Friday, February 22, 2008

SAC Wants to Charge You $5/Mo. For Using the 'Net

That headline might sound misleading, but it's actually not. The Songwriters Association of Canada (better known as "SAC") wants to charge Internet users $5/mo. in order to compensate artists for music that's illegally downloaded. The reason I say the headline is not misleading is because really, what SAC would be doing is charging all Internet users $5/mo., whether they download music online or not.

I can't begin to explain how unfair a proposal this is. The only exception made was to excuse dial-up users because they likely aren't music downloaders. This, in my eyes, is yet another unfair assumption. When I used to have dial up "back in the day", I certainly downloaded tons of songs (from the original Napster service!) Sure, each tune took about a half-hour to complete, but I still managed to acquire them.

The point is that proposing a blanket charge that would see little Billy who downloads 100 songs a month and Grandma Sissy who barely uses her PC much less downloads music pay the same fee just doesn't make sense. It would also completely negate the point behind legal music downloading Websites, like iTunes and Puretracks (although SAC insists that they would remain in tact, and their appeal would lie with the "value-added services and security features that keep them distinct from file-sharing activities").

"The plan we propose would not change or interfere with the way Canadians receive their music," says SAC's Website. "No one would be sued for the online sharing of songs. On the contrary, the sharing of music on peer-to-peer networkd and similar technologies would become perfectly legal."

Huh? First, the industry pushes toward developing legal, pay-per-download or subscription-based Websites that include annoying DRM restrictions; and now SAC says screw it, let's just charge everyone, whether they engage in illegal downloading or not?

What's more, SAC might say $5/mo. is peanuts to pay, but if that fee is approved, then what's to say that the movie and TV studios won't follow suit with their own monthly charge for downloads? Why not add video game makers as well? Pretty soon, we'll all be tacking on an additional $20 to our already hefty Internet bills!

I have to give SAC some credit for trying to come up with a method that would keep everyone's interests in mind. But if you compare the situation to TV, it would be like forcing all customers to pay for the extra sports channels, even if they don't watch them. Music downloading is like an extra package: perhaps access to all P2P Websites should be blocked by ISPs, and when an Internet user wants to "subscribe" to use them, then he can pay an additional $5/mo. To me, this makes more sense than just charging people for something they potentially don't use.


Jim said...

Could there be a more absurd concept than this and do they really expect the public to stand for such silly request. Each new day brings on new schemes to bleed the public of money they're like politicians and taxes it just won't end. I don't download and wouldn't touch a 128 kps file, I think these so called organizations should concentrate on bringing in new talent than wasting their customers time and money chasing down the same beaten to death horse. The so called Genie is out and they cannot put it back in the bottle.

webmaster said...

This is getting ridiculous! First, they force us to pay for the tariff imposed on CDRs and other media and now they're trying to force us to pay $5 a month without figuring out who are the ones that are downloading via bit torrent and whatever p2p software out there.

I don't download mp3s at all and still buy my CDs (probably I'm one of the very few) and it enrages me to keep seeing new "ideas" that the recording industry comes up with to gouge the general public.

I refuse to pay for something that others are doing at my expense.

Lee_D said...

This notion of SOCAN's is exceptionally stupid, even by their standards of greedy asininity. It took me sometime to write a response that wasn't laced with profanity:

Anonymous said...

If new CDs sold for $5 a pop instead of $15-$20, music copying would go down 90%.

On the other hand, if my ISP connection charge goes up $5 a month, I'll do my best to Torrent my full 60Gigs/month, every month.

The music and movie biz keep shooting themselves in the foot. Get all your MBAs to figure out a new marketing structure for the digital age, guys!

Anonymous said...

What's next 5% tax on gasoline because the Domestic car manufactors are slumping in the markets? Hey music and movies businesses get a Fu@$ing life

Anonymous said...

I think this is another way for them to force their crap on Canadians. it's bad enough there is a forced amount of Canadian Content on the radio.

Not enough cds being sold?
Not enough good music is being produced.

I think the culture has moved on and the industry missed the boat.

IMHO the industry can wither and die.

I feel really bad for the corporate fat cats. Multi-national media companies have sucked the life out of music for the last 20 years or so.

Indie bands will live on and thrive.

Anonymous said...

They should hire the Chinese gov't programmers to create a block to non legitimate downloads that people could choose or not choose to have. People with the block could then have a lower monthly fee.

Azmat said...

this is just wrong. what if i don't download the canadian songs anymore, will there be an option to opt out?

W.C. Varones said...

Source, please?

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

Hi W.C.

You can verify the information on the Songwriter's Association of Canada Website at

Anonymous said...

Song writers are not selling enough new cd's, then write some music worth buying......