Warner Music Group’s “Music Tax”

A few months ago I heard about Warner Music Group’s plan to introduce a blanketed fee for  music downloaded on college campuses.  I wasn’t exactly sure how this would work, but I recently stumbled across an article about the service called “Choruss”.  It isn’t an actual music tax, but it definitely seems like one.

It’s an experimental service involving a few colleges.  According to the article “Music Industry Changes Tune of New Program to Fight File Sharing,

“the colleges would pay the music industry a blanket licensing fee, similar to what radio stations pay to air popular songs. There was also discussion of the record labels’ signing a ‘covenant not to sue’ for any illegal downloading of their songs by users on participating campuses, he said.”

Who does this really help?  Not necessarily the consumers.  First, from what I understand, this only applies to music under the Warner Music Group (WMG) label.  Second, there are other music services out there that are of higher value than Choruss.  If consumers pay for the music they download, they want to have choices.  Consumers do not want to be limited in their purchases.  Lastly, does WMG think that this will stop file sharing?  It seems like it could be a good deterrent against piracy, but it definitely won’t stop it.

Additionally, It’s hard to tell by this article whether or not the fee paid by students is required.  It seems like it is a fee forced upon all students, which is why it is negatively referred to as a “music tax”.  If it is required, this isn’t fair to students.  Hey, not all of us download music illegally or WANT to pay for WMG’s music downloading service.  We may prefer to get our music from other sources and don’t want to be forced to pay for Choruss.

The one major upside of this service: Unlimited use of the music you download.

“The most unusual feature of Choruss is that users would be able to download any song in the collection to their own computers, with no restrictions. Unlike Apple’s iTunes, which charges about a dollar per song for unrestricted downloads, this would be an all-you-can-grab song buffet. Want to make CD’s? Sure. Put thousands of songs on your iPod? No problem. Even after students stop paying the Choruss subscription fee, they will be able to keep all the songs they have downloaded. ‘They get to keep them the rest of their lives,’ as Mr. Griffin put it. That differs from some subscription music services, which allow access only while users are active members of the service.”

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