Canadian Songwriters Propose All-You-Can-Download Net Tax

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Canadian Songwriters Propose All-You-Can-Download Net Tax

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The Songwriters Association of Canada is proposing a fee as high as $10 be added to monthly internet bills that would pay for licenses allowing for unlimited music downloading from file sharing sites.

If you can't beat 'em, charge 'em. That seems to be the mindset of the Songwriters Association of Canada, which has apparently decided that the best way to stop illegal file sharing is to make it legal and try to squeeze some bucks out of it. The group has approached "several" Canadian ISPs with a proposal to charge a flat fee for private licenses allowing for unlimited music downloading and hopes to have trials running by the end of the year. As much as $840 million could be generated annually if every internet subscriber in the country pays for the license.

The idea is similar to a 2007 attempt to amend the Canadian Copyright Act that would have forced ISPs to pay a file sharing tax, but where that effort failed, SAC President Eddie Schwartz believes this one will work because it bypasses the government in favor of dealing directly with ISPs.

"All of the rights that we need are actually already in Canada's copyright laws," said Schwartz. "We thought, 'All we need to do is come up with a private business model that monetizes file-sharing.' That's what we set out to do, modify the [original] proposal so that there was a private way to achieve the same results without needing to get legislation."

The money would go to groups like the Society of Composers, Artist and Music Publishers of Canada, but David Fewer, the director of the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa, said that although the plan is technically feasible, it could "upend" the Canadian music industry because songwriters represented by SOCAN would earn money from the fees but other components of the industry, like record labels, would not.

"We are getting into the complicated way that music works," he added.

Schwartz claimed that 97 percent of online music downloads are done illegally, based on a 2010 report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, but that 80 percent of all file sharers would pay a monthly fee if it meant they could indulge their habit legally and without fear of being sued. He also said that widespread adoption of the private licenses would give the Songwriter's Association a stronger legal basis for filing U.S.-style lawsuits against illegal file sharers.

"The surest and swiftest way to dramatically reduce infringement is to give consumers an authorized way to music-file share," he wrote in the proposal. "Once such an authorized system is in place, consumers who refuse to pay a reasonable license fee will clearly be choosing to infringe and can be dealt with accordingly."

What's not clear, however, is why any ISP would go along with it. They're not at any real risk of legal or civil penalties for the misbehavior of their customers and tacking yet more fees onto internet bills, regardless of the reason, is hardly going to be a public relations coup. There are also questions about what music the licenses would permit; would it be limited to certain outlets or artists? And how will the movie and television industries, which are also being punished by illegal downloading, react if the music industry actually manages to pull this off?

I'm not entirely opposed to the idea; ten bucks a month for all I can eat sounds pretty fair to me. But will it actually happen, at least in any kind of meaningful, consumer-friendly fashion? Let's just say that I'm not going to hold my breath.

Source: Vancouver Sun

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we already get charged a fee for this when we purchase storage devices, they already want us to start paying it on media players too and now on the internet as well?

so basically, they'll want us to be paying a music fee on everything ..except maybe music.

i really don't see this going anywhere as there's plenty of gaping holes in their logic.

I'm not sure how they'd manage to work this in. The people who download music illegally are already doing so, and putting extra money on monthly internet fees has already riled up a lot of people.

They're already getting their music free, and this group wants them to pay 10$ extra for the priviledge of unlimited downloads.

What are they going to choose? The formula they've worked with forever, or paying more money to do the same thing, just legally?

oh dear god, someone give the canadians a medal.

in my country, the service that protects copyrights tries to do a similar thing. but instead of an "all you can download" tax, it's more like a tax "because people are downloading".

so there, they're encouraging people to pay for their music, however little money.
in my country, they're levying a tax to offset the losses incurred by downloading.
thus encouraging people to illegally download music.

Well this is just stupid.
Not everyone downloads music, and while everyone who does download music might say "Alright! Now its legal to do something illegal!", everyone that does not download music, will be getting charged $10 for doing... nothing?

Besides that, I already download as much music as I want.
If they're gonna charge me $10 a month and "allow" me to download as much as I want, then I'll download the shit out of music.

I wonder what legitimate businesses that sell music (like iTunes for example) will say about this... seeing as it completely undercuts their business *cough*

Wow, this has got to be the most retarded thing ever. Seriously, who would pay for this? Maybe what they should do is remove iTunes and get a proper legal place to download shit

Kinda amusing that America fought so hard to stop everyone getting tax funded healthcare, and just north a bit, Canada is pushing for tax funded entertainment. Britain already has the licence fee, where you pay about £150 a year to watch TV, yet you can still be nailed for downloading BBC programmes.

Push it all the way as far as I care, make all entertainment tax funded, and just leave me a couple of hundred bucks left over each month for food n bills.

if this goes through I am declaring war on every songwriter that benefits from it. I haven't downloaded music in a long time, and when I did it wasn't Canadian. Seriously Nickleback has to be behind this, it's very much in line with their pompous douchebaggery.

So what they're saying is although I don't like Justin Beiber's music and don't want to download it, I'll be getting charged monthly so that SOMEONE who perhaps does can download it without any extra charge.

Infact I don't listen to any Canadian artists and I haven't bought any new songs in more than 8 months. This proposal sucks.

This is what everyone should have done from the beginning. If they had told the internet providers that they would release everything for free download but they wanted a cut of the cash, we wouldn't have to put up with this piracy bullshit.

If you can't beat 'em, resort to racketeering.

This is something I would support and subscribe to if I was Canadian, provided it was an opt in service and not required, and the money actually went to the artists and didn't just get eaten up by the Society. I feel this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Looks like SAC are having a ball.

As someone who lives in Canada, I'm alright with this really, so long as it's optional.

The problem is that as an avid listener, I don't WANT money going to record companies. Most of the music I listen to is independent, and many bands that I like offer their music for free, in which case I always donate if I really like the album. The bands and not-for-profit organizations like SOCAN should be getting the money; otherwise, this is nothing more than yet another source of income for big record companies to push out more and more homogenized crap.

So, I can pay $10/month which will go mostly to feed a bureaucratic engine, and a few cents will go to major Canadian songwriters.

Let's check what music I partook in, legally or not, in the past month.

Falconer and Machinae Supremacy, both Swedish bands.
Classical music, including some of the remixes from the Catherine soundtrack. (So, either out of copyright or Japanese.)
Various Touhou songs and remixes, and assorted anime theme songs. (Japanese.)
One or two random songs by American artists that might have been written by Canadians. Maybe. Small chance.

So I can steal as much music as I want and someone who I didn't steal from can profit? So, if I rob the Royal Bank, would CIBC and Scotiabank get a cut of the stolen money after I'm caught?

Torrasque:
Well this is just stupid.
Not everyone downloads music, and while everyone who does download music might say "Alright! Now its legal to do something illegal!", everyone that does not download music, will be getting charged $10 for doing... nothing?

Sorry, but Americans and western Europeans are still the most likely to actually buy music... and considering the piss-poor number of people who actually do buy music, that's really not saying much about the rest of the world.

It's not stupid. Illegal downloads -- along with the record labels' own incompetence -- is killing the industry. This is basically a slightly more consumer-friendly version of the Cloud Network ideology -- instead of paying $10/month to get access to temporary downloads (which disappear as soon as you stop paying the service provider the monthly fee), you're paying $10 to get actual legitimate permanent downloads. There's absolutely nothing stupid about that.

Besides, I don't think they could really 'force' you to go with the fee, or the major ISP's would lose their customers to smaller, cheaper rivals. So if you don't download music, video games, movies, or television shows illegally -- or if you want to take the risk -- you wouldn't have to pay the monthly fee.

Torrasque:
I wonder what legitimate businesses that sell music (like iTunes for example) will say about this... seeing as it completely undercuts their business *cough*

This is where you're wrong, and you need to know why. Apple and iTunes are NOT in the business of selling music -- they're in the business of selling iPods. iTunes is a quick and easy way of finding music you like and getting it onto the Apple product that you purchased: iTunes makes next to no profits, because they have to store all the music, negotiate licenses with the labels, and they make, I think, 10-12 cents per song sold?

That's not a business, that's called a loss leader -- like when you go into Best Buy because CD's are on sale for $5; but when you're shopping, you don't just buy the CD, you look at the TV's and the laptops, and the mp3 players, and see if there are any DVD's or Blu-Ray discs you want to buy.

Torrasque:
Besides that, I already download as much music as I want.
If they're gonna charge me $10 a month and "allow" me to download as much as I want, then I'll download the shit out of music.

People download the shit out of music anyway. How big is your music library? And how much of it was purchased legally?

I wonder what legitimate businesses [or people] that [make] music (like Rampant Musik, or Bruno Mars, or Lady GaGa, or That Handsome Devil, for example) will say about [piracy]... seeing as it completely undercuts their business *cough*

If people "download the shit out of music" anyway -- which they do -- then it's perfectly fair to impose a fee on it. You can either pay $10 a month for unlimited downloads, or take an out-of-court settlement for $750,000, upfront, or if you take it to court, risk paying $2,000,000+ in fines. Your choice, really.

I'm against this. For one, I don't download that much music, in fact next to none. And what about people who get their music through something like iTunes which I believe you have to pay for? Why should they pay extra for something they already paid for???

That's... a good idea actually.

In principal at least it sounds good, there seems to be more internet users who do download illegally than don't, plus I'd get to use BitTorrent for something else than game mods and Adobe's mahoossive CS updates.

Trouble is, how do you make sure that extra 10CAD goes where it's meant to and doesn't just get scraped by either the ISP or the government?

This article should have been called, "Canadian Songwriters admit defeat, betray law-abiding internet users out of spite."

Numbers are completely off, and his facts are full of shit.

That aside, 10$ a month for unlimited music sounds like a really, really good deal.

If it's on an "if you use it" basis, then go ahead. I won't participate, there's too many viruses on P2P.

I'd like to point out that it currently isn't illegal to download music, videos, video games, and anything else from a file share site. You can't distribute the things you download for a gain(sell them) but you can't be legally charged with anything. Hosting the file share and generating it is something I'm unclear of as well but the act of downloading it currently isn't a crime.

There is something else that bugges me on this concept:

"Once such an authorized system is in place, consumers who refuse to pay a reasonable license fee will clearly be choosing to infringe and can be dealt with accordingly."

So everyone who doesn't pay is seen as guilty by default or what?
What is with everyone who just DOESN'T download illegaly and instead buys music online or even on DVD/CD?

That sounds nearly as bad as the GEZ-Bullshist we in Germany have to deal with.

Hmmm. Next the TV industry would be charging another extra $10, the movie industry another $10, then the video games industry another $10...

Though seriously, this is a pretty neat idea, considering the whole 97% illegal download rate. I feel bad for music artists...

What worries me most about this proposition is that they would have to only convince two companies (Bell, Rogers) to agree, and thus would remove any way to opt out. Considering the way they milk their monopoly for money already, it wouldn't be a stretch to add this.

Additionally, the article states; "Once such an authorized system is in place, consumers who refuse to pay a reasonable license fee will clearly be choosing to infringe and can be dealt with accordingly." Thus it would essentially be a criminal offense not to pay the fee, as not doing so means that they can now charge you for breaking the law, and sue for damages.

I don't download $120 worth of music a year. That's eight to twelve albums a year, and I purchase about two albums worth of music per year.

I guess I'm glad I'm not Canadian right now.

P.S. Thanks

chemicalreaper:
* snip *

I don't think they're looking to give a choice to consumers to either pay or not pay for this right to download as much music as you want.

But I'm not sure which direction they'll go with this, so I'll assume a few things.

IF they force consumers to pay the $10 extra for unlimited downloads, then people who don't download music are being punished.
IF they allow consumers to choose to pay or not, then people who download music get legal immunity, and people who don't download music, can carry on their internet lives as if nothing happened.
The only beneficial things that I can think of: is people who pay the $10/month, are technically immune to copyright laws (hell, I'm not sure what would happen to copyright laws after this) and it would save torrent sites from the governments (provided those torrent sites only provide music)

Would these guys provide the music themselves? If so, they'd basically be selling all their music for $10/month, which is fucking awesome.
Also, this could potentially cause a slippery slope for other media as well (movies, shows, books, etc.)

I'm interested in where this goes, and after reading what you said, I don't have an entirely negative position on this.

Edit:
Also, about 75% of my music is legitimately bought.

chemicalreaper:
It's not stupid. Illegal downloads -- along with the record labels' own incompetence -- is killing the industry.

nothing is killing the industry.

Part of the proposal apparently includes an "opt-out" option. The license fee would be added automatically but users would have the option of contacting their ISP and promising not to download music in exchange for the fee being waived. But that would presumably flag the user for possible closer scrutiny, making penalties more likely if illegal downloading did occur.

But another trouble is that such a proposal would contravene negative billing laws in some provinces that forbid the automatic addition of optional fees to service bills which must be withdrawn from by the consumer. So while I still think it's a fair idea at its core, I just can't see it actually being implemented.

haha good luck on that one. charging something like that would only be voluntary on the part of the conusmer, an isp wouldn't be allowed to arbitrarily charge you an extra ten bucks. and why would they? not to mention what companies like apple would do with their precious itunes store, it'd be useless in canada. this won't happen, and is kind of ridiculous from the get go. don't get me wrong, I'm not particularly opposed to the idea, but I tend to support my favourite bands by going out to see them live. not only is it more fun, but they make money from the show. if this would in fact take money away from the record companies... why would they allow it to happen?

SO, they want to charge me up to $120 a year for something that is already legal (or at the minimum a grey area) for me to do? Yeah, thanks, but no thanks. That's not to say that I wouldn't agree to a fee, but not a monthly fee that high. I'd say $3-$5 at the most. If I bought all the music that I download in the run of the year, It would only cost me around $50-$60 a year, and that's because the majority would be imports.

This might help, but it wouldn't stop it. There are always some super-selfish people who are going to say "$10? No way, downloading it illegally is free."

I don't D/L music (because I don't care about music frankly) but if they are gonna charge me because other people do it then yeah I am gonna become a fan and fill my HDD.

chemicalreaper:

Torrasque:
Well this is just stupid.
Not everyone downloads music, and while everyone who does download music might say "Alright! Now its legal to do something illegal!", everyone that does not download music, will be getting charged $10 for doing... nothing?

Sorry, but Americans and western Europeans are still the most likely to actually buy music... and considering the piss-poor number of people who actually do buy music, that's really not saying much about the rest of the world.

Yes, a lot of people MAY be infringing music copyrights but to assume that EVERYONE is doing so is a ridiculous stretch. That the tax is on one of the few territories that do legitimately buy your good is just insane.

you're paying $10 to get actual legitimate permanent downloads. There's absolutely nothing stupid about that.

Besides, I don't think they could really 'force' you to go with the fee, or the major ISP's would lose their customers to smaller, cheaper rivals. So if you don't download music, video games, movies, or television shows illegally -- or if you want to take the risk -- you wouldn't have to pay the monthly fee.

In the first you are not getting legitimate music; given that a vast amount of piracy is done using torrents they are legitimising Canadians aiding piracy throughout the rest of the world.
Second forcing the fee is exactly what's being proposed, they talk in terms of 'opting out' not choosing to partake. Their agreement, and monthly payments, will be with the ISP's not the people using the internet.

Torrasque:
I wonder what legitimate businesses that sell music (like iTunes for example) will say about this... seeing as it completely undercuts their business *cough*

This is where you're wrong, and you need to know why. Apple and iTunes are NOT in the business of selling music they make, I think, 10-12 cents per song sold?

That's not a business, that's called a loss leader

It's cute that you learned some basic business terms but you are dead wrong. A 10% profit is profit. The bigger your business the bigger your returns and itunes is big; $4.1 billion of profit, note profit not turnover, was reported last year. That is apples lead business when all their other industry only tacked on a further 6 billion. A loss leader actually involves making a LOSS ie: the more is bought the less money you have, that's why loss leaders are 'limited offers' or 'only while stocks last' etc if apple was running music at a loss those 4 billions would be loss and their whole business would have took a mere 2 billion not 10, well that's not much of a leader.

Torrasque:
Besides that, I already download as much music as I want.
If they're gonna charge me $10 a month and "allow" me to download as much as I want, then I'll download the shit out of music.

People download the shit out of music anyway. It's perfectly fair to impose a fee on it.

I don't download music illegally, no need. Hell I haven't bought a song from a major label in almost 8 years.
People make music all the time, even without profit as a motivator, even without a label telling them too and even, ocassionally for teh most dedicated, without a known audience. You know what? Some of them are REALLY good and a lot of them put that music up on the internet for free or very low cost.
I can listen to whatever type of music I want when I want without touching a major labels bottom line.
Add to that services like spotify, last FM and youtube discovery mode it's a wonder anyone buys music from them, oh hey... they don't. Yes they collect money from those services but at least innocent bystanders aren't being made to pay.

The whole idea is an accusation; the industry is calling every single internet user a thief or at least enough to justify fining them as standard.

Raiyan 1.0:
Hmmm. Next the TV industry would be charging another extra $10, the movie industry another $10, then the video games industry another $10...

Though seriously, this is a pretty neat idea, considering the whole 97% illegal download rate. I feel bad for music artists...

Well, I would pay 40$ per month if I can get all the entertainment I want unlimited and on demand for music, TV, games and movies. I already pay about as much for my TV right now.

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