Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Flat Fee Future for Digital Music

January 12th, 2005 · No Comments

The Register writes about a book by Professor William “Terry” Fisher – “Promises to Keep.”

The backbone of Promises To Keep is a detailed discussion of the many ways a digital pool, or flat fee system, may take shape; it is also a lucid introduction to copyright in general and the specific, Byzantine peculiarities of the US compensation system.

His third scenario offers the most tantalizing future: one where music and movies can be freely exchanged in the knowledge that the rights holders get paid. Such scenarios are discussed under several names: “digital pool”, “flat fee” or Fisher’s blanket acronym, ACS (alternative compensation system). All involve extending the compulsory license model that currently applies to public performance and radio to digital media. We benefit by being allowed to exchange cultural goods – there would be no more ‘piracy’. Such a model offers a cheaper, more profitable route for rights holders too. As he explains,

“Let skeptical musicians and filmmakers continue to restrict access to their creations – and let them continue to call upon the aid of the legal system to protect those measures from hackers. If the new regime is as efficient as we have argued, the skeptics will soon discover that it is simpler, cheaper, and more profitable to register their recordings with the Copyright Office and rely upon distribution of royalties from the government for their source of income.”

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