Thursday, June 30, 2005


Now, you might recall that one of the reasons why the BPI feel the need to try and take mothers to court is because if people don't buy their downloads leaglly, why, the artists will lose out and not get paid. This would, of course, be the same BPI at the heart of legal action to try and ensure that artists don't get paid properly for their downloads.

Composers' body the MCPS and PRS, the Performing Rights Society, have suggested that with downloads representing enormous profits for the music industry, it might be nice to share the profit around, and are requesting a 12% share of gross revenues from each download sale - around 10p per iTune download. Not that greedy, considering without composers, there wouldn't be any songs for the record company to sell. But the BPI is having a cow, and along with Apple, AOL, Sony, Real, Napster, MusicNet and Yahoo are forcing this claim to a copyright tribunal. (Yes, this does mean that the record labels which also own publishers are taking themselves to a tribunal.) But, apparently, there's a principle here:

BPI general counsel Geoff Taylor said: "The licence that the Alliance is trying to impose for online music is unreasonable and unsustainable. It is charging a royalty rate on a download that is double the rate it charges for a song on a CD.

"It applies this excessive rate to a whole range of online music services, without taking into account their different characteristics.

"The Alliance's tariff threatens to seriously harm the development of the legal online and mobile music markets."

No it doesn't, Geoff, it challenges your ability to make supernormal profits from the downloads. Surely ensuring composers get a fair crack of the profits is the best way to ensure there are plenty of composers around composing in the future? You know, you suggest we should pay for downloads for that very reason, but if you can't be prepared to give the people who create music a fair share, then why the hell should people pay? Why pay through the nose if the money isn't going to go to the people whose talent you are celebrating?


Anonymous said...

Plus of course the logic of the PRS must be that with downloading the cost of the medium is negligible, whereas with the CD there's something like £1.50 in packaging and CD pressing. It's quite right that a healthy majority of this money should go to the composers. The record companies wouldn't be losing out because it just transfers money from pressing plants to people who make music.

And what is Geoff Taylor talking about when he mentions the 'different characteristics' of online music services? There's a remarkable unanimity - one might even suspect a tacit cartel - in the amounts charged by the different online services and the delivery methods appear to be identical. He can't be referring to the way that sometimes tracks are released for free as teasers for the album, can he? After all, that would be part of the heinous practice of the file-sharers, getting people used to the idea that music is free. And we know what the record companies think about that...

Anonymous said...

The principle is definitely right although I have no idea whether that exact number makes sense. But the real question will be whether the BPI fights this to the death, or whether they reach a settlement and then we see download prices hiked by, say, 10p, to reflect "increased costs".

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