WMG Backs ISP Music Tax With Griffin Hire


The idea of a $5 of so fee tacked onto ISP bills to pay for unlimited downloads is gathering momentum worldwide.  Now Warner Music Group has hired former Geffen digital head and sometimes industry critic Jim Griffin explore the creation of a new pool of money from ISP user fees and figure out how to distributed it to artists and copyright holders, according Portfolio Magazine.

It’s clear that lawsuits against fans aren’t working and have led to bad PR for the industry. The RIAA sent out 5,400 letters last year settling 2,300 cases and suing the 2,465 who didn’t respond. But music as a service, an idea that the Electronic Frontier Foundation began floating back in 2004 is gaining traction.

"We’re still clinging to the vine of music as a product," Griffin says and accuses the music industry of practicing Tarzan economics. "We need to get ready to let go and grab the next vine, which is a pool of money and a fair way to split it up, rather than controlling the quantity and destiny of sound recordings."

The blogasphere exploded with comments:

  • Technorati: "Music Industry’s New Extortion Scheme"
  • Mark Evans: "This approach is stupid, outdated and provides more evidence the music industry just don’t get it."
  • PaidContent: "Griffin’s proposal may sound euphonious to music industry execs, but he’s going to have a difficult time making anyone else listen."
  • Mathew Ingram: "what if such a fee is instituted — what about the movie companies, and other media companies? What about photographers who claim their work is being stolen?"

It’s clear that an ISP tax has flaws.  A big concern is how the money will be divided, similar to those that would be caused by "all you can eat" plans from Apple, Nokia and others. (read Hypebot’s commentary here) But you have to give Bronfman and WMG credit for backing this plan with manpower and not just rhetoric. An optional ISP tax alongside other revenue models could perhaps be part of the solution.


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  1. I just don’t get this. So, is this $5/month meaning they’re going to open the vaults and let everyone have free reign? Or is this basically “protection” money? Is this opt-in or opt-out or optional at all?
    I think I know the answers to those questions and I think this is absolute bullshit.

  2. This is NOT a tax!
    Can we start by calling it what it really is? It’s a LICENSING fee. Taxes are collected by government – this is a fee collected by private industry, much along the lines of the ASCAP fee that clubs and restaurants pay every day right now.
    While I generally support the plan, there are some real issues and risks that need to be thouroughly vetted. So let’s do that on the merits.
    But calling it a “Tax” is bullshit and sloppy on your part Bruce. That name obscures clarity on the issue and pushes a lot of netizen’s buttons…

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