. Those middle managers in the RIAA/MPAA/etc. will be rolling in dough, though. Oh and they'll give some to the artists too. After removing some "administrative fees" and such from the pot. Yup, looks like there's enough for the artist to buy himself a cup of coffee!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by apoc.famine (621563)
            It seems that if a school accepts this, they open themselves up to requests from ANYONE to collect a similar tax.

            Software producers
            TV studios
            Indie music publishers
            Book publishers

            And if they refuse, they open themselves up to lawsuits. I can't see this flying for this reason alone.
      • Re:Indie (Score:4, Interesting)

        by thegnu (557446) <thegnu@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:22PM (#25998515) Journal

        the RIAA looks after the copyrights and whatnot (yeah, I know, they look after their own wallet, blabla) of -their- members. If you are an indie artist, they don't much care about you (other than your diluting the market and such) or rather your copyrights.. as you are not a member.

        Yes, but they already tried (succeeded?) in collecting tax on indie tracks played by internet radio stations, and the indie artists have to write them and ask them for the money, or they never get it.

        You can say pretty much anything you want--and i done skeet-shot your granmamma as proof--and it makes more sense than anything the RIAA does.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dougisfunny (1200171)

          Not only do they have to ask them for the money, they also have to pay yearly fees in order to get any. Not exceedingly small fees either.

      • Re:Indie (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eonlabs (921625) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:53PM (#25998773) Journal

        There is a term for this 'tax'

        Protection money,

        You pay the money, or you'll need protection.

        It's been the subject of mob and mafia movies for decades.

        How are the RICO cases against the RIAA going btw?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilsofa (947078)
      The indie artists will get exactly as much as the non-indie artists (what do you call those, anyway?) You don't really think any musician would ever see a penny of this tax go in their checking account, do you?
    • I spoke with Warner this morning.

      Yes, they specifically said indie artists and labels could sign-on for this and get paid.

      /I work at UMass Amherst and I'm trying to get this implemented

      • by multimediavt (965608) on Friday December 05, 2008 @12:02AM (#25998841)

        Why on God's green Earth would you want to be complicit with this nonsense that's going to create more work for you with no additional pay? Why on Earth would any university condone the use of university personnel, facilities, etc. to do the work of someone else for free? This is extortion and racketeering, almost by definition folks. The RIAA can blow it out their ear. I'd rather they tried to sue and then get hit for malicious and wrongful prosecution than deal with this utterly ridiculous racket.

        I'm sorry, I'm someone who loves music, makes music, and last year recorded an independent album that the RIAA can suck on for all I care. We don't need them nor the crappy music they push at us on a daily basis, nor the ridiculous racket of enforcement they are trying to dupe us into believing is their right. It's not and if you believe it is you better educate yourself before you get on the wrong side of a very messy battle that's just beginning to start. I believe in the rights of artists as individuals, not in the rights of unions, guilds, corporations or other corrupt bureaucracies that have only their own self interests in mind.

        Don't be that guy/girl! Tell them to shove it and see them in court! The whole point of being "independent" is you are not at the mercy of the RIAA nor any label. You don't need them! WAKE UP!

        • Why on Earth would any university condone the use of university personnel, facilities, etc. to do the work of someone else for free?

          That's an interesting point, and it can be taken one step further. How can the RIAA convince a jury that, by the preponderance of the evidence, the university is responsible for copyright infringement done by its students? That's as daft as saying the DEA ought to arrest the university president because some the students are smoking pot.

          Seems to me the university has nothing

      • by Psychotria (953670) on Friday December 05, 2008 @12:39AM (#25999027)

        I work at UMass Amherst and I'm trying to get this implemented

        Why exactly are you trying to get this implemented? Somebody told you it was good? Got a phone call from the mafia? Clueless? It will look good on your resume?

        Your post is modded informative, but there is nothing informative about it except that you're trying to get it implemented. I don't know what position you hold at UMAss, but this kind of blind following is exactly what the RIAA hopes. Do they not teach critical thinking at UMass anymore? Are you tenured or a guy/girl with an administrative job. If you are a guy/girl with an administrative job then I really think you should do some research and gain an informed opinion. If you're a tenured prof/scientist/researcher or whatever, then you should know better.

        I am only asking because I'd really like to know what motivates you trying to comply with the RIAA extortion.

      • by k-macjapan (1271084) on Friday December 05, 2008 @03:58AM (#26000045)

        /I work at UMass Amherst and I'm trying to get this implemented

        /I work for the RIAA and I'm full of shit...

        Is this what you meant to say?

  • by cybscryb (530482) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:06PM (#25997875)
    Ya see...ya just pay us a little somethin' each week and nothin' bad'll happen to ya. It's extortion and I imagine lots of universities will sign up in hopes they won't get sued. And they won't, as long as they pay the yearly protection money. The worst part is that even after the music business finally goes out of business from their horrific management, these protection scams will remain viable assets for legal firms to purchase and manage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Antony-Kyre (807195)

      Here's an idea.

      Have a student vote, with a quorum of 40%. So, if less than 40% of the students vote, it doesn't count. Then have a student vote. I'd say simple majority, but if half the students don't want it, it may be infringing. Requiring a 3/5th majority. And perhaps limit it to no more than 3 years per vote.

      If students really, really want to do it, fine.

      By the way, how would this affect off-campus students? Since it's an Internet-based thing, those who live off-campus aren't necessarily under the thumb

      • That's great. But from my memory of university there were a lot of things that we students wanted (and I am sure that if we voted most would have been in support of). Unfortunately this isn't always a good thing. In the real word universities are not run by the majority spoken students (nor should they be). I'm not supporting the RIAA or anyone else, I am just saying that a student vote, which might sound all nice and cozy and demacratic, is probably not the right way to go.
  • Music tax? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:06PM (#25997877)
    I hate these people. They're already getting a chunk of change from blank disc sales, and now they want Universities to hand over millions of dollars with the (ahem) "promise" that it will be fairly distributed. And it will ... amongst various record company executives and their cronies. Oh, and we probably won't sue you, either. But no guarantees.

    We need to stop taking them at their word when they say their going to give money to artists. They generally don't (unless the artist had a good lawyer, I suppose.) Actually, we need to stop taking them at their word.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by caitsith01 (606117)

      I actually don't think that this general idea is the stupidest idea in the world. It would be much more reflective of the way music is produced and distributed now for there to be a more generalised licensing system, rather than a pay-per-track/album system like we have now.

      However, the obvious problems with this proposal are:

      - why should the RIAA get to operate the scheme?
      - who decides which artists are able (or have) to participate?
      - why should the RIAA set the price (and not, say, the market)?

      It's extre

      • by gnud (934243)
        - why should the RIAA set the price (and not, say, the market)?
        RIAA is one entity in the market. They (on behalf of their members) have a monopoly on licensing replication of certain artworks. This is called copyright.

        RIAA's suggestion is bad for many reasons. But saying "let the market sort it out" is just plain stupid, sorry. If you abolish copyright, there will be nothing for the market to sort out. And if you don't, well, the marked created the RIAA.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) *
        I'm not necessarily arguing with you in principle. But remember: we're talking the music industry here, and the industry-fueled RIAA. There's no possibility whatsoever that this will be administered in anything resembling a fair and equitable manner, and the artists (who, after all, are the class of individuals who are supposedly being protected) will receive nothing. That's the way the music business works, it's the way it has always worked. And even if the RIAA does not end up operating this scheme (or ra
    • CD levy (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lehk228 (705449)
      only blank "music" CD-R's, data discs do not have the levy on them.
    • by Jabbrwokk (1015725) <grant DOT j DOT ... AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 05, 2008 @12:10AM (#25998887) Homepage Journal

      They're already getting a chunk of change from blank disc sales

      That's what burns me every time I buy a spindle of discs for burning my home movies to DVD and data backups. I used to think it was OK until I read how much the Canadian Private Copying Collective wants to hike the rates. [cpcc.ca] They want the rates to be 29 cents per CD-R, $50 per iPod with less than 10 GB memory and $10 for any SD card with more than 4GB memory, just to pull a few.

      I just sent them an e-mail telling them to go fuck themselves (well a bit more polite than that.)

      That money is supposed to go to SOCAN which distributes the money among artists [socan.ca] but this bloated waste of office space (300 employees) requires over $34 million per year just to operate. They paid out over $180 million last year, probably most to the CBC.

      If you treat customers like potential criminals, then that's what they will become. I used to go out of my way to buy the TV shows I watch and music I listen to. But if I'm paying levies on my blank media and to my college or my ISP punishing me for copies I'll never make, or based on the assumption that I'm going to torrent their shit, maybe I'll just do that then.

  • great timing! (Score:5, Informative)

    by theodicey (662941) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:07PM (#25997889)

    Now that the cost of higher education is falling [nytimes.com] and endowments are growing [boston.com], universities will have lots of money to spend on music taxes!

    Alternatively, they could just give every student a free copy of PeerGuardian.

  • Grasping at Straws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:07PM (#25997891)
    What they are afraid of is the growing momentum against the RIAA at the university administration level. This is a weak and desperate attempt, a grasping at far away sticks by an arm who's body is quickly sinking below the quick sand surface.
    • by z0idberg (888892)

      My hope is that this was in their plan all along, but they intended to drop this one after a bunch of successful suits against students so as to scare everyone into submission. Only now with the growing legal backlash against them by unversities they are having to throw this out there in the hope that it will stick because they see the end is nigh for their little scam.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sweatyboatman (457800)

      too many... metaphors... can't... breath...

  • by carterhawk001 (681941) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:08PM (#25997897) Journal
    I would be willing to pay a monthly "download insurance" fee in exchange for immunity from prosecution for downloading to my heart's content. Music, Movies, Games, Software, set up a separate fund for each and let folks opt-in.
  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:08PM (#25997901)
    Seriously. They know this isn't going to fly. The Universities and ISPs know it's not going to fly. This whole ridiculous thing looks an awful lot like the sort of gesture you see followed by 'we tried to play nice, but...'
  • Wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrbcs (737902) * on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:09PM (#25997911)
    A proposal like this should include all the stake holders. All the record and movie companies and should provide actual licenses. This should be a flat internet tax on everyone, not just universities.

    I doubt that anything like this will work now though, they should have done this in 1997. It's pretty hard to compete with free.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Psychotria (953670)
      Lucky there isn't a camera tax. I use my camera all the time in libraries making "illegal" copies of pages of books. Of course, it's not illegal is it... it's fair use. But I bet if the RIAA were representing books they'd want a camera tax as well. And why isn't there a pen/pencil tax? I can sit in a library and write down, verbatim, the text from a book.
      • by thegnu (557446)

        And why isn't there a pen/pencil tax? I can sit in a library and write down, verbatim, the text from a book.

        Yeah, well I got back at you by downloading the original text you uploaded to slashdot.

        bwahahahahahahahahaa.

  • Hm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:13PM (#25997969)

    What happens when you graduate and later get busted p2p'ing and then they find your stash from the college days?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      What happens when you graduate and later get busted p2p'ing and then they find your stash from the college days?

      the cops get to divide up the loot. same as in a drug bust, only less smoking is involved.

  • the kicker for me is the "a recording industry entity" part.

    there's been plenty of articles and such (even on /.) about how recording industry entities for distributing royalties is...well....distributing to themselves and not to the artists.
    What was that organization that the RIAA made....SonicExchange? or SoundExchange? whatever it was...it wasn't distributing funds to where it was truly due.

    Even if they change it to be an independent, non-profit collection organization/entity, I still won't bite.
    What abo

  • Or better yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:14PM (#25997973) Journal
    the universities lawyers fight the labels hard and keep draining them of money. At the same time, the indie world needs to create easier access to BOUGHT AND PAID FOR music. IOW, make it possible for the artists to make more money by getting rid of the blood and money sucking labels.

    Just thinking about, I can not see much difference between the labels or the detroit 3. All have had greedy management that is worthless.
  • by mwbay (167813) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:15PM (#25997987) Homepage

    You and your fellow record labels are dying dinosaurs. Someday, people will dig up your bones and declare that you used to rule the world. And then it all came to a sudden, catastrophic end. All caused by a comet called the Internet.

    Goodbye, so long, and thanks for all the fish.

  • "That's a nice university you have there -- shame if anything were to happen to it..."

    The Italians have a word for it -- Pizzo -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizzo_(extortion) [wikipedia.org]

  • They can kiss my ass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:19PM (#25998025) Homepage

    I'm one of the minority on Slashdot who actually thinks that file sharers who trade in thousands of dollars of goods deserve to be charged (criminally) as thieves, and even I have to say "fuck you" on this. If they do this, I'll have no problem ripping every DVD and CD that was made by Warner and giving copies to every friend and family member that wants them.

    Tax me and spy on me to preserve your business model? That's going way too far and enough to make me say it's time to let slip the dogs of war on them.

    • by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:27PM (#25998095)
      "who trade in thousands of dollars of goods deserve to be charged (criminally) as thieves"

      wrong. there aren't any goods being stolen or traded. bits are not goods, they are a copy of other bits, which means they are infringing on a copyright. that is a civil matter not criminal. so unless you really believe government money,your tax money, should be spent fighting someone elses private court battles you are serioulsy misunderstanding the situtation.

      • by thegnu (557446)

        I think if you copy stuff and sell it, you're a fucking bastard, though. I think that's what GP was saying.

      • by MikeRT (947531)

        How would you like it if you were a musician, and I started bootlegging every single last piece of merchandise that you every produced and gave it away for free or at just cost? Your t-shirts, your stickers, your cds, everything. Oh, and I stood there recording every live performance in high quality HD and gave it away for free to anyone too lazy or cheap to go to your show?

        I may not be denying you your music, but I sure as hell am cheating you out of any reasonable compensation for your work by creating co

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by khallow (566160)

        bits are not goods

        Wrong.

        which means they are infringing on a copyright.

        And this is why. Wikipedia has a pretty good definition [wikipedia.org] of what a "good" is:

        A good in economics is any object, service or right that increases utility, directly or indirectly.

        Information that is copyrightable is a vague category that can as desired slide into "object", "service", or "right" depending on point of view. It however remains a good no matter how you view it, which is the way it should be, I think.

  • by ATestR (1060586)

    It's real simple. The RIAA can see that it will soon be common place for Law Students to fight for the victims of the music industry's suits. They are looking to replace that lucrative revenue stream.

  • by blue l0g1c (1007517) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:20PM (#25998041)
    As a career college student, I've seen many new fees introduced over the years that simply weren't there before. The curriculum hasn't changed enough to warrant the fees. If the price is right, I bet lots of universities would be more than happy to pass the fee along to students with a nice helping of obfuscation.
  • This will go great with the current economic disaster and out of control college tuition rates. Good thing the current Congress isn't influenced by the music industry. Oh wait...
  • ...with all this detailed, logged and tracked information on our over-priced and bloated money laundering scheme!

  • by iphayd (170761) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:23PM (#25998073) Homepage Journal

    Umm, so the record industry doesn't actually make it legal for the students to share the music, they just require their cut and they promise not to sue.

    I hope someone more qualified than myself takes this up because they are trying to extort money from the universities in what appears to me to be a very literal definition of the term.

  • by averyfisher (1062070) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:27PM (#25998097)

    What happens to the file-swapper after they graduate? Their identity is compromised, their activities documented, and they would be ripe for a lawsuit after graduation, no?

    Why not allow service providers to perform this service and actually grant a license? I have unfettered access to ruckus.com through my university e-mail, and that works just fine more me.

    • Well for one thing, Ruckus only works on Windoze. I tried to sign up last year only to discover that they only have a Windoze client and, IIRC, everything's got DRM.

  • by detox.method() (1413497) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:37PM (#25998179)
    Only it's called "Paying protection money," and it is illegal.
  • by MikeUW (999162) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:44PM (#25998235)

    Seriously...why don't they just sell music online for *reasonable* prices, and screwing around with licenses/DRM. Standard copyright issues would apply (i.e., if you want to make money off someone else's work, you need to cut a deal with the copyright owner), but otherwise, just make it really easy and cheap to buy music.

    If they could just do that, I'd actually be buying music - right now I only bother with stuff I can download (legally) for free. Buying mainstream music online these days is generally expensive and/or involves too much hassle/DRM - and the music isn't convincing enough for me to go through all that. I guess I'm just too poor and lazy.

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:50PM (#25998283)

    The last time somebody did a full-scale audit on one of the record companies, they found that they'd underpaid royalties to over 90% of the artists under contract to them. The idea that this pack of thieves could be trusted within a hundred miles of anybody's money is ludicrous.

  • It's a very odd stance for Warner to take to say they can have a "covenant not to sue" and not have a license. Any such covenant, if a university were to take it seriously, would have to be in contract form. And any contract signed that quid pro quo allowed sharing in exchange for a binding promise not to sue for a definite period is essentially a license in every relevant respect. (Well, almost--there would be some chance that after the "covenant" ends, Warner could theoretically sue for the infringemen
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Time for the colonies to revolt

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@mEULERac.com minus math_god> on Thursday December 04, 2008 @10:57PM (#25998343) Journal

    Should be able to draft an epic "get bent" letter in response to this proposal.

    -jcr

  • Not unlike the blank tape tax of the 80's.

    I laugh at the whole debate. When you stop investing in crafting the artists of tomorrow and instead center your model around being a distribution machine, don't be shocked when the internet figures out a better way to distribute your property.

    Music labels are dead. They don't control the artists. They don't control access to the masses. They have no traits that would let them survive in the future.

    [For the youngsters reading this, yes, there was a blank tape tax th

    • by jcr (53032)

      Music labels are dead. They don't control the artists. They don't control access to the masses.

      I don't think we're quite there yet. If the labels were dead, would we even know who brittany spears or kanye west are?

      They have no traits that would let them survive in the future.

      I hope you're right, but I'm not going to bet on it.

      -jcr

  • Study: College Tuition Increasingly Unaffordable [democracynow.org]

    Back in the United States, a new report shows college tuition is becoming increasingly unaffordable for most Americans. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education says college tuition and fees have increased by 439 percent since 1982. The cost of attending a four-year public university now amounts to 28 percent of the median family income, while a four-year private university would account for 76 percent. The Centerâ(TM)s president, Patr

    • Funny thing. That article says that poor college students get lesser grants than rich ones. In my experience the opposite is true: those universities that have money to give give it all away in need-based grants instead of nepotism or merit scholarships.

  • mafiaa (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eil (82413) on Thursday December 04, 2008 @11:17PM (#25998477) Homepage Journal

    "Nice university you got there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it."

  • I needs to get me some free musik, two! [sic]

    hey, since they are proposing that college kids get a free ride on pirating, hey, I want in on that, too! but I'm not in school anymore ;( maybe its ok that I can do a disk copy of their 'legal' mp3's? do you think that would be ok? I won't tell anyone, I promise. scouts honor.

    getting serious - this is absurd that anyone would even consider 'hush money' at the university level.

    a new low in the mafiaa's tactics.

  • The DMCA already has a "Safe Harbor" clause. So... the RIAA is only promising to not sue Universities that capitulate, when the law already explicitly says they have no case? Or, did they mean they won't sue the students? (But would require spying on them, which would seem to be a violation of FERPA.)

    Even if it were a blanket license to share (which isn't clear in the summary or TFA), that would only seem to help the universities not have to deal with as many DMCA requests -- but they still have to dea

  • And every time the recording industry proposes something like this, they can take a nice bath in in it.

    Every single one of those fuckers needs to be put to death. They're wasting oxygen, fuel, and food the valuable parts of the species could be consuming.

The most delightful day after the one on which you buy a cottage in the country is the one on which you resell it. -- J. Brecheux

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