Maybe there is an upside to the Copyright Royalty Board‘s decision to force all commercial and noncommercial webcasters to pay a per-song/per-listener royalty fee. While many of us are wringing their collective hands (see Internet Radio on Death Row) over the high costs (exceeding the revenue projections even of leading webcasters) this new copyright regime will impose on webcasters, I can see a VRM light that might lead us (stations, artists, users, everybody) through this darkening tunnel.
Let’s create a tool that will tell listeners exactly the costs borne by stations for playing the music they listen to — and for paying a sum in excess of that for listening to those tunes? (The stations could also mark up the royalties on their side first. Works either way.) Stations such as Radio Paradise identify every song and artist they play. They also keep track of how many listeners are tuned in for each of those songs. We could create a simple protocol that would allow a tool on the listening side to store unique identifiers for each song played, on each station listened to. Another tool could look at the data store and either make a payout to the station or escrow the data for use in a variety of other ways, including voluntary payout at the user’s discretion.
In any case, isn’t it time for the usage side to come up solutions to the problems that arise from usage?