How does an Open Music Model work?
In response to the growing wave of piracy that first started making itself known in the late 1990’s, lawmakers, music industry people, and internet groups were desperate to find ways to somehow offer music online.
What it comes down to is basically that if someone can get music for free on the internet, downloading hundreds and hundreds of songs in a single hour, why would they want to get in the car, drive to the store, and purchase these CDs for, probably, thousands of dollars, and then find out that they don’t even like most of them, and probably only listen to a few of them more than once or twice?
Piracy is here to stay, really. There’s no way that lawmakers or copyright holders can stop it without infringing upon the rights of ordinary citizens. So what can they do?
The Open Music Model was one of a number of proposals to curb pirating. It hasn’t really been implemented by too many companies yet, but it is probably preferable to the so called Alternative Compensation Systems. When Napster and similar services were really taking hold of the internet, a number of lawmakers supported programs that would have taken money from the general taxpayer to compensate musicians.
Of course, that didn’t go through. The idea of taking money from the average American to pay off already well-off musicians just didn’t sit well with most lawmakers. For starters, it really just isn’t fair to ask every American in the country to pay for software and music pirates to get away with trading whatever they want.
The plan was to eventually phase out the traditional model of buying music. If the tax-compensated ACS program had gone through, we’d have the entire music industry more or less regulated by the federal government. It goes without saying that that’s basically the antithesis of a free market, one of the ideals upon which the United States of America was founded upon. Not only that, but by giving the US Federal Government control of the music we listen to, where does that leave subversive or politically alternative musicians, and what does that do to the right to free speech? Moreover, what does it do for independent musicians who haven’t been signed to a label, but would like to self publish their music?
The Open Music Model, then, is much more sensible, and goes further to preserve free market enterprise and freedom of speech. The OMM was based on these concepts:
1- Open File Sharing
Under the Open Music Model, users would be free to share music from their hard drives with one another.
2- Open File Formats
The music may be in MP3 or other formats with absolutely no DRM restrictions.
3- Open Membership
Copyright holders must be able to register freely so as to receive payment. This means that anyone who uploads music to such a program can make money through this distribution method per-trade.
4- Open Payment
Any user must be able to access the system with either credit cards or access cards, which would be purchasable by cash at retail stores.
5- Open Competition
There must be multiple OMM systems at a given time, with users from one being free to share with users of another. In other words, this would be anti-monopoly by legal decision.
One of the criticisms that the model has faced is that the model doesn’t, really, address the issue of piracy. There really isn’t anything stopping someone from ripping a CD and trading it through this service, and so on.
So admittedly, the Open Music Model isn’t perfect.
However, it is a good sight better than allowing the Federal Government to regulate what kind of music US citizens are listening to or how they are allowed to pay for that music.
The problem of piracy will always be here. Anytime you offer the general public something for nothing, you’re going to get some takers. Even if every record label in the US subscribed to an Open Music Model, you would still see a vast number of people trading music illegally through other programs, or by obtaining the music illegally in the first place.
However, something like the OMM is a start, at least. We may eventually see music companies adopting a perfect revision of the concept, and until then, well, there’s always services like iTunes, where we can buy per-song.
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