Friday, October 14, 2005

TAX THE POD PEOPLE

It's the sort of thing which, as Eleanor G points out, will give the music industry around the world ideas: Japanese recording industry spokesperson Taizo Shinya is "pushing for an iPod tax".

You do wonder if Sony or another Japanese manufacturer had cornered this market if Shinya would be quite so keen on the idea, but let's not assume this is just sour grapes. Because, more importantly, it's a sucidially stupid idea.

First of all, if you charge people when they buy a machine on the assumption that they will download unlicensed material, you'll actually legitimise their use of those files - for how can they be illegal if they've paid in advance for them? And once you've opened the door that some people have paid and have to be allowed to take whatever torrents they fancy, it would make it completely impossible to police those who haven't. Good news for us, bad news for the record labels.

Secondly, what constitutes a digital music player? If you tax ipods, you'd have to tax phones which can play MP3 tracks - and since most phones will have the capability to play those soon, that would bring almost every phone user into the tax. Even those who don't use the function. That's not likely to be popular. And do you tax cameras which can store tracks? Yesterday The Sun was suggesting that breast implants capable of storing MP3s - would we have to see a tit tax?

Shinya's difficult climb was illustrated when a browser-hijacking pop up slapped itself over his quote:

Image hosted by TinyPic.com

Meanwhile, back in America, Stanford University is providing its students with free downloads from Yahoo!Music. Good news for them - although we're not entirely clear how the RIAA is happy with this sort of thing. Isn't the campaign against illegal downloading supposedly motivated by the fear that if people get some tracks for free, they'll expect all music for free? Or is the RIAA sanguine about this because Stanford students are so much smarter than the rest of us?


1 comment:

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