Taxing Questions: Are Compulsory Licenses a Solution to the P2P Debate?
Subject:   Am I Missing Something?
Date:   2003-10-03 14:33:25
From:   anonymous2
Perhaps it's an issue previously addressed in the Mechanical Copyright systems in place in Europe, but it wasn't made sufficiently clear to me here: How would the body of potential consumers be persuaded to pay an increased service charge for the *right* to download and use digital media?

In order to compensate the media producers at a level that (in their minds) justifies continuing to create new product, a significant number of dollars must be collected and redistributed each year. [I'll put aside the questions of who sets this total dollar amount, and on what it is based (it can't be scaled to usage, because it's a pre-set surcharge), though I suspect they would become important as well.] Even divided among all Internet clients, this would amount to well more than a few bucks per person per year.

The surcharge-to-basic cost ratio of the network service would be significant. Perhaps it would be $100 per user, in addition to an internet connection costing between $120 and $1200 per year. If I recall correctly, the European surcharge for CD burners is nothing near this high in proportion to the cost of the burner itself, much less the cost of an entire computer.

Then, what about those users who don't consume digital media? If a non-trivial number of people want to go online for basic e-mail but don't want to use their computers to listen to downloaded music or watch movies online, that $100 annual surcharge might make them think twice about buying the connection at all. So, do ISPs begin providing a "no digital media" connection model, without the surcharge? How do they enforce that usage restriction? Does the price become $250 per person for the remaining users?

While I'm just working these ideas out in my head (and on "paper") now, my initial reaction is to be quite nervous about any sort of compulsory licensing scheme. I'd rather pay for what I elect to consume, rather than for what the average user consumes. I really doubt that I'm alone in this thinking. Just my $0.02.

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  • Am I Missing Something?
    2004-10-06 01:15:04  jma138 [View]

    " I'd rather pay for what I elect to consume, rather than for what the average user consumes."

    What about all of the other fees you pay for things you might not use? You pay for 911 emergency service on your phone bill whether or not you use it. Same thing with police and fire departments. I have never called the fire department, but my tax money has gone to it. What's the concept of insurance? Look at all of the taxes on your phone or cable bills - a lot of them are for services that you may or may not directly benefit from.
  • Am I Missing Something?
    2003-10-21 03:24:51  anonymous2 [View]

    $100 per user a year? It would not need to be any more than $6. Read on:

    The way I see it, $6 a year from the 180 million people on the internet in the us alone would net the industry (hopefully the artists) $1,080,000,000. Fifty cents a month for unlimited downloads and knowledge (through an aforementioned third party like soundscan) that the artists would be paid? That's fine with me. I don't know why you'd think it would ever be $100. A $6 annual surcharge would be invisible to most consumers. Most people spend more than that on a happy meal.

    It's clear that 60 million people do not want the old distribution system anymore, they don't want to pay $.99 a song or $10 an album for something that has zero distribution costs, especially if apple gets $.35 and the RIAA gets $.65 of which they dole out maybe $.08 to the artist, who must pay it back to the label for production costs. Per-song per-album just won't work anymore. Neither will any form of drm. No matter which option gets chosen, p2p will always exist and millions will use it. We're looking at something akin to the war on drugs here, and things are only getting started.

    That's my two bits.