Monday, April 28, 2008

It Takes Government to S and M

This article conflates a digital download licensing scheme with a tax and then argues that the government better levy a real tax and have the Copyright Office pass it on to artists.

Why would the government be preferable over the record majors as a middleman? Why should the government be trusted to not raise the $5 to $7.50? If record execs love to line their pockets, how much more does the government love to line its pockets?

Who's been cutting prices historically? Private industry or the government? And who's been raising taxes all along? Until 2006, there was a tax on telecommunications on the books that had been levied to pay for the Spanish-American War.

The only good point the article makes is that the Copyright Office is required to accept all registrations. But why do people love force so much? Is everybody into S and M?

"Is reason so dear, or liberty so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of voluntarism and capitalism? Forbid it, almighty government! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me slavery or give me death!" — Kinky Henry, Patrick Henry's lesser known cousin.

Sorry, socialists, such a one-stop rights management service monopoly needn't be compulsory. The record majors could as part of the deal with ISPs agree to sign up every comer, like the Copyright Office, and in case his music is downloaded, pass his share of the $5 on to him. And that Nielsen-style system to track downloads, who would run it more efficiently, the government or private industry?

If the record majors refuse to sign up every comer, here's a business idea for you: Why don't you found an e-"record label" that signs up every comer? If you get the ten percent of independent artists and labels as your customers, you can negotiate with ISPs and get the same deal as the majors. Just my two cents.

"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master." — George Washington

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