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Why a Music Tax Is a Bad Idea 194

Posted by timothy
from the let-me-count-the-ways dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a followup to the story posted last week about Warner Music's plan for a music tax for universities. "There's been some debate about this plan and Techdirt has a detailed explanation of why a music tax is a bad idea, noting that it effectively rewards those who failed in the marketplace, punishes those who innovated and sets up a huge, inefficient and unnecessary bureaucracy. Meanwhile, plenty of musicians who are experimenting with new business models are finding that they can make more money and appeal to more fans. So, why stymie that process with a new bureaucracy that simply funds the big record labels?"
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Why a Music Tax Is a Bad Idea

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  • why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by internerdj (1319281) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:12PM (#26066781)
    So, why stymie that process with a new bureaucracy that simply funds the big record labels?
    ...
    Profit???

    At the very least campaign contributions?
    • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Justin Hopewell (1260242) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:15PM (#26066827)
      Because it doesn't make any sense, and damn it, that's the American way!
    • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tyrione (134248) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:37PM (#26067083) Homepage
      I think the biggest barrier to growth is the lack of music talent now compared to the times past which saw explosive growth in the 70's and 80's.
      • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:44PM (#26067155)

        it effectively rewards those who failed in the marketplace, punishes those who innovated and sets up a huge, inefficient and unnecessary bureaucracy

        Well, that explains why Warner and the MafiAA are wanting it. They failed in the marketplace because they refuse to innovate and adapt with the times.

        Meanwhile, plenty of musicians who are experimenting with new business models are finding that they can make more money and appeal to more fans.

        And of course, that's the other thing that scares the shit out of the MafiAA - the new business models make them obsolete.

        • Re:why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:53PM (#26067249)

          Darnit, bumped the "submit" button early.

          I think the biggest barrier to growth is the lack of music talent now compared to the times past which saw explosive growth in the 70's and 80's.

          Not true, not true at all. There is plenty of new music talent out there; the problem is that the MafiAA companies no longer want to promote new talent, because new talent are not interested in selling their eternal souls to crappy slave-labor contracts, MafiAA "creative accounting" practices, and multi-album deals where the labels hold musicians hostage by claiming their final contracted album needs to be "re-done" over and over until they manage to blackmail the artist into signing an extension or giving up any hope of ever owning their own music.

          Track the MafiAA's supposed "piracy loss" numbers against the number of new albums and new acts released, and you find a linear correlation that has absolutely nothing to do with "piracy."

          But why take it from me? Take it instead from someone who's lived through MafiAA Hell [janisian.com] herself.

      • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Justin Hopewell (1260242) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:45PM (#26067159)
        The talent is out there, its just not on the radio.
      • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcvos (645701) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @10:31AM (#26075337)

        I think the biggest barrier to growth is the lack of music talent now compared to the times past which saw explosive growth in the 70's and 80's.

        There's just as much talent now as there was in the '70s. Don't forget there was also quite a lot of crap in the '70s, but that's not what gets remembered. We remember the classics. There was an enormous amount of crap in the 80s that nobody remembers anymore (except for Rick Astley).

        And then there's the fact that record companies don't like to invest in new artist (except for artists they created and control), so new artists have to work really hard to get any exposure. Well, I'm sure this effect also existed in the '70s, but maybe it's gotten stronger now.

        At least, it did until recently. Now all of a sudden completely unknown artists can get exposure on MySpace or YouTube and score a big hit. Artists and customers in control, which is the way it should be. And that is exactly the biggest fear of the record companies: we're about to cut out the middle man who used to decide who succeeds and what we listen to.

    • Re:why? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Daimanta (1140543) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:46PM (#26067179) Journal

      "Profit???"

      I think you mean

      step n-1) ?????
      step n) Profit

    • Re:why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:47PM (#26067187) Journal

      No. They're too big to fail, so they clearly need a bailout.

    • Because it's easier to sit around on your ass and complain and mutter ominously about job losses while holding out your hand than it is to get up, lose some metaphorical weight and breathe some new life into the industry by - GASP - doing something different. Especially when your lobby group is intimately acquainted with the government.

      Reminds me of an old joke:

      Q: Why do they bury prairie farmers only two feet underground?

      A: So they can still get their hands out.

      Substitute "entertainment industry execut

    • by Crazy Taco (1083423) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @10:18PM (#26069971)

      So the bigger "why" is this: Why can't we just agree that taxes in general are a bad thing? It's not just the music tax that would be bad, it's almost all of them. Of course some very minimal taxes are necessary to build just enough government to protect our freedoms from anarchy and external threats, and to provide for a very few public goods like roads, but otherwise taxes are bad. Any time you take money in the form of taxes, you are taking money out of the economy that could have been used productively, and giving it to government which, without the pressure of market forces, is not going to have any incentive to use those resources in an optimal way.

      And for those who are skeptical, I think I need to go no further for an example than to point to President Elect Obama's appointments for cabinet and agency heads. It's not the "who is appointed" that matters, it's the how freakin' many are appointed. Seriously, its like he's appointed three or four cabinet or agency heads a day for the past month! We started out this country with only three secretaries. Are all these cabinet positions actually providing a service? You've got the department of energy with nearly 30 billion dollars, a department that was created by Jimmy Carter to help us achieve energy security and independence. Obviously that didn't happen, and in fact we've gone the opposite direction, so what exactly are they doing over there with all those billions? Then you have the department of education (also created by da man Jimmy Carter) with what, 60 billion a year? They are supposed to ensure our children have a good education, yet we spend more money per capita on students than anywhere in the world and have some of the worst results of any industrialized nation. What in the world are they doing over there with all that money, besides handing large sums directly to the teachers unions?

      I think you see my point. You can go right down the list... secretary of health and human services, secretary of housing and urban development (that's been a real bright spot of success, right?), secretary of agriculture, secretary of labor, secretary of veterans affairs (we need a whole cabinet branch for this?), etc. We've taken hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars out of the economy annually through taxes and given it to these guys. Is that productive, especially in comparison to letting that money drive growth in our economy, which raises the prosperity of every single citizen?

      Taxes are a bad thing... they simply allow the bureaucracy to expand to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy. I think Dave Ramsey said it best when he said that the economy is a wild, powerful dog, happy and free. And the government and its taxes are a tick on the backside of that dog. A tick that, in some of the more productive sectors of our economy, is easily 40% of the size of the dog!

      • by Rolgar (556636)

        Because, if they don't take your money, they can't give it to other people to buy votes and stay in power. It's a damn shame the Republicans didn't do something about this while they had a chance, now we're going to be in a much deeper hole by the time we get another chance.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by leomekenkamp (566309)

        Why can't we just agree that taxes in general are a bad thing?

        Because that just is not the case; it is an oversimplification. From the rest of your post I take it you live in the US. A lot of US-ians never take the time to see if their mantra of "This Is The Best Country In The World" is actually correct by comparing their own country to other countries. When you compare the US to other countries you will see:

        • by Dun Malg (230075) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @08:53AM (#26073971) Homepage

          poverty rate is about 12.5% [census.gov] One in 8 people in the US live in poverty. That is bad for a developed nation, worse than Thailand for instance.

          I agree with the incarceration stats, but the poverty stat is misleading. "Poverty" in the US isn't what it is in Thailand. Eligibility for government assistance is determined by income level, which determines "poverty". Many impoverished people are receiving food, rent, and utility subsidies, which allow them to have food, housing, heat, and electricity on the cheap which frees up their "poverty" wages for things like satellite TV and overpriced used cars. They watch 300 channels of color TV every night, while impoverished people in Thailand are living in cardboard boxes and picking through garbage dumps looking for recyclables to trade in for food money. When you start judging poverty by the percentage of people living in squalor and picking through garbage cans to survive, the US is much better than Thailand.

      • by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Thursday December 11, 2008 @05:12AM (#26072623) Homepage Journal

        but all of these taxes are not vanishing into a black hole. they are giving people jobs, and this money is used to pay salaries. those salaries are then used to buy things (perhaps even at a store owned by a friend or relative of yours)

        its not just roads that taxes support, it's police men, fire fighters, librarians, teachers, soldiers, the agriculture industry, the automotive industry, research grants, small business grants, (and in my country, doctors and nurses)

        taxes pay for civilization. sure, things may go way to far, bureaucracy is wasteful and inefficient, but what is the alternative?

        Overall, would you rather live the heavily taxed life you live now, or would you like to keep all your money, but have no roads, no public education, no security, no fire protection, no nation defense, no libraries, no public parks, no affordable foods, no technological progress due to a lack of funds, etc.?

      • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker&gnu,org> on Thursday December 11, 2008 @06:38AM (#26073015) Homepage

        It's not just the music tax that would be bad, it's almost all of them.

        That's strange. In Denmark, if you work full time at minimum wage, you're paying at least 40% of what you earn in taxes. Get a well-paid Code Monkey position and you're looking at something like 50-60%. On top of that, there's 25% sales tax added to everything (meaning 20% of what you pay for goods is sales tax). And there's heavy charges added to certain goods, such as cars.

        Yet, we:

        If taxation is bad, how come Denmark is such a great place to be?

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      You figured out step 2!

  • Let's tax birds singing too.
    • by TypoNAM (695420) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:29PM (#26066987)

      Funny thing is in my neighborhood you can frequently hear some birds chirping like they're reciting car alarm tones and the most hilarious part is they memorized the entire alarm cycle and will do so in the exact order on common alarms.

      I'm sure birds in other places have done the same thing, but in order to find out requires actually going outside. :)

      • by jskora (1319299) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:05PM (#26067399)
        Dear Sir,

        Those alarm tones are copyrighted and these birds are in violation of royalty agreements. Due to their lack of financial mean, redress will be targeted at the neighborhood associations that let this blatant abuse of intellectual property rights occur unabated.

        We will be in touch shortly!

        Sincerely,

        CAIAA - Car Alarm Industry Artists Associations
      • i think i saw something like that in a BBC or NatGeo documentary. they had clips of birds mimicking the sound of car alarms, construction vehicles, and chainsaws with an amazing degree of likeness. but the birds in these clips were living in the jungle or rain forest. i've heard any birds mimicking artificial noises in person.

        i wonder if that's the bird equivalent of whistling/humming a tune that's stuck in your heard.

    • Let's tax birds singing too.

      If they come anywhere near me, the penalty for "tax avoidance" will be administered by 12-gauge...

  • by Snowdog (3038) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:16PM (#26066833)

    So, why stymie that process with a new bureaucracy that simply funds the big record labels?
    I think you've answered your own question. Warner Music isn't proposing this for your benefit.

  • by jemenake (595948) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:16PM (#26066835)
    It's not a "Music Tax", it's a "Record Company Bailout"
  • Not to mention... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HaeMaker (221642) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:18PM (#26066859) Homepage

    It taxes (more like fines) those who did nothing wrong.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:20PM (#26066873)

    You answered your own question:
    "a new bureaucracy that simply funds the big record"

    If you were a big record company that is the greatest solution ever. They have to do nothing and roll in the cash at the government and end users expense. Straight to step 4) profit.

    Why our governments are even considering it is a question we should ask every law maker out there.

    Why the nation of the Boston Tea Party is even considering it? Is an even greater question.

  • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04@highp o i nt.edu> on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:21PM (#26066887)

    Why would any self respecting university volunteer itself for this?

    I know my alma mater would never put up with this and I suspect most other universities have the same sense of dignity. This plan cannot possibly succeed.

  • by joe_cot (1011355) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:22PM (#26066899) Homepage
    The music tax will be based on how much music is currently being shared online. Do you expect the amount to stay static, after it's legalized?

    Of course not. All of a sudden, how to download music will be on the news. People will make lots of money helping the technology-illiterate use file sharing. Everyone will file share music, because they're being taxed for it anyway. Music file sharing will go through the roof, and profits will drop lower than they knew was possible. That's when the tax will start going up.

    Second Issue. All you file sharers out there: how often do you download a whole discography, when you only really want 5 songs tops? Exactly. That whole discography is going to count towards that artist's share of the tax. People do a lot of things out of laziness when it's free.

    Third issue. Do you think it will stop at a music tax? Next the MPAA will be clamoring for a movie tax, and there'll be moves for a different fee for everything in existence: a video game tax, a tv show tax, a pornography tax, a sewing kit tax, etc. Once you open that box, it's not going to close again.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by MaskedSlacker (911878)

      Socialism by thousand cuts.

      • feudalism, the time of nobility, religion, and guilds is approaching again.

        Look how corporations are setting up to be the new "nobel houses". Even the Federal and State governments are getting in the habit of no-bid contracts to "default" companies that get to charge whatever they wish when they were given those distribution rights by some middle manager, not even the legislature. This "tax" is just another step to keeping the cultural "high priests" in the position to which they have become accustom.

    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      Since it really seems like you are leading to it, why don't you just say it out loud then?

      Make them all free.

      If that isn't what you wanted to say then, then that's what I wanted to say at least.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Pinky (738)

      Given that Canada current has a "music tax" (on blank media) and the courts have ruled that it's legal to download material off file sharing site (but not share material yourself) and this has been the case for some time now... not to mention it's country wide instead of just on university campuses.. Has everything imploded? the tax gone up dramatically? People stop buying music/movies entirely? No. Have they been clamoring for more "taxes". No.

      • by ericrost (1049312)

        And how many record labels are based in Canada out of curiosity? Oh, also while we're at it, what percentage of the music buying public lives in Canada?

        Shoo.

        • by Pinky (738) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:09PM (#26067427) Homepage

          You know, those big fancy American labels sell here too. Sometimes in this fancy store called walmart. do you have those in america? Well we do anyway, they are very popular here.

          What I meant was the local, Canadian market for movies and music, both local and imported, hasn't collapsed despite the fact that p2p sites present a free and legal alternative. I know it's presumptuous to think that a little country with approximately the same population of California could be used as a test case for a country with a population ten times the size but I'd be willing to stick my neck out there and say that it could.

          ....On the other hand, if you wanted to play it safe you could have the law only apply in each individual state. Sure, that would be equivalent to enacting it on the country on the whole but through a cute trick of accountancy you'd technically be enacting it in units smaller or comparable to canada... thus guaranteeing that it would work as it does in Canada.

    • Ironically, they already tax music. It's called "sales tax."
  • "The Art of Taxing" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:22PM (#26066903)

    I read in "The Economist" a while back, that the "Art of Taxing," is like plucking a live goose for feathers.

    You want to get the maximum amount of feathers, with the minimum amount of fuss.

    So, try to sneak in a small tax, that nobody notices, or can do anything about. Or pick on a small minority, and whack them with a big tax.

    Here we have Warner asking for a small "taste" from everybody.

    I prefer to "eat alone."

  • by onkelonkel (560274) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:22PM (#26066909)
    After they get the music tax, you know they're going to go after a movie tax, a tv series tax, a game tax and an ebook tax.
    • so $50 /m for all the movies and games that you want? Does that void laws about taking cams to the movies I payed the forced tax so how can I fined for braking the law? OR going to a bast buy taking a game and just paying $5 $10 for cost of game media and seeking it out of the store? I not shoplifting I just paying $5 $10 to have the game now and not have to download 4GB or more of the game for free under the tax.

  • Should be tagged... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dueyfinster (872608)
    preachingtotheconverted
  • by rudeboy1 (516023) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:27PM (#26066959)

    Warner is proceeding under the assumption that if they apply their big guns to this, they will get it pushed through. Especially for those colleges that would rather roll over and pass the bill to the students than fight for their rights. If I were a big music exec, I'd be doing the same thing. It's free money, even if only a handful of schools agree.

    What burns me about it is that it's obviously a money grab, and it's so blatantly immoral it kills me that it's reached this level of attention. First off, why Warner? Why do they get the money? Second off, I'm a musician on the side, and I put out albums on a regular basis which make money here on a local level. If my band's album is downloaded on a college campus, is some of that tax going to go to me, if I have no affiliation with Warner? NO! So not only are they getting money for music that may or may not even be downloaded, they're getting money for content that isn't even theirs to profit on.

    It's my opinion that the music industry has an standing policy of "do everything you think you can get away with", which, when combined with the more venerated "better to ask for forgiveness than permission" puts them in the frame of mind to do this. And if they get away with it, even a little bit, they're making money. For those lamenting that these guys are clinging to a dying business model, wake up and look around. This is the new business model! Use your clout and presence to try and get as much free money as you can, while doing damage control on the other side to stem any repercussions from less than moral practices. If you had millions of dollars to throw into a system like this to "prime the pump" so to speak, and you valued a quick buck over scruples, why the hell wouldn't you try to pull something like this? /soapbox

    • by butalearner (1235200) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:42PM (#26067143)

      Second off, I'm a musician on the side, and I put out albums on a regular basis which make money here on a local level. If my band's album is downloaded on a college campus, is some of that tax going to go to me, if I have no affiliation with Warner? NO! So not only are they getting money for music that may or may not even be downloaded, they're getting money for content that isn't even theirs to profit on.

      Oh don't worry, from the previous /. story:

      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.

      100-to-1 says this entity is the RIAA and "distributing the proceeds fairly" means funding litigation against students from universities that haven't agreed. You know, just like the "proceeds" from their lawsuits to date. Of course the inevitable end result is that nobody will pirate your music anymore, and you make more money! Beautiful, isn't it?

  • silly question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by einer (459199) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:34PM (#26067053) Journal

    So, why stymie that process with a new bureaucracy that simply funds the big record labels?

    Because the record labels donate more money to policy makers than you do.

  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:35PM (#26067067) Homepage

    I personally think it's an awesome idea. Let me tell you why.

    A few years ago I wrote a great book. It would have sold a billion copies, but alas, no one else thought it was worth reading. If we can set a precedent with this music business, then we can do the same for books. As an author and a published (because I self-published 20 volumes) I should be entitled to a cut of the proceeds when we start taxing universities for students that copy ebooks. It's the logical next step.

    I'm also an amazing artist, the Michael Phelps of the art world. Alas, no one has bought my work "Ruled 8x11 Sheet of Paper" and instead, millions of so-called printers are infringing my copyrights.

    SO yeah, this is a good idea.

  • The music industry is failing in the current setup, and everyone and their grandmother seems to know it, and most people are willing to DL something to avoid the costs.

    There is also the whole "how much does the artist get anyway?"

    The internet brings up so much that wasn't around with books- (which was probably the original model music industry was based on) and it seems the question of libraries, fair use, and copyright definitions have been trampled on in so many ways.

    Artists are disgruntled with
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      The "music business" isn't a viable business any longer. Period. There is no "adapt". You can't adapt to a situation where the sale of your product is undercut by distributors passing it out for free. So any idea of selling recorded music has got to go.

      What could possibly compensate artists? Patronage is a bad idea that was stamped out with the death of feudalism. Doing it for ego-reasons - because the artist feels it has to be done - doesn't feed the children or pay the rent. Any sort of tax is goin

  • Here's one (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xelios (822510) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @05:39PM (#26067105)
    Normally I'm not a fan of rap, but I came across a guy by the name of Immortal Technique a few weeks ago that impressed me quite a bit. Not only are his lyrics actually about important things rather than bling, hos and poppin caps, but he seems to get the new way music distribution works.

    He's been on an independent label since 2000 (he's co-owner of it now I think) and in that time he's sold maybe 300,000 units total. Is that a lot compared to artists on major labels? No, but he makes $7 per CD sold and lots more money doing live shows. He said in an interview that he was offered $150,000 to make an album for a major label and he turned them down.

    He's not making nearly as much money as Jay Z or some other big name rapper, but he has full control over his production and full control over his music, something he says is more important than money. I'll leave you with a piece from an interview:

    Lots of people, not just the record labels, told me that this wasn't going to be lucrative or that no one was going to care, but I was fortunate enough to believe in myself and say, listen, I'm going to do whatever I want, with or without the express permission of other people. There's no gatekeeper for me. I don't need somebody to co-sign me to put me on.

    Anyone who has supported me has never been because I twisted their arm, it's been out of the goodness of their own heart because they felt the truth in the music. So I think in terms of marketing myself, I don't need to create a rap persona, or a different personality in order to sell records. For me, it's just as simple as getting the word out and getting the music to people. The music sells itself, and the message sells itself.
    ...
    I definitely would like people to purchase The 3rd World in stores and purchase it online, but I think it was more of a way for me to express my frustration with the music industry. I can't believe they have the audacity to call anybody else a thief. As much money as they steal from artists, as much as they don't have a health care program for any of their artists, and I look at stuff like that and I'm disgusted. They go to these conferences and tell kids, "How can you steal a record?" I'm like really?


    Full interview [wordpress.com]
  • All these bailouts for industries that failed to progress and modify their business methods. They rather change society than change themselves. I'm sorry, but fuck the music industry. Indy music is way better than the commercialized piece of shit they put out on radios.
  • So the music industry is trying to sell a blanket license, so that it can monetize its assets without suing customers. Isn't this a step in the right direction? Calling it a tax instead of a blanket license is just inflammatory, IMHO. Some of these companies were built in good faith, relying on property rights as they currently exist, they paid money to own licenses which gave them the right to make profits. That doesn't guarantee profits, of course, but if they paid someone to 'own' the music, what's et

    • So the music industry is trying to sell a blanket license, so that it can monetize its assets without suing customers. Isn't this a step in the right direction? Calling it a tax instead of a blanket license is just inflammatory, IMHO

      Wrong. They would like to force me to pay for music I don't listen to, have no interest in downloading, and even less interest in buying. And in some cases (violent gangsta rap), actively dislike.
      Not a chance.

      Lets change the rules a little. How about a 'software blanket licen
  • ...a flat tax.

    (ducking and running)

  • it effectively rewards those who failed in the marketplace, punishes those who innovated and sets up a huge, inefficient and unnecessary bureaucracy

    They already have that... it's called the RIAA
  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:12PM (#26067445)

    This is just a fancy way of the music industry trying to hook up an IV drip tube to everybody's credit card account. It is like Netflix, but with music.

    My first problem with this is that the music industry is only interested in promoting big-hit mass-market stuff that applies to the lowest common denominator. Excuse me, but I don't want to give my money to Britney Spears.

    My second problem is that I want to be able to opt out of paying for more than I use.

    My third problem is that a structure like this gives the music industry too much leverage in the internet world, and I prefer a free internet.

    Never, I say!

    • Excuse me, but I don't want to give my money to Britney Spears.

      That's OK. Britney won't see a dime of it. It'll all go to record company executives, and to their lawyers (to file lawsuits against the schools that said "no").

    • It is like Netflix, but with music.

      It is like forced Netflix, but with music.
      Little addition there.
  • I can answer this very easily....BECAUSE IT'S A TAX!! Tax=bad...like kicking puppies! It should be axiomatic!
  • "So, why stymie that process with a new bureaucracy that simply funds the big record labels?"

    Because it funds the big record labels.

    That's the reason!

    Ok, next question please.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @06:21PM (#26067523) Homepage Journal
    Everyone seems to assume the money would go to the record companies. How about we establish a music tax and allow musicians to register their copyrights with the Library of Congress to get a cut of it? We could completely remove the music industry and its associated overhead from the equation. Musicians wouldn't have to worry about marketing anymore, everyone would get a share and we could remove the drag on society that the RIAA has become.
    • by alsta (9424)

      Or just simply how about no taxes?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
      How about we establish a music tax and allow musicians to register their copyrights with the Library of Congress to get a cut of it?

      How about no. I want my money to go to what I choose. Just in the music world, there are many, many acts/groups/people that I would refuse to support.
      Just as with grouped charities(Combined Federal Campaign). There are many subgroups that I would rather not, and will not, support. Period.

      I don't want everyone to have a share. I want *my* money to go where *I* want.
    • No, because recorded music isn't worth anything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dhalka226 (559740)

      Musicians wouldn't have to worry about marketing anymore, everyone would get a share and we could remove the drag on society that the RIAA has become.

      Yes they would, because even with some sort of taxpayer-supported system the only fair way to get it done is to have some sort of tracking. Otherwise what's to stop me--a person with absolutely no musical talent--from banging a spoon on a pan for 3.5 minutes, chanting some nonsense and calling it music to not only get an ill-gotten share of the pot, but to di

  • It can be shown that under certain assumptions, a free market leads to optimal production and consumption of goods. Those assumptions hold for goods like, say, bread, where over the long run, the cost of production equals the marginal cost, and where giving the item to one consumer excludes giving to another.

    Those assumptions fail for goods like music, where the marginal cost is essentially zero, and one consumer having a song doesn't exclude others from having it.

    A free market does not result in optimal p

    • Freedom can still work in cases of digital works. People will take action to get things they need. If no one produced music because there was no money in it, people who want music will find someone to give money to who will produce the music.

      People like to say this won't work, but many people buy music and video in iTunes which are freely available elsewhere on the internet. It has also been demonstrated that advertisers will pay artists (television and radio have survived on this fact alone for decades)
  • it effectively rewards those who failed in the marketplace, punishes those who innovated and sets up a huge, inefficient and unnecessary bureaucracy. ... So, why stymie that process with a new bureaucracy that simply funds the big record labels?"

    Because you stand a good chance of building an empire out of that new bureaucracy and/or are invested in one of those big record labels who failed in the marketplace (or their allies?)

  • by djmurdoch (306849) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @07:10PM (#26068103)

    Canada has a levy on blank media (currently just CDRs and tapes, not DVDs), and a right to make copies for personal use. (There's some question about whether allowed copies must be onto levied media, or whether they can be made copy: but it is not a copyright violation to make the private copies.)

    There are lots of reasons to dislike this: you have to pay it even if you use the CDRs for data or your own music, the rules for distributing the money don't bear a close connection to what actually got copied, payments are only made to Canadian collectives, it doesn't apply to copies made on the more common media people use nowadays, etc.

    The CRIA (the Canadian subsidiary of the RIAA) lobbied to have this put in place because it looked like a cash cow, but lately they've been lobbying to get rid of both it and the personal copying right. This is likely because they don't get a large share of the levy, which goes to copyright collectives first, and is distributed to their members (artists) as well as the recording companies.

    It's probably not possible to fix most of the problems with the levy, but it is nice to know that I have the legal right to make copies of music, and don't have to worry about being sued over it. The Conservatives introduced legislation that kept the levy but did away with the private copying right (and promised to deal with the levy this fall, but things didn't work out for either the legislation or the promise). I think the Liberals are also in the pocket of the big media companies, so they will probably support that legislation if it ever comes to a vote.

    So you should demand a blanket license to copy for personal use, not just a promise not to sue, and then this "tax" might not be such a bad thing.

    1. Write some music (who cares that it's horrible)
    2. Fire up the botnet to download a million copies of it from everywhere.
    3. Send out copies in billions of emails
    4. Profit!!!
  • the civil list (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @07:44PM (#26068479) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me, that in america at least, we are moving into a very Aristocrat era, where people are not allowed the opportunity to pursue happiness, but rather are given it because because by some metric we think they deserve it. I believe this comes about because certain parties have convinced that the american is a right, and every person, no matter how incompetent, inefficient, or otherwise unproductive deserves a 2000 square foot house, a 600 cubic foot automobile, and a flat screen TV in every room. I believe nothing could be further from the ideals written into the justification for the colonies to rebel against England, and for at least some future Americans to become traitors against their monarch. The whole idea was to allow people, or rather men, the opportunity to succeed without having to compete against established firms that produced nothing.

    No one wants an American car. Few people are willing to pay plastics discs of music. Why are we wasting our time trying to save these failed business plans. The executives are clearly not able to turn a profit. Why do we think the are entitled to their income.

    I know that everyone says they are too big fail, and what about the jobs. Well, I still believe in America. I believe that they failure represents an opportunity, not a termination. If these companies are no longer wasting resources, well those resources will be available to other more innovative firms.

    As far as the job losses, and 'main street' argument. How many houses have been saved since the bankers stole $400 billion from the american taxpayer. And how many jobs did Chrysler say there were going to cut as soon as their handout is given? Here is a thing to think about. One trillion dollars pays for almost 150,000 so-called welfare recipients. People who have and raise families, pay rent, spend all the benefits at the grocery store for food and necessities. they don't buy jets, figure how to screw a person coming in for a loan, or go crying to washington for a bailout. Here is one thing I think we can all agree on. A person pulling in $7000 a year is much more likely to go out and look for a job, or create a job, than a person pulling in 40K a year making cars no one wants.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @08:06PM (#26068693) Homepage

    There's something about art that doesn't readily lend itself to business. Actually, there are a lot of somethings about art that doesn't lend itself well to business.

    1. Art is often temporal even though some is timeless. And you just never know when it may become interesting again. But instead of letting the people have their art after a specified time has passed, the business people have bribed legislators to push the expiration date on are back "forever" denying the public their side of the bargain... the side of the bargain that says "we will respect your copyright for a while and then you let us have it."

    2. Art is a matter of taste and opinion and therefore has different value to different people. Business puts it all in the same sized and shaped box and puts it all on a shelf with similar prices with no refund if you don't happen to like it or think it is worth it. There is no standard measure for quality, and it is quite difficult to quantify or appraise.

    3. Art cannot be duplicated effectively. When art is duplicated and copied, all copies and sometimes even the original loses its value. The industrialization of art demeans the art and the artists. There is nothing wrong with one-hit-wonders -- they are sometimes the best songs ever and if that's all that ever comes out, then that should be just fine and we should appreciate it. Trying to duplicate artists is even worse... how many boy-bands were there before they eventually got so tiresome that people couldn't stand any of them any longer? The same goes for movies... how many "Rocky" movies? How many Star Treks, Star Wars, Indiana Jones or Lethal Weapons will the market bear? There is some value in fandom and unquestionably some movies demand sequels, but how much is too much? And worse, how many of the "same movie" will they make because they thought a "formula" was successful and worth repeating? Will we run out of comic book heroes before they move on the nursery rhymes and classic children's stories?

    People are tired of it and getting moreso. I believe we are getting to a point at which civil disobedience is most certainly in order. Copyright law has forgotten its half of the bargain and so I feel the bargain is null-an-void. Screw the copyright industrialists. They aren't the creators. They are just the people abusing and exploiting the creativity of others. Many artists are demonstrably showing their own disobedience to the masters of media by publishing in their own ways. It is for that reason alone that "music taxes" should never be allowed to exist. There is more than one path for money to flow and more than one medium for art to exist, reside or be recorded upon. Bittorrent isn't used exclusively for sharing illegal media and MP3 format isn't used exlusively by copyright infringers. These copyright industrialists no longer and arguably never have controlled the entire marketplace and therefore have no claim to tax the entirety of music or any other art form.

  • Oh jeez. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @08:32PM (#26068995)

    Normally I look beyond the surface to see what is being discussed, but half way through I realized, "Music Tax"?? --And realized that after all the smoke and mirrors, switchbacks and rationalizations are summed up, the convoluted system whereby music has been harnessed by the wheels of industry, "Music Tax" describes it exactly.

    Pay tax to listen to music. I'm certain given enough time and marketing, logical arguments could be made to stick for implementing a Sunshine Tax, and a Happiness Tax.

    And it's why the Empire is falling.

    -FL

  • ACAP, BMI, and SESAC all impose fees upon venues where music is played (and also radio stations), and then distribute the royalties to artists. Why wouldn't the same thing work for music downloads? I can't see any reason why not. Even if the distribution wasn't perfectly accurate or some people paid a little more or less than they really should, it seems to me that overall it'd be pretty fair. And it'd sure be worth it to get rid of all the wrangling, deception, piracy, lawsuits, and everything else! Intern
  • There are three simple reasons why a music tax is a bad idea.

    1 - There are people who won't use it but will be forced to pay. Not only people like me who currently get their music from legal sources, but people who don't listen to music at all. This includes people who *CAN'T* listen to music. Yes, deaf people would be forced to pay for music that they couldn't listen to if they wanted to.

    2 - The fees will go to the power players. The major labels will make sure the rules are tilted so that indie labels

  • While I agree with most of the reasons given to reject this proposal, I have a different reason for objecting. The cost of a college education is getting beyond the reach of many. Anything that adds to these costs is bad especially if it is not about education. If anything, we should be looking for ways to decrease the cost of a college education.

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill

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