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23 September, 2004


A conference in Manchester has heard the suggestion that illicit file sharing of music should be legalised but taxed, a surcharge on internet subscription fees being shared among artists whose music is being downloaded.  For a moment, I thought that membership of file sharing networks, and hence specifically those people downloading albums would be taxed, but it seems the proposal is to tax all internet users through their subscriptions to ISPs, irrespective of whether they personally are downloaders (aka freeloaders...).

As technology journalist and author Andrew Orlowski is quoted in a BBC report:

"I do not have kids and I do not have a car but I do not have any objection to paying for roads and schools because it is better that they are there rather than not."
That's an entirely fatuous argument. Roads and schools are essential aspects of society, and do need to be funded by all rather than by the most direct beneficiaries, but file sharing is a luxury, a privilege for which the individual should pay, not a right, funded by the whole of society.

I like lobster. Others may loathe the very idea of eating 'giant lice'. Should there be a surcharge on everyone's water bills, so I can eat lobster for free?

NP: Amplifier (Amplifier, 2003) - on a legitimate CD.


On a different, but related, note, in Canada there is a levy on all blank media, including CDRs (it's 21 cents a disc - about 8-9p at current exchange rates, I think). This was put in place at the explicit request of the recording artists' lobby to compensate them for copyrighted material copied without permission or payment. It has yet to be argued before a court, but this probably could be seen to give the purchasers of blank media a license to put copyrighted material on those media.

Perhaps not coincidentally, in Canada they have not cracked down on downloaders like they did in the States a year or so ago. They did try to crack down on uploaders, but the court said they couldn't because everyone has the right to one copy of a work for personal use, and just because you allow others to copy it, you're not breaking the law.


Posted by Jon at September 25, 2004 01:05 AM

I'd be a lot happier with that idea, Jon, as it taxes only those who use blank CD-Rs, not the entire population. I suppose it's not flawless, as a minority might use blanks solely for backing up their own data and infringing no-one else's copyrights, but there's only so many uses for a blank CD-R!

Posted by NRT at September 25, 2004 11:30 AM
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