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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: What will this do?
By omnicronx on 12/8/2008 9:44:03 AM , Rating: -1
I hate the RIAA just as much as the next guy, but you guys are really whining about one of the best ideas to ever come out of the RIAA. Either you have not been to school in 5 years, or you just have no idea how rampant piracy is in universities. Between internal sharing networks, and the 24/7 downloading using university bandwidth (you would not believe how much downloading people do when bandwidth is not an issue), its amazing the vast amounts of piracy that goes on in schools.

How this would drive more people to piracy is beyond me, it just seems like you guys are whining for the sake of it. And how are rising tuition fees the fault of anyone but the universities, it has absolutely nothing to do with the RIAA and implementing this tax.

I am even willing to bet that of the students that stay on university campus, 80%+ engage in illegal downloading. Piracy is illegal, however you want to put it, and I don't see why the universities should have to constantly deal with students that have absolutely no regard for what they are doing, downloading thousands upon thousands of songs, without ever having the intention of buying an album, whether they like it or not.

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.

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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