Published Dec 10, 2008A proposal has been put forth to U.S. universities to include a "music royalty" payment in tuition fees that would allow students to legally download music on BitTorrent, P2Ps and other file-sharing networks. If approved, the model could expand to make ISPs the collectors of such payments and could be adopted to monetize music piracy on the internet as a whole, according to some analysts.
Wired reports that the model is being proposed by digital music strategist Jim Griffin on behalf of Warner Music Group and that an independent, nonprofit organization dubbed Choruss would collect funds from universities and ISPs and then distribute them to copyright holders.
The fee per student would likely be less than $5 a month, and once paid, would allow them to download from any site without fear of legal repercussions. Also, unlike previously proposed plans, this one does not require the use of digital rights management, Wired reports, and would instead allow students to download music in whichever unprotected formats they like and use whatever hardware, software or networks they want.
However, for the plan to succeed all the labels, both indie and major, would have to sign on for the unlimited-download scheme. So far, only three of the four major labels have agreed to give the plan a go, with the largest major Universal being the only holdout.
There is no word of any indie signing up for the plan.
According to Techdirt, Warner's proposal has been given to several universities in the U.S., such as Penn State, Stanford, University of Chicago and University of California at Berkeley. Also, the website confirms Warner is seeking alternatives to the download-and-sue approach taken at many schools.
"Of course, we are actively engaged with universities and other parties to seek a constructive resolution to a complex issue - how to assure artists appropriate compensation while enabling the widespread dissemination of their work among fans," Wired quotes a Warner Music Group spokesman as saying.
"Therefore, we are undertaking an effort to develop new voluntary business models that seek something other than - and we believe, better than - a litigation-based approach. This is exactly the type of solution that several universities and their associations have been asking for."