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Unlimited But Not Flawless

In iTunes/iPod, Music on February 23, 2008 at 12:44 am

I’ve heard about this some time ago but I didn’t comment about it the first time around. This Neowin.net article talks about a proposal by the Songwriters Association of Canada. Every Canadian internet account would get billed an extra $5 a month. This 5$ would make it entirely legal to download songs from the Internet for free. This is definitely a very… forward-thinking idea. But I can’t stop seeing the fundamental flaws. Would all artists be compensated? Will an artist that makes a popular single receive a larger amount of the money? It’s for that same reason I’m pissed at the current private copy levy we have on CDs. That and why should I pay U2 if I just want to copy the annual report onto a disk.

According to the proposal, “Virtually all sharing on the internet and wireless devices would be tracked.” That statement both puts me at ease and on edge. It feels like a way to kill net neutrality… for a good reason.

This might just be me feeling guilty for, oddly enough, doing the right thing. As the Neowin.net article states, such a law would eliminate the need for digital music stores such as iTunes. Hell, it might just short of kill the whole physical music store business, too. This might leave artists with live shows as their main source of income, the exact amount some artist might get with the tax being unsure at this point. That’s a problem for me : I could care less seeing them live. That’s a reason why I purchase my music through iTunes, to show my support however I can. With this new tax, there would be no guilt in downloading a song for free and no reason to buy it. The only guilt would come from not supporting an artist or only doing so with some percentage of $5, if even that.

I’ll pity my Windows-using brothers and sisters out there due to the probable viral pandemic that will come from inexperienced computer users downloading as many songs as they want from shady sources. You know that the second this law comes into effect, you’ll probably have a few dozen COLDPLAY_CLOCKS.EXE files floating around. I just hope artists decide to offer “certified clean,” high quality tracks from their sites.

I’m not yet ready to say that I’m for or against the SAC’s proposal. I’m sure that some conservatives might see this as just a step closer to the country voting by a show of hands to re-elect Our Great Leader. It’s far-fetched but it is undeniably a step that way. I’m OK with public health care (or socialized health care as those who aren’t fans like to call it) but publicly funded music distribution seems to be going a bit far. Then again, it’s not like someone has a better idea to nearly entirely rectify the damage caused by the availability of Napster. This would make Apple and Steve Jobs seem like record industry pawns, it’s so revolutionary. And they definitely aren’t.

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