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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: 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.

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