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Unlimited Legal Music Downloads for $3.95 a Month?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the too-good-to-be-true dept.

Businesses 244

fishmasta writes "I'm at a major university studying the music industry, so we get to regularly talk to executives in the major labels. In a recent talk with someone working at Warner Bros, she brought up an idea they want to try where all file sharing is legalized by paying $4-5 a month through an ISP, all downloads are permanent, and you can get them from any source, and do what you want with them. It seems like some in the industry are starting to 'get it.' I was just wondering what Slashdot thinks of this idea. Would you be willing to pay a small fee each month if you could get all the music you want and have no legal liability?"El-Man has another take on that subject replacing "unlimited" with a set number of licenses: "I believe that people are basically honest (maybe a failing, but it's how I feel), and are quite happy to pay for something of value. With music downloads, the only solution the recording industry has come up with is wrapping digital files with onerous, incompatible DRM systems, suing those whom they say have illegally distributed music (what is it, 13000 people and counting? Surely the courts have better things to do!), and generally not doing themselves or music lovers any good. How about a system, whereby a user can purchase a license for [n] amount of digital music files? Numbers can be, 10, 50, 100, 200, etc. Doesn't matter what the files are, as long as the number is not exceeded. There'd be a lot of details to thrash out, but is this something that is ultimately workable?"

If you were an executive of a medium-to-large sized record company, how would you handle the potential of the Internet?

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244 comments

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The only "It" they're getting is your money (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604134)

Just think about it. A mandatory $56 fee (a tax) per ISP customer. That's many millions of customers, equaling billions of guranteed dollars, with almost no work required of them to get it.

Re:The only "It" they're getting is your money (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604769)

Agreed, this is the best offer I've seen yet, but this is going to be either a big dick from Warner or the Feds.

My Constitutional Law is a bit hazy, but seeing as we had to pass an amendment for the federal income tax, I'm pretty sure a countrywide tax would be require one as well, and that's Bad News. Underhanded money-passing between Big Corporation and Big Government is one thing, but this wouldn't even be like trying to hide it.

And, of course, negotiating taxes with each individual state would be a complete mess, so I don't see how this would get off the ground, really.

Re:The only "It" they're getting is your money (1)

GuyWithLag (621929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605088)

Bah, this is just a move to kill iTunes....

I doubt it... (1)

SSonnentag (203358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604147)

I'd have a hard time coming up with at least one new song I liked every month and was willing to pay for. I'll stick to buying individual songs or albums as I run across them.

Re:I doubt it... (2, Insightful)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604236)

While I don't like much new music, I can think of a lot of old stuff that I would want to get my hands on legally. Just look at a group like The Beatles. How many compilations are out there? I would be more than glad to pay $4-5 a month for that. The problem is, that's not much money. What record label is going to give up their music if they know it's good?

Re:I doubt it... (1)

eric76 (679787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604459)

It could be quite a bit of money if that $4-5 a month was from everyone with an ISP account.

The original posting doesn't say whether the $4-5 a month is for every user or just those wanting to share music.

Re:I doubt it... (2, Insightful)

Randall_Jones (849846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604571)

What record label is going to give up their music if they know it's good?

they're already giving it up for free--on bittorrent, on emule, etc... the idea is to provide a legal alternative that costs a reasonable amount of money. Even people as stupid as record company executives must be able to understand that making some money of internet downloads is better than making no money.

Free beer. (1)

ncurtain (937487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605169)

The record industry has already missed the boat. In the late 50's and the 60's record companies were signing up anyone they chose and deciding for themselves who wrote what and which records got pushed.

Nobody else got a look-in. Radio presenters were influential in the extreme. And top acts earned millions.

Now any pub singer can write his own song and put it out to the world for the cost of a computer. There is no need to sign anyone up, the artist chooses what he sings and how many songs he publishes and doesn't need to sign a contract.

Of course he'll earn next to nothing besides the kudos and the bookings he might get from it. But it means that the entertainment industry is as free as it was an hundred years ago. All the artist has to do is cotton on.

Had the music industry handled Napster better and had Napster managed its content and accounts professionally, they would be calling all the tunes right now. Sony wouldn't even be in the biz. (Wouldn't that have been nice?)

Re:I doubt it... (1)

Methuseus (468642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604335)

So you sign up for a month or 2 every year and download everything you can get in that month or 2 and then delete what doesn't tickle your fancy. I think that makes the most sense to anyone.

Re:I doubt it... (3, Interesting)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604450)

So you sign up for a month or 2 every year and download everything you can get...
I thought about that too, until I remembered this was Time Warner, of AOL fame (or shame). They'll require some long, multiyear contract that's impossible to cancel.

Re:I doubt it... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604905)

I'd have a hard time coming up with at least one new song I liked every month and was willing to pay for.

Forget new songs for a moment. Think about the range and depth of recorded music as a whole. There are some in the business who have been around for over one hundred years. QRS [qrsmusic.com]

Isn't that just another form of the Piracy tax? (1, Insightful)

Dracil (732975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604150)

Like the kind they put on burnable media in certain countries?

Kinda... (2, Insightful)

mobiux (118006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604316)

It may be considered that if everyone that subscribed to the ISP had to pay regardless of downloading music or not. But if only those that signed up to the p2p option had to pay the extra 4.95 or whatever it is, then no it wouldn't be.

Hell, I'd take a piracy tax on my blank media any day, if it means I can copy music. Since now that I have an ipod, i don't buy any blank media any more. Well, maybe a single 50 pack a year or so.

Re:Kinda... (2, Interesting)

Randall_Jones (849846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604588)

then the (admittedely rare) individuals who buy blank cds for legal purposes have to pay the tax and get screwed. They tried to institute a blank tape tax in the 80's, and tried to get VCRs taken off the market, too. We know how well that worked out...

Oh Canada... (4, Informative)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604157)

This is precisely the system we have in Canada, through a levy on blank media.

Goddamn Finland ... (4, Informative)

halitus (172883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604733)

In Finland there is also a levy on all blank media, but beginning from this year downloading from non-authorized sources became illegal nevertheless. Now we just continue to pay for the privilege which we can't even legally use. Big hooray for the EUCD (European Union Copyright Directive), or at least our implementation of it.

This law was mostly forced on the parliament by our beloved culture minister (former Miss Finland), who insisted that the copyright law should promote just the copyright holders' interests, consumer rights are out of scope and should be addressed in consumer rights legislation (which is likely not going to be modified in near future at all).

No it is NOT !! Don't Belive The Hype ! (0, Troll)

SmegTheLight (521218) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604816)

The levy does NOT give you the right to do anything of the sort.

Anyone telling you otherwise is lying, probably in an effort to make themselves feel better about their illegal downloads
The levy is simply a money grab to allow a few people to make a good living working at an organization (CPCC) [www.cpcc.ca] created to collect the levy
...After they are done having a good time, any money left will go to Canadian Recording artists, or rather, their handlers.

What am I allowed to do because of the levy ?
You are allowed to make an unlimited copy of licenced material you ALREADY PAID FOR onto other forms of media for YOUR OWN PERSONAL USE

ie.. If you never paid for a licenced copy of a song, then you don't magicaly get a licence when you download it on Limewire and burn it onto you levied CD disc.

Re:Oh Canada... (3, Interesting)

mellon (7048) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605006)

Actually, that's not precisely the system you have. With the system you have, you pay the levy whether you use it or not, and whether you were otherwise entitled to the music or not (e.g., by buying it through iTMS or because you already paid for the CD).

Personally, I find the idea of paying a levy on every piece of media I *could* use to pirate music repugnant. I do sound for a Dharma center where we have a lot of teachings; we record them and give them away for free. Having to pay a levy for an iPod or for CDs or whatever is completely unfair in this case - we aren't getting any of that money back when people copy our audio (nor do we want it - the audio is *supposed* to be free).

Meanwhile, because of all the paranoia from the music industry, it's very difficult to record anything - there are so many attempts to close the analog hole and to avoid perfect copies that, to this day, it is a struggle to get any kind of usable equipment that works for us - e.g., something where you push "record" and you get a clean digital recording. If you have the bucks for really expensive pro gear this isn't out of the question, but all of the sub-$1k equipment is deliberately crippled.

Where do I sign up? (1)

TheCarlMau (850437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604161)

Personally, if you live in a capitalist country (I guess China would censor this if not), then go with the offer. When you see a deal like this, read the fine print, and run with it.

The only people that will "get it" will be the artists.

Yes. (5, Interesting)

jersey_emt (846314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604162)

I would gladly pay $5 a month for unlimited, non-DRMed music. Heck, I already pay $5 amonth for DRM'ed downloads (Yahoo! Music Unlimited).

sounds good in theory... (4, Insightful)

musonica (949257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604164)

But I don't see how the artists can make money from such a scheme after the labels take 90% of the profits?

Re:sounds good in theory... (1)

rnpg1014 (942171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604226)

Precisely what I was thinking. iTunes (interesting, starting a sentence with a propper noun whose first letter is lower case...) seems much more fair toward the artists of the music. There must be some catch, like you cannot burn it to a CD or any other portable media, because otherwise anybody with a computer and an internet connection (or a friend with both) could do this and CD prices would drop.

No money means no music. No music means no money. It's an endless loop that the RIAA would fight against 'til the death.

Re:sounds good in theory... (1)

labal (804733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604239)

Labels taking only 90% of the profits! Ha, keep going higher..... It's a pretty absurd situation where the artist is probably the person who makes the least amount of money from their product....

Re:sounds good in theory... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604367)

It's worse than that. You'd be paying the big record companies a welfare check every month, even while they become less and less relevant. The payment would not actually be tied to which music you found worthwhile enough to pay for - you could be downloading entirely independent artists that don't get a cent from their mortal enemies, the big record companies - but you'd still be paying the executives wages while the artists starved.

This is, most likely, what the record companies are going to wind up asking congress for. It fits perfectly with their welfare-ho philosophy as evidenced in their press releases and court documents so far.

Re:sounds good in theory... (1)

kubrick (27291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604495)

It wouldn't surprise me if we end up paying this fee without any legal protections anyway, to compensate the "artists" for their losses. (Not that the artists will ever see any of that money, of course.) When you have the legislature in your pockets, why settle for less income streams than you have to?

Re:sounds good in theory... (2, Informative)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605019)

The payment would not actually be tied to which music you found worthwhile enough to pay for

Sure, it may not be very accurate distributing your $5 payment to the right artists, but in aggregate such a system is surprisingly accurate. Nielsen Soundscan already tracks paid downloads. It wouldn't be hard for them to track popularity of P2P downloads too.

Re:sounds good in theory... (4, Interesting)

Crspe (307319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605171)

Nielsen Soundscan already tracks paid downloads. It wouldn't be hard for them to track popularity of P2P downloads too.

However what happens to the tracking if the artists themselves decide to boost their income by having bots download their songs as often as possible?

Tracking P2P downloads is probably simple and accurate as long as noone is profiting directly from the results. As soon as an individuals salary is completely dependant on these figures then I think it will get much more difficult to ensure the correctness of the results - it is too easy for people to influence.

Re:sounds good in theory... (2, Informative)

777film (946633) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604503)

But I don't see how the artists can make money from such a scheme after the labels take 90% of the profits?


They'll make the same they do from CD sales, which is nearly zero. If an artist makes money it's from licensing, publishing, merchandise and touring.

Re:sounds good in theory... (1)

musonica (949257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604595)

Yep sure, but thats not the way it has to be... hopefully thanks to the internet, artists will be able to negotiate much higher percentages, or sell their music directly... for instance i saw this site the other day:

Get your music onto iTunes and Rhapsody, and keep all your rights and keep 100% of the money from the sale and use of your music? URL:http://www.tunecore.com/

Re:sounds good in theory... (1)

musonica (949257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604620)

sorry: http://www.tunecore.com/ [tunecore.com]

I don't get it (2, Interesting)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604166)

In a recent talk with someone working at Warner Bros, she brought up an idea they want to try where all file sharing is legalized by paying $4-5 a month through an ISP


Isn't this basically just stealing from people who don't illegally download music off the Internet? Because basically you have to pay whether you download songs or not. I don't download copyrighted music anymore, but if Warner keeps advocating stealing from me I just might start stealing from them again in retaliation.

Re:I don't get it (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604315)

Isn't this basically just stealing from people who don't illegally download music off the Internet?

How so? Just have it as an extra cost item in your service.
"Do you want to include the $3.95 music download fee in your broadband subscription? []Yes []No"

If my broadband bill went from $50 to $54, AND included actual, legal, reliable, fast downloads? Hell yes.

Not that this will happen anytime soon, but yeah,I would.

Re:I don't get it (1)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604578)

Levies don't work like that. It's an all-or-nothing deal, just like the few pennies we pay to the RIAA for every blank CD we buy even if it's only used for data.

Re:I don't get it (1)

Randall_Jones (849846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604640)

I think the cd levy thing is true in Canada, but I've never heard about it in the US before. Can someone provide a source?

Re:I don't get it (3, Informative)

hab136 (30884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604718)

>I think the cd levy thing is true in Canada, but I've never heard about it in the US before. Can someone provide a source?

The US has it too. "Data" CDs don't have the tax. "Music" CDs do. The difference is one bit in the header, and a few bucks at checkout time.

The name of the law taxing music CDs (and DAT tapes, etc) is AHRA - Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, an amendment to the U.S. federal Copyright Act of 1976. It's often called the "DAT tax", but it applies to music CD-Rs too.

http://drmwatch.webopedia.com/TERM/A/AHRA.html [webopedia.com]

http://www.boycott-riaa.com/facts/truth [boycott-riaa.com]

http://www.eff.org/cafe/cafe_case_analysis.html [eff.org]

Re:I don't get it (1)

Bob MacSlack (623914) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604646)

Who said anything about a levy? We're talking about an optional payment here. I would definitely go for it, even though there's most likely too many problems with it to be viable (which music is legal? which isn't? i doubt non-RIAA labels are getting a piece of the pie).

Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe the US has a piracy levy on media -- at least yet.

Re:I don't get it (5, Insightful)

Trogre (513942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604794)

At first I thought "hell yes, this is what I've been waiting for!"

But then I considered this:

Where does that $3.95 or $10 or whatever go? Directly to the RIAA, and filtered down to the actual label and eventually the artist.

Now what happens to all the minor labels, the ones that aren't part of the RIAA? I'm not talking about companies like Magnatune that distribute low-bitrate recordings for free, but labels that charge per download?

Since this initiative will inevitibly result in an "I've paid my monthly dues so I can download any music for free" meme, the small labels will be forced to either give the music away for nothing or join the RIAA to get a piece of the pie. Of course this will effectively give the RIAA a total monopoly on music dollars.

I'm not saying free downloads are necessarily a bad thing, but it's just something to consider.

Re:I don't get it (2, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604854)

I'm not saying free downloads are necessarily a bad thing, but it's just something to consider.

I guess it depends on what was meant by 'download'. If they're talking about downloading from the current (or something similar) P2P programs, i.e. off some dudes hard drive, then no way I'd pay money for that. You'd still be left with the all too common partial files, mislabeled files, slooooow downloads, etc.

Now, if it was something like emusic.com used to be. All you can eat legal mp3's, for a flat fee, then hell yes.

But paying money, just to use the current P2P offerings? That's just paying protection money to the RIAA, and they don't have to do anything at all.

To quote Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, (1)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604167)

"lemme think..."

YES!

Re:To quote Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, (1, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604299)

I believe that the quote is "Gee, let me think... Um, sure." [favewavs.com]

</pedantic>

I'd buy that for a dollar! (2, Insightful)

supersocialist (884820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604170)

If it actually rendered all mp3s legal and copyright liability-free, I'd be happy to pay that tax. I hope it would make music easier to find, too. I can't even get my hands on the Mister Rogers theme song. How sad is that?

Re:I'd buy that for a dollar! (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604277)

You must not be feeling lucky...

(First Google hit for "mr rogers theme song" is
http://www.tripletsandus.com/80s/tv_theme_wav.htm [tripletsandus.com] )

Re:I'd buy that for a dollar! (1)

supersocialist (884820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604314)

Jeez! Thanks for the help. All of my searches included "download" or "midi" or "mp3," and that must have obfuscated it...

Re:I'd buy that for a dollar! (1)

Silentnite (815125) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604283)

pbskids.org/rogers will let you at least listen to the song. Download it? sorry No idea.

Executive, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604178)

If I was an executive of a medium-to-large sized record company, I would allow all my music to be downloaded for free. I would follow this by running my company into the ground, going bankrupt, having my wife leave me, and finally killing myself.

In other news, I'm glad I'm not an executive of a medium-to-large sized record company. :)

If.... (3, Insightful)

countach (534280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604209)

Yes I would pay IF I could easily obtain good high quality mp3s. Half the mp3s on limeware are rubbish - skips, and other flaws. If you're going to pay you need guaranteed quality.

Re:If.... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604325)

I wouldn't pay for mp3s at any time. If I am going to pay, I'll buy the CD and encode my own mp3s for my iPod.

Quality is an acceptable tradeoff against portability when I'm on the move, but when I buy music I want it to sound good on my hi-fi system at home. Mp3 and aac compression just don't cut it when you use a real stereo.

Re:If.... (1)

sudog (101964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604989)

Translation: the clueless need not apply.
You think $5 is going to buy you tech support to go with that get-out-of-jail-free card?

Cripes.. some people's sense of entitlement just blows me away sometimes..

interesting ideas, but... (2, Insightful)

pennyher0 (852359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604218)

I think the "pay $4-5 to make it all legal" idea would only work if all record labels participated, and all ISPs participated. You'd have to basically force every ISP to add this "music-download tax," and implement it across the board... otherwise customers are going to be flocking to the competition that doesn't include this tax, and continue downloading things for free.

Really, we're all whiny brats when it comes to our cable bills, so few of us (especially us poor college kids) are going to be ok with a $5 increase...

The idea of buying a license is interesting though. How would that work for those of us who have multiple copies of files on different machines or different music devices. I don't see how this could be enforced either... all p2p networks would have to participate and count how many files you downloaded, or check some kind of secure file that had a universally readable mp3 file count on your machine.

Both are interesting ideas, but I don't yet see how they could work.

Re:interesting ideas, but... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604330)

But then you're also taxing those who aren't downloading MP3s. I don't download illegal content with my connection. Why should I have to pay an extra $5 a month. Especially since that $5 will be split between all the artists under this program, and not go directly to the artists that I want to support. If they could devise a system whereby the money I pay goes to the bands I like, then it may work. But I still think it's a stupid idea. Either the money would be split up evenly between the artists, and the more popular ones that deserve more would get mad, or they'd have to have a way to keep track of every file you had, and distribute the money accordingly. Which I think would be an impossible system to maintain, assuming I could download the music from wherever I want.

Maybe it's because (1)

Rebelgecko (893016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604467)

You won't have to pay an extra $5 a month?

To clear this up... (1)

fishmasta (827305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604525)

she was talking about this as a cooperation between all the major labels and on an opt-in basis.

No (4, Interesting)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604221)


There is no way for the money to get back to the artist. This plan only benefits the labels. Perhaps they can survey the P2P networks and get a sample of what's being searched for, then pay the artists accordingly. This will ensure the popular artists get the money while those with fewer fans get the shaft. At least by getting DRMed music, in theory the provider can accurately track whose music is being downloaded and thus compensate the artists.

The Question Is: (1)

SirFozzie (442268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604228)

$3-$4/month for file sharing? fuck yes.

$3/$4 per month per RIGHTS holder? Fuck no.

Re:The Question Is: (3, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604544)

$3-$4/month for file sharing? fuck yes.
$3/$4 per month per RIGHTS holder? Fuck no.


There it is. They're talking only about one label. Assuming all the labels went for this, it'd be a pretty penny for the 4-5 big ones, and then a lesser sum for the smaller ones.

That's one of the main advantages of piracy, as I see it. Pirates can get all the content in one place, and as we've seen with TV stuff, it's almost more work to track down which network is with which service, and getting an iTMS and Google Video account, and have to manage 4-5 accounts. If the content industries united behind 2-3 stores that had all the content, it'd help them fight piracy a lot.

This is a step in the right direction (3, Insightful)

denissmith (31123) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604230)

I don't know if this is the right price, and the details need refinement, but in a word, yes. This is a good idea, but there needs to be a mechanism for artists to get adequately compensated. The notion that the RIAA members would get to decide how the artists got paid out of this is far more frightening than P2P. The record executives used to be thought of as close to mafiosi, but we now know they are much,much worse.

Re:This is a step in the right direction (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604361)

Another thing that bothers me here is that I see no mechanism for anyone other than the RIAA and its members to take part in this. Maybe my tinfoil head attire might be unwarranted, but it strikes me that this might be a very effective way for the RIAA to wipe out all competition.

Re:This is a step in the right direction (1)

Jeff Molby (906283) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604936)

The notion that the RIAA members would get to decide how the artists got paid out of this is far more frightening than P2P
C'mon, you're smarter than that. The RIAA has serious faults, but this is not one of them. They sign contracts with their artists. The artists obviously thought it was a good deal or they wouldn't have signed. If you're going to bitch, bitch about the right things.

Would your rather have all of a grape or a slice of watermelon? [slashdot.org]

Not if it's mandatory (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604232)

It sounds like the $4 fee would have to be a mandatory fee that anyone with an internet connection would pay. That's the only way the system would work well for the recording industry given the low price. I don't think it's fair that people who never download music should be forced to subsidize those that do. I already pay enogh for internet access. If I wanted a subscription music service, I could choose to pay for it from a number of providers, and the DRM doesn't bother me because I'm just renting the music anyway with a subscription service. I don't worry about burning songs either, since I'd buy a 60GB mp3 player and just load it up.

Wrong idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604568)

The extra four dollars would be well worth it considering the (probable) hundreds of millions of dollars directly lost by American taxpayers as a result of the lawsuits generated. And the indirect hundreds of millions lost in productivity and time. And the cultural loss of thousands of (now) unknown artists, turned away by record labels as they tighten funding of new talent to pay for lawyers and for money sapped by as-yet-illegal filesharing services. Four dollars is a penny and some copper shavings per day. Four dollars is a sum easily forgotten, a smart and small investment among the uncertainty and waste of most others.

It has to be said. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604237)

"I believe that people are basically honest (maybe a failing, but it's how I feel),"

I'm not honest, and that is the truth.

Re:It has to be said. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604385)

You didn't make a paradox. "You're not honest"-- evaluates to true, since you do sometimes lie. "and that's the truth"-- again, evaluates to true. You may say, "but doesn't that contradict the first premise?" but it doesn't, since you didn't say that you ALWAYS lie, just that you don't always tell the truth.

Nice buggy whip holder... (1)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604238)

...for your car.

Might even work in the short term. But the recording industry is already dead--the body just hasn't stopped twitching yet, is all.

How to pay people to create ``intellectual property'' is going to be quite a challenge. Unless somebody comes up with something better, we're stuck as using the ``property'' itself as a loss leader to sell tickets to concerts, lectures, and the like on the one hand and commissions / works for hire on the other. Both are the traditional models that worked for centuries, if not millennia, before the advent of publishing in its various forms. It'll be painful for many to go back there...but I think it'll be better for society as a whole in the long term.

Cheers,

b&

Re:Nice buggy whip holder... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604297)

How many scientist would become worthless because while they are extremely skilled researchers, are horrendous public speakers?

One of the advancements of society is the delegation and specialization of work. IOW, people are rewarded for doing what they are good at. We don't make the entire cast, crew, and support of every motion picture tour the nation looking for hand outs. And who has time to go to all of the speaking engagements for the 3rd shift graphical editor of the Star Wars trilogy?

The person holds no value to me. The product that they have created however does hold a value to me. And as such, I am willing to pay for a product. I wouldn't give George Lucas the time of day if I passed him on the street, but I'll cough up $8 to catch his latest flick on the big screen.

-Rick

I'm Skeptical (3, Insightful)

YourBlueRoom (945359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604240)

First, and perhaps I'm too cynical, but I have a hard time believing the same industry people that set retail prices for a single CD at $18 would be willing to sell an unlimited (or even reasonable) number of songs for a flat fee per month. Second, the artists themselves will probably not like it, because it would change the economics for how they get paid. If Britney Spears has the #1 selling album, she's probably entitled to more money than your local indie band (though I'd argue which is actually worth more, ha). Is the industry going to have some sort of tracking in place to determine what is the most popular? Would this even be possible on such a large scale without any sort of DRM in place? Third, there are those that scoff at paying one red cent for their music. I personally don't get it, but no matter how pretty the package or distribution model is, these people won't bite, and they'll destroy any potential for the rest of us. Hopefully I'm wrong!

Re:I'm Skeptical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604460)

If Britney Spears has the #1 selling album, she's probably entitled to more money than your local indie band

I've seen this argument against this form of payment. I don't get it. Bear with my vision of how it could work.

I can envision some sort of scheme where they take a sample of the population and use that to extrapolate a band's popularity. Perhaps certain families would volunteer to keep detailed records to allow someone to create an accurate model of their downloading habits. There could even be a company that collects and organized the stats, compensates the families that collect the stats and gets paid by the music industry for this information. I think I even came up with a good name for this company: Nielsen Media Research. I hope I can get a good domain name for it.

This makes sense for ... (2, Insightful)

Bin_jammin (684517) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604243)

the record labels financially. There are many many more people connected to the internet every month that would be paying $4-5 for this usage tax than there are illegal file sharers, and suing file sharers doesn't recoup anywhere near the real or inflated costs of downloading copyrighted music. Lawyers, court costs, etc, avg. settlement. I personally don't download very much off p2p content wise, and when I do it's usually to backup songs on damaged cds. If I were being handed a mandatory license to go hog wild, I'd have every tv show, movie, and song I'd ever wanted. If I'm going to get charged for it, I'm going to drain the well.

How does this support the artist? (3, Insightful)

Paddo_Aus (700470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604254)

Any system which doesn't involved the money paid by the consumer being attributed to the artist who creates the work is flawed. If I pay my 5 dollars, and download 30 songs, does the system ensure that all 30 artists get compensated with a proportion of my payment? And why should an artist get less for their effort just because I want to have 30 songs this month instead of 5? The major problem with the current system is that the record label is getting so much more than the artist, then the RIAA is trying to invent schemes to increase income which doesn't relate back to the artists. If the RIAA actually supported artists instead of the big labels, people might care what they have to say.

Economics (1)

ZendarPC (837897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604261)

I can't say that from an executive position I would find this setup appropriate, at least in a one size fits all formula. The fact that file sharing already allows for such a high amount of information greatly reduces the ability to discriminate price based on locality. Further, a single price for unlimited portable songs is unviable with the availability of smart, broadband-connected users that would pay for one month, download nonstop for the next 30 days, and cancel. In that time, a clever user could have thousands of songs at a great disadvantage to the company. Better, I think, would be a realtime updated price for a single song, to allow for precise pricing, offered free of DRM, complemented by a flexibly DRMed subscription service that allowed for unlimited downloads at a fixed monthly rate. The scenario described in your post requires a radical change in the business culture of the RIAA and a highly increased level of competition above what exists in the industry today.

Great (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604269)

So if $4-5 a month is enough for them, then why not just make it ad-supported, where the advertisers pay $4-5/mo per active user and get rid of the fee, provided you utilize the service at least XX hours a month?

Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604341)

"Hi, I'm a student a major university that has good relations with record labels. They tell us ideas and stuff. I'd like to jeopardize that relationship by sharing something with Slashdot that was probably told to me in confidence!"

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604752)

Puh-lease. Universities (even private ones) take tax dollars and thus have no right to negotiate "in confidence" with anybody. They have a right to publish an RFP and solicit bids. Anyway, students are never entrusted with anything that administrations wouldn't be comfortable having leaked to the press.

Janus is as good as it gets - and it's pretty good (0, Flamebait)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604349)

Right now the closest thing to this is the Janus/PlayForSure system (STFU all you folks who make the arguments that it only works with a Janus compatable device / 'you don't own the music' - we heard it. whatever.)

The problem with even this system where the labels have a strong incentive to participate - stronger than what is described in the thread as they have an ongoing profit stream - is that many labels simply choose not to participate.

And the ones that don't participate are most often techno/progressive/indi music that a lot of serious music downloaders are more inclined to be interested in than the general populace.

If you can't get all the players to the table under a system as rich as Janus than any system that offers them less money/control is doomed.

Seriously, DRM is the future, it isn't 'crippling', it's practicle and effective. You rent almost _everything_ for $6 a month and you can put it on your compatible player and take it with you OR access the entire library from work or from home or wheever else. Just assumed you did own everything and didn't have to pay for all of the dozens of new releases each week. How much is it worth to you to have to catalog and load it all onto the internet so you can have access to it anywhere? This is what Janus provides to you.

Another great chance to get in on it will probably be within the month as Urge launches with a loss leader prices of probably around 5-6 a month with a big coupon to get a PlayforSure device.

Re:Janus is as good as it gets - and it's pretty g (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604451)

DRM is dead and gone. The songs will be converted to an unencumbered format and posted to Usenet before they even make it to splUrge. And once the hoi polloi figure out the DRM game, sales of the devices are going to dry up PDQ. People rent things it makes sense to rent, not for the sole purpose of becoming cash cows for the content "industry."

Re:Janus is as good as it gets - and it's pretty g (1)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604485)

For many people, it makes sense to rent music. The average teen or college kid will not be listening to 90% of their current music collection in 5 years -- and for pop songs, probably won't be listening in six months.

And there's rental all-you-can eat services right now, and AFAIK there's no mass piracy going on. It's just easier to rip the CD.

just a quick question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604556)

Did you get paid my Microsoft to write that fluff post? (Or maybe you work for them?)

Sorry, iTunes Music store is way beyond anything Janus has to offer at this point. IMO aac is way better than wma. I can't play DRMd WMA on my iPod, or on linux (but I can play DRMd aac in iTunes in crossover office on linux). Not to mention that the iPod is better than any of "PlayforSure" devices.

Re:Janus is as good as it gets - and it's pretty g (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604635)

How much is it worth to you to have to catalog and load it all onto the internet so you can have access to it anywhere?

Zero, given that it won't work with anything I already own.

Absolutely not (3, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604363)

Socializing the entertainment industry will not improve the consumer experience.

1) They (WB) can not remove all liability for all music, because they don't own the rights on all music. They can remove the liability for their music but that's it.

2) The market would no long drive the industry. who determines which royalties to pay? Some execs get to chop 90% off the top then spread the last 10% across admin and authors? What happens the the lesser known bands?

3) This removes all incentive for labels to pick up new artists. Why add more music to a $4.95/month library when you can spin off a subsidiary label and release new music under it. Then once that library has grown for a few years, release it under another $5/month contract. Now the consumer is coughing up $10/month for full access to both labels, not to mention any competitor labels.

All round this is a bad idea. Get the industry to agree on a standardized DRM (See JE at:http://ask.slashdot.org/~RingDev/journal/126947 ), and make it easier for consumers to get legal content then illegal.

It's all a matter of convenience. If consumers have a choice between paying $1 for a song, or downloading it for free with the risk of being sued, the vast majority will go for the $1 option. Provided the $1 version is compatible with all of their entertainment equipment (Windows, Linux, home entertainment, xbox, ps3, car stereo, etc...)

-Rick

The EFF calls it Voluntary Collective Licensing (5, Informative)

Kelerain (577551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604384)

The EFF [eff.org] calls it Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing [eff.org] .
It has many similarities to what is described in the article, and I think it is a solution that is best for everyone. Lawrence Lessig [lessig.org] , in Free Culture [free-culture.cc] (a great, freely downloadable book on related subjects), calls it a chimera. It is wrong to rob the artists, but it is also wrong for the RIAA to treat their fans as criminals. The solution is in the middle, and I think the collective licensing idea is it.

Re:The EFF calls it Voluntary Collective Licensing (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604463)

The CCLI system for churches works like this. Churches pay an annual fee for a CCLI licence, and then they can choose the music they want to use in their services without having to worry about copyright. THey keep records of what songs are used each week and the composers are paid out of the pool.

I think that's how it works anyway.

Re:The EFF calls it Voluntary Collective Licensing (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604758)

I'd like to think that suing a church for using sheet music without a license is a sure ticket to Hell, if there is such a place. Especially since most of the sheet music used is mere transcription of hundreds-year old hymns that shouldn't even be subject to copyright save for rapacious laws and complicit politicians.

Re:The EFF calls it Voluntary Collective Licensing (4, Informative)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604497)

Someone mod this up.

And let me also mention that there are perfectly good agencies in existence to collect this "compulsory license," to use the term in US Federal law that made those horrible Radio "pirates" legal. ASCAP. BMI. SESAC. There are others, but those are the biggies. Most musicians who keep their publishing rights (as opposed to those who have signed them away as part of their record deal) are members of one of those three.

My husband's publishing is collected by BMI. They haven't done anything much *for* him, but they haven't done anything *against* him.

A "compulsory license" would cut the gordian knot of "piracy" and obviate the need for Digital Restrictions Management.

However, the RIAA and MPAA actually want MORE. They want to be able to collect RENT [wikipedia.org] on your music. And this is beyond the pale.

How much $ (1)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604419)

How much does the avererage downloader pay to have broadband instead of dial-up? I think that people have already shown they are willing to pay a reasonable price to get what they want.

non RIAA music? (1)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604420)

How would they decide how to distribute the money among the labels? I imagine they'd shut out all the smaller, independent labels.. (y'know - the ones that make the good music)
A similar system already exists , and is called www.emusic.com - although it's more than $5 per month, it only hosts independent artists and labels. You're gauranteed that you're not supporting RIAA, their (oftentimes) crap music and their scummy mates.

I'm an independant musician; how do I get my cut? (1)

eyeball (17206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604426)

Just like the subject says: I'm an independant musician; how do I get my cut?

From a future executive? (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604466)

I'm starting a studio in Chicago, Illinois this spring: No Copyright Studios. We've started to take in donations and investments, and are hoping to open our doors in very late spring if not sooner (considering the equipment we're getting, it should be sooner). I hope to be a future medium-sized label exec by repudiating copyright and focusing on bands that have a real value in live shows versus CD sales.

I believe that music has some interesting profit incentives when it is played live. We've looked into all sorts of value-added options for those live venues, including the following:

* Buy the official CD, get a free ticket to a private show.
* Buy the official CD, get a login to view the band in the studio for a set period of time
* After the live show, purchase a real-time edited sound-board fed DVD of the show
* Buy practice time with the band
* Let anyone else play the song live if you like, but we'll make sure we find out who performed what and when, and advertise that we're the co-op that created the music.

I don't believe in any intellectual property. In the last 6 months, I have attended almost 50 live shows in the Chicago Indie, Punk and alternative scene. I've met over 75 bands who have admitted that copyright has done jack for their income, and they were always better off giving away the recorded music in exchange for getting people into the shows. If you're a musician and you want to earn an income, is it better for the top 10 in the country to make $10,000,000 because they're the main earners for those who control the distribution networks? Or would you rather see 1,000 bands locally who can generate $100,000 each?

There is a lot of money out there to be made when you take out the copyright cartel companies from the market. I firmly believe that bands can make money if they realize the supply and demand forces at work can not be manipulated. Taking advantage of supply and demand is the best way to go about it. MP3 = near infinite supply = $0. Live music = limited supply = income. QED.

Re:From a future executive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14604661)

Admit it - you're Al Gore, playing a joke on us. Right?

Re:From a future executive? (0, Flamebait)

sootman (158191) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604684)

And I've set up shop next door: "No, Copyright Studios!"

Re:From a future executive? (1)

qaffle (264280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604903)

Just another suggestion to go with "buy a cd get...". How about buy a cd, get to watch a show live over the internet. Only allow one login per cd and as soon as the login has been used for a show invalidate it. Allow the same login to be used multiple times during the show so if someone gets kicked off they can get back in, but only stream to one IP and when it's done, it's done. You could then sell remote logins to the show also once you have this setup. Not sure how big a money maker it'd be, but it'd give people another extra for buying the cd.

Is originality possible? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605167)

I believe that music has some interesting profit incentives when it is played live.

There are some musical genres that cannot very well be performed live, as they rely on heavy digital manipulation of sound. (I mean "electronic" music genres, not pitch-correcting pop stars' voices.) Do you just claim that your label is not for them? And what about fans who can't get into places where live music is performed because they are too young to attend bars and there are few or no all-ages venues in a given geographic area?

After the live show, purchase a real-time edited sound-board fed DVD of the show

Caution: that's patented [slashdot.org] .

Or would you rather see 1,000 bands locally who can generate $100,000 each?

And watch the incumbents sue the 1,000 bands for $200,000 each, claiming infringement through inevitable subconscious copying [slashdot.org] .

Anyone ever hear of ASCAP? (1)

mydotnet (921591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604550)

ASCAP/BMI/CCLI and all those things work the same way. Anyone (big label/small label/indie) can join, and they payout based on usage.

Musical tastes, bands & freedom, not brands... (1)

TheRealStyro (233246) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604694)

A persons musical taste, band/artist loyalty and freedom to use the purchased content how- and where-ever wanted, is much greater than the brand or label that is controlling or selling the content. If I can find music I like that I can appreciate, or one of my favorite artists/bands in MP3/OGG format on the Internet for free (most liberal freedom of use), I will be a happy consumer. If I also want to support the artists/bands, then I will purchase from iTunes (fairly liberal freedom of use with DRM). In absolutely no point in my purchase or download decision is any consideration made to a brand or label.

The music labels need to get over this competitive, dog-eat-dog, downward-spiral they are constantly pursuing. They need to get together and hammer out a few well thought-out plans/business-models and then all labels get fully behind all models. The models may be fixed-price per download like iTunes, a fix-price per month unlimited download, a license system (as mentioned above), and/or any number of other great ideas being floated here. They need to try these plans on a global scale (it is the Internet, not the USAnet/UKnet/Nipponet/Deutschnet/Canucknet/Sinonet /etc...), discover what works for consumers and capitalistic pursuits and drop what doesn't work. The systems they start and continue with must be able to fully & equally support Independent artists/bands.

No thanks. (1)

Captain Rotundo (165816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604696)

How about I promise NOT to download anything in the Warner catalog, unless THEY PAY ME $3-4 a month.

The big 4 (or is it 5) are simply grasping at straws to maintain control, first it will be $5 a month voluntary, then it will be "included" in the service that is $5 more. Suddenly they are squeezing ISPs for more, and the little guys, the small bands and small labels will continue to get jack out of the system. But now the average home user will think "I pay so I can have anything" even if the money all goes to universal and warner leaving all the Idlewilds of the world in the cold (well OK Idlewild only has one band, but you get the point).

Recently I joined emusic, and I am happy to use it to legally get non-encumbered music that I can do with as I please, that way the artist gets paid and I don't feel dirty for shopping with a company that doesn't trust and has been sueing my friends. (I am not affiliated with eMusic and am not vouching for them I may learn they suck soon, so don't take this as an endorsement.)

Yes (2, Interesting)

Neurotoxic666 (679255) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604742)

Would you be willing to pay a small fee each month if you could get all the music you want and have no legal liability?

Yes. And I already am. I am paying for my internet access and the CDs and DVDs I buy are levied because I am expected to be pirating music/movies with them.

Because I am considered guilty anyway and because I have paid my debt through various levies, I do not expect to have any legal liability. Thank you.

Re:Yes (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605128)

the CDs and DVDs I buy are levied because I am expected to be pirating music/movies with them.

Well then, I guess you have carte blanche for shoplifting too, since part of the price you pay in a store is to cover the percentage of people that are going to steal merchandise.

Incidentally, people like to bitch about the "blank CD tax" a lot, but the fact is that (in the USA) it only applies to the branded "Audio CDs" not the data CD-Rs that 99% of us use.

Maybe and No. (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14604765)

Warner Bros. Music:

Interestingly enough, I'm sure most Slashdotters have seen the article about Warner Bros. trying a P2P DVD download service in Germany; this question indicates that they are thinking of really trying to branch out, but that their music and movie departments don't see eye to eye. From the DVD article, Warner Bros. wants you to pay the exact same amount for a download and a DVD. The problem is that the download is lower quality, takes much longer to download than a song, will likely be ebcumbered by DRM, and you will be uploading the movie to other users.

The main reason that will fail is because you're paying the same amount for not only less content, but then you're helping distribute the content and getting no reward for doing so.

This music idea has a better chance. While Slashdot bitches and moans about DRM, the fact of the matter is that the populace doesn't mind it to much, as long as it has a bit of flexability. Make sure that the downloaded files are good quality, and will play on most devices. Here's a hint: If it doesn't play on an iPod, you're probably screwed.

Initially, $5/month for unlimited to-keep downloads seems unrealistic, especially considering that millions find $.99/song acceptable (thanks, iTunes!). However, when you calculate in the P2P model, it doesn't seem so bad. You're essentially sharing the bandwidth cost, which is a big portion of any online model.

I can see it working. You have some things to accomplish, though:
1. Making sure the songs will work on most, if not all, MP3 players.
2. Allowing the song to be burned to a CD (and playable in modern CD players.)
3. Figuring out how to have someone download the music, but not disable file sharing, all while not locking them into some crap proprietary player.
4. Making sure it will work with most ISPs, many of which cap upload bandwidth (which will cause a problem if you have "share limits").

I pay roughly $3/month for LAUNCHCast, and then it's songs that I've rated in some random order over the internet. My own choices on the go would certainly be worth an extra dollar or two. I know I'd be interested, if those hurdles can be cleared.

Music Liscenses

I see that failing pretty fast. Fair Use, to the ire of the *AA, already allows for personal backup and playback to other forms of media. What exactly do the liscenses change? Uploading them to anonymous P2P servers and friends? How would you keep them from uploading the file to others? How would you make sure that the friends receiving the song could play it?

How much would it cost for a liscense? Would this only be for personal use, which most music on P2P is used for, anyway, or public broadcasts? What if I bought ten liscenses of a song, but in the end decided I only wanted two copies? Can I transfer the remainder to another song of equal or lesser cost? Do I get some sort of media for each file?

It seems to me that this would raise too many issues and too little convenience, not to mention the hastle that seems inherent. While DRM may not be the answer, this seems even worse.

Pay for each label? (1)

Meest (714734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605035)

The thing about it is that you know every record label would want you to pay that 4-5 bucks to each of them for access to their artist's music. So therefore you would have to be digging through 3-4 major labels... Sony, whoever else it is (I don't know major labels sorry) But the other thing is that the indepentant lables/smaller ones.. would be left out... and those are the ones i would love to support. In reality they should somehow create an independant music association to go against the RIAA... maybe their already is one.

Conclusion. There are way to many ands ifs and but(t)'s with strings attached.. (Butt refference was aimed towards the RIAA. i would like to actualy compare them to an Dumbass but it didn't fit the punchline.)

Why it makes sense... (1)

doormat (63648) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605042)

Think of it this way...

$5/mo

10M P2P users in the US and Canada, not including BT (via Slyck and BigChampaigne). Possibly more.

Thats $50M USD PER MONTH in revenue direct to the labels AT VERY LITTLE COST (just the cost of collecting the money from the ISP). For the math impaired that is $600M/yr. Certainly more than they could ever hope to raise through lawsuits.

And as long as new releases are released with some sort of incentive to buy it (perhaps discounts on concert tickets, DualDiscs, etc), CD sales wont suffer any more than they're suffering now with illegal P2P.

The problem is that without DRM I could spend $5 one month, download as much as I can, and then cancel the $5 fee for another 5 months, pay another $5, download a whole lot more for that month, etc. So I download 100s of CDs within 2 months for $10/yr. Thats the problem.

The recording industry would probably need to offer it in 6-month or 12-month blocks to prevent the behavior I mentioned above.

Essentially you'd be buying immunity from RIAA lawsuits. The RIAA would ask your ISP if you're paying the tax, and if you aren't they'd sue you.

No (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14605048)

I do not listen to any music, but even if I did, I would prefer to donate some money directly to the creator of the music, instead of making record labels owners rich. Gift economy could work, as long as the participants honestly agree to sharing.
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