Businessweek Archives

Irony of Music Industry's Late Embrace of Taxes/Collective Licensing


Portfolio lays out the recording industry’s new interest in imposing a tax on ISPs to create a pool of money to use to compensate musicians.

Ahh, the irony. When Larry Lessig or EFF began to try pushing the idea of compulsory or collective licensing five years ago, the idea was equivalent to heresy. It was extreme, it was unheard of, it was crazy. The record labels wouldn’t hear of the notion, which they equated to taking away their power to control their market.

Well, now they are interested. And ironically, the Web that might have embraced the idea five years ago is up in arms, calling it “extortion.”

Frankly, I think that Fred Von Lohmann at EFF is right about this idea, that offering an extra fee to people at ISPS who want to download without fear of litigation is a good idea. Since 2003, 40,000 people have been targeted by the RIAA for copyright infringement. Most have ended up settling for a few thousand dollars.

Yet, now it’s late. Now, the recording industry doesn’t have the leverage. Now the recording industry faces an uphill battle getting anyone to accept this.


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