A Better Way Forward: Voluntary Collective Licensing of Music File Sharing

Imagine a world where music is "free" to share without fear of infringement and fully supported by the music industry. A world where "all" artists can be rewarded and paid by the music fans using P2P file sharing technologies. A thriving music economy that embraces artistic and technical innovations, advancing our cultural heritage.

"Let the Music Play" white paper from EFF.


The Proposal: Voluntary Collective Licensing

EFF has spent the past year evaluating alternatives that get artists paid while making file sharing legal. One solution has emerged as the favorite: voluntary collective licensing.

The concept is simple: the music industry forms a collecting society, which then offers file-sharing music fans the opportunity to "get legit" in exchange for a reasonable regular payment, say $5 per month. So long as they pay, the fans are free to keep doing what they are going to do anyway—share the music they love using whatever software they like on whatever computer platform they prefer—without fear of lawsuits. The money collected gets divided among rights-holders based on the popularity of their music.

In exchange, file-sharing music fans will be free to download whatever they like, using whatever software works best for them. The more people share, the more money goes to rights-holders. The more competition in applications, the more rapid the innovation and improvement. The more freedom to fans to publish what they care about, the deeper the catalog.

Research and Reports:

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