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back to article Music biz proposes 'iPod tax' in return for format-shift freedom

A UK music industry trade body has proposed a tax on MP3 players that would not only ensure musicians and labels are paid their dues, but also that consumers who pay their way effectively have to cough up twice. The tax has been suggested by the Music Business Group (MBG), an umbrella body that lists as its members organisations …

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Mp3 player? heres an easier idea:

Lets just tax ears. £10 a year for each ear a person owns. No discount for multiple ears.

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Anonymous Coward

Fundamentally wrong

Format shifting fees should never exist, someones legally bought the music already and just wishes to hear it on something else, it's not the same as copying it to then sell it, that'd be illegal even if kept in the same format! Imagine if they required a new license every time you wanted to listen to something on a different stereo or if you upgraded your stereo you had to relicense it or something.

If they charge extra for the mp3 players, people who wouldve previously been able to afford to buy the music may now be too out of pocket, and be forced to pirate the same music they wouldve previously been willing to buy.

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Seems to me....

the only way forward is to make all the music free, then place a tax on anything that can play music.

Job Sorted

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Paris Hilton

Thanks

But no thanks.

I thought I already was legally allowed to format shift.

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AAARRRGGGHHHH

Between shit like this and annoying priacy adds that I can't skip when i buy the f**king DVD to the latest "thank you for not being a thief" flyer in the last DVD I bought are making me more likley to just go and download whatever i want to see/listen to.

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Anonymous Coward

Stagecoach proposes train tax...

As you know Stagecoach the bus company instigated a contract you agree to when travelling with their busses. Under the rules you are only allowed to go to your bus destination and nowhere else.

People have been flaunting this to the detriment of Stagecoach, and caught trains and gone elsewhere!

Stagecoach, proposed to make it legal to go on other forms of transport to other destinations, but only if everyone (even people who never use their buses, but only use the trains) pays them a tribute.

As they bus less and less people around, their profit are diminishing, and it's due to these trains! Damn these metal monsters!

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Stop

Just when music in the uk was affordable

Downloads are 79p cd's are £9, it's been a long time getting these low prices, and for me buying is now the better option, Put in place an "IPOD Tax" and it will drive people to start to download illegally again.

How about the Music Biz finds a better operating model for the distribution of their artists.

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Well, the CBG says no...

The Chris Business Group (MBG), an umbrella body that lists as its members organisations like the Bob Defiance Group (BDG), the Association of People Who Don't Want To Be Taxed For Music (APWDWTBTFM), proposes that there is no tax on MP3 players, and that the UK simply changes its law over fair use, to allow people to pay once and use anywhere for their own personal use.

I like this group much better, because it costs me nothing.

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Anonymous Coward

So if I only want to play my ripped CDs via WinAmp...

... and not through a portable device I don't have to pay.

Not that I care about music at all, but this is just a f**ked up, backward regressive tax that does nothing to address the problems of changing the music distribution model from hardware to software.

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The idea is bad enough...

...but as for this bit:

"The MBG... wants the levy to be decided by the music industry and device makers rather than government."

3 words: Feck. Right. Off.

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Flame

Thieving B%^&*£rds

Why do the content mafia seem to think that they can conduct business differently to everyone else ?

If I buy a fridge I don't bloody expect to have to pay the manufacturer again when I move house.

I wonder if this will also include mobile phones which are also capable of behaving like an iPod/mp3 player ?

These people have been taking the piss out of consumers for years and now the consumer is fighting back with new tools giving you just deserts.

Just say no to meglomedia bullies !

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Ash
Pirate

Hello? Can you hear me in the back?

When a Music Industry TRADE BODY decides to pitch in, you can bet it's for their own benefit.

What we want is a group of ARTISTS to speak up FOR THEMSELVES on how THEY would see things done, and we, the customer, will tell YOU if it's suitable.

Until then, we'll keep using DRM circumvention, file sharing networks, and other services to get the music we want on OUR terms. The wants of the middleman don't come into this; They never have.

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Pirate

NOT LEGAL??

What's this about it being illegal to copy from one media type to another? AFAIK, British copyright law says I can make copies as long as (a) I own (ie someone has paid for) the original source material and (b) it is for personal use only - it does not mention that the copy has to be of the same format or media as the original.

I've made tape copies of vinyl LPs so I can listen to them in the car, and to protect the original source from wearing out. Surely that's more of a "media" or format change than copying from one digital source (download or CD) to another (MP3 player)? And since when thas this been illegal?

Next thing you know, they will be making CDs that won't play on a PC just in case someone makes copies...

Ethically-Challenged Merchants, cos that's how I think the illegitimi are behaving over this...

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Pirate

Re: I thought I already was legally allowed to format shift.

Well, you're not (if you're in the UK). It's just that the bit of the law that forbids it is unenforceable.

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Unhappy

Simple.

If I can transcode for free I will pay for the original.

If I have to pay a tax then I won't pay for the original.

No way will I pay twice.

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Title? What title?

If I'm made to pay for the possibility of listening to MP3s on my player, why should I pay for the music? Didn't I just paid for that?*

*I know I didn't, it's just for argument sake... And I bet a whole lotta people would think that way!

MC

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Alert

BBC tax is enough

Dumb idea. But still fairer than the tax we all have to pay on TV sets in the UK. Which you have to pay whether you watch any BBC garbage or not.

At least with an iPod, you're going to be using it for music, and most of that is "format shifted".

So will the Freetards be complaining about the BBC, too?

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Transparent money grab

Is it just me or is this just a transparent money grab? I'm trying to see how they could possibly think this was a fair deal.

Surly a tax would require either the cooperation of all MP3 manufactures or legislation. If it was a proper legislative tax than people would just order MP3 player from abroad from a country that didn't have the tax. That or you'd get guys flogging cheep player in pubs.

As for it being illegal in the UK to make an MP3 copy of a CD you have paid for... does anyone care?

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Anonymous Coward

And another knee jerk reaction...

If I buy a CD and choose to copy it to my iPod then why is the iPod taxed? Why not "tax" the CD? Or rather add a levy that says I'm licenced to listen to that music in any format.

Then again, there is no condition attached to the sale of a CD that says I can only play it in a single player or location. So I can play it in the living room, in the kitchen or the bedroom. I can risk and asbo by sticking it in the old ghetto blaster and listening to it in the garden. I can listen to it in the car. I can put it in the old CD Walkman and listen to it on the train. That's six devices on which I haven't paid a tax, but should I copy the music to the iPod then suddenly I need to pay a tax?

The real problem facing the music industry is idiots suggesting this sort of unfair and unworkable legislation. The more this happens the more people will be driven away from legally purchasing music and towards pirating. The music industry will lose even more income and will lose even more money and suggest even more levies. In the end they will probably make more money from levies than from music purchases and the artists won't get a percentage of the levies. Thinking about it that could be the industry's big plan, after all they've always considered paying artists for their music to be an inconvenience and they've spent years trying to work out a way of avoiding it.

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Still too lax

As a lawyer, I feel these proposals lack bite.

Consumers should have to specify the device they use to play the CD and pay to register changes (home to car etc.). Furthermore, rearranging CDs on racks or shelves should be notifiable and chargeable

With the current recession looming, worried professionals need new revenue streams

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A breath of fresh air...

...from a Reg hack.

Any chance you could force Orlowski to read your article?

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Again, who gets the money?

I have a friend who is a musician. He records his own work to mp3 and lets people borrow the (cheap) player when they want to hear his work. I doubt he would ever see a penny from this when the player is playing back his IP.

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I give up...

Right im never buying a CD again or using iTunes. They clearly see their customers as criminals and for some reason they seem to think they have a right to tax us for music again and again.

Im off to the pirate bay...

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Rob

utter crap

what a load of rubbish, I thought you were paying for a license for the music, not a licesnse for that specific cd, next they'll propose we're charged for every song we can remember as it's been duplicated within the neurons in our brains

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Anonymous Coward

>make all the music free, then place a tax on anything that can play music.

Yeah, then I can write a few hundred crap songs and insist on a slice.

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Coat

Bloody Taxes

So I bought the LP, then I got the CD when it came out as my LP was a bit worn (can I have my money back on it please?) and had to pay for that and now the Rip Off merchants want to tax me AGAIN if I buy an MP3 player to listen to the music I've already bought TWICE for feks sake.

Still it could be worse - Garth Brookes was demanding at one point that he should get loyalties from second hand CD sales because people bought them, found out his music was shit and resold them and unlike LPs the second hand value of CDs is quite good and they don't wear out and so he was being "deprived" of income.

How much of all these taxes gets through to the average artist anyway?

I'm buying my next MP3 player in the US, using it there and bringing it in my pocket (I did a similar thing with £1500 of Digital SLR) and not paying duty on it.

Its the one with the hidden pockets in it

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Never

What if I never, ever listen to 'their' music on my PMP? What if I only ever listen to podcasts? Do I still have to pay?

What about my mobile phone that can play MP3s? Is that going to be taxed too? In which case, we'd better petition S-E now to stop making mobiles with built in MP3 players for those of us that don't want to be taxed.

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Too Slow

The music industry was basically behind the times and got caught with its pants down with the internet revolution. They're now paying for years of over indulgences and corporate wastefulness - including the many layers of middle management and the extravagant contracts given to artists... as well as the lack of investment in finding new talent.

Myspace Music is a treasure trove of up-and-coming bands; yet musical innovation in the charts has been poor for some time now. Why aren't record companies giving these plethora of bands an outlet for their music, when Apple, via Itunes, is happy to sell almost anything?

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The music business

I buy cds and rip them to mp3s then my cds go in to the safe and or never used unless I get a corrupted files or loose a drive. I never have more than 1 album or song un use at a time. This is a bunch of crap that I must pay twice. And it is a reason that I research with artist are complaining and are the activist on this process and I WILL not buy or listen the their music.

Chuck

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Jon

better than paying student fees to these people!

At least people with ipods play music. What scares me more is the labels thinking that all students must be sharing the cr*p music currently in the chart thefore part of the student fee is to go to the labels to support mediocre artists drug habbits.

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Bronze badge

Format Shifting etc.

There is one type of formatting shifting in the UK and that is for broadcast TV as the law was explicitly changed to allow it. However, it is only allowed for so-called time-shifting, and not making permanent, archival copies. Of course that is completely unenforceable, and it's a good job that some people ignored it or even more BBC programmes of the 1960s and 1970s would have been lost for ever due to the corporation's policy of wiping an reusing tapes.

As far as format shifting music onto MP3 players go, well it isn't explicitly allowed by law and the copyright terms on CDs are such that they do not permit any form of copying at all. That does mean that there is a breach of copyright in transferring to a PC or MP3, at least in theory. Of course the beauty (and some of the unpredictability) of common law is that this would actually have to be upheld in court and it is open to a suitably senior court to "clarify" the rules in a common-sense manner.

I actually had a deal of sympathy for the plight of many musicians, although not some of the big-names. Commercial music is a feast for famine game. A very few make obscene amounts of money, whilst most get by on scraps. In real terms recorded music fans get a vastly better deal than before; the costs of CDs are often not much more than the price of a couple of bottles of beer in a major music venue (and as everybody knows, beer is rented and not bought). They also have flexibility of where they listen and when in a way never possible before. Even a legitimately purchased CD is often copied onto several family MP3 players, PCs and the like.

The principle of a capacity-based charge for MP3 players is not necessarily wrong as such, it's the practicalities that are the problem. FIrst is who sets the price, second is what about the multi-purpose devices (there might be a case for a per-GB charge for dedicated MP3 players, but how could that be justified for hard disks which may not be used for that purpose at all). Finally, there is the little problem of distribution of the revenues - who gets them and by what formula?

In all it's a conundrum, and there are far to many people that don't recognise the real plight of many musicians and continue to think that free access to their creations is a right.

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Watermarking should do it.

The problem is that format shifting and replication is precisely what the so called music industry was set up to do, but they are now entirely redundant for that purpose. Artists can easily set up their own recording studios, and consumers can easily "press" unlimited perfect copies of music. Perhaps the music biz should be paying us for doing their work for them.

With watermarking and a bit of prosecution of those who sell bootleg copies or distribute their personal copies freely, it remains for consumers to simply pay for the convenience of getting a copy when they feel the urge. In fact this can easily keep successful artists in mansions, cocaine and limos; it's just redundant "industry" execs whinging.

How about some protection for the computer business? The price we get for the same goods has fallen far, far further that the price the music biz gets for their product. I remember 33 pence (well, 6/9d) buying a single, and £17000 buying 1MB of disk storage. Today the single sells for about double, but costs nothing to make, but the storage sells for far less than one ten thousandth the original price, and still costs something to make.

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2 things

1) @ justin - the ipod tax applies to players, not music. even if they added the tax the intention is not to change the cost of the music, so it won't directly affect illegal downloads

2) of course this is just a sneaky way to get the tax through the door. once in, you get people like the story earlier - http://www.engadget.com/2008/04/17/lawmakers-eying-taxation-on-digital-downloads/ - which means your downloads get taxed. That will increase illegal downloads, though it comes down to how much. if the cost of an mp3 rises from 79p to 89p will anyone stop downloading? I doubt it. push it over £1 then it probably will

I'm sure the words 'more tax' will mean the labour party will jump at approving it, no doubt being labour it'll come into practice by 5pm tonight

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@Jonb

Umm is that not the current situation with the big label music industry :)

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Pirate

Don't let them

mess with your UK copyright laws, or you might wind up with something as bad as our DMCA. The pols might give you little people's opinions a few seconds of thought, but they give their full attention to the Industry. Or at least, that's how it works here in the good-old USA, maybe it's different over there.

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I know nothing

From many years working in a record shop and dealing with these parasites (they are...they make their living off of someone else's ideas and talent) it is my understanding that when you buy a cd or other format what you are actually paying for is a copyright license to the music on the cd for personal use, the cd is merely the media that they use for you to obtain the items you have purchased a license for.

Therefore if I have a license I should be entitled to use the media on the cd any way I see fit as long as it is personal.

Changing the rules after the game has started? Bad music industry...go stand in the corner

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Pirate

So it's already paid for?

So I've paid for the content via an extra tax on my ipod (other devices are available)?

Cool, off to the pirate bay I go, if it's already paid for, I can't be doing no wrong ;-)

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Stop

When is enough enough?

Just how far will people let the music industry go with these double standards money grab? At what point will this taking the piss find itself answerable?

Lets not fool ourselves or be deluded by one point though, the money... these taxes one would pay and most of the money people already do pay, you'd be lucky if the artist gets even 5% of it, it'll mostly be the label execs scouring up money for the purchase of their next private gold plated liner cruise.

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Stop

@AC - Re: Stagecoach

But Stagecoach also run trains, so its more like them asking you to buy both a train ticket and a bus ticket, regardless of which type of vehicle you travel on. This is a ridiculous idea that reputable companies like Sony would never stoop to. Like selling you a CD player and an MP3 player and insisting you but the same music twice from them to play it on each format. Oh wait...

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Go

A much SIMPLER answer ...

would be to declare that the seller of any CD or similar is required to deliver along with the product a free licence for the current legal owner to make non-profit copies in any chosen medium and to keep them for as long as they own the original.

People shouldn't be asked to pay a second time to re-use something they've ALREADY paid for.

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Bronze badge

as long as levy is reasonably small and money goes to artists ...

... I would support the idea. Still, outlawing format shifting was bad decision in the first place and this only goes to slightly reverse effect of that bad decision. It does not go far enough. In my personal belief format shifting is covered by fair use, thus is legal no matter what greedy corporation lawyers say. There is also issue of video formats conversion, which in next few years will raise in priority - when folks start converting their (legally purchased) HD DVD collections to Bluray Disc.

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Why not....

....Have a slice of my TV Tax, sorry I mean license.

What next - Tax buskers, Tax people listening too buskers. Sorry, even better, Tax people sitting next to people on the train with their mp3players too loud !!

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Joke

How about ....

Why doesn't the music industry simply buy Apple and Samsung and Motorola and every other company that makes an MP3 player. Then simply close down the MP3 player production lines. No more MP3 players. Problem solved.

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Stop

Re: Re: I thought I already was legally allowed to format shift.

Well copyright is a civil tort and so any damages must be proven (at least when the law was written, there's no money in giving ordinary people rights, they can't pay for them). And if you're copying for personal use, there's no loss provable.

Also format shifting is estopped anyway. Sony is boned big time because they've sold ATRAC and MP3 players when there WERE no MP3 or ATRAC stores, so the only way to get music on them was to format shift. And they sold it with software to copy CDs, tapes and records to them.

Estopped.

And if they put a tax on, I'll take them to the small claims court for the cost of the item purchased because they are

a) estopped from asking for payment (the fee)

b) fraudulently enriching themselves (which is a crime)

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They just won't give up!

We had all this before with the tape levy proposal. Now they're trying the same money-grabbing tactics with other media. People can use MP3 players for playing their own music or recorded speech for which they own the copyright so they shouldn't be forced to pay the music companies when purchasing media or equipment.

The idea that you can make a different charge depending on capacity is daft. What about MP3 players which take memory cards? You could buy the player without any memory, and get the card separately. Would they want a royalty on all memory cards, microdrives, hard discs... Where would it end?

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Anonymous Coward

April Fool

This is an late April Fool yes? Shirley they cannot be serious? Oh wait, they are music "execs" (executable?) and so they aren't joking.

Oh well, another stupid law in the making.

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Stop

Deja vu

... remember the blank tape "levy" of the 80s ? (Which never happened either)

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Jobs Horns

"music fans clearly deserve legal clarity"

You know, I can barely go to sleep at night for worrying about legal clarity. Thanks music industry!

Legal clarity is exactly what a music tax doesn't give. Quite the opposite. Legal clarity is when you buy something and then it's yours, and you can do with it what you like, like you have when you buy a dishwasher or a loaf of bread. If I'm not allowed to move my music from one format to another without paying a charge or a tax, what else am I not allowed to do that I used to think I was? Can I still use software to turn the volume up on tracks that come out too quiet? Can I still share the music with someone else by lending or sharing earphones or do I need a "second listener" licence a la car insurance? Absurd rhetorical questions? No, that's legal doubt, doubt I wouldn't have if the music industry hadn't embarked on this crusade to make me pay for something I ALREADY PAID FOR.

What else do they have up their sleeve? I came up with two possibilities in one minute of writing, and I'm not a team of paid lawyers. They have more ideas. Be 100% certain of that.

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some relevant links to parties directly involved

this is government side of the story http://www.ipo.gov.uk/policy-issues-gowers-flexibility.htm and this is corporate side http://www.bmr.org/cms/uploads/files/Press%20Release%2027%20-%20MBG%20Formatshifting.pdf

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Anonymous Coward

Copyright lasts to long

Copyright law is far to generous to the "artist". If you invent a cure for cancer you get exclusive rights for your invention for 20 years. If on the other hand someone writes a song about your invention they get exclusive rights to the song for their lifetime plus 50 years. The length of a copyright should be severely curtailed, but unfortunately this will never happen.

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