And, “Of all information-sharing that takes placeon the Internet, music and music-related information represents the single largest category,” it says, continuing, “We share songs, playlists, music recommendations and music advertising more than anything else. Of course, everyone involved with music should see this as a wonderful acknowledgement of the enormous importance of music in people’s lives.”
But the quotes aren’t attributed to someone within the P2P sharing community. Rather, they’re from Kenth Muldin (right), CEO, STIM3. And they come in his introduction to Pirates, file-sharers and music users, a, “survey of the conditions for new music services on the Internet”.
STIM is short for Swedish Performing Rights Society), an, “incorporated association that is owned by the creators of music and their music publishers and that operates on their behalf. STIM has 60,000 registered members. The Society issues licences to people and organizations wishing to use music. The organization distributes the monies collected to music creators and music publishers, on an individual basis STIM works with similar organizations throughout the world.”
And it’s singing the same old dirge.
Creators of music, “are finding it more and more difficult to get paid for their work, in a world where music is seen as something that is and should be available free of charge,” it says. “In the long run, this will undermine the creation of music in the future in a way that few actually want.”
For ‘few’ read Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music.
“In the debate about file-sharing, not least in the light of the court case against Pirate Bay and in view of the Swedish law based on IPRED (the EU’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive), voices are often raised to argue that it should be legal to distribute and share music and other cultural products on the Net, at least for non-commercial use,” says STIM, going on »»»
To us, whose task is to distribute financial compensation to tens of thousands of famous and non-famous creators when their music is played, it is clear that in the long term a situation of this kind would lead to a decline in the production of music and less diversity in the field of music.
Paradoxically enough, it is above all the most commercially successful artists of all and their record companies who could probably secure full financing in that kind of a future, while songwriters and artists without huge live tours and substantial advertising revenue could be reduced to practising their art as amateurs in their leisure hours, despite the fact that their music is in demand on the Net.
To reconcile the opportunities of the Internet with the principles of copyright, STIM has launched the idea of a special Internet subscription that offers the legal right to file-share, while at the same time providing payment to creators of music for their work. The vision is that everyone should be able to listen to all the music that is available on the Internet in the same way as we watch TV programmes – paid-for and legally – but without having to wonder about how much the programme we are watching is costing to watch.
The purpose of this document is to report on STIM’s investigations into the possibilities for a model of this kind. We wanted firstly to find out more about how users of music on the Net view these issues and secondly to look into the technical aspects. Via an Internet questionnaire – completed anonymously – we put a number of questions to 1,123 music users on the Net. A majority of respondents have paid for less than a half of their digital music library. More than 50 percent of respondents also stated that their digital music collections held more than 1,000 songs.
Some of the most important findings are as follows:
- Nine out of ten music users on the Internet – 86.2 percent – would be interested in paying for a voluntary subscription legally entitling them to file-share music. Only 5.2 percent of respondents stated that a subscription of this kind was of absolutely no interest. Those expressing the greatest interest of all were users who already had a large digital music collection and the third of respondents who have paid for less than 10 percent of the music in their collection, i.e. users who today are likely to be obtaining via the Internet by illegal means and to a considerable extent.
- File-sharers want to do the right thing. People share files because it is free and simple and because they can transfer the files where they want. The points (i) that it is illegal and (ii) that the creators of music are not paid are said to be disadvantages by two thirds of respondents – 66.3 and 65.3 percent – respectively.
- When the respondents were asked themselves to state how much they would be willing to pay for a subscription entitling them to file-share music on the Internet, a majority – 51.8 percent – replied that they would consider paying between SEK 50 and 150 per month. One in five people – 18.8 percent – would consider paying between SEK 150 and 300, while 21.7 percent would consider paying less than SEK 50. Only 7.6 percent of the respondents would not consider paying anything at all.
- Streaming of music via services such as Spotify or Last.fm offers many advantages, but is not thought to offer the potential to replace file-sharing totally. Eight out of ten respondents – 80.5 percent – state that it is important to be able to collect music and have it accessible without being on-line. According to nine out of ten – 90.3 percent – it is important to be able to transfer the music from their computer and listen to it somewhere else.
The favourable reception for STIM’s proposed special file-sharing subscription accords closely with the results of a public opinion survey that STIM commissioned Synovate to conduct in autumn 2008. In that survey, seven out of ten were in favour of STIM’s file-sharing proposal and three out of four – 75 percent – replied that the creators of music should receive financial compensation when his or her music is distributed via the Internet.
STIM has also had the technical possibilities investigated for measuring reliably the music that Internet users are listening to on their computer. The objective is to be able to distribute revenue to songwriters and artists accurately, while respecting the personal integrity of the Internet user. The conclusion was that effective technology exists that could be used for the purpose, and that is already being used on a large scale by various existing music services. The technology is stable and functions without disturbing the user.
Up to the present, the main result of the debate on file-sharing and copyright has been that two irreconcilable camps have become ever more deeply entrenched: on the one side, a single-track policy to pursue illegal file-sharing by legal means, in the form of increasingly stringent control procedures, and on the other a total lack of respect for the work that lies behind every song that is downloaded. At the same time, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have adopted a passive stance and have totally shifted the problem on to the ideological and legal tug-of-war between on one side a vociferous clique of its file-sharing customers and on the other the huge record and media companies.
The results of this survey should help to break the deadlock, as it shows that the music users on the Net are calling for a subscription that allows for legal sharing of music files. STIM’s proposed licensing system remains on offer to the ISPs – the ones who can develop and offer a subscription of this type to their customers.
The ball has for a long time been in the court of the ISPs. It is now high time that they start working seriously to offer their customers what they are calling for. Whoever first produces a commercial subscription product and shows the way, will at the same time be accepting their responsibility for diversity and breadth in the music industry of the future.
No need to stay tuned.
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