Wednesday, September 23, 2009

taxing free music?

It seems as if musicians today will never stop trying to plead with their fans in an attempt to get them to continue to buy their records.  You can almost hear the tears coming from Lilly Allen's response as she begs her fans to continue buying artists music, though I am sure she's doing just fine financially.  However, Muse singer, Matt Bellamy gives an actual logical solution that may be a step in the right direction to this on going consumer/artist battle.  He is calling for a tax based system on ISPs for using copyrighted material.   Basically what this means is that depending on how much a person downloads per day, he/she will be taxed a certain amount and that money will go back to the copy right owners.  Stating how these internet providers are profiting from the millions of people who subscribe to the internet, yet they don't have to pay anything in return.  Bellamy at least is recognizing that the internet is the new form of music broadcasting, however his ideas are still semi flawed.  The problem with this is how will you monitor what it is that people download?  Pirating will always find a way around this.  So if you simply tax users based on their usage, is that really fair?   People transferring large files are not always pirating and downloaded music, often times one has to send video, music, or images as a part of their job.  Is it really fair to tax them because of this?  In a situation like this it seems like the ISP's will start to loose major profit, which will then increase subscription cost and make things harder on the individual user.  So while I believe Bellamy has a unique idea and is recognizing that file sharing is unstoppable, it's still an flawed solution.  Yet, it is a step in the right direction and it seems as if record companies are starting to recognize that they can not win this battle.  Since it may be impossible to monitor what exactly an individual downloads and tax them accordingly, maybe record labels should look at a new way of marketing their music completely for free.  Because lets face the facts, if a user wants an artists music for free, odds are they can find it online and labels may not want to except this, but they are going to have to at some point.  However, maybe they can maybe come up with some sort of catch to create their own downloading system like limewire or bittorrent, where they can monitor exactly what people want in their own form of a torrent downloading program and impose a small tax on an individual using that.  They would have to include some sort of benefits or extras to draw users and market themselves apart to make someone want to use this instead of the already existing programs out there, but it is possible.  A solution like this will not win over everyone but may get some people and that would be a small battle won.

Trevor Kay


  1. I found this to be an interesting article. I had written about a potential fine for each illegal download in a paper I had written years ago. I think that something like this needs to be done, and I believe it to be justified. I am supportive of artists who want to offer their music for free, but not of those whom would download songs illegally.
    I feel that such a move would drastically impact the amount of downloads. I mean, imagine if someone suddenly had their $129.00/mo bill increase to $1,500.00 one month because of the songs they downloaded that month.
    Anyway, your article was an interesting read on what I feel is a very important topic.

    - Derek Jenkins

    I reposted my comment, I had forgotten to sign it the first time.