According to a report from the Conde Nast Portfolio, Warner is putting significant effort into pushing for a mandatory Internet tax to receive unlimited access to any recorded music.
The company has hired Jim Griffin to spearhead the effort. Griffin commented:
Today, it has become purely voluntary to pay for music. If I tell you to go listen to this band, you could pay, or you might not. It’s pretty much up to you. So the music business has become a big tip jar.
But we’re swinging toward the vine of music as a service. We need to get ready to let go and grab the next vine, which is a pool of money and a fair way to split it up, rather than controlling the quantity and destiny of sound recordings.
Warner’s plan would have consumers pay an additional fee—maybe $5 a month—bundled into their monthly internet-access bill. Griffin says those fees could create a pool as large as $20 billion annually to pay artists and copyright holders.
Critics point out that the entire notion is incorrect:
Jim will vehemently deny the ‘tax’ label. But it’s a tax nonetheless. It’ll be a government-approved cartel that collects money from virtually everyone—often without their knowledge—and failure to pay their tax will ultimately result in people with guns coming to your door.
Considering music is not the only thing being illegally shared on the Internet, it is not clear why the music industry should receive such a government-mandated subsidy while other industries – film, video games, software and other content – should be treated differently. Of course, if every industry affected by piracy were to charge $5.00, Internet services bills would double.
Furthermore, it is unclear how the money will be allocated, whether users will be expected to submit “downloading reports” or whether they will be allowed to select the artist to receive their payments. As such, this seems to directly favor major label and RIAA artists while fiercely independent acts will be penalized.
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