A Music Tax…Cut

Poor old Electronic Frontier Foundation Advisory Board Member Jim Griffin and his solution to what he calls “Tarzan economics” got a very poor reception from the “Hate Artists First” crowd (See The Music Industry’s Extortion Schemeexceptionally hysterical as what started out as an idiotic idea from the EFF has now been transmogrified into an idiotic idea from “the music industry). This is kind of funny because his fellow EFFer Professor Lester Lawrence Lessig III got the usual insipid gushing from the amen chorus in academia and press when he floated the idea a few years ago. But Old Jim got called a lot of names and some of the equally shallow thinkers out there called it a “music tax”.

It’s not, of course, because if it were it would probably be an unconstitutional taking. But Griffin and Lessig were half right.

How about a music tax cut?

Meaning if you live in a high crime area like the Internet—which you do if you’re part of the creative class–you get a tax deduction (or credit) because the government has failed to do its job and provide you with the fundamental attribute of a market place, namely enforceable property rights.

The government has completely abdicated its law enforcement role when it comes to copyright infringement online, and the creative community is bearing 100% of the brunt of it. Not only does the government fail to enforce the laws, but some government agencies take Google’s trained sneezing pandas and gives them a platform for their apologia for piracy (witness the rather bizarre choice of the FCC to conduct the recent pro-illegal content hearings at both the Berkman Center AND Stanford for starters).

So why doesn’t the government do something for us? We could start with a baseline annual $50,000 tax credit for each musician, singer, songwriter, artist, engineer, producer, mastering engineer, remixer, roadie and artist manager. If you are a copyright owner, you should get another $50,000 tax credit. And if you’re a big copyright owner, you should get 50% of your antipiracy legal budget as a tax credit—in addition to any deduction you get to take. And unused tax credits carry forward FOREVER.Note: Tax CREDIT. Meaning a reduction in tax, not a reduction in income.

I want to take THEIR money. Make THEIR money decrease. See how THEY like it.

And don’t just limit it to the music business, either. Actors, directors, game developers, software engineers, too. Get everybody into the act.

Here’s the deal—let’s face it, kids, the government is never going to help us anyway. That ship has sailed, so it’s back to business as usual. We’re living through The Man 2.0: Rise of the Machines. But the government shouldn’t be able to make us eat the cost AND do their job for them.

The EFF’s plan kind of sounds like trying to socialize the cost of illegal file bartering. That’s what we have jails for, too. But if the government isn’t going to use the jails, then they could at least not make us pay to do their job.

2 thoughts on “A Music Tax…Cut

  1. Your posting barely warrants comment, however let me suggest that if you don’t like the term tax we simply call it a non-consensual fee for a service I didn’t purchase or use. Generally speaking when I see one of those on my phone bill for example, I report it as a fraudulent charge. I don’t see anything different here. For the record I don’t buy, listen to, or download new Warner Music content ever. I already own the recordings I do listen to. Why should I pay WMG even one more cent?


  2. Another brave poster from the other side who won’t sign their name to a post. Realize that the Electronic Frontier Foundation “proposal” is voluntary for everyone, so that should make your heart sing.


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