Some Support for the RIAA — A Music Tax

I’m often hard on the RIAA. I don’t like the
amount of political power they have in DC and at the state level. That said, I do believe in their right to
protect theintellectual property of their members.

There are laws in place that allow them to sue in civil court for damages. There are laws on the books that allow
the government to pursue criminal charges. I don’t agree with all the elements of these laws, and I am absolutely
against the introduction of any new laws, but the laws in place are there and as such, the RIAA has the right
to see them applied.

Music has value. Absolutely no question about it. Music sales are a source of income that its creators have every
right to earn. It’s because of this value and the income opportunity that the RIAA’s members pay it what amounts to
millions of dollars per year. It’s that money that has allowed the RIAA to file about 10,300 lawsuits since September
2003.

I have no problem with that at all.

Unfortunately, the payments by the RIAA member labels don’t pay for the entire expense of enforcing copyright law
and processing
RIAA
lawsuits
. For every law passed, there is a cost to get from concept to adoption. For every lawsuit filed, there
is a cost to the municipality, state or federal district where the lawsuit is filed. Tax monies, whetherthey
are local, state or federal pay for those costs. As they should.

The missing link here is the source of the tax money.

We pay property taxes. We pay use taxes. We pay sales tax. We pay income taxes. Beyond taxes, we pay fees. We pay
a fee for our drivers license, our passport, and I don’t know how many other fees that go from our bank accounts to
every level of government. In exchange we get some level of service that enable our public servants to protect, honor
and serve and to support our system.

I don’t like the idea that my tax money goes to subsidize the
10,300 lawsuits the RIAA has filed
since Sept of 2003.
How much moneydoes it take from taxpayers to pay for the courts side of the
lawsuits? I’m guessing, but with all the administrative people and lawyers involved, judges, their clerks, overhead,
and who knowswhat else is involved. Is20,000 dollars per lawsuit too high or too low? Could it be 100k
dollars each? I don’t know.

At 20k per lawsuit in top to bottom court costs, that’s more than 200 MILLION DOLLARS in taxpayer money paying for
copyright enforcement.

Then there of course is all the cost associated with the
international efforts the RIAAhas pushed the
government
to support and fulfill. Who knows how many millions that adds up to.

Why are every day taxpayers having to foot this huge bill? It’s not like our government is running at a surplus.
In the big wish list of unfunded liabilities our lawmakers have undertaken,I can think of a whole lot of things
that fall above protecting music copyrights.

Unless of course, music copyright holders pay for that unfunded liability.

Which is exactly what should happen.

If copyright holders, of which I am one, want our copyrights protected to the full extent that our government can
offer, we should be taxed for each one ofour copyrights. We should pay for those hundreds of millions of
dollars in costs since we directly benefit from those services.

Somewhere there will hopefully be a smart politician who reads this and quickly introduces a copyright tax.

From where I sit there are two types of copyrights: Commercial and Non-Commercial. Those copyrights you as a
creator think will make money, and those you think won’t.

For non-commercial works, works the creator wants protected and wants to retain the right to use, the courts in
case of an infringement, charge them $100 per year. Because this could be a lot of money for many artists, the
tax could be structured so that the song doesn’t have to be registered and paid for 18 months. Remember, if you don’t
pay, the only thing you are giving up is the right to register the work in a nataional database and to sue in civil
court. So you can own and exploit the copyright forever without paying anything.

For commercial copyrights, charge the copyright OWNER $750 per year (RIAA President Sherman says direct copyright
infringement carries a minimum penalty of $750 per work infringed)to retain the right to use the courts in case
of infringement and to fund the actions of the government in criminal charges andinternational actionsfor
the various types of copyright infringement.

(A note here, I’m sure there are a ton of legal issues here, but I’m sure there are lawyers who will offer the
solutions via comments)

Both could be registered in a database and tracked much like we do patents.

At any point in time, a copyright owner could switch from one status to the other.

The fee is annual.

In the event that the fee is not paid for a period of 1 year, the work can become part of the
creative commons license, you can offer it to the public domain, or you can
just keep it and do with it asyou see fit, but the work is not registered in the national database. As
such,you relinquish the rights associated with being in the list,starting with theright to sue in
civil courts for copyright infringement.

This works because it is based on a very simple concept. The RIAA thinks that $750 is what their members songs are
worth for direct copyright infringement. If as a music copyright owner, you don’t think its worth $750 bucks a year,
then it’s probably not really a commercial work.

A key reasonwhy this has a chance of becoming reality, is not only because it raises the money necessary to
fund protections against copyright infringement, but also becausethis could be the best thing that ever
happened tomusicians whose work is being buried inside a label’s vaults.

More than amillions commercial works are not owned by individuals, they are owned by music labels and other
corporate entities.Most RIAA members. Having a $750 annual tax on a song could create a movement that would
force the label to either monetize the song quickly, or return those it can’t or won’t monetize to its originator, or
their designee. Theycan then chose how to define the work and which tax to pay.

After all, if a song isn’t worth $750 bucks a year, why should it benefit from the hundreds of millions of dollars
in taxpayer money being spent to protect it?

With the 500mm dollars or more that could be raised annually, the RIAA, and every single taxpaying copyright owner
would have every right to expect and demand that they receive the fullest protection of the law, but it wouldn’t be
at the expense of more important taxpayer funded services.

I understand that thiscould make music more expensive. I would rather have more expensive music then either
higher taxes or tax money being spent on copyright protection rather than more essential services.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it at least till someone comes up with a better idea.

57 thoughts on “Some Support for the RIAA — A Music Tax

  1. guuuud

    Comment by Windows registry tips -

  2. Thanks for those valuable suggestions but i still have some doubts in the context as stated by Demockery101 in the above comment..
    So will u please help us in clarigy those doubts..

    Comment by blogger86 -

  3. great site with very good look and perfect information…i like it

    Comment by Litfaßsäule -

  4. Interesting article, but just remember,all other subscription services, you are just renting the music you never “own” it. If you stop paying your required $ “poof!” bye, bye music.:P

    Comment by william -

  5. There are some things I think we should all share the burden for – what’s next? Taxing hot chicks so we don’t have to be stuck with thier court costs when they get molested, harassed, or raped? Once they pass their prime, can they decide if they want to continue to pay for the protection, or put themselves in the public domain?

    Comment by runescape money -

  6. I’ll still create them, but I can’t mentally handle the idea that someone can just come along and use them however they see fit leaving me with no recourse. It’s already a problem – if someone were to steal one of my works and use it today, I still have to decide whether or not it’s worth calling up the attorney.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  7. What are you a maverick of? Do you even understand what the major record labels and the RIAA do to artists? “protect their intellectual property”? Are you serious? More like steal their intellectual property and then keep all the money on it. I tried to google a list of artists who ACTUALLY support the Raping of Intellectual-property of All Artists, all I found was your crappy myopically misdirected blog. You don’t have a problem with the antithesis of free-market capitalism, the RIAA, who recently lobbied congress to OVERRULE the betamax ruling, and basically make CDR’s and ipods ILLEGAL. You have a problem with them spending our tax money, albeit I agree I have a problem with them (the government) stealing my money in general, but that’s as beside the point as your entire blog is. Needless to say I can’t find a list do you know why? Because almost none of them do, its why you have groups like System of a Down with an album named “steal this album”, gee why would they want to screw themselves out of their own money? Mabey because they don’t make any off of cd sales.

    You want to buy cd’s? Buy indy labels, if they are RIAA you are just perpetuating this bullshit, instead, just download the .torrent and help bring down this corrupt monopoly of intellectual property rights. In the end this will benefit the musicians just as much because they will again get a fair share of cd sales.
    free-market transaction: a transaction that is MUTUALLY benefical to ALL PARTIES.

    http://www.riaaradar.com
    http://www.downhillbattle.org
    http://www.boycott-riaa.com

    Comment by Demockery101 -

  8. I am very horny…Every day dream about it…touch me… please?

    Comment by Jason -

  9. I’ve just been letting everything wash over me recently, but that’s how it is. Not much on my mind lately. Pfft. I can’t be bothered with anything , but what can I say? I just don’t have anything to say these days, but I guess it doesn’t bother me. I feel like an empty room.
    phone cards

    Comment by long distance call -

  10. I got such a shop…you wanna have a look? el-audio.de

    Comment by existenzgründung -

  11. See, another possibility is to sell the music online for example via http://www.musicdock.net…as a pur musician you don’t have costs for hosting, technology or anything else. Musicians got 60% each sell. That’s more then the double of an common label-contract.
    try out. I found the article on http://www.mp3werk.de/news.php?uid=260. It was hard,cuase it’s german, but totaly cool and fair.

    Comment by Proyector -

  12. The Riaa has been overcharging us for years the cds are 16.00 dollars and dont go down in price as they get old.Movies on the other hand go down in price after a year or so offer crystal clear video 5.1 sound and a more expensive media so paying 7.99-14.99 for a movie that cost a hundred million to make I feel is fair. Ive bought the same music on album then cassette because of scrathes and worn out albums then finally cd I make a copy for the car(fair use)now they have anticopy cost double the price of a movie and only have one or two good songs its really sad when music artists complain about infringment when they can retire in their teens and their are talented bands playing small clubs and bars for years who never record an album because they arent one of the beautiful people(marketable) but play for the love of the music

    Comment by Richard Barron -

  13. Seems to me the RIAA protects the recording industry more than independent artists, many of whom say their fan base *increases* as a result of downloads, file sharing and the like. Ultimately, it should be up to the artist to decide what to do with his/her material, not an industry machine like RIAA

    Comment by Deb -

  14. Right problem, wrong solution. If the problem is that access to courts costs taxpayers, then why not “tax” the loser of a civil suit some amount to reimburse the courts? A copyright tax has many problems and does not return the money to the specific jurisdictions that are paying for trials.

    Comment by Mike -

  15. At $750 per song, an indie artist is loooking at well over $10,000 just to register and protect a CD that may well have been recorded in a home studio on a Mac. This seems crazy!

    The RIAA is a trade group for the industry, and as long as they keep winning in court they will continue suing. The most effective way to kill their ability to sue their customers is to put them out of business by refusing to pay for commercial music altogether or by only purchasing directly from artists.

    Millions of music fans working together can change the world.

    Comment by PeaceLove -

  16. At $750 per song, an indie artist is loooking at well over $10,000 just to register and protect a CD that may well have been recorded in a home studio on a Mac. This seems crazy!

    The RIAA is a trade group for the industry, and as long as they keep winning in court they will continue suing. The most effective way to kill their ability to sue their customers is to put them out of business by refusing to pay for commercial music altogether or by only purchasing directly from artists.

    Millions of music fans working together can change the world.

    Comment by PeaceLove -

  17. Your point made.
    http://www.internetnews.com/xSP/article.php/3508371

    Comment by dan -

  18. I don’t have many cd’s left, they are either

    1. Stolen (John Return my cd’s please.)
    2. Destroyed (CD’s are not durable)
    3. Misplaced(I’m probably presenile)

    …so I turn to P2P and recover the music I once bought. When I find something new and interesting, I go out and buy 2 of the same kind, one for me, and one for a friend, definitly not John.

    Comment by Hans -

  19. a better idea:

    http://www.cepr.net/publications/AFV.htm

    Comment by Ben -

  20. This is a reply to Michael’s post #31.

    There are very few, if any, artists that have come up on their own and sold millions of records. There are very many that have been on a label, gotten popular, left the label for their own label and sold millions of dollars.

    You don’t get to step two with out taking step one. Creating the recording for the album is relatively cheap in the grand scheme of things, breaking a new artist is not.

    As for the lawsuits against 15 year olds, the argument has been made many a times that you shouldn’t sue a 15 year old because they don’t know any better… let’s face it, when I was 15, I knew the difference between right and wrong (I didn’t always do what was right, but I knew when I was doing wrong). There isn’t a single person in this country that hasn’t had this issue shoved down their throat over the last couple of years. Everyone knows the issue, knows it is wrong, and thinks they can’t get caught. Besides, when you see their IP address you don’t know how old they are. Would you civilly go after a 15 year old for breaking all of the windows in your house? Or do they have to be 18 to be liable for that?

    As for the DVD sales vs music sales. These are two very different animals. You can download a song in a minute, it takes a few hours on a cable modem (assuming the server has good speed) to download a movie. It is like comparing 2 rocks and saying “they are both rocks”, when one is a pebble and the other a boulder.

    Comment by Grant -

  21. The point is somewhat valid – someone has to pay for the services of the government.

    Why not a different slant – if IP is _property_, and has value, shouldn’t a tax apply based on the value of the property?

    If the property is put into the commons (where it can’t be “exploited” as I understand the licensing — any variations also go into the commons), then it could no longer be considered the property of the owner.

    in general, property taxes for homes provide the economic backing for the protection of those homes, etc for vehicles, and so forth.

    As for the “starving artists who can’t afford to register”.
    (1) these artists couldn’t afford to bring a lawsuit in the first place,
    (2) the appraisal value of their work is likely to be fairly low,
    and (3) their material isn’t attractive to being republished, since the creative commons approach means that the republisher is only providing distribution for the material and cannot claim copyright protection for the changes.

    Comment by William -

  22. Yes, I agree that “music has value.” But is the best way to measure that value in dollars and cents?

    Comment by Nathan Smith -

  23. I applaud the original thinking, but I have to go with the general consensus among commenters here.

    Protecting IP is a basic tenet of the free market–entrepreneurial capitalism just doesn’t go without it. That’s why the government got into the business of issuing patents and copyrights in the first place. I don’t want to call IP protection a “right,” necessarily (it is and should be conditional and limited), but I would say that it’s a privilege which the government and society has a compelling interest to maintain.

    Now, obviously it can go too far (like the frivolous lawsuits you cite), which as you have correctly argued numerous times on this blog is also very dangerous to creativity and the free market. The last thing I’m suggesting is that IP owners should just get to sit on something forever–their privilege probably does need to be rolled back a bit, in fact. But to presume every IP owner (who are taxpayers themselves) should have to pay special fees to insure their property from infringement tips the scales too far. To say it’s like having crime victims pay fees to the police is overdramatic, but still a good analogy.

    Comment by Jake Haselswerdt -

  24. Why bother with another tax ? If we are talking waste of public money for filing lawsuits agains individuals breaking the law – let’s make them pay a fine not only to reimburse loss of income of the aggrieved party, but also additional amount to cover “legal expenses” (filing in court, lawyers, judges, clerks, you name it). Given that you only create additional pressure not to break the law, as it becomes even more expensive.

    Regards,
    L’e-szczur

    Comment by L'e-szczur -

  25. about the blog before this one, yeah, it was a great season. i hate steve’s agent too. he was probably all over steve when phx made that huge offer. and since steve loves his agent so much, he probably fell into it and left d-town with nothing. i just cant believe he left dirk and fin like that. thats what made me mad. leaving your friends who are like your family for money? no way. but you let go of him. life doesnt have to be fair, so you don’t have to play fair. all you gotta do is keep steve, resign him. if you love steve alot and you were upset when he left, why didn’t you challenge phx and make a better deal? i’m sorry to say this, but take some money off fin’s salary, and put it into steve, because steve can do a lot more stuff than fin(obviously). well then put some money into it! who cares if you want to put it into your pocket, you already have enough money than at least 15% of the world! appreciate it! sorry i’m being offensive. its just my love for steve….-__-

    Comment by Courtney Nguyen -

  26. This is a reply to Grant’s post #28.

    What you said is true to a certain degree, the record companies work like that, it has been their modus operandi for a long time.

    But seriously: Some artists nowadays record very professional albums with nothing more than Pro Tools, a microphone, and a keyboard. Good music sells even with minimal or no marketing.

    You know, most of today’s “top” artists would still be touring malls if it weren’t for the marketing behemoth that is America’s record industry. And frankly, that’s were they belong.

    The notion that multi-billion dollar corporations have the right to sue 15-year olds into oblivion because they unwittingly uploaded the latest crap to other 15-year olds is completely insane.

    Also, think about the following: We all know the statistics that show declining record sales since the beginnings of file sharing. But in the period, sales of DVDs went through the roof – but I think Mr. Cuban covered that ground here on the blog before, so I won’t elaborate…

    Comment by Michael Ströck -

  27. I’m an content creator. I never copyrighted anything except things secured by publishers (games, articles, etc.).
    I’m all for Your proposal. I’m not sure if numbers are best (750$, 100$, 18 months), but that can be changed. What is important, is that You have to renewed Your interest in Your (c) materials every Year with small sum of money.
    I would apply this to other types of content (software, books, articles, etc.) only with different numbers.

    Comment by Robert -

  28. Kind of off-topic, but please have your readers look at this post–it’s important:

    whowilldietoday.blogspot.com

    Comment by rk -

  29. To me, as a tax payer, I subsidize so much crap that I couldn’t care less about or have less to do with, that subsidizing stupid lawsuits isn’t even worth the headache. I see a better approach as ending the consignment of copyrights. Copyrights were originally created as a way to protect the works of individuals – the authors, the artists, etc. Instead, artists are almost universally required to consign their masters to their labels, and thus effectively to the RIAA. If we’re going to talk about intellectual property, surely it should be rooted in the creator of the intellect. Metallica or the Eagles are more than welcome to sue me if they think I rip off their music. Getting sued by the RIAA for ripping off Metallica makes about as much sense as getting sued by the AMA because you stiff your doctor on a bill.

    Incidentally, your idea sounds an awful lot like the trademark system we already have in place – if you want the added protection, you get a trademark. For the most part, you forfeit the rights to go after individuals for ‘possessing’ your marks, but gain lots of freedoms in going after those who ‘distribute’ your marks. Maybe a nice compromise exists deep within there?

    Comment by Cris -

  30. This is a reply to Sarah’s post #26.

    “They tend to keep the facts to themselves and downplay how cheap it is to manufacture a CD compared to the price they sell an album for.”

    Here are some facts for you… The record labels spend millions of dollars promoting albums, and don’t break even unless it goes gold (500,000 copies sold). In 2004 only 606 albums reached gold status (or higher). If your album sells 5 million or more copies, you would be on the top 100 selling albums of all time, to give you some perspective.

    With few exceptions, the artists themselves don’t really care about people downloading their music, it usually benefits them more than it hurts them. The albums they put out serve one purpose, getting people to their concerts. Artists don’t make a lot on the album sales, they make the vast majority of their money from concerts (which the labels make nothing from), and merchandise (shirts, etc). The albums are like movie trailers, they get you excited about the band so you will buy a ticket to the show.

    The arguement that I hear so often is “the record labels put out tons of garbage, which is why they don’t make a lot of money”, which is true on one hand. The problem with this argument is that you won’t find the next Dave Matthews, or the next Elvis, if you don’t take a shot on some kid who has some talent. The majority of those artists don’t pan out and the label takes it in the shorts. The sales by the big artists finance a lot of the potential up and coming artists.

    Comment by Grant -

  31. I am not big into downloading music myself, however I know many people who do. I personally feel that stealing is stealing and can see the moral implications as well as the more obvious legal ones involved with music piracy.

    I DON’T feel as bad about the millions of songs “stolen” when I think of how long the music industry has mislead their customers and how much they have taken advantage of consumers over the years. They tend to keep the facts to themselves and downplay how cheap it is to manufacture a CD compared to the price they sell an album for. I believe that a reduction in price would curtail a lot of the industry’s issues and would take away some of the rationalization that most thieves use to allow themselves to believe they have done nothing wrong.

    Maybe the RIAA wouldn’t have to spend so much money on prosecution if they disarmed the targets by finding middle ground. I know many will disagree and argue that the recording industry has done nothing wrong and they have every right to their profits, but it seems to be a much simpler way to look at the issue.

    Comment by Sarah Kasberg -

  32. I am not big into downloading music myself, however I know many people who do. I personally feel that stealing is stealing and can see the moral implications as well as the more obvious legal ones involved with music piracy.

    I DON’T feel as bad about the millions of songs “stolen” when I think of how long the music industry has mislead their customers and how much they have taken advantage of consumers over the years. They tend to keep the facts to themselves and downplay how cheap it is to manufacture a CD compared to the price they sell an album for. I believe that a reduction in price would curtail a lot of the industry’s issues and would take away some of the rationalization that most thieves use to allow themselves to believe they have done nothing wrong.

    Maybe the RIAA wouldn’t have to spend so much money on prosecution if they disarmed the targets by finding middle ground. I know many will disagree and argue that the recording industry has done nothing wrong and they have every right to their profits, but it seems to be a much simpler way to look at the issue.

    Comment by Sarah Kasberg -

  33. The only thing I see this doing is creating a scenario where you need to hire a lawyer or firm, and pay them thousands of dollars for your $100 copyright, which in the long run just squeezes out the small guys.

    That being said, it surely isn’t the RIAA’s fault that they don’t have to pay to file a lawsuit, and no one is blaming them for protecting their work. If I took the Mavericks logo and used it for my own personal gain I would probably get a lawsuit from you and one from the NBA.

    How about charging for filing a lawsuit, and then charging the remainder of the cost to the loser on the backend? I am surprised it doesn’t work that way already actually…

    Comment by Grant -

  34. For whatever it’s worth, it’s totally unfair to label MC as an advocate for the rich at the expense of the “un-rich” (so to speak). At the risk of sounding like a sycophant, he’s quite possibly the most “real” billionaire in history.

    But I must commend Mondout for admitting to his class envy. Few people speak with such honesty.

    Comment by Charles -

  35. I think most of you have missed the point. I don’t care about the RIAA and their 10,000 lawsuits. But I do care that my tax money pays for the court costs.

    “Bring me solutions, not problems.”.. At least Mark has taken a stab at a solution. If you don’t like the copyright fee, then come up with another way to pay the public side of the court costs..

    And I sure as heck haven’t heard of an artist who can’t afford $100.00 suing someone for downloading their song from Kazaa…. That poor artist can still rely on existing legislation.

    Comment by PSC -

  36. #20 – The labels are working everyday to try an come up with a “lock program.” Problem is, just like with anything computer or tech related now-a-days, that when they introduce these types of schemes/hardware into the public, it’s usually a matter of days before “reverse engineers” have cracked the procedure and done something to thwart it. Most times, making these exploits known via the Internet. Hows about realizing that continuing down these routes is only making matters worse, for themselves and the consumers, and bring about a paradigm shift.

    Comment by Chicago Joe -

  37. As usual, a very rich person is suggesting a change in the law that would ensure that only the rich folks get protections that should be afforded all of us. An indie artist who makes far less than $750 per song obviously cannot afford to do pay $750 (per year!) to protect his/her song. First it was Dan Quayle suggesting that the losers of civil lawsuits pay the expenses for both sides (which would ensure that only the rich could afford to sue), and now billionaire Mark Cuban is suggesting that only rich artists should have their intellectual property protected. Nice. No one on Earth benefits more from the capitalist infrastructure and related legal framework in the United States more than the superich like Mr. Cuban. That folks like him should give more back to the system that makes their wealth and security possible should be obvious to all. Of course I’m just guilty of class envy.

    Comment by Patrick Mondout -

  38. First off, for anyone who’s gotten a copyright recently, you HAVE to pay a fee just to get the copyright in the first place. I’m a proud new owner myself. That fee is supposed to already protect my work. So Mark, we copyright owners, should pay another fee ‘just in case’? No. I think the best way to attack the problem is to see the problem from its simpliest point of view. REcord labels are the ones whining and squealing how their profits are getting robbed by illegal down loads. Amazing, all this new technology advancement and they can’t come up with their own lock program to prevent illegal downloading? Please. Those of you in the realm of technology and computers (including hackers) should see this as an informal challenge to figure out the ‘lock program’ first and sell it to the RIAA and music labels for millions.

    In a world of increasing artistic expression and creativity, copyrights will be more (already are in my opinion) numerous than the shelved books at the library.

    Comment by mycquester -

  39. By the way, this proposition would create a monster equal to or worse than the mess over at the patent office. Opportunistic folks will be paying the fees to register all kinds of crap, just so they can sue anytime anyone uses a certain sound, a certain shape, or whatever! I don’t think we need MORE of that. We have enough at the patent office with vague patents being granted, and little to no research into prior art.

    Comment by Ballookey -

  40. Great idea Mark, one problem with this theory. You used an oxymoron, “Smart Politician.” HA ha kidding, but seriously, this could work if you personally keep and eye on the money trial. i.e. No IOU’s in the fund from Uncle Sam, or any other government entity. We gotta take back our frikin money and they ALWAYS find a way to dip into these funds!! Hey, you doin business email?!? http://www.xmmailserver.com

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  41. You know, I think I agree with Michael Langford’s variation on this. Put a 10 year initial protection on the music. After that, if it’s not worth it to the artist, why should it be worth it to the tax payers to protect it.

    As a side note, Jason, any intelligent points that you may have in your comments are nullified by your personal attacks against Cuban simply because you obviously have class envy. It looks as if you’re only disagreeing with him because he’s rich and you’re not.

    Comment by Mortoca -

  42. Ouch, ouch, ouch! I hope you’re illustrating the ridiculous by being ridiculous. I create new things every day – some of them I let out into the world to do what they do. Some of them, I hope to make a bit of money from. But the vast majority falls into a grey area. IF people see them and would pay money for them, then obviously I want to get a bit of money – another month I manage to make rent. But there’s no way I can afford even $100 per piece per year to protect my interest in them. And if by failing to protect them I’m tacitly agreeing to let them be plundered, then they’re never going to see the light of day. I’ll still create them, but I can’t mentally handle the idea that someone can just come along and use them however they see fit leaving me with no recourse. It’s already a problem – if someone were to steal one of my works and use it today, I still have to decide whether or not it’s worth calling up the attorney.

    There are some things I think we should all share the burden for – what’s next? Taxing hot chicks so we don’t have to be stuck with thier court costs when they get molested, harassed, or raped? Once they pass their prime, can they decide if they want to continue to pay for the protection, or put themselves in the public domain?

    This is all absurd. Rather than suing the fans of the music, the music industry should have been flexible and limber enough to adapt to what people wanted without suing anyone. Funny – I thought people who got paid that much should have been more clever.

    Comment by Ballookey -

  43. You all make good points. I think the most logical an fair thing to do is to let the artists decide. If they don’t care about the possibility of their works being downloaded (illegally) than they should be excluded from their major label contracts and allowed to adopt their works (going forward) into the Creative Commons. Previous works done under major label contract will move back to the creator once said contract is expired. With the proliferation of broadband, there is no use for a major label and their antiquated business model any longer.

    This could force the labels to restructure their business model and actually foster and develop new talent, as opposed to jumping the latest bandwagon, and manufacturing copy-cat act after copy-cat act, just to keep their pockets fat.

    Comment by Chicago Joe -

  44. I think that if the copyright owners want the RIAA to sue for them, then they need to pay enough to the RIAA to fund the lawsuits. If they want to sue themselves, then they they’ll need to handle the costs.

    Copyright is a protection that our country gives everyone. A tax on the ability to copyright a work prevents a class of people from creating works in much the same way as a poll tax prevents a class of people from voting.

    Comment by Chris -

  45. I stand by my comments, Mark’s idea sounds more like a mob racket than copyright protections.

    If we end up in a world where only those that can afford to pay the protection fee can copyright their work, only the rich and the corporations will own copyrights. What would stop a music label from hearing a song by the struggling artist, who can’t afford the protection fee, from copyrighting it THEMSELVES and earning any money off that song. The protection fee would certainly be cheaper than signing that artist to a contract, promoting him/her, pressing their album, sending them on tour, etc.

    Instead, just copyright the song the struggling artist couldn’t afford to copyright and hand it over to an established corporate “artists” with a built in name. The original artist would be up $hit creek without a paddle.

    And as Charles said, if you apply this idea to software would we have innovation by anyone other than Microsoft etc?

    And this idea that if an artist can’t earn $750 in a year off his or her music it isn’t worth the protection is absurd. Is the only art worth protecting art that can be sold and commercialized? Is that really the society we want, where only those who can make money off their work are worth having the protection of copyright?

    Mark – I think this shows how your billions cloud your judgement. To you it’s no problem – protection fees are nothing to a billionaire.

    Comment by Jason (Go Pacers) -

  46. I believe your idea of a copyright fee is good.

    Its a registration fee, not a tax, and its important to keep the difference.

    Just like if you want to own say…10 cars, you have to pay a registration fee on each of them (in most states), if you’d like to register 1000 songs with the copyright office, you have to pay $750 a year

    However I think there should be a more sizable grace period than 18 months. Think something like 4 years, or even 8 or 10 years.

    That would make it so we’d definitly get things back from labels that won’t release them, movie companies that won’t show/release any films, tv networks that won’t dvdize things, but starting artists aren’t saddled with overwhelming fees to just keep their works out of the public domain, as well as the problem of “Oh, NEW BAND X wrote COOL SONG Q fourteen months ago, don’t by the album now, just wait until august and download it for free” problem.

    –Michael

    Comment by Michael Langford -

  47. I am definitely in favor of a fee for copyrighting works. I don’t think works should be born copywritten. Owners/creators should register their works and pay a nominal fee. Fail to renew your copyright and the work falls into the public domain.

    Mark, wouldn’t your proposal just invite infringement of unregistered works? “Oh look this upstart bad couldn’t afford $1300 to protect their album. Let’s make lot’s of illegal copies. No one can punish us.”

    Comment by Scott Brenner -

  48. Wouldn’t a copyright fee end up causing a lot more lawsuits over copyright? Most copyright infringment goes unchallenged. If copyright owners had to pay $750, would the owners be much more likely to sue for infringement? If they have any case, then they could probably easily get the $750 out of the potential infringer and get greedy for more to pay for their other copyrights.

    With the fair use doctrine as vague and inconsistent as it is, more copyright owners would sue over someone xeroxing their written work, copy/pasting their blog post, photographing their sculpture, etc. etc. This would clog up the courts even more.

    Comment by Chris -

  49. Looking at it separately if the copyright owner has employed someone to create a work, I would then absolutely agree with you. A “Use it or loose it” clause would be preferable to a fee but if a fee gets the job done I have no problem with it. If the work is not used or is not making money it should then enter a creative commons or even the public domain, the artist has accepted the loss of ownership before undertaking the work.
    If on the other hand the copyright owner has purchased the copyright from the artist and then does nothing with it or is no longer using it and the fee is no longer worth paying the copyright should only return to the artist to do what they want with.
    In the most common copyright is that of the individual artist who should always have their rights protected against anyone who infringes upon them for the duration of their life whether they decide to publish, sell or shelve the work. It is the job of government to protect the rights of the individual and there should be no levy on any of those rights.

    I do like the premise though.

    Comment by Conann -

  50. As always, I’m cheering for Mr. Cuban and his cute Mavericks. If you can’t land more than $750 a year from your song, why should it be protected by law? If you can’t land more than $750 a year from your body, why should it be protected by law? Let free market rule, and get rid of the deadbeats!
    Love,
    Trixie
    “Never wear lower heels, longer skirt, or less of a smile than you can afford.”

    Comment by Trixie Jenkins -

  51. Even though MC raises a relatively interesting perspective, ultimately, I’m thinking more like Jason.

    The last thing we need is an extra government-mandated advantage for the brain-dead dinosaurs of the RIAA/MPAA, whose natural proclivity is to abuse and retard the free market, not make it better.

    If I’m understanding MC correctly, the young emerging songwriting genius who barely makes $750 a month will have to pay $750 a year per song to protect his content? Otherwise, he’s playing Russian Roulette?

    If we’re gonna do that, let’s make the fee so ridiculous that even the RIAA/MPAA wouldn’t want to pay it – which would obviously defeat any potential purpose.

    Nothing like what MC is talking about exists in the software industry (does it?) If it did, we would even have a Napster, or an eDonkey, or a Winamp? Would we even have P2P? or Linux?

    If we had to wait on the Microsofts of the world to innovate everything, life would stink.

    If the software industry doesn’t need a copyright tax, the music industry ABSOLUTELY DOESN’T need a copyright tax.

    We just need to overhaul our copyright laws so that they’re in tune with the 21st Century. That’s the only real solution.

    Comment by Charles -

  52. What a truly asinine idea Mr. Cuban.

    How could you think that MORE GOVERNMENT is the answer to ANY problem we have.

    How could you think that MORE TAXES are the answer to ANY problem we have.

    Comment by Difster -

  53. This is seriosuly a rediculous idea. All it is doing is setting up “commercial” music to be protected but leaving independent artists, maybe artists that are still making their way, out in the cold and unable to protect their intellectual property.

    Say you are an up and coming singer/songwriter who’s writing music at a furious speed, recording it in your own home studio. You cut your own albums, sell them at your shows that draw maybe 5 people in an out of the way bar. What little money you make from shows and CD sales barely covers any of your other costs.

    Are you telling me that artist has less right to copyright protection in civil courts than some record label created band that couldn’t play an instrument with a gun to their head but is very “commercial” because they are promoted to death by the record companies that can easiyl afford the $100 a song protection fee?

    This seems more like a Mob racket, forcing protection fees, than protecting artists’ copyrights.

    Another sign that your billions have isolated you from what people who scratch by day to day can afford in terms of technology or now in terms of protection fees for intellectual property.

    Comment by Jason -

  54. This is not something people want to hear, least of all holders of intellectual property; but the “better idea” is to roll back the fallacious intellectual property laws.

    I was prepared to write a long post on this subject, but don’t think I can do a better job than IP lawyer Stephan Kinsella did in his short article here:

    http://www.fed-soc.org/Publications/practicegroupnewsletters/intellectualproperty/legitimate-ipv3i3.htm

    Well worth a read. In short, there is no logical justification to treat the spreading of ideas (not scarce–your use of my idea does not deprive me of its use) in the same manner as the theft of property (scarce–I only have one lawnmower, so theft deprives me of its use). Thus, all efforts to create balance between IP holders and consumers are doomed because the the arguments are predicated upon flawed logic. As long as there are laws that treat *some* ideas as actual property, then IP owners will (intelligently) continue to take great lengths defend what these laws inappropriately recognize as “theft.”

    Comment by Tom O'Neill -

  55. I see value in your idea, but my question is where would this stop and doesn’t this seem like insurance?

    I’m paying a fee “just in case” i get sued and everyone’s collective fee will pay for my lawsuit = I’m paying money every month “just in case” i come down with some disease.

    And lets be honest here, insurance is a scam…at its core its a decent idea, but the way it skews drug prices and health care is a flat out scam.

    Where would this tax end? Would there soon be a “I got shot” tax? Where the fee covers the legal fees of the people involved in the shooting…”just in case”.

    Also, i am recending the nice things i said about Yahoo Music. They allow 3 computers to be “activated” that you can play music on. However, if you reformat your PC (i’m a software engineer) a lot and forget to “deactivate” that install…you burn through one. So, i’m stuck with a dead service…luckily i only signed up for a month (not the year) so i’m out 6 bucks. Fortunately, i kept all my play lists so i know which songs i downloaded🙂

    As always Mr. Cuban, i enjoy your blog…keep the commentary coming.

    Comment by Josh J -

  56. I’ve heard the single “Mr Brightside” by The Killers several times. I found it very intriguing, and wished to hear more from this band.

    I fired up a P2P program and downloaded a few more cuts from their album, “Hot Stuff”. I liked them. A lot.

    So I went out and bought the CD.

    I would not have bought the CD had I not heard the additional cuts.

    This scenario, btw, has been what prompted me to buy every album I’ve bought the last three years.

    I can see why the RIAA is complaining. Without illegal downloads, I’d have not spent all that money on their product.

    Oh, wait….

    The reason their sales are dropping is because there are a lot more things out there eating up leisure dollars, like DVDs (almost as cheap as CDs now, how is that possible?), videogames, basic survival in the wondrous Bush economy….

    Comment by lazarus -

  57. Your comments about an annual fee also play on the original ideals of copyright, to give the person a limited ability to make use of their creation before being returned to the creative commons for the greater benefit of all society, how can anything benefit society being locked away in a vault?

    Comment by Duane -

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