January 25, 2007 | By Derek Slater

Record Labels: Licensing File Sharing Isn't So Crazy After All

Nearly three years ago, EFF published a paper advocating voluntary collective licensing for P2P, a system that would get artists paid and allow fans to keep sharing music however they like for a flat fee. It seems the major record labels may finally be coming around to this sensible solution:

"This year, with music sales still sinking like a rock, the record labels are no longer apoplectic about the possibility of such a fee, which could be collected by Internet service providers through their customers' monthly subscription charges.

'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...'"

Along with the labels' considering an end to DRM for downloads, this is a good sign, and we hope it's more than just talk. While the labels could already be adopting this business model and getting artists paid, they have instead continued to drag their feet, filing futile lawsuits against ordinary fans and seeking restrictive DRM mandates in Congress. Their DRM strategy is failing, yet the harm done by the DMCA remains.

It was high time for a better way forward when we published our paper three years ago -- let's hope it's not another three years before the labels actually head down that path, and we can start to undo the damage of this wasted time.

(Link hat tip: Furdlog)


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