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Business, Featured - Written by on Friday, August 1, 2008 9:33 - 4 Comments

Don Tapscott
Music legislation: locks and lawsuits are not the answer

My travel schedule is lighter this month, so I am getting caught up on some issues, one of which is the proposed copyright legislation introduced by the Canadian government in mid-June. I think it is a massive step backwards by the government. It more than repeats the mistakes of the misguided US legislation which, as we all know, has worked out so well for the industry, musicians and fans. How many teenagers were hauled into court this week for downloading a few tunes?

Not surprisingly, most industry groups supported the legislation, because it takes such a hard line against sharing music. But some artists were quick to criticize:

“[The new legislation is] all locks and lawsuits,” says Safwan Javed, a member of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition (www.musiccreators.ca) and drummer for Wide Mouth Mason. “Rather than building a made-in-Canada proposal to help musicians get paid, the government has chosen to import American-style legislation that says the solution to the music industry’s problems is suing our fans. Suing fans won’t make it 1992 again. It’s a new world for the music business and this is an old approach.”

“The question is, who gains from this bill?”said Brendan Canning, a Coalition member and co-founder of the band Broken Social Scene. “It’s not musicians. Musicians don’t need lawsuits. What we do need is a government that is willing to sit down with all the stakeholders and craft a balanced copyright policy for Canada that will not repeat the mistakes made in the United States.”

To me, the concept of “owning” a music recording is outdated. The music industry needs a new paradigm. In a sensibly structured Internet-friendly music industry, consumers would no longer download songs at a fixed price per tune, but would instead pay a moderate amount each month to listen to an unlimited number of tunes streamed to them over the Internet. I’d happily pay a few dollars per month to get access anytime, on any device, anywhere, to any music ever recorded.

Big benefits would flow to musicians and music lovers. Once consumers no longer own songs, the problem of theft disappears. The record labels would stop having to view all their customers as potential crooks, and no longer haul children and grandmothers into court. Payments to musicians would be more reliable and equitably distributed. And musicians would be encouraged to use the Internet more creatively to develop stronger ties with their fans.

With high-speed wireless Internet service becoming available throughout the country, around-the-clock high-quality streaming audio is now practical. The newer cellular phones can already receive streaming television shows and videos. It would be easy to add on streaming audio as a feature. Call it Everywhere Internet Audio. It’s where we should be focussing our energies.



4 Comments

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Miguel
Aug 2, 2008 0:11

I agree with you dislike of C-61. But I’m sorry I can’t see people wanting to pay even $5 a month for the RIGHT to listen to music. That is assuming internet access is available where we are, cell phone coverage is not ubiquitous. Not to mention, all the additional costs of subscribing to wireless data plans, of which the costs are out of this world.

In any case isn’t what you suggest just a fancy way of describing a radio station, which btw is FREE.

I know that for myself, I would never ever subscribe to a music subscription service. I would be completely happy listening to the music songs that I currently OWN.

In any case, the so-called “security” will be cracked within days and people will once again have their music for free and be able to play their music anywhere, anytime, and not have to wonder if my wireless connection will work. And once again its the same situation.

Don
Aug 4, 2008 11:02

Miguel, I have a hard time believing that you’d want to own your own collection of music as opposed to have access to every piece of music ever recorded, for a nominal monthly fee. At a certain point, having to keep track of all that music yourself becomes a burden rather than an advantage. In the end, the user experience will determine whether or not people make the switch to a subscription model. You’ll have your device in your pocket that lets you listen to your library, on demand, wherever you are, and I’ll have my device, that lets me listen to any piece of music ever record, on demand, wherever I am. Sure, I’ll be paying five dollars a month for that, and I’ll lose access to all of that music if I stop paying, but as long as I’m bought-in, it’s a much better value proposition — one that I think you may have difficulty rejecting someday soon.

As for the security being cracked, what’s the point of stealing something you already have access to? I don’t think that people will take issue with paying for access to content, so long as the price is fair to both the consumer and the artist. Having said that, DRM has already failed, so maybe content distributors will have to come up with a way to trust their end users.

Russell McOrmond
Aug 4, 2008 12:16

Miguel,

Radio is not “free” — it is paid for through advertising. It is a model that works well in a lot of situations. In other situations audiences want to pay themselves to avoid the commercials.

I am a subscriber to eMusic for both music and audio books, and it is great. Most of the people I talk to would pay for copyrighted content if it was offered in the right manner (IE: right time, right file formats, etc).

I would love to replace my expensive cable TV service with subscribing to content directly from the producers in a standard file format I can use (IE: if it is infected by DRM, I’m not going to pay for it as it won’t work on my devices).

For a lot of the content I want, it isn’t made available to me at a time or in a format that is useful for me.

Where is that “buy me now” button for Copyright?
http://www.digital-copyright.ca/node/4755

Ozzie'n'Harriet
Aug 4, 2008 22:43

Don wrote:
“In a sensibly structured Internet-friendly music industry, consumers would no longer download songs at a fixed price per tune, but would instead pay a moderate amount each month to listen to an unlimited number of tunes streamed to them over the Internet. I’d happily pay a few dollars per month to get access anytime, on any device, anywhere, to any music ever recorded.

With high-speed wireless Internet service becoming available throughout the country, around-the-clock high-quality streaming audio is now practical. The newer cellular phones can already receive streaming television shows and videos. It would be easy to add on streaming audio as a feature. Call it Everywhere Internet Audio. It’s where we should be focussing our energies.”

Don, have you considered the effects of throttling, speed limits, cap limits and overage charges, and DPI that many of the major ISP’s in Canada are now implementing?

Have you considered the inherent conflict of interest when you have common carriers acting as ISP’s and content providers, and prioritizing traffic for their own services at the expense of independent ISP’s and 3rd-party stores? (see Bell’s recent actions vis. independent ISP’s and Bell’s ‘new’ onine video store.

Now available in paperback!
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William's latest collaboration, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. Learn more.

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