January 10, 2009

Broadband Tax?

By admin

The RIAA has recently settled a number of actions related to DRM issues.  However, don’t expect them to stop.  This blog has pointed out (and rightly so) that we should expect the RIAA to start to lobby the US government to impose a blanket broadband tax to penalize everyone for pirates.

A similar thing was tried by the Canadian version of the RIAA.  Here’s a Slashdot story (there are some great discussions there and are worth reading). Given that it was as late as Dec 2008, it’s obvious that SOCAN and ACTRA are still trying to make this work.  By the way, the core info source for all of this is Michael Geist .

I’m opposed to this kind of measure.  Once you agree to a tax on broadband use for the music industry, you immediate suffocate the use of the web.  More importantly, you provide precedent for every other whiner to say, ‘hey, I’m losing money to because of that damn interweb thingy.  Where do I line up for my hand out?’  Video game producers.  TV shows.  Music companies.  Journalists.  Newspaper publishers.  Thousands of other organizations will be knocking on the doors of government expecting a handout.

Let’s talk about the real issue for a moment.  All of the major publishers of content are suffering because people aren’t paying attention to them any more.  Whether you’re a big label selling new pop ‘idols’ or a newspaper or TV network that’s censoring important news, you’re suffering because you can’t shape opinion as easily as you used to.  This sucks for these folks because they’re no longer able to manipulate the public the way they want to.

So they lobby to have the Internet ‘shaped’.

The emergence of digital media as competition to analog thinking is a massive issue and will have an impact on how all of us use the Internet.  Copyright rules and content control are superficial arguments for keeping the cash-flow strong with Canada’s mainstream media.  We already see it with restrictions on access to sites like Hulu in order to appease the CTVs and Global’s of the world and we’ll see much, much more in the future.

One day, the RIAA, SOCAN and other publishers will realize that the gig is up and that they should try to find a different way to play with the public.

Until they do, I maintain that it’s really important that we all find ways to boycott traditional media outlets (and spread the word).

Last dig:  if we’re going to have a tax on anything, let’s start with a decent carbon tax, OK?