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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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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.


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