Author and activist Cory Doctorow elicits some strong opinions within the music industry, it’s fair to say: he was a key figure in the opposition to the European Copyright Directive (including encouraging “targeting and destroying the political careers of any politician stupid enough to vote in favour of this idiocy”) for example.

So, news that he has “a plan to pay artists, encourage competition, and promote free expression” through blanket music licensing may not go down well.

Even if you disagree, it’s still worth reading the plan, published on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website, with accompanying context from Doctorow on Twitter – skating diplomatically over the mistaken “before the pandemic, the music industry was making more money than ever, exceeding even the incredible revenues of the CD era” claim in the tweets, which has since been corrected in the article itself.

Anyway yes: the idea is “a blanket licence for the internet” (run by a new collecting society, not an incumbent) based on user numbers. “You pay the collecting society a monthly license fee that goes up with the number of users you have. If you have one user and Facebook has 2.5 billion users, then your license fee is 1/2,500,000,000 of Facebook’s fee,” wrote Doctorow, adding that at least 50% of the collections should go directly to artists. Watch for reactions from the music and industry community today.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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