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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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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.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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