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Canadian Songwriters propose $5 licence fee for P2P
January 29, 2008 11:17 AM   Subscribe

A proposal for the monetization of the file sharing of music from the Songwriters and Recording Artists of Canada. "Most Canadians are aware that the Internet and mobile phone networks have become major sources of music. What they may not know is that songwriters and performers typically receive no compensation of any kind when their music is shared or illegally downloaded... We believe the time has come to put in place a reasonable and unobtrusive system of compensation for creators of music in regard to this popular and growing use of their work."
posted by tranquileye (38 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
What?! When I download or share music the artists and labels lose money? I wish there was some Industry Association that would get the word out about this...
posted by mrnutty at 11:23 AM on January 29, 2008


"we believe the time has come" - gotta indulge in a little sardonic laughter over this - the time was 1996 or 7, when the record industry decided instead to walk off the edge of a self-created cliff. i'm not criticizing the proposal - of course something like this is a good idea - but it won't be implemented until the recording industry as we know it is beyond saving.
posted by facetious at 11:24 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think too many people like the current system, where they get to pirate the shit out of music and don't pay 5 bucks a month for the privilege.
posted by chunking express at 11:27 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


They want a license fee of $5 per month from every single internet access subscription. 2003 records show 6.7 million Canadian households with internet connections. That's $400M per year, not even counting business and institutional net connections.
posted by rocket88 at 11:30 AM on January 29, 2008


As a member of SOCAN, I have to say, this sucks.
posted by hamfisted at 11:32 AM on January 29, 2008


In the Netherlands they're lobbying to get all harddisks taxed and the proceeds going to musicians etc.
posted by jouke at 11:33 AM on January 29, 2008


Whoops, it's not SOCAN. I bet they're wishing they thought of this first, though...
posted by hamfisted at 11:33 AM on January 29, 2008


As always, absolutely no details about how the money will be distributed equitably. And, if it's done anything like how royalties from American Internet radio are handled, it absolutely won't be distributed equitably. It does sound like a great way for the biggest Canadian labels to prop themselves up for a while longer, however!
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:38 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


the whole proposition sems pretty vague; not much details about the redistribution of this money. And tracking p2p, bitorrent and all??? What will happen with american or european content? Two year from now they'll add and extra 10-15$ for movie sharing, then another 20-30$ for sharewares!
posted by ddaavviidd at 11:45 AM on January 29, 2008


Again with the Canadians. I see through your thinly-veiled rascism.
posted by chillmost at 11:48 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


...As well as your racism.
posted by chillmost at 11:49 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of a song... "Let's get retarded".

They collected the media levy for years and NOT ONE CENT of it got out to the artists. Some fat cat is going to collect this money and just sit on it.

Nice try.
posted by GuyZero at 11:49 AM on January 29, 2008


Copyright is dying. It was irrelevant before the existence of technology allowing the easy copying of information, relevant when copying information cost something and therefore there was a profit to be made, and irrelevant again now that copying information is free.

The kids these days more and more make their videos for the Youtubes and write their Linuxes for Open Source, and more and more they don't expect compensation for copies made. Maybe it could all be turned around or stopped somewhere, but I tend to think not.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:51 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


We propose a licence fee of $5.00 per internet subscription, per month. Payment of this fee would remove the stigma of illegality from file sharing.

The 'stigma of illegality'? It's fucking LEGAL in Canada assholes!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:51 AM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


The existing Canadian Private Copying Collective.

Either the songwriters know about them and hate them (most likely) or they're oddly ignorant.
posted by GuyZero at 11:53 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wish they would have a list of which artists are complaining.
posted by chugg at 12:04 PM on January 29, 2008


What they may not know is that songwriters and performers typically receive no compensation of any kind when their music is shared or illegally downloaded...

Which is more sad: The possibility that there may be people who don't know this, or the fact that there are people who actually believe there are people who don't know this?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:05 PM on January 29, 2008


Cripes, those CPCC people want to add $10CAD to the price of every Flash memory card over 1GB in capacity. I guess maybe that seemed like a bright idea when those cards cost a few hundred dollars, but it's pretty quickly approaching their actual cost.

Tell you what -- I'll meet you at the border; I'll bring memory cards, you bring prescription drugs, we'll work out a deal.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:08 PM on January 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


Percocet for the Pearl Jam Set?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:11 PM on January 29, 2008


I think their langauge for "recorders" really means iPods and their desire to add $75 to the price of a hard-drive iPod is even stupider.

On the other hand, if it means that it's legal to download anything for a one-time $75 fee, it's a pretty good deal. Even if there are waiting times and you can't get a MRI.

Socialized music. Heh. Next we'll get the Canada Music Act to ensure consistent music quality and download speeds across provinces.
posted by GuyZero at 12:22 PM on January 29, 2008


Forget about putting the levy on hard drives or CD/DVDs or internet connections. Why don't we just tax everybody £20 a week and use it to subsidize musicians and artists, regardless of how good they are or how commercially successful?

That way, everyone can stop working in factories and shops and coal mines, and pursue their dream to live the rock and roll lifestyle.

I wish they would have a list of which artists are complaining.

So we could round them up and taze some sense into them?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:24 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


In Ontario i'm pretty sure the police have said they don't have the resources or the inclination to go after people sharing music and movies illegally. Well, at least torrent freak says so.
posted by chunking express at 12:31 PM on January 29, 2008


As always, absolutely no details about how the money will be distributed equitably. And, if it's done anything like how royalties from American Internet radio are handled, it absolutely won't be distributed equitably. It does sound like a great way for the biggest Canadian labels to prop themselves up for a while longer, however!

Yep.

You know, I wouldn't mind paying $5 per month (or more) if I knew it was going to the artists that I like, and support, and actually download. But it won't. It won't go to the artists on indie labels, let alone those who self-release. It will perpetrate the power of the big four record companies.

Worse, you would be taxing people who have no interest in or knowledge of file-sharing. People like my parents, who use a computer for email, checking a few websites, and word processing. Why the hell should they, on a tight income anyway, have to pay even $60/year as compensation for something that they're not using? The industry complains that people download songs without paying them - yet now they want to be paid by people who don't download their songs?
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:39 PM on January 29, 2008


So we could round them up and taze some sense into them?

Possibly, but, I am having trouble thinking of ten bands or artists from this country that would deserve to divy up the $400M per year.
posted by chugg at 12:39 PM on January 29, 2008


It seems a little suspicious to claim to "adequately compensate the industry for years of declining sales and lost revenues" by taking $400M a year from Canadians with internet connections, when the total sales of the music industry were only $767M in 2005, compared to $942M in 2000(data also shows a slight decline from 1998 to 2000). You can call it a loss of $175M in revenue, but there was a decline of $116M in expenses over the same period. $400M a year would seem rather more than "adequate" compensation.
posted by ssg at 12:42 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


A blank CD costs in the range of 50 cents. Of that, 21 cents is collected for singers and songwriters and other rights holders in music.

Yeah, thanks for that. I'm glad I'm paying an extra 21 cents for the blank CDs I use to hold data files and pictures of my family in order to compensate musical rights holders.

The CPCC has distributed more than $96 million of the $145 million available from 2000 to 2005 private copying royalties.

So where's the other $49 million, and why has it been sitting somewhere for three to eight years, undistributed? 25% of the fees collected pre-2001 have yet to be distributed... and that interest goes where?

The 'stigma of illegality'? It's fucking LEGAL in Canada assholes!

Not quite. It's legal to burn onto CDs and other media devices, because of the CPCC royalty thing (which, despite my sentiments above, is a heck of a lot better way of handling it than whatever the RIAA has come up with). But downloading/sharing is still technically illegal. Copy your own, fine. Share your copy with others? Not OK. This appears to be the way they'll cover that.

And yeah, considering the distribution scheme is likely based on radio play and unit sales, it's just a "reward the top" scheme, rather than being based on the artists actually being downloaded and shared.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:43 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


PeterMcDermott: Why don't we just tax everybody £20 a week and use it to subsidize musicians and artists, regardless of how good they are or how commercially successful?

I know you are kidding but government funding for the arts is pretty common in the western world. It's more like $5 per person per year in Canada and not everyone agrees the money is well spent, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea.
posted by ssg at 12:56 PM on January 29, 2008


I love these comments!! Made my day!

Now, who are the Songwriters of Canada?

Isn't this the same country thats makes you have a Canadian writer on a record if you are going to release in Canada.
posted by salvomix at 3:14 PM on January 29, 2008


Isn't this the same country thats makes you have a Canadian writer on a record if you are going to release in Canada.

Absolutely! We have absolutely no foreign music here, everything on the radio is Stompin' Tom Connors, the Tragically Hip, the Arcade Fire and old Sarah McLachlan records. Oh, if only we had a taste of, what do you call her, Cheryl Crow? We have heard she is a magnificent American singer! But leave that Brittney Spears behind, she can't hold a candle to our Alanis!

(Canadian content rules and regs. Basically radio stations have to devote a certain percentage of their playlists to Canadian content, the definition of which is that you meet at least two of the four MAPL criteria.)
posted by chrominance at 3:22 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


The awesome thing about this songwriter's levy would be that the $400M would presumably go to Canadian artists while 99% of the downloading is of non-Canadian artists.

Although to be fair, I did download all the Arcade Fire albums and most of the stuff by Stars, even that awful remix album they put out. I should go download some Anne Murray right now.
posted by GuyZero at 3:25 PM on January 29, 2008


I wouldn't mind paying $5 per month (or more) if I knew it was going to the artists that I like, and support, and actually download. But it won't. It won't go to the artists on indie labels, let alone those who self-release.

But these are exactly the sorts of people who are most likely to see decent revenue from the traditional method of buying their CDs. If someone's selling their own album without a record label, presumably that person or band sees all the revenue from the sale, yes? Which then raises the question of why exactly are you downloading them in the first place if you still want to support them? Canada's had a DRM-free indie downloads store for a while now. (Granted, it took me half an hour of Google searches to remember what the hell it was called. Good promo work there, Zunior.)
posted by chrominance at 3:34 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


You could tweak this scheme ever-so-slightly to make a really stable, fair system if you simply allow the license purchasers to direct where their money goes (subject to certain very reasonable criteria to prevent gaming the system, for example, preventing you from directing more than 10% to any single artist or label).

Of course, a user would probably mostly "direct" where the money goes by simply revealing their itunes and ipod stream and splitting the royalties by play. You could add a tip system where I can click on tracks I wish to reward and they get proportionally more.

There are of course all sorts of attacks on this system (for example, what if you take a lot of tracks and redistribute them with the wrong metainformation?) but there are very good counters to all of them, based on the fact that in this system the interests of the music consumer and the music producer are in parallel -- the fans want to make sure that their musicians get their fare share of their revenue. This makes it naturally self-correcting, as opposed to the current system which pits the producers and consumers against each other.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:39 PM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


I know you are kidding but government funding for the arts is pretty common in the western world. It's more like $5 per person per year in Canada and not everyone agrees the money is well spent, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea.

I was kidding, and I do support government funding for the arts. I actually don't think we have enough of it here in the UK.

I still think these fuckers need tazing though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:17 PM on January 29, 2008


PeterMcDermott: I probably should have just kept my mouth shut.
posted by ssg at 4:41 PM on January 29, 2008


The idea of a culture tax tends to run into strong political opposition. It's unlikely to ever be implemented.

It isn't even such a good idea, after all. How does the money get divided up? There are privacy issues here if you start trying to track actual use.

Then there is the idea of directing your contributions to the bands you think should get it. Try to figure out a way to do this without allowing gaming of the system- it isn't a trivial problem.

At the root of all this (in my opinion) is the reliance on per-unit payments to tally up the rewards. I don't think music (or any digital art) lends itself to this form of compensation. The walls are down, and the walls were the only thing that made the unit sale system viable.

I suggest that the music be considered the "advertising" for the band or musician, and that the compensation be in the form of listener sponsorships paid directly to the artist. In exchange for those, listeners would get non-musical perks, an enhanced fan experience, and the satisfaction of knowing that they were enabling the career of their favorite artist.

Sponsorship really works, especially at the low end of the scale where unit sales could never provide enough income to maintain a career. I've been making music for a while now, and profit from the CDs I've sold and from songwriter royalties I've collected have never come close to the income I get from direct sponsorships.
posted by Liv Pooleside at 5:18 PM on January 29, 2008


But these are exactly the sorts of people who are most likely to see decent revenue from the traditional method of buying their CDs. If someone's selling their own album without a record label, presumably that person or band sees all the revenue from the sale, yes? Which then raises the question of why exactly are you downloading them in the first place if you still want to support them?

Fair comments. My point (I guess badly made) was that I wouldn't mind a system like this, if I knew the money went to the right people. If I'm going to pay $5/month and it ends up going to Celine Dion, then not so much.

As it is, most of my purchases of music are by indie artists - either via emusic or by buying CDs at their shows. (But emusic has flaws - the '40 tracks, no more or less, use 'em or lose 'em' per month; and I don't really want to buy CDs - I own too much physical stuff already).
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2008


For years this has been the system that I think is fairest, so long as we're able to find a mechanism for directing payments to the right parties.
posted by Marquis at 6:46 PM on January 29, 2008


This does indeed sound like an attempt to establish another SoundExchange-style racket, where some industry group declares itself to be the clearing-house for payments that're meant to go to artists, takes a huge cut of all incoming money for itself, and then makes it as hard as possible for the artists to ever lay their hands on the rest.

SoundExchange, famously, managed to prevent a quite long list of major top-40 artists (or their descendants - they claimed royalties for Scott Joplin...) from laying their hands on their money. I see no reason to believe that the Canadian license-fee arrangement would not go exactly the same way. There'd be people with 20 platinum records and their own personal law firm who couldn't get their share of the money, let alone some band on an independent label.
posted by dansdata at 9:07 PM on January 29, 2008


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