From today’s edition of Wired (a digital news site):
“Having failed to stop piracy by suing internet users, the music industry is for the first time seriously considering a file sharing surcharge that internet service providers would collect from users.
“In recent months, some of the major labels have warmed to a pitch by Jim Griffin, one of the idea’s chief proponents, to seek an extra fee on broadband connections and to use the money to compensate rights holders for music that’s shared online. Griffin, who consults on digital strategy for three of the four majors, will argue his case at what promises to be a heated discussion Friday at South by Southwest.”
Piracy of music recordings is a huge problem for musicians and record labels. As a musician and a label owner, I am certainly aware of that. No one knows the final outcome of the current fiasco, but past and current efforts of the large corporations in the industry, beginning with the absurd Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the multi-thousand dollar lawsuits of individual file sharers, and other repressive actions have only made matters worse. This new proposal plans to tax internet service providers a suggested fee of $5 / month per user! The resultant money – millions of dollars per month – to be divided among the corporate music entities by formulas sinmilar to what ASCAP, BMI, etc. now use to divide royalty payments.
Now, this proposed surcharge would not apply only to those who belong to peer-to-peer file sharing networks, but to all internet users. Griffin and cohorts claim that 20% of internet users illegally download music files. So here we have a double-whammy: most of us do not illegally download music files, yet we would be forced to pay a minimum of $60 a year in fees to cover the supposedly “lost” royalties to the music inductry giants. At the same time, those of us who attempt to make a living in the music business as small independent artists and labels will, as usual, not see a dime of the surcharge money, since it is the big cats who will be in charge of the distribution.
I would urge anyone affected by this outrageous proposal to keep close track of developments in the next few weeks. This seems just another bold agttempt by the big corporations to rope off music income to themselves.