Taxing Questions: Are Compulsory Licenses a Solution to the P2P Debate?
Subject:   Am I Missing Something?
Date:   2003-10-03 14:33:25
From:   anonymous2
Perhaps it's an issue previously addressed in the Mechanical Copyright systems in place in Europe, but it wasn't made sufficiently clear to me here: How would the body of potential consumers be persuaded to pay an increased service charge for the *right* to download and use digital media?

In order to compensate the media producers at a level that (in their minds) justifies continuing to create new product, a significant number of dollars must be collected and redistributed each year. [I'll put aside the questions of who sets this total dollar amount, and on what it is based (it can't be scaled to usage, because it's a pre-set surcharge), though I suspect they would become important as well.] Even divided among all Internet clients, this would amount to well more than a few bucks per person per year.

The surcharge-to-basic cost ratio of the network service would be significant. Perhaps it would be $100 per user, in addition to an internet connection costing between $120 and $1200 per year. If I recall correctly, the European surcharge for CD burners is nothing near this high in proportion to the cost of the burner itself, much less the cost of an entire computer.

Then, what about those users who don't consume digital media? If a non-trivial number of people want to go online for basic e-mail but don't want to use their computers to listen to downloaded music or watch movies online, that $100 annual surcharge might make them think twice about buying the connection at all. So, do ISPs begin providing a "no digital media" connection model, without the surcharge? How do they enforce that usage restriction? Does the price become $250 per person for the remaining users?

While I'm just working these ideas out in my head (and on "paper") now, my initial reaction is to be quite nervous about any sort of compulsory licensing scheme. I'd rather pay for what I elect to consume, rather than for what the average user consumes. I really doubt that I'm alone in this thinking. Just my $0.02.

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  1. Am I Missing Something?
    2004-10-06 01:15:04  jma138 [View]

  2. Am I Missing Something?
    2003-10-21 03:24:51  anonymous2 [View]

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