Good musicians will always find a way to make money. Others may have to follow their passion as a hobby and (shudder) get a day job to pay the bills. But if a music tax is put in place, that innovation will die, and with guaranteed revenues and profits, the need to innovate, market and compete will also die. A music tax is a sure fire way to destroy an industry that is just beginning to really blossom.
The tax would allegedly be $5/month, charged by all participating ISPs. I imagine that it would become buried in your monthly internet bill, much like the private copying levy is embedded into the price of Canadian iPods, hard drives and recordable media. While technically you might be able to seek out an ISP that isn’t participating in the program, the industry would goad, bribe, sweet talk or sue dissenting ISPs into a more agreeable stance.
As Arrington points out in a subsequent post, the plan is basically a “covenant not to sue anyone who pays the fee”.
The idea of a $5 a month tax isn’t new. In fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation proposed a very similar approach three years ago. The only difference is that their levy would be voluntary:
The concept is simple: the music industry forms a collecting society, which then offers file-sharing music fans the opportunity to “get legit” in exchange for a reasonable regular payment, say $5 per month. So long as they pay, the fans are free to keep doing what they are going to do anywayÃ¢â‚¬â€share the music they love using whatever software they like on whatever computer platform they preferÃ¢â‚¬â€without fear of lawsuits. The money collected gets divided among rights-holders based on the popularity of their music.
I still think artists ought to be paid for their work (heck, I made a website about it). Would I pay $5 per month to get complete access to all music ever recorded, avoid prosecution and forget about the phrase ‘traffic shaping’? In a heartbeat. I already pay eMusic $15 a month to download 50 songs from a comparatively small archive of 3 million. Such a tax like this would be a discount.
Just as the Canadian levy is applied to a lot of consumers who have never illegally downloaded a song, a de facto mandatory tax will punish the many for the actions of the few. The music industry ought to make this tax voluntary, and take what they can get.