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What with Norway threatening legal action against Apple over their FairPlay digital rights management software, moves are afoot that might leave such litigation moot. My feelings about flat fees are well known. They’re ugly, clumsy and benefit no one except those receiving the funds.

So it’s with heavy heart that I read of licensing model idea getting brought out of mothballs, which resurrects a flat fee licensing model for music downloads that’s levied at source, through your ISP.

The title of the article that I read on this subject pretty much says it all, really: “Has the Music Industry Warmed to Fee-Based Downloads?”

Did they ever go cold in the first place? The proposed fee is a shade over $8 a month, which is just stupid.

I don’t spend that much on music in a month, or even two months for that matter. Sometimes I might spend more, so how is this factored in?

Are we to presume that consumer habits are to be changed to suite the whims of the content owners, just because they’re not making enough money?

“’It’s a model worth looking at,’ John Kennedy, head of the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry, said at a press briefing last weekend in Cannes at Midem, the annual global music market. ‘If the ISPs want to come to us and look for a blanket license for an amount per month, let’s engage in that discussion.’”

So for a monthly fee, we get to do what we want with our music and our movies. Do the labels and the studios intend dumping their DRM, too?

Because of a continued slump in CD sales, you might think that the labels and the studios are reluctantly coming back to the bargaining table, tail tucked between their legs. But at $8 a month, they’re onto a winner.

Not everyone who is on the Internet will download music or movies, so there’s going to be literally millions of people out their paying extra for nothing at all.

This is clearly totally unworkable. Surely some consideration has to be given to those that don’t want to pay something for nothing.

“Consumer groups in Germany and France allied with their counterparts in Norway, Denmark and Sweden to push Apple to make songs sold from its iTunes online store compatible with music players other than iPods.”

Personally, I feel Apple must open up their FairPlay technology, and have probably given a lot of thought to this over the intervening years since FairPlay was introduced.

Also, I much prefer to just pay a one-off fee for my music and my movies, rather than a flat, clunky, awkward fee that just smacks of profiteering…

Related news: Indie labels bring music sales to MySpace

“Europe’s indie labels have teamed-up to form a global licensing agency, Merlin, which wil license indie repertoire.Merlin is a one-stop service that licenses indie repertoire for Web 2.0 companies, such as YouTube or MySpace.

Indie labels are responsible for artists including The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, Tom Waits, The Pixies, De La Soul and Cat Power.”

Meanwhile, Apple forge another deal to fatten out their library of content on the iTunes store:

“Digital Music Group announced Wednesday a three-year deal to sell its licensed video content to Apple’s iTunes Store. The company’s collection includes historic news broadcasts and classic TV episodes, including ‘Hopalong Cassidy’ and ‘My Favorite Martian.’ Digital Music Group licenses and sells video and audio content to online music stores.”

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

2 replies on “DRM RIP? ISPs RSVP”

Hi Wayne,

I was also very busy these days. A lot to do in the university and as you may saw, I’m part of a new open source project ( I have done the complete design, wiki and some other stuff. It’s a greate thing. Maybe interesting for you too. I’m planing a relaunch of my wiki also :-).


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