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Plan would have students pay flat fee for unlimited access to P2P

A number of U.S. universities expressed interest in plans for a “music tax,” where students would pay a flat fee as part of their tuition in return for the promise of no lawsuits from the RIAA.

The plan, spearheaded by Warner Music’s Jim Griffin, would essentially free up copyright enforcement resources in place at the RIAA and universities in favor of a “blanket license” of sorts – even though the actual language of the plan simply grants a promise not to sue.

Money collected will be dispersed to artists through a means that has yet to be determined.

Griffin, a long-time cheerleader of “music surcharge” proposals, says the plan is still in its early stages. Despite that, however, he tells TechDirt that he is “actively engaged with universities and other parties to seek a constructive resolution to a complex issue,” and that his plan is “exactly the type of solution that several universities and their associations have been asking for.”

The anonymous tipster reports that interested schools include Columbia, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of Washington, MIT, University of Colorado, University of Michigan, Cornell, Penn State, University of California at Berkeley and the University of Virginia. Further supporting his claims is a PowerPoint presentation pitched to universities and signed by Mark Luker of EDUCAUSE .

The presentation, which Griffin says “belongs to someone outside [Warner Music] and represents that individual's interpretation of… meetings held several months ago,” says the plan is designed to:

  • Allow students access and the use of any music they want.
  • Avoid DMCA issues and lawsuits.
  • Avoid technological regulations that might hinder university networks.
  • Provide “fair” returns for copyright holders.

TechDirt notes that the idea is an adaptation of a larger surcharge suggested for all U.S. ISPs, where they would simply “add an additional fee to everyone's internet access, have that money go into a pool that the recording industry would be responsible for paying out.”

“This is a bad idea for a variety of reasons,” writes TechDirt’s Mike Massnick. “It's basically a music tax – allowing the record industry to be lazy. Someone else gets to go out and collect all this money and hand it over to the industry to distribute … It effectively sets the business model of the recording industry in stone, and harms better, more innovative business models by inserting the recording industry (and not the musicians) into a role where they don't belong.”

“We recognize that there are many different potential solutions to this issue, and we are determined to continue to think creatively and cooperatively with other parties in order to find the best ones,” replies Griffin. “At this early stage, many ideas may be discussed and discarded, but efforts to prematurely label or criticize the process only hinder achievement of constructive solutions.”

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What will this do?
By Bateluer on 12/8/2008 8:46:48 AM , Rating: 2
Aside from adding to the already skyrocketing cost of tuition, further angering potential customers, and generating further negative publicity? Drive more people to piracy? Definitely.

RE: What will this do?
By mmntech on 12/8/2008 9:03:01 AM , Rating: 5
Extortion, outwresting, or exaction is a criminal offense, which occurs, when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence or a lawsuit which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence or lawsuit is sufficient to commit the offense. Exaction refers not only to extortion or the unlawful demanding and obtaining of something through force,[1] additionally, exact in its formal definition means the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or to make somebody endure something unpleasant.

I think Wikipedia sums up what the RIAA is doing here pretty well. Making students pay for a service they don't want. Nice. Just shows how in touch they are with their target demographics.

RE: What will this do?
By omnicronx on 12/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: What will this do?
By metaltoiletry on 12/8/2008 10:07:31 AM , Rating: 2
I also find it funny you say they don't know their target demographic, as they obviously know exactly what their target demographic is, teens and young adults who download more music illegally than anyone else.

No, their target demographic is my pet cat and your pet dog.

RE: What will this do?
By erikejw on 12/9/2008 9:03:17 AM , Rating: 2
If there will be a "music tax" it will not take long until we have a movie tax, software tax, book tax and anything else that is available online. I have probably forgot many areas and those will be free to sue at will.
Communism will make it's first appearance in the US.

RE: What will this do?
By ussfletcher on 12/8/2008 3:06:41 PM , Rating: 3
I myself am a college student. I don't care enough about music to download it. Therefore, why should I pay an extra fee to my already astronomical tuition? I already pay taxes for newspapers and radio, that I don't read or listen to, why should this be any different, right?

RE: What will this do?
By foolsgambit11 on 12/8/2008 7:30:19 PM , Rating: 4
I, on the other hand, might try to go back to college - how much music could I download in 1 quarter, do you think? I'd estimate, with this fee, it wouldn't be more than $2500 (full time), maybe as low as $500 for part-time. 500 albums is definitely a possibility in 3 months. That's an average cost of $1 to $5 per album.

Oh, and I could learn a thing or two at the same time.

RE: What will this do?
By Some1ne on 12/8/2008 4:44:25 PM , Rating: 2
I'm no fan of the RIAA, but I think their idea actually makes sense, as it helps to move us away from the notion that P2P users are pirates and criminals, and towards the inevitable acceptance of these technologies as the new, legitimate form of multimedia distribution that they really are. Think about it. Having this sort of "piracy tax" legitimizes P2P filesharing, eliminates the need for costly and invasive DRM packages, and prevents people from being branded as criminals and sued/prosecuted for doing something that at least 90% of the population does. And at the same time, it ensures that the recording artists aren't getting completely ripped off. That seems like a reasonable setup to me. Or at least, it seems far more reasonable than trying to wage a war against P2P technology, and clinging to the original but now defunct definitions of copyright and copyright protections, and branding ordinary citizens as criminals for engaging in a victimless crime that the vast majority of people participate in on at least a semi-regular basis.

Granted, the fees need to be reasonable (for just music, I'd say not more than $5 per user per month, though if music, movies, software, and other forms of media were covered, up to $15 per user per month might be reasonable), and the money needs to be dispersed in a way that sees the artists profit, rather than just their labels. And there need to be provisions for allocating the money based upon the popularity of content (i.e. if thing X is downloaded 100 times, and thing Y is downloaded 1 time, the creator of thing X should get more than the creator of thing Y). And there should be an option that allows individuals who do not intend to do any P2P downloading to opt out of the fees (and in return maybe they are placed on a network that blocks P2P traffic types). But none of those issues seem unsolvable, and while new taxes/fees are always unpleasant, I think this is how we're finally going to get away from the old, deprecated modes of content distribution (nobody should have to pay for music on a per-album or per-song basis anymore) and start embracing new distribution modes such as P2P filesharing as legitimate (people should be able to freely download and distribute as much music as they want, but at the same time artists should continue to see compensation for creating popular works).

Do you really feel that the current status quo, where an entire industry has gone to war against its consumers, where millions (if not billions) of dollars is being wasted annually on developing ever more complex DRM technology that just gets cracked as soon as it's introduced, and where industry lobbyists are working to push through things like ACTA in a futile attempt to combat a legitimate new technology and to preserve defunct distribution modes, is preferable to moving towards a situation where P2P filesharing is finally recognized (and ultimately, embraced) as a legitimate, non-criminal mode of content distribution?

RE: What will this do?
By wvh on 12/8/2008 6:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
But principally, this means the RIAA is taxing people without any proof of them having obtained any music through illegal means. Pretty soon, a part of everyone's taxes will go to private industry and lobbying fractions such as the RIAA and MPAA.

In many European countries, you pay extra tax on empty data CDs/DVDs which goes to the recording industry, because it is assumed that you are a thief when you buy empty CDs/DVDs. It turns music into a government/tax supported non-negotiable service, not just temporarily, but forever.

I don't agree with the music industry or any private business being supported by taxes. This is a one-way street to hell where private corporations can tax the public and individuals loose the right to choose. It is truly shocking how far this has come, with major industries being supported by government in what is supposed to be a free market economy.

And I'm supposedly a socialist European, for crying out loud...

RE: What will this do?
By Some1ne on 12/8/2008 7:51:02 PM , Rating: 2
Your concerns seem more ideological than practical. The fee is less like taxing people for doing something illegal than it is like charging them for a service (the ability to download and redistribute an unlimited quantity of music). If some users choose not to utilize that service, then that's their choice. Though as I said, having an "opt out" option for people who *never* want to take advantage of the service makes sense.

Assuming you agree that the maintaining the current status quo benefits no one, how would you suggest we get past the current impasse then? How do we legitimize P2P content distribution while at the same time ensuring that content producers are still fairly compensated for their work, without something that resembles a tax? I'm all for alternative solutions to the issue, but I'm having a hard time seeing any.

RE: What will this do?
By jhb116 on 12/8/2008 9:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
This is just a lazy quick fix. The problem is that Univeristies have the resources to fight RIAA where as we private citizens do not. Read between the lines - RIAA gets more resources to go after Joe Private Citizen (aka all of us) and they will have more time to come after us since they won't have to expend resources to hit up the Universities.

Talk about the evil empire. If they continue to hord power - I may just have to move.

RE: What will this do?
By bigjaicher on 12/8/2008 6:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
Well, it is extortion of the colleges, not the students. The schools should have the right to make the (new) students pay whatever they want them to pay, and then the students have the right to go/not go to that college, with no trusts between colleges.

The colleges can just say "screw you" to the colleges, and use what I call the sanity defense (calling the plantiff insane/you are sane in comparison). Or they can cave and do this. However, if somebody says that this is infringing on students' constitutional rights, I say "go read a copy of the [*bleeping*] constitution." It's not a constitutional right to receive free internet. Last time I checked, we are technically a capitalistic society although current events state otherwise.

RE: What will this do?
By TheSpaniard on 12/8/2008 10:35:12 PM , Rating: 2
but this is a corporation that has no involvment in the internet... other than it is a medium for theft...

does this mean that walmart should be taxing extra the sales of coats because the coats could be used to shoplift something in their store?

RE: What will this do?
By omnicronx on 12/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: What will this do?
By FITCamaro on 12/8/2008 10:13:04 AM , Rating: 2
Actually I kinda agree. This doesn't sound like a terrible idea. Students pay a fee and don't have to worry about being sued. Now I guess the question is, what is the fee?

Now at the same time, if this is something every student has to pay, that's not fair. For those students who don't pirate, they shouldn't have to pay the fee.

I also agree with the other comment though about this possibly being the first step towards a nationwide ISP charge. To where everyone will have a fee on their internet connection that goes to the music industry. Something I am firmly against. I do not download music for the most part. I think I might have downloaded 10 songs in the past 5 years.

RE: What will this do?
By tastyratz on 12/8/2008 10:40:12 AM , Rating: 5
This should not be something limited to universities, this should be OPTIONALLY offered like any sort of Napster plan where you get a universal license with a monthly fee. I would be in support of that - although it would crumble any businesses based on purchased music licenses like napster, rhapsody, itunes, etc - because people will have far less incentive to purchase from them. I am sure they would lobby against.

This should not be defaulted to college tuition, mandatory is RIDICULOUS and labels anyone seeking higher education as a thief. This will encourage the mentality of downloading music because the people who would have reservations will be taught its ok in college - but once they graduate they are held accountable.

It's like training killers in prison to stay alive but only charging them if they kill outside of prison. It sets up a double standard.

I support local music and buy non riaa label cd's because they make me sick. Its unfortunate the artists pay for the RIAA's mistakes.

RE: What will this do?
By omnicronx on 12/8/2008 10:43:40 AM , Rating: 2
If the fee is reasonable, I don't see the problem.

And as for every student paying, perhaps there can be an exemption for those who are willing to pay. Those that don't leave themselves open to suits by the RIAA. This would act as far more of a deterrent, as those caught would have little to no excuse, and it would pretty much be an automatic loss.

RE: What will this do?
By drzoo2 on 12/8/2008 11:22:21 AM , Rating: 3
It's taxation without representation. They are not a governing body and have no right to levy taxes. When they decide to raise the "Tax" how are you going to vote them out of office?


RE: What will this do?
By omnicronx on 12/8/08, Rating: -1
RE: What will this do?
By FITCamaro on 12/8/2008 2:42:57 PM , Rating: 2
Please tell me where a tax is being levied here?

With your attitude, the fees paid for internet service in general are a tax.

RE: What will this do?
By bigjaicher on 12/8/2008 6:49:53 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, students pay a fee to the college which then pays the fees to the RIAA for protection of the college, to my knowledge of the article. It's just that the schools will impose this fee to save themselves, not the students.

RE: What will this do?
By RamarC on 12/8/2008 1:12:32 PM , Rating: 3
With this logic, local governments should tack on a "speed fee" so you don't have to worry about getting tickets.

Either you have not been on the road in 5 years, or you just have no idea how rampant speeding is. Between interstates and expressways, and the deserted backroads (you would not believe how fast people drive when traffic is not an issue), its amazing the vast amount of speeding that goes on in.

How this would drive more people to speed is beyond me.

I am even willing to bet that of the city drivers, 80%+ speed. Speeding is illegal, however you want to put it, and I don't see why the city/county/state should have to constantly deal with speeders that have absolutely no regard for what they are doing, speeding day in and day out, without ever having the intention of slowing down.

RE: What will this do?
By Jimbo1234 on 12/8/2008 2:01:38 PM , Rating: 2
They already do, it's called a gas tax. But the downside is that they still ticket you on top of that.

RE: What will this do?
By Moishe on 12/10/2008 10:02:54 AM , Rating: 2
What they are trying to do is create an environment where music is paid for by default and they get their money no matter what.

I'm not opposed to this in every way, BUT I agree with the comment that it will set into stone the music distribution industry and will stifle other content distribution methods.

If I could pay $20/month and get all music all the time with no restrictions... that'd be great. If it was $50/month...? What about $100/month? The problem is that they equate "fair" with current prices. They will say "You can download "X" albums over a common broadband connection in one month and they will want to charge us X * $15 (their price for an album) or X * $0.99 (their price for a song).

Just like I don't want to pay $90/mth to have 50 garbage cable channels bundled in with the 5-6 channels I actually watch, I don't want to pay $90/mth for a lot of garbage music I will never listen to.

By epyon96 on 12/8/2008 9:01:40 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder what it would take to shut an organization like RIAA down. Suing your customers not only ensures that particular customer will probably never shop with RIAA products again but also ensures at least a tens of others who are the customer's friends.

Adding a levy onto universities for no apparent reason makes no sense when they are going to sue you the second you leave and start earning.

RE: Ridiculous
By Bateluer on 12/8/2008 9:21:46 AM , Rating: 3
Very few people know where their music comes from, which artists are on which labels when, etc. I buy my music from DRM free sources like Amazon, but I'm pretty sure I've purchased some tracks from RIAA affiliates.

Their organization is dying a slow death, and it seems that they want their death throes to cause as much agony as possible so that they are remembered as a hated and reviled entity.

RE: Ridiculous
By foolsgambit11 on 12/8/2008 7:54:04 PM , Rating: 2
Just because it's DRM-free doesn't mean it isn't within the purview of the RIAA. It depends on if the label that put out the music is part of the RIAA. Most major recording artists are with a label that is part of the RIAA. EMI, Warner Bros, Sony, BMG, Death Row, Elektra, Mercury, Philips, RCA, Rhino, &c, &c, &c....

Notable non-labels (in my record collection, at least): Sub Pop, Matador, Kill Rock Stars, Polyvinyl, Merge, Elephant 6.... although they can have distribution agreements with RIAA members (like Sub Pop releasing Nirvana albums with Geffen Records).

So, if you want anything with regular radio play, you'll be working with the RIAA. But there are some great indie groups out there to be found.

RE: Ridiculous
By Reclaimer77 on 12/8/2008 8:05:46 PM , Rating: 2
But there are some great indie groups out there to be found.

Not really.

RE: Ridiculous
By MrBlastman on 12/8/2008 10:19:55 AM , Rating: 2
Do you really want to know? It is very complicated given how powerful the RIAA is... So complicated that the solution might suprise you:

a. Stop Buying Music from RIAA affiliated labels
b. Buy Music directly from independent artists or buy it USED/second hand
c. Problem solved

For more information on what labels/artists are affiliated with the RIAA, see:

Tough solution, right? Stop buying music.

It is that simple. Free Market rules all and this is as pure as you can get.

RE: Ridiculous
By DASQ on 12/8/2008 12:07:27 PM , Rating: 2
Buying it used/second hand does not guarantee any kind of money toward the artists. All it actually does is funnel more funds towards new purchases of the store/friend/cornerguy.

Which is why things like Gamestop/eBgames used game programs are daylight robbery. They charge FIVE dollars less than the retail price of a brand new game for the used, their sales guys push it hard 'Would you like to save five dollars and buy the pre-owned copy instead? No? You don't want to save five dollars?' like you're doing something wrong, when they full well know the margin is probably twice as high on the used games.

If you were to buy a brand new $60 game, open it, and trade it in for cash, you'd probably only get $20 out of it. They sell that for $55, net $35 for them with zero associated cost.

Which is why I do not buy used games unless they are hard to find (which makes new copies more inticing!) or are 'junk' throwaway games.

RE: Ridiculous
By MrBlastman on 12/8/2008 12:52:07 PM , Rating: 3
I know this.

However, if you buy it used, the RIAA doesn't see a dime. Sure, the artist doesn't benefit, BUT - it is a way to buy RIAA affiliated music without sending any more money their way.

I'd rather support the small business owner than the Mafia.

RE: Ridiculous
By akugami on 12/8/2008 4:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
If you love a particular band/artist, you can buy their music second hand. This gives zero extra money to the RIAA. The downside is they would have already received a bit of money from the original sale. The true downside is that the band/artist doesn't get paid extra. To counter this, just buy merchandise affiliated with that band or artist such as shirts, hats, and other licensed merchandise.

RE: Ridiculous
By fic2 on 12/8/2008 2:38:20 PM , Rating: 2
Cut out the middleman try craigslist instead of gamestop.

I don't get this...
By cscpianoman on 12/8/2008 11:33:35 AM , Rating: 2
Honest question/comment/thought here: the university I attended blocked all P2P programs, thus negating use of the service on their networks. Internally, it could still be done. We did it. We just dumped all our music on one computer and anyone could have access to it. There was something like 30-40GB that our dept. had access. That type of sharing the RIAA can't stop, ever; and it would be difficult for the university to block that type of sharing. But universities, you think, should have the IT resources to block P2P on their networks. That includes on-campus housing such that the RIAA can't detect any activity whatsoever and no lawsuits ensue against the university. You would think most universities would have already blocked this stuff already because P2P takes up so much bandwidth, or am I wrong?

RE: I don't get this...
By mm2587 on 12/8/2008 1:19:31 PM , Rating: 2
because p2p in and of itself is perfectly legal. There are tons of lawful uses of p2p networks. Torrents are becoming very popular for the distribution of open source software and patches. Now theres no arguing the huge amount of illegal p2p traffic but that does not negate its legal uses.

Now if bandwidth is an issue for a universitiy then blocking all p2p programs might have its merits, but there are better ways then an all out ban. My university monitors bandwidth used (even files sent within the network.) High bandwidth usage is flagged and investigated to see if the usage is legal.

RE: I don't get this...
By Doormat on 12/8/2008 2:01:39 PM , Rating: 2
Now if bandwidth is an issue for a universitiy then blocking all p2p programs might have its merits, but there are better ways then an all out ban. My university monitors bandwidth used (even files sent within the network.) High bandwidth usage is flagged and investigated to see if the usage is legal.

500GB External HDDs are cheap. Load one up and pass it around the dorm. Slower yes, worries about theft, yes. Hard/impossible for the RIAA to stop, yes.

RE: I don't get this...
By FITCamaro on 12/8/2008 2:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah my school monitored bandwidth. I had a friend who's internet was shut off for a week. But you had to download ALOT to get flagged. I think he did like 50GB in one month. To some of you that maybe isn't a lot. To most it is. Was kinda sad actually. Was all porn and hentai.

RE: I don't get this...
By Darkefire on 12/8/2008 3:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
I went to a smaller private school that blocked all P2P programs, including even IRC and Usenet. Mind you, they were running on a backbone that couldn't even handle the midday load of everyone's AIM traffic. P2P is incredibly intensive on a campus's upload, especially if any significant percentage of the student body is leaving on torrents constantly, and it's easier for them to simply block the lot of it and distribute things internally. Our IT department, although full of Mac-philes who couldn't fix a Windows problem if their life depended on it, were all perfectly happy to hook you up with a Linux distro or other largish piece of software if you gave them a couple days' notice.

I put up with it for two years before moving off campus into my fraternity house, with its own cable internet. But right before I did, I discovered the joys of Rapidshare; completely unblockable by the university, and although a 12mb pipe spread across 1300 students isn't much to speak of during the day it's incredibly fast when they're all asleep at 2 in the morning.

Sounds like...
By PlasmaBomb on 12/8/2008 8:43:28 AM , Rating: 2
Another way of gaining leverage for the introduction of a universal surcharge for ISPs...

RE: Sounds like...
By Ryanman on 12/8/2008 8:46:45 AM , Rating: 5
At this point, I feel morally obligated to NEVER pay for music from the RIAA again.

RE: Sounds like...
By AlexWade on 12/8/2008 9:43:45 AM , Rating: 2
Join the crowd. The only way the RIAA is getting my money ever again is if I want to buy an older CD or song. I will, however, buy CD's from labels not with the RIAA. One of my favorite is Nettwerk.

Sounds like (sort of) a good idea to me.
By Clauzii on 12/8/2008 9:15:11 AM , Rating: 1
I would imagine it's cheaper for the Universities to go into a plan like this, rather than being fined for the illegal downloads hosted on those very same servers.

By amanojaku on 12/8/2008 11:05:25 AM , Rating: 2
Think about this for a minute. This is similar to the MPAA and the RIAA getting ISP fees increased to cover the potential for piracy. "We promise not to send threatening letters to your house any more if you just pay us through your ISP."

Even better, this is like the Mafia hitting stores up for protection money. "We promise we won't steal nothin' if youse give us some cabbage."

RE: Sounds like (sort of) a good idea to me.
By AntiM on 12/8/2008 11:48:46 AM , Rating: 4
I see so many things wrong with this plan, I don't know where to begin. For one thing, it assumes everyone is a pirate. Plus, the only way to insure money collected will be dispersed to proper artists would be to monitor the network to see what songs are being traded the most; how would they do that? Plus I don't like the idea of an industry making tons of money for essentially doing nothing.

The cheapest thing for the Universities to do would be to ignore this ludicrous idea and tell the music industry to solve it's own problems, however, it seems they have some very powerful allies in congress.
The music INDUSTRY (aka Major Labels) should just go away. Music will live on. Good artists will make money. Good (and bad) music will continue to be created and people will continue to be entertained.

By BadAcid on 12/8/2008 1:49:06 PM , Rating: 2
This makes me want to start my own record label,
make some terrible mp3s of me singing nonsensical drivel,
then send a bill to the university when I get people to download them.

Innocent until proven guilty - outdated idea?
By Hakuryu on 12/8/2008 12:41:18 PM , Rating: 3
I can understand the reasoning behind this, but it penalizes those that never have stolen a music track. Why should I have to pay extra for someone elses illegal activity? There has to be a better way to deal with illegal downloads than penalize everyone.

I guess innocent until proven guilty should be changed to 'everyone is equally guilty and responsible'. Perhaps we all should spend 1 year in jail because someone out there is sure to commit murder this year, or pay $1,000 extra in taxes because someone will cheat the IRS.

By bldckstark on 12/8/2008 12:54:19 PM , Rating: 2
You all do realize that the price of everything in a brick and mortar company has been marked up to cover the cost of theft right? Prices have been raised to cover the loss of income related to shoplifting for decades. You are already paying for other peoples thefts, and always will be.

By PitViper007 on 12/8/2008 3:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
So, do you think that the price of CD's will go down if they implement this "Tax"? If you do, you're sadly mistaken I'm sorry to say. The RIAA will take this money and add it to what they get now from legal downloads and CD sales, as an ADDED INCOME.

By psychobriggsy on 12/8/2008 9:22:28 AM , Rating: 2
Why don't the music companies set up something for students of any type that provides the following:

1) A place to access all the music for the labels on the scheme

2a) Free music, 5 year lifetime via DRM (i.e., once you leave university, you'll eventually have to pay for it properly.
2b) Yearly fee that is reasonable for a student to pay, no expiration of music.

3) Fair redistribution of gained funds to artists based upon how popular that artist is for downloads.

Point (3) is the biggie here, I cannot support any form of taxation on media, internet access and so on, where the money collection will go to a music body to 'give to the artists', unless the money is shown to go to the artists, and that it won't only go to a select few artists meaning that the vast majority get nothing. Also I am strongly opposed to a blanket tax that you don't have a choice in paying whether you download or not.

When music costs so much (for a student), and you have very little spare, what are you going to spend it on? Food, or a CD? I don't think many sales are lost to student P2P copying, and I'm sure that extra sales are made as a result of it - but not of the label's big name signings, the stuff that it played on repeat on the radio stations.

By Spivonious on 12/8/2008 9:57:14 AM , Rating: 4
You mean like Rhapsody's subscription service? I think that's the best idea yet. Unlimited and unrestricted downloads as long as you keep paying the monthly fee.

By svenkesd on 12/8/2008 9:40:48 AM , Rating: 2
Money collected will be dispersed to artists through a means that has yet to be determined.

RIAA and music labels keep 99%, artists get 1%.

RE: Translation
By chmilz on 12/8/2008 10:49:48 AM , Rating: 2
RIAA and music labels keep 99%, artists get 1%

99% of that 1% goes to factory churned has-beens like Britney Spears, instead of actual artists, to keep the big ugly celebrity machine turning.

RE: Translation
By Drexial on 12/8/2008 12:16:56 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly the points I was going to bring up. This fee all goes to the RIAA. This isn't a solution. Its just another way to gain more money compared to what the artists get already. In reality record companies are just loan/advertising agencies. They loan you money they think they will make back through record sales. Then continue to collect after that loan is paid off.

You don't sell enough to make the money back then you owe. If you don't make the millions they thought you would, its your fault. That's like if a company you invested in didn't perform the way you thought it would, then demanded back the money you invested, even though the shares are worth half.

I mean I understand the personal responsibility that should be involved with any contract. But it always seems the individual gets screwed. If you don't make money you still owe them whats left. If they don't make money you loose what you invested.

More proof they're a mob
By Arramol on 12/8/2008 9:08:50 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds to me like a mob buyoff fee. Apparently the RIAA feels obliged to make the universities an offer they can't refuse.

RE: More proof they're a mob
By cornelius785 on 12/8/2008 9:58:23 AM , Rating: 2
Now that someone mentions it, this really does sound like a Mafia/gang protection fee. As long as the 'business' pays up, they are pretty much ensured that they will not be hassled.

Part of me is surprised that this has some traction, but when I think about it for a little longer, it was only a matter of time considering their other tactics.

Talk about unfair
By Quijonsith on 12/8/2008 1:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
If this goes through it means that if a university I go to decides to participate in this I would be charged money so that everyone can download music without fear of being sued by the RIAA, despite the fact that I actually go out and buy CDs. Why should I be charged so that others can download free music?

Tuition for universities is supposed to be for covering the costs of ones education. Teacher salary, administrative fees, utility costs, and internet access are good examples of this (yes internet access I would consider to be toward education given the resources it avails). A blanket fee paid directly to the RIAA is not an educational expense.

Don't even get me started on how this affects the music market itself. The RIAA would distribute the money as it sees fit. Who's to guarantee that the artists who actually deserve the money are the ones getting it. The RIAA would distribute all of this extra money specifically to they artists they want to promote. It'll all be about what the next fad is, not about good music. Not that it's not that way now. Simply that it'll get even worse.

Then there's the prospect of doing this with ISPs. As my point before goes, I buy my music from stores. I shouldn't have to pay a blanket fee for those others who download music for free. This entire idea smells a little to similar to socialism for my taste.

The only thing positive I could see about this is that if it is done properly and fairly it would lead to more widely accessibly music to anyone with an internet connection. But I don't really trust that it would be done properly or fairly.

RE: Talk about unfair
By Quijonsith on 12/8/2008 1:59:42 PM , Rating: 2
As an add on:

Just imagine if everyone who goes to walmart were charged a fee on top of everything they buy during every purchase, and the result were that anyone can walk in and grab all the CDs they want. Yeah, that'd real fair.

Legitimizing p2p file sharing
By ccmfreak2 on 12/8/2008 1:25:38 PM , Rating: 3
I may gain some heat for saying this, but I have been against p2p networks for years due to the basic ethics of not paying for the music/programs/movies you are downloading. I have, to some extent, stood with the music industry as they tried to make sure they can actually make a profit.

However, this just ticks me off. Now, since little progress has been made in preventing p2p file sharing, you are going to charge all college students for use of p2p software that the music industries don't own, whether or not the student use it? As a college student, I am completely outraged. I am being charged for one more thing that I may or may not use. But probably the most staggering thing about this attempt is that this move will ultimately legitimize the act of file sharing.

Being a college student, I understand that most college students don't look at their breakdown. If they did, they would realize that the average university charges you about $250 a month to eat PER PERSON! My point is that students will pay this, not realizing they are paying for it, and be told it is now ok to use the software. When they graduate, the habit has been set in place, and the music industry is continually screwed.

This doesn't even begin to assess the damage that this will do to bandwidth across universities and the increase in viruses/malware this will open up to these networks. I see this as a bad move for everyone.

Stupid RIAA
By Alexstarfire on 12/8/2008 9:21:03 AM , Rating: 2
This is honestly the dumbest thing to come out of the RIAA. At least suing people made some sense. This.... just WTF. I guess they assume that EVERYONE pirates music. Seems like just another ploy for the innocent to have to pay for the guilty..

By metaltoiletry on 12/8/2008 10:00:13 AM , Rating: 2
Why should I pay to avoid being sued by the RIAA when I am already not in any danger, nor will be?

I see that Penn. State is interested in this plan. If they adopt this "flat fee" and it ends up being a required fee in tuition, I would reconsider going to Penn. State for my Masters.

pay twice
By Baov on 12/8/2008 10:49:23 AM , Rating: 2
What the hell is this. It's illegal, AND you get taxed? What about the people who want to buy CDs.

By phxfreddy on 12/8/2008 11:05:47 AM , Rating: 2
I say fight these RIAA commisars. They should be forced to fight every single law suit and for realistic damages not the 10,000 - 100,000 dollar values I see bandied about. This is strictly gestapo intimidation techniques.

QUESTION: Who else could get away with this type of strategy?

ANSWER: no one but left wing sympathetic Stalinists.

Some universities already do this
By the goat on 12/8/2008 12:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
My former co-worker's son goes to RPI. My co-worker told me that there was a RIAA license fee line item on the tuition bill.

In other news, can the RIAA legally offer this deal to college students and not offer it to the general public?

How times have changed...
By kmmatney on 12/8/2008 1:31:29 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt much of the University Bandwidth is taken up by music downloads. Nowadays, you can pretty much download more music than you can ever listen to within a few days. Most of the bandwidth would be movie and game piracy, I would think.

When I was at UCLA back in the late 80's and early 90's, I actually had to (gasp!) pay for my CD music collection. I had no money, but still managed to buy one or two CDs a month. You had to be very selective about the choices you made. The cassette tape was our form of piracy, and I had plenty of copied tapes, but if you really liked something you'd buy it on CD.

One thing I've noticed is that concert tickets are way higher than they were 15-20 years ago. This is no doubt to make up for the lost revenue for music sales. Since so few people buy CDs now, prices are going to stay high, except for your top sellers at Walmart. I don't think the music industry will ever be the same.

By wwwebsurfer on 12/8/2008 2:01:22 PM , Rating: 2
We've had Ruckus doing this for YEARS - handing out free DRM'd music and videos to university students with a 1 year license to make sure you're still a student. Why do we need anything else?

By MarchTheMonth on 12/8/2008 10:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
Music Tax sounds a lot like something else I've heard about...oh yeah, protection money. Amusing, RIAA calls it a tax, mobs call it protection...

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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