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Voluntary Collective Licensing for Music Downloads

Thursday, April 3, 2008
12:30 pm


302 Computer Science

Food and discussion begins at 12:30 pm. Everyone invited. <a

Jim Griffin, a music industry consultant who is in the unusual position of being recognized as smart and reasonable by participants across a broad swath of positions in the copyright debate, revealed last week that he’s working to start a new music industry organization that will urge ISPs to bundle a music licensing fee into their monthly service costs, in exchange for which the major labels will agree not to sue (and, presumably, not to threaten suit against) the ISP’s customers for copyright infringement of the music whose rights they own. The goal, Griffin says, is to “monetize the anarchy of the Internet.”

This idea has a long history and has at various times been propounded by some on the “copyleft.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation, for example, issued in April 2004 a report entitled “A Better Way Forward: Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing“. This report even suggested the $5 per user per month ($60 per user per year) that Griffin apparently has in mind.

At lunch, we’ll explore some of the legal and technical challenges to this approach, as well as its possible costs and benefits.