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(Abridged from a comment originally written as a response to the copyright article in Wired.com's Threat Level.)
November 7th, 2009
"He who controls the traffic controls the kingdom" -- Mike Filsaime, internet marketing expert.
You people are all insane - lawmakers, RIAA and "content aggregator" web sites. The solution is simple - and already exists.
The best way to regulate this whole business is to create a system of statutory royalties that are collectible for display of web pages that contain copyright material, on a per-view basis; much as royalties are currently collectible for any other form of public performance or broadcast of recordings. It has worked very well for television, radio and live venues for years. There are organizations that do an excellent job of collecting royalties for artists (i.e. BMI, ASCAP) and such royalties should be due from the PUBLISHER of the web page, hello!!! (i.e. the site owner, analogous to "the station" in the old system.)
IMO Youtube and many others commit, and get away with, the “Pilate offence” of washing their hands of
responsibility for what is uploaded to their sites. I believe that they know full well that copyrighted material
is uploaded to their servers, yet their clever contracts clear them of responsibility. Why do I believe this?
Because Youtube will edit out the sex scene of a famous (and very obviously unauthorized) major motion picture that is uploaded to
Youtube, but leave the rest of it in place! I refer to the following - “The Name Of The Rose”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNL60pmxDwA - up since December 2008; check out the annotations to said page and let’s see how fast it disappears now!
They may have their legal hardball (and their moral superiority) down pat, but this is hypocrisy, is it not? It is Google Inc. (or any other such upload site) who should pay copyright owners a royalty, seeing as they are the ones who profit from both the traffic to said web sites and the subsequent brand development - and such royalties should reflect a percentage of revenue that can be reasonably be expected from advertising revenue / brand development from such pages. This percentage should be at the best “middle line” possible: Low enough to create / allow a viable revenue model for sites’ owners to publish, yet high enough to compensate artists sufficiently for the fact that it is their music that is allowing the page creator to profit from the advertising etc! The “average eCPM” (revenue statistic measured per 1000 views) of a web page can easily be tracked and such industry figures are well known.
( Perhaps also purchases of hard drives and other media should be subject to a blanket royalty rate in a similar manner to that of CDRs a few years ago, given that they are likely to be used for unauthorized audio duplication.)
Relying on the whole takedown notice thing is nonsense too; despite being well meaning, it propagates the dangerous idea that something is not a crime until someone is caught - and clearly it is not working all that well for copyright owners. ISPs / webmasters should be subject to mandatory takedown in case of legitimate copyright dispute, sure, but a carefully constructed statutory per-view royalty system would take care of most issues and render most takedown notices absolutely unnecessary.
Sites that publish others’ content and allow uploading, should be required to submit mandatory pageview statements if these are not already visible as they are in the case of youtube; and there exists sufficient technology to prevent / punish “click fraud”. (If there does not, a small portion of the royalties collected can be funneled to a department created for the purpose of pageview fraud prevention). P2P sites should be subject to mandatory data collection and a royalty rate that reflects standard industry prices for track purchases.
As an aside - has anyone else noted how the ones who appeared to stick the knife into the music business are the ones who rush in to profit from the new structure? The first was Apple - first the “rip, mix, burn” slogan and then it was “we’re going to save the music business” - remember? And Napster. And now Google inc via Youtube. The old model had to die, sure, but time for a new saying - “All’s fair in love, war and business.”
Anyway, a royalty system is IMO actionable - and would surely benefit all parties:
1) The artists that create the good content would get played and paid, and would then be just as happy to have their music uploaded to youtube as they would to have it played on the radio.
2) Downloaders would be able to enjoy free music in return for exposure to advertising, much the same as radio listeners (note - they are the same people!! The notion of punishing downloaders is akin to the notion of punishing people who tune into to pirate radio stations - absolutely preposterous.)
3) Such statutory royalties would propagate the spread and dissemination of music and encourage its free circulation on the internet; and major download sites too would benefit from the opportunities for expansion as the uploading of content catalogues was encouraged, rather than opposed. Such free, independent circulation would re-establish meritocracy rather than payola: Dare one suggest that this might be a hidden reason why such a system has not already been enacted?
It is the responsibility of government to understand and clear up this mess, and protect copyright owners - and the RIAA should not even be in the position where it has to play whac-a-mole with downloaders, uploaders or anyone else. You will never prevent file duplication, so forget it; just put in a turnstile, pay the ones who deserve the money, make it fair, and stop stifling the flow of information. You'll even get money from the taxes due on the royalties! It’s not rocket science and if a humble musician like me can figure it out, why can’t anyone else?
Maybe it's just that no-one else dares to say that the Emperor wears no clothes. Viva copyright!
Anyway all just an opinion, of course… and you saw it here first. T.R.M.
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