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Keep the music going and the artists paid

Marketplace Staff Apr 2, 2007

Keep the music going and the artists paid

Marketplace Staff Apr 2, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: Apple CEO Steve Jobs was his usual understated self at a press conference this morning.

STEVE JOBS: This is a landmark event and is the besginning of a major shift that will take place this year, resulting in consumers being able to purchase music from any digital music store and play it on any digital music player.

Jobs was in London for an announcement by EMI. The record label’s going to sell its songs online without any copy protection. Through Apple’s iTunes, of course, which explains why Jobs was there.

To be fair though, Jobs has been pretty vocal in calling for copy protection technologies to be lifted. We still don’t know whether the rest of the recording industry’s going to follow EMI’s lead, but commentator Celia Hirschman says there is a way to make the whole thing a win-win for everyone.

CELIA HIRSCHMAN: According to Big Champagne, the Internet measurement company, American consumers freely trade over a billion music tracks each month. Still, the record industry says they are winning the war on illegal downloading.

Someone should tell them you can’t solve a problem unless you first admit there is one. And the problem is the consumers just wants to hear their favorite music in an easy to download, user-friendly, inexpensive way.

That’s why illegal downloading won’t go away. That’s why peer-to-peer networks have grown so quickly. Folks don’t want to get supeonas — they just want to hear good music.

Wanna know how the record business could save itself, pay artists, and eliminate piracy easily?

Simple. Make the Internet Service Providers the point at which a download is counted.

Whether you buy from itunes or steal from Bit Torrent, an Internet Service Provider, or ISP, brought the music to you. The ISPs know what was doanloaded, and will never have to reveal it, but make the ISPs pay into a royalty pool managed by an independent third party.

The consumers would pay a minimal monthly amount as part of their Internet bill based on the amount of downloading they do. The more files they download, the more their bill would be — though it would still be pennies on the dollar.

The royalty pool would be divvied up and distributed to the artists,publishers, labels and songwriters based on how much their songs are downloaded.Everyone would get paid fairly for their work. The cost of maintaining theroyalty pool is tiny, since the Internet offers accurate measurement.

Changing the system of downloading music would shut down piracy andillegal peer-to-peer downloading.

Think about it. The industry would recover from their devastatingfinancial losses, bands would get paid for their work, and we could allgo back to enjoying the music. Which is really the point, isn’t it?

RYSSDAL: Celia Hirschman’s a music commentator for KCRW here in Los Angeles.

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