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French Government May Subsidize Music Downloads 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the opening-a-new-front dept.
angry tapir writes "The European Commission has approved a French program to subsidize legal music downloads for young people. The Carte Musique scheme gives €25 (US$35) to French residents aged 12 to 25 to spend on music downloads or subscription services. Young people can purchase a €50 card for just €25, with the balance paid by the state."
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French Government May Subsidize Music Downloads

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  • I guess that means (Score:4, Interesting)

    by halfEvilTech (1171369) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:28AM (#33907150)

    for the next 2 years while this is in effect, the online music services will be raising their prices to milk the system.

    They most likely won't but I wouldn't put it past those seeing this as a good money grab opportunity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ribuck (943217)
      Well of course, the intention is to divert taxpayers' money into the "legal music download" industry.
      • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.vadiv@neverbox. c o m> on Friday October 15, 2010 @10:31AM (#33907854) Homepage
        No shit.

        Hey, let's give people a government-enforced ownership and monopoly over a thing, and then subsidize purchases of it.

        If you want to let people download for free, weaken copyright somehow, you idiots. Demand that to have a copyright, you have to give the government X free copies of it or something, and the government can give those out.

        This is just stupid.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by timeOday (582209)
          Oh, just calm down. It's France, not the US. We all know they haven't whole-heartedly embraced US-style capitalism. They seem to be getting along just fine, and just because they did something doesn't mean we will.
        • by cupantae (1304123)

          RTFA:

          The scheme requires website operators to contribute a reduction in the price of the music, an extension of the duration of the subscription or a contribution to the cost of advertising the card. However as it caps the benefit each operator may draw from the scheme at €5 million there are concerns that the largest operators such as iTunes, FNAC and Amazon may not participate.

          Doesn't sound like government enforcement, ownership or monopoly. However, I would have a problem with any of my taxes going to Apple or Amazon or whoever, which seems to be the idea here.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by John Hasler (414242)

            > Doesn't sound like government enforcement, ownership or monopoly.

            He means copyright, which certainly is a government-enforced monopoly.

    • by mangu (126918) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:35AM (#33907220)

      for the next 2 years while this is in effect, the online music services will be raising their prices to milk the system.

      Probably yes, and that would show how stupid they are.

      If I were a teenager, I wouldn't really care about the subsidy. All I would want to know is what I'd be getting for my money. If I had to spend 25 euros on a 50 euros card to get 20 euros worth of music I wouldn't do it.

      As usual, the taxpayer gets fucked. And the music companies, even with the subsidy, will get less than what they would if they had reasonable prices.

      • by andrea.sartori (1603543) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:55AM (#33907448) Journal
        Not really. If you were a teenager, you would gladly spend your 25, buy 50 worth of music, and when the card is depleted you would go back to downloading illegally.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          If they use it at all - let's face it, this initiative is not aimed at students who want to buy music, they're already doing so (this might let them buy a bit more) - it's aimed at those who just don't want to buy music at all while it's available free and easy. The best way to combat that attitude is to make music cheap enough that it's essentially free anyway (remove the barrier to impulse buys). Even former label head Rob Dickins agrees this is the best approach [bbc.co.uk] - my price point for new albums is now abo
          • by Americano (920576)

            The problem is, reducing the prices to 1 pound (~$1.60 US) wouldn't do much to stop piracy - it still costs money, and pirated copies are still free. If the decision to pirate is an economic one, you won't do much to end it by reducing the price, even drastically, unless the price drops to "free". If it's not an economic decision, then you've done nothing to change the fundamental objection someone has to paying for music.

            Let's be honest, 99 cents for a new song is not much of a barrier to impulse buys, i

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Xemu (50595)

            my price point for new albums is now about £5, if they go over that by even a few pennies, I just don't think it's worth the risk losing money on potential dross. If they were a quid I'd buy a hell of a lot more.

            The $1 iphone apps proves this really well in real life. There are literally many millionaires made because nobody hesitates to pay $1

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Xemu (50595)

          If I was a teenager, I would have bought as many €25 cards I could afford and sold them on ebay for €( 25+x% profit ) to adults wanting to save on their purchases. This scheme is doomed to fail quick.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Xemu (50595)

            ...and as a grown up, I will be selling music in France-- "Buy my song for €50 and get €25 cash-back!"

        • If I was still one, I'd keep the card for "really good stuff that deserve to be paid for" or "stuff I can't find for free"
          And 3 years later the card would probably still be left unused and also invalid ;)

      • by pangu (322010)

        If I had to spend 25 euros on a 50 euros card to get 20 euros worth of music I wouldn't do it.

        As usual, the taxpayer gets fucked.

        Clearly the taxpayer won't get screwed then. Since by your logic no one would take them up on it.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:37AM (#33907240) Journal

      Where do you get that they most likely won't? I probably won't be double, but an extra 50% increse is predictable.

      Normally I'm a moderately liberal individual, and am for the government helping the people, but this is asinine. This is a luxury, not a necessity. This is promoting a specific business model that should survive or fail on it's own merits, not on some kind of corporate welfare.

      W.T.A.F.?

      • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Friday October 15, 2010 @10:00AM (#33907524)

        Normally I'm a moderately liberal individual,

        You can be conservative and socially liberal as well. Don't believe the trolls that tell you that if you are a liberal, you must be for ANYTHING proposed by another self proclaimed liberal. The reverse is also true, you can be conservative and not... Oh how do they put it, 'view Somalia as a libertarian paradise.'

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JesseMcDonald (536341)

          The reverse is also true, you can be conservative and not... Oh how do they put it, 'view Somalia as a libertarian paradise.'

          Perhaps I'm just taking this the wrong way, but (assuming you group libertarians in with the "conservatives") you should know that it generally isn't the libertarians themselves who "view Somalia as a libertarian paradise." This is a categorization usually made by their opponents.

          Libertarians are against aggression in general, of which government happens to be the largest source in most of the "civilized" world—made yet worse by its false shroud of "legitimacy"—but rule-by-tribal-elders (as prac

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CharlieHedlin (102121)

        Apparently in order to participate they have to lower prices, but I still think this is a terrible use of public funds.

      • Liberalism, throughout most of the world including France, is usually considered a center-right political philosophy. Only in America is the word "liberalism" seen as "left-wing," which I think says a lot about Americans.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      Buy Apple shares, quick!

      There's a bunch of French taxpayer money about to be transferred to Apple's account.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by operagost (62405)

      for the next 2 years while this is in effect, the online music services will be raising their prices to milk the system.

      The French government is subsidizing entertainment for a select part of the population, and THIS is your concern?

      • by FooAtWFU (699187)
        Isn't France supposed to be doing austerity right now? Like raising the retirement age from 60 to 62? (and omg protests!!!!!)
  • Glad this is France (Score:4, Informative)

    by diskofish (1037768) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:28AM (#33907156)
    Our taxes are already spent on plenty of really really dumb stuff, last thing we need is "free" music downloads. Think of those poor sorry record companies though, how are they supposed to make any money?
    • by Pojut (1027544)

      You know what the worst part is? That damn socialism! Stupid government getting in the way of private business...SAY NO TO THE GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER!!!! /sarcasm

      • by rolfc (842110)
        Socialism? Where did you get that from? A conservative French government that subsidize the multinational media industry doesn't sound very socialist to me.
        • by CasperIV (1013029)
          I think by definition they can't be conservative while funding a program like this. It is like the "conservatives" in the US that claim the position of conservative while spending money like it's going out of fashion.... and a program like this actually would qualify as socialist as it is being done under the guise of social assistance. A social program doesn't have to make sense to still be a social program, just look at the welfare system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by diskofish (1037768)
        You're missing the point. Why should I be forced to pay a private content provider to provide a service?

        I can't see this providing any social or cultural value: most of the music people are going to be downloading is probably going to be readily available. This is why it is a waste. A better use of the money would be to invest it into music education programs where people actually LEARN how to play and make music.

        I am not against government spending, so long as there is real measurable value in tha
      • by Americano (920576)

        You indicate that what you're saying is sarcasm, but it's not clear what you're being sarcastic about.

        Is it that you think this program is a good thing? Is it that you think it's *not* socialism? Is it that you think the GP post is off-base for saying this is a dumb way to spend tax money?

        Because frankly, it's hard to see where this is anything but a waste of tax money that serves no purpose other than shoveling French taxpayer's money into the pockets of music industry executives.

    • by dintech (998802)

      think of those poor sorry record companies though, how are they supposed to make any money

      I know you're being sarcastic but maybe they're really not supposed to. Maybe a mark of a great society is one where record executives, lawyers and politicians don't get rich.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        I know you're being sarcastic but maybe they're really not supposed to. Maybe a mark of a great society is one where record executives, lawyers and politicians die cold, hungry, alone and unloved.

        Not particularly fond of this particular meme, but... FTFY

    • by horza (87255)

      France has 63.8 million people, 59.8% of which are 15-60. Assuming a fairly even distribution that works out around 11 million 12-15 yr olds. If they all take advantage then this is a €275,000,000 gift to the record labels from Sarkozy.

      Bearing in mind that friend of Sarkozy's family Thierry Lhermitte [wikipedia.org] is board director on the company Trident Media Guard [wikipedia.org] that is enforcing the 3-strikes Internet disconnection "Hadopi", it wouldn't be surprising to find the money from this also making its way back into fam

  • Fraud (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dintech (998802) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:29AM (#33907158)

    How many cards can I get and can I buy my own music with it from my own 'label'?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 1000101 (584896)
      FTFA:

      Cards are limited to one per person, per year and the French government expects one million cards will be sold each year.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Joce640k (829181)

        I think the French government hasn't done the math.

        Choice A: Spend €25, get €50 of music legally, download the other €999,950* of music from the Internet.

        Choice B: Spend €0, download €1000000 of music from the Internet.

        Which do you choose?

        Of course option B is just more proof that people will still download even when prices are 'dropped'(**).

        [*] Numbers provided by the RIAA
        [**] Only the RIAA could see this as a 'price drop'.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          If there is one thing I have learned over the last 25 years of internet use it's that intuition about music on the internet is often wrong.

          in 1995, I figured there wouldn't be a music industry by now. No one would pay. The napster came along And i thought, this is it, it's over. But no. Apple comes out and sells billions of songs. huh, it turns out that a lot of people will pay for music... but... how will todays 12 year old act? what will they be used to? Don't know. So this might help get people to pay fo

    • More to the point, how many music 'labels' will start selling albums for 50 Euros with a 37 Euro rebate? You pay 25 Euros, the taxpayer pays 25 Euros, I give you all of your 25 and half of the taxpayer's 25 back (minus credit card processing fees) in exchange for my album (which is a compilation of random public domain sound clips).
      • by Hatta (162192)

        I honestly don't see how that's any more fraudulent than the intended purpose of the card. In either case the tax payer is ripped off and money is going to someone who didn't earn it.

      • by delinear (991444)
        Pretty ingenious - the only flaw is that it relies on students to get off their arses and make use of your system, and this depends entirely on how easy the French government make it to get the cards. If students have to fill out a form and go buy postage and send them off, I wouldn't count your chickens. If they hand them out in bars, you'll be a millionaire :)
  • Which music store ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by psergiu (67614) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:29AM (#33907170)

    25€ to be spent in WHICH music store ? iTunes, Amazon, Napster ?

    • by Pojut (1027544)

      Sam Goody [wikipedia.org].

      That's right. Sam freakin' Goody.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by painandgreed (692585)

      25 to be spent in WHICH music store ? iTunes, Amazon, Napster ?

      Knowing France, it will probably only be good at a French government site that only sells music by French bands or sung in French that have been approved by some council of culture.

  • Truly amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:34AM (#33907216) Journal

    France has regular riots with minorities, an economy down the drain, one hell of a reputation with the deportation of Roma and now it gives a 200 million euro subsidy to the music industry?

    Just WTF?

    Is his wife payed for by the music lobby? And it still requires people that in the plan are claimed to be unwilling to pay for music, to pay for music. Just not so much. Once...

    And why does the state have to pay for this? Can't the music industry itself offer a discount action? Why must the average french taxpayer pay for 50% off for some kid for an American song with the money going abroad?

    This isn't even corruption anymore. It shows a level of detachment from reality in the French government that is closer to insanity. "Let them eat cake", at least showed an awareness that the issue was related to food. This proposal doesn't even grasp. "42, beezlebug for I am, bibble", Marie Antoinette was heard to say, just before her head came off. Insanity.

    • Is his wife payed for by the music lobby?

      Well, there were rumors going in that direction yes.

    • Is his wife payed for by the music lobby?

      Of course not! A mistress is uncertain of her wage; a wife has none.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Methinks the Sarkozy government has some very strange priorities indeed. Either that or they're all sleeping on giant piles of money from the music industry. I would go with the latter.
      • they as individual yes
        the government is not exactly rich.
        lobbies are. people in the government are. france, aka the governement, is not.

        of course, that's not right.

    • I don't see what's particularly different about this from Cash for Clunkers, aside from this being a more direct subsidy.

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      "42, beezlebug for I am, bibble", Marie Antoinette was heard to say, just before her head came off. Insanity.

      Got a citation for that? Everywhere I've looked said her last words were "Monsieur, I beg your pardon."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by delinear (991444)

      Is his wife payed for by the music lobby?

      Considering Nicolas Sarkozy's wife [wikipedia.org] is herself a "singer/songwriter", it's less likely she's paid for my the music lobby and more likely she actually is the music lobby. It's baffling logic, to say the least - to combat the fact that a percentage of young people are consuming music without paying for it, we'll make a percentage of older people pay for music without consuming it!

      • Same logic they already applied
        you pay 200% price (yes its that much) on many medias such as DVD to pay taxes directly to the media companies already.
        Even thus most of the DVDs are not used for music.
        If you like to pay hard drives 200 eurs (only slightly exagerated, depends on capacity, but if you want 2To, bad luck) more than in the rest of the world, france is also a good country for that

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Becasue if the music companies offer it, they could never raise their prices back up.

      If people pay for the music, that money moves around in the economy.

      Marie Antoinette never said 'let them eat cake'. In fact she did what she could to help the people of France. She is the result of people making up lies and putting them cute slogans.

      Like I said in an earlier post, it will be an interesting experiment. If it workd, even a little, the French government will make this money back.

      You really need to earn to loo

  • State aid? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Krakadoom (1407635) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:35AM (#33907218)
    How is that not illegal state aid under EU law? Because they dont target specific content providers? Sounds highly dubious.
    • It probably is but then, legality is not really the most immediate priority of the current French government.
    • Vote Pirate Party in the next elections. It's the only sane thing to do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by delinear (991444)
      EU law is about promoting competition between member states (and theoretically non-member states, although in practice I'm sure they care far less about that). Since this apparently applies to all content providers, it doesn't technically disadvantage anyone unlike, for instance, if they offered subsidies on music performed in French, which would blatantly favour national over international content. Outside this remit, the EU is pretty much powerless to intervene, it's much more a local issue if you feel yo
  • by Thornae (53316) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:37AM (#33907244)

    Note that this is "may" in the sense of "is permitted to," rather than "might."

  • by xednieht (1117791) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:38AM (#33907256) Homepage
    Where does the French government "earn" it money from? The French government isn't subsidising squat, the French people are.
  • French government subsidises breathing air. You will be able to buy a €50 card for just €25, the rest of which will be paid for by the state. Any guess how many takers there will be?
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:40AM (#33907278)

    In a normal market, that would lead to lower prices.

    Even in an abnormal market, it will lead to lower prices eventually.

    (There are also more movies than you can ever see now, more tv shows, more books).

    Unless the music, book, movie, etc. is spectacularly special, I'll choose the less expensive one first.

    I stopped paying over $10 for DVD's several years ago. Actually, I mostly just stopped buying DVD's as I realized they were clogging up the house and I was never going to watch most of them again.

    • by delinear (991444)

      Same here - I don't "download", but I've set myself a very strict price cap on buying content, which tends to be around £5 for both music albums and DVDs. That's the maximum I'm prepared to risk on something being poor quality, even then I'm very picky about what I buy and I'll only ever break the cap for something I know I'll enjoy. If they could drop the prices of these things to £2 - 2.50, I'd be willing to risk my money far more often - I'm sure a lot of other people would follow suit.

      It wou

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Americano (920576)

      In a normal market, that would lead to lower prices.

      For something that's a commodity, yes. Farmer Bob's corn is pretty much the same as Farmer John's corn. Saudi Arabia's oil is pretty much the same as Venezuela's oil. South African gold is pretty much the same as gold produced by Peru.

      However, Metallica's CD is quite different from Britney Spears' CD. The entertainment industries will never produce "commodity" music - or let's hope they never do. As such, price is not the only determining factor in ch

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Maxo-Texas (864189)

        Its valid except...

        High quality entertainment has completely saturated me. There is now more high quality entertainment than I can consume.

        Which means high quality entertainment is now a commodity to me. And I suspect I'm not the only one.

  • 'Free' music is your god given right, so much so they government even gives it to you as a social service?

    what happens when those cards run out (quickly)? Yea a bunch of 'kids' who now think they are entitled to it are going to steal it and have a whole new mindset about doing so

    • 'Free' music is your god given right, so much so they government even gives it to you as a social service?

      Surely having whatever you want is one of the "human rights" guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights?

  • Wow... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:49AM (#33907390)
    Can the french government get any worse? First they implement the 3 strikes law.

    Now they will throw 25 million euros a year (according to their estimates) - in order to pay the music industry. Why not grab the 25 million and use them to build more parks, or reduce homelessness, or put into education?

    Answer: Because there aren't any 'homelessness lobbies'
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Because by getting kids to pay for things, that money goes to people. A strong economy is an excellent way to reduce and help homeless people.

  • Why the middlemen? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by porneL (674499) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:53AM (#33907428) Homepage

    Cut out the middlemen and give it directly to recording industry lobbyists.

  • ... until the RIAA decides that they want that money the customers saved thanks to the subsidies and sues the legit downloaders, despite having received government grant money for that very amount.
  • Dump the middleman who is profiting from the hard work of the musicians and producers and just buy the music directly from the artist.

    For example: Purchase Radiohead In Rainbows [uk.com] for 7.5 pounds or $12 US.

    Seems fair to me.
    • by Americano (920576)

      And this is the way more and more artists seem to be moving. One which I encourage whenever I can buy buying direct from the artists when/if I can.

  • This is just sick, it's sick that any government would subsidize any business ever at all.

  • This is utterly stupid, why should the government (ie TAXPAYERS) pay content distributors?
    If anything, the government should put pressure on those distributors to lower prices, not pay them off.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Not enarly as ridiculous as posting without reading the article.

      Come back when you wan't to discuss the merits of why they are doing this.

      BTW, we all know it's taxpayers, no need to shout.

  • Art is suppose to be something governments try to suppress, which gives it more, pardon my french, séduire. Having the government approve your art is like having your mother approve your sexual technique.
  • "We welcome initiatives from member states to increase the availability of music online at a lower price for consumers and through legal distribution channels. Music online is certainly a driver for the success of the Internet and for economic development," said Almunia.

    You know what will do that, without any extra money from the people? Just put copyright back to sane terms or abolish it altogether. Stop criminalizing a whole generation of people and stop cutting families off the internet based on accusations only.

  • Can't wait to see it's impact in over the next 10 years.

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