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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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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.

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