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Letters to the Editor

From time to time, a commentary on the world will bubble up inside of me to the extent that I'm forced to write a letter to my local, metropolitan, daily newspaper, The Age. This is where I blow of some steam. Feel like venting too? Add your own comment or visit my homepage.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Blank Media Levies are Bad Idea (Green Guide)

Charles Wright is to be commended for his efforts to reform Draconian copyright law in this country (Green Guide, 19/5). His support for a levy on all blank media (including hard disks) sits awkwardly with the rest of his views.

People who produce, distribute and backup their own content (home movies, digital photos, documents) owe nothing to the recording industry. Why should they get a cheque every time I post a CD of holiday snaps to my folks or backup my emails?

What will happen to the quality of the industry's output if they are guaranteed a government-enforced cheque (whether or not we buy their stuff)?

Many people - artists, programmers, academics - produce content with the express intention of sharing it with the public via the GPL, Creative Commons and other legal mechanisms. Again, why should the recording industry get a cut from this?

How is a closed-door meeting of IP lawyers, bureaucrats and industry heavies a better pricing mechanism than the open market?

Forcing consumers to (in effect) bulk pre-pay for their content - at a flat rate, by the megabyte! - will simultaneously drive up prices, lower quality and provide a windfall gain for multinationals. It's hard to imagine a worse policy.



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