Nestled between England and Ireland, the Isle of Man is an unusual place. Perhaps most famous for hosting the TT – one of the premier motorcycle races in the world – it made the news today by announcing a flat-rate fee for music downloads.
Ars Technica has the details – though they’re sparse at the moment – but it seems as though this tiny island community of some 80,000 odd residents is about to be the first to institute a flat fee to all of its internet subscribers to cover the cost of downloading music.
We’re not talking iTunes or Amazon Music Store… this is an attempt to legalize music piracy by acknowledging that it may be easier and more equitable to do so than try to limit it by lawsuit or criminal prosecution.
There’s no word on how much the fee would be, only that the proceeds of such revenue would be split amongst all the music publishers – but again – how they’ll accomplish this is anyone’s guess.
The idea has a certain appeal. Imagine paying a set fee every month or year to your ISP as part of your internet subscription. From there on, you could use the tool of your choice to find and download any songs that interested you. From anywhere on the web. That’s a lot of music.
But there are a lot of unanswered questions regarding how this would work:
- What if you didn’t want to download any music – could you opt out? It’s unlikely given the all-or-nothing nature of this business model.
- Would the fee cover you for music uploads and sharing, or would this activity remain illegal?
- What would happen to services like iTunes? Would it be relegated to a supporting role in jurisdictions where the flat fee failed to take hold?
- What about situations where a family of 4 or more shared a single internet account? Would the fee be applied on a per person basis? Per household? Would that be fair?