Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Songwriters Assn. Pushes For 'Piracy' Fee

The Songwriters Association of Canada is pushing forward with a proposal to charge Canadian Internet and wireless users $5 per month to compensate for losses due to file sharing. "We propose an amendment to the Copyright Act which would establish a new right: The Right to Equitable Remuneration for Music File Sharing," the organization wrote in a press release. The Songwriters Association is a lobbying and educational organization based in Toronto. The organization says it is proposing a $5 fee that would "remove the stigma of illegality from file sharing.""In addition, it would represent excellent value to the consumer, since this fee would grant access to the majority of the world's repertoire of music," the organization said. The proposal comes at a time when many critics of the music industry have suggested touring and merchandising revenue can replace lost income from deteriorating CD sales. "I wholeheartedly believe that this model for file sharing should be embraced in all countries," said former Guess Who guitarist and BTO frontman Randy Bachman in a statement posted on the CAB site. "I fully support this proposal and if I can help to get it accepted and made legal, please let me know."However, songwriting and publishing associations have been critical of this position, pointing out that many of those they represent only write music and do not perform live. Based on the CAB's proposal, and a Yankee Group study that predicted 7 million residential Internet users at the start of 2007, approximately $420 million in annual revenue would be generated through the fee. "This would present a major financial improvement for the music industry," the CAB wrote. "Since the license fee would be paid by all internet and wireless accounts, the amount of income generated annually could adequately compensate the industry for years of declining sales and lost revenues, and would dramatically enhance current legal digital music income."

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