Blanket Licenses Will Not Blanket Human Nature. Commentary on "Functionally voluntary" music may lead to blanket licenses

Free downloading, via the Internet, is no longer a secret and has become commonplace, resulting in immense profit losses and copyright infringements. Established torrent websites and shareware programs, operating without license or authorization, knowingly allow full copies of musical work to be downloaded. These unfortunate circumstances resulted in Jim Griffin, consultant for the music label Warner, to delve into the problem of functionally voluntary music. This propagated the proposed goal of monetizing the digital music market. In collaboration with music labels, blanket licenses would be issued and sustained by collecting societies, providing unlimited music on the internet, for a fee. Griffin suggests by possibly using his proposed bandage, ramifications similar to Chernobyl, a severe Russian nuclear accident, could be avoided. 

It’s debatable but many stipulate current financial ramifications, spawned by free downloading, is due to lack of vigilance and excessively high prices charged by music titans such as Warner. Lack of initiative to streamline high cost productions and lower inflated profit margins equated towards high prices. On the opposite side of the spectrum, users have not morally abided to copyright stipulations, resulting in infringements. By downloading and initiating unmerited distribution, they have disregarded moral and legal rights for authors of music. The copyright regime exists to assure authors that creative work is rewarded justly. It is fair to say both sides are at fault!

Initially, I perceived the practicability of attaining music label collaboration as difficult. This was supplemented knowing this proposition endorses and finally succumbs to free downloading, an outcome avoided by music labels. However, initial steps have already been taken. Imeem, a social utility tool, allows listening and sharing of music for free! Major labels, including Warner, have provided a blank license and royalties are attained through a percentage of advertising revenue. Inadvertently, Warner became a collecting agency itself by accordingly taking the royalties and distributing them to the artists. By digitally monitoring the number of downloads and accordingly distributing profits to labels, would eradicate the need to utilize third party governmental agencies such as SOCAN, to distribute royalties. Expanding the scope of royalty distribution to record companies and artists, has been advocated by proposed amendments in Bill C-32 and the Copyright Act. These outcomes substantiate the fluid possibility of Griffin’s proposal being achieved. 

Despite this transitional proposition being minimally frictional, the germane question is whether the general public will accept it? Griffin suggests downloaders voluntarily pay established fees for unlimited song accessibility from collecting societies. Taking human nature into consideration, despite vast pools of music being available through the collection society, would this option actually hinder taking opportunities to download music for free? Personally, I would opt for the free option. Unless ISP providers mandate the incorporation of a progressive fee into their monthly charges for all users, varied based on demographical statistical sampling, internet surfers will likely look for cheaper options. This seems plausible since royalties from the mandatory fees can be distributed to collective agencies, free downloading hindered, and music authors receiving compensation.