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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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Talk about unfair
By Quijonsith on 12/8/2008 1:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
If this goes through it means that if a university I go to decides to participate in this I would be charged money so that everyone can download music without fear of being sued by the RIAA, despite the fact that I actually go out and buy CDs. Why should I be charged so that others can download free music?

Tuition for universities is supposed to be for covering the costs of ones education. Teacher salary, administrative fees, utility costs, and internet access are good examples of this (yes internet access I would consider to be toward education given the resources it avails). A blanket fee paid directly to the RIAA is not an educational expense.

Don't even get me started on how this affects the music market itself. The RIAA would distribute the money as it sees fit. Who's to guarantee that the artists who actually deserve the money are the ones getting it. The RIAA would distribute all of this extra money specifically to they artists they want to promote. It'll all be about what the next fad is, not about good music. Not that it's not that way now. Simply that it'll get even worse.

Then there's the prospect of doing this with ISPs. As my point before goes, I buy my music from stores. I shouldn't have to pay a blanket fee for those others who download music for free. This entire idea smells a little to similar to socialism for my taste.

The only thing positive I could see about this is that if it is done properly and fairly it would lead to more widely accessibly music to anyone with an internet connection. But I don't really trust that it would be done properly or fairly.

RE: Talk about unfair
By Quijonsith on 12/8/2008 1:59:42 PM , Rating: 2
As an add on:

Just imagine if everyone who goes to walmart were charged a fee on top of everything they buy during every purchase, and the result were that anyone can walk in and grab all the CDs they want. Yeah, that'd real fair.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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