Foundations of A Broadcast-Based Financial Compensation Model for Digital Media

By on Jun 9, 2008 in Featured, Media, Music, Politics | 3 comments

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As a listener – as audience – I am driven towards media that I like.

I am infotropic, so to speak. Some data, some information, some inherent artistic or intellectual order manifests to me through songs, books, movies, and various other forms of media. Wanting this information is as basic to my spiritual/intellectual/cultural self as water is to my biological. In that sense, it feels like more than a want, it feels like a morally justifiable right. I want to pay for the stuff I like, in fact – proud to pay for it when it’s easy to, and when the compensation requested is within my budget. However, it seems that withholding the data, on condition of compensation is somehow contrary to the essence of information itself, to a moral imperative inherent in information – to the very fact that information seems to want to spread. It is self-reproducing.

As a musician – I am in a quandary.

I know that the best of the music that I make is not truly only mine. That is not ontologically exclusive to my self. That I am simply partner to a history of sounds, a history of lyrics, a history of patterns and shapes, and tempos. A whole data cluster to which I have been privy, and to which I am host. I try to take some credit, of course, but all in all – there is a partnership.

At the very best of times – and this can be confirmed, I think – by any musician or any anybody who has engaged in artistic process..at the best of times – it seems that a partnership is created between the whole data cluster itself, and the moment I find myself in. At those times, ever so briefly, the thing lives, and moves seemingly at its own accord – the guitar player, singer, or actor experiences an actual ongoing sense of surprise. It as though the information itself has become alive – taken over both artist and time.

It is very, very hard to take complete credit for experiences such as these. For many, the experience itself is so humbling – so necessary – that incurring the wrath of its muse doesn’t quite seem wise.

As a musician, I want everybody to hear all of my tracks. I might not need, and excusing myself with vanity, might choose not to want everybody to like my tracks – but it somehow seems to matter that anybody that would like something, should get the chance to hear it.

Charging people for this seems, on the face of it – stupid.

But the less music pays me, the more I have to do something that isn’t music. The more I do something that isn’t music, the less music I make. The less music I make, the less music you hear.

So, this just doesn’t work.

Copyright issues on the web have had us all in flames. I assume that everybody is right.


Having established the above – a mechanism is necessary for satisfying points 1-4. Copyright protection schemes ALL violate 1,2, & 3 because they all attempt to establish a one-to-one relationship between data-form duplicated and material compensation.

The situation as such:


The failure to create un-crack-able data protection systems is due to the inherent desire of information to grow. All such attempts are attempts to dry wetness.

What needs to happen is:


Similar systems are already used for radio. Artists get compensated by authorities that monitor the airwaves and get reports from radio stations and broadcasters. That’s how somebody somewhere gets paid whenever a radio stations somewhere plays ‘Happy Birthday’. Systems for doing this are already somewhat in place for radio. By all means – a completely digital medium should be even easier to administer.

And that’s how I think this particular dragon can be laid to rest.

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  1. Karim Ratib

    August 11, 2012

    Post a Reply

    This makes sense to me. However, as a technical software guy, the idea of universal “paper-clips” attached to all media files strikes me as unfeasible. Need to find out more about it though.

    You could run the idea on Quora for example or other social discussion system to get more feedback.

  2. Karim Ratib

    August 11, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Also, how to differentiate between a person who downloads a new album and deletes it after the first listen, versus another who keeps the album for years? It doesn’t seem fair that they should pay the same price to that piece of media – or that the media stakeholders should receive the same compensation in both cases.

    • karmamole

      August 11, 2012

      Post a Reply

      They’re not paying the same price for the media 🙂 In effect, they’re not paying for the media at all. Just to download it, what they do with it afterwards is their business, keep, burn, delete, whichever. The ‘fees’ were taken from the downloaders ‘internet account charges’. You’re still measuring things by unit, don’t 🙂

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