Feeds

Who wants a music tax?

This blanket is no comfort

High performance access to file storage

In Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, set in WW2 London, a character called Slothrop begins to realize that everywhere he has sex, a V2 rocket subsequently lands on the same spot, obliterating the area. If you dig a little, you may notice something spookily similar with the idea of a Music Tax in the media.

Back in March, talk of a Music Tax suddenly exploded at the SxSW music conference in Austin. WiReD's blog ran a story by Frank Rose, entitled Music Industry Proposes a Piracy Surcharge on ISPs.

"[The] idea is to collect a fee from internet service providers - something like $5 per user per month - and put it into a pool that would be used to compensate songwriters, performers, publishers and music labels." Apparently this was the brainwave of Jim Griffin, a collective licensing advocate hired by Warners to think the unthinkable. Here's an interview with him from 2004, where he dismisses the idea that collective license should be compulsory, should penalise non-participants, or be imposed by the government. "Government has an after the fact role, as it does with Antitrust legislation. The arguments should be voluntary," he said then, and sources indicated he hadn't changed his mind.

A pool, yes, but not a tax.

Coincidentally, the International Music Managers' Forum happened to be meeting in Austin, and its former head (and now Emeritus President) Peter Jenner was quoted in the article.

Last week, another screaming came across the sky, and another Tax Bomb fell to earth, this time in London.

"Should the music industry tax you to use the Web?" asked CNET. "Leave it to our friends across the pond to come up with a creative, tax-heavy way of punishing music downloaders," wrote Brian Heater at PC Magazine, who continued - "Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is proposing yearly fees of £20 to £30, which would be imposed by ISPs."

Both drew on an article in the Independent. While the rest of the British media gorged on the Memorandum of Understanding between major ISPs and the music business, and the Business Department's proposals on file sharing, the Indie alone had an unusual bit of news everyone else had missed.

"Music industry to tax downloaders (£30 'licence fee' set to revolutionise illegal file-sharing)", the paper's Nigel Morris reported.

"Peter Jenner, a veteran music industry figure who now manages the singer Billy Bragg, who has championed the plan for an annual charge, said last night that the idea was attracting growing support," claimed Morris. "He said the cash raised by including the top-up in the fees paid to ISPs could match the current £1.2bn turnover of the British record industry. Mr Jenner said: 'If you get enough people paying a small enough amount of money you can turn around the wheels of the music industry.' "

So was Jenner our man? It looked like every time Peter talked to the media, a story about a Music Tax exploded a few days later. But it only seemed fair to ask the lad himself.

Bombshell

Jenner denied planting the story - the Indie had called him, he told us, not the other way around.

And so where did the reporter get the idea that the Music Tax would be £30 a year?

"That came from my calculations that if everybody paid £2 a month, then you get the size of the record business today."

Right. So it's a tax, then?

"It's a tax in the same sense that when you get on a bus, you pay a fare. If you don't, then tough shit, you get thrown off the bus."

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees
India's 'predictability and stability' cited as mobe-maker's tax payment deadline nears
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Analysts: Bright future for smartphones, tablets, wearables
There's plenty of good money to be made if you stay out of the PC market
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.