Half Off! France ‘Fights Piracy’ By Subsidizing Digital Music
France has decided to try something… novel. The country will attempt to prop up the digital music industry by subsidizing legal music consumption by young people.
Under the initiative, citizens between 12 and 25 years old will be able to purchase a “carte musique”—a prepaid card usable on subscription-based music websites. The card will come with €50 worth of credit, but customers only have to pay €25. The rest will be paid by the French government.
The purpose of the program is to get the young’uns into the habit of paying for content instead of pirating it. The program will last for two years, and France expects to sell about one million cards per year. That translates to an expected €50 million total expenditure by the French government to help young people learn the value of paying for the content that they consume.The European Commission gave the program a round of applause by saying that it is ‘well designed’ to fight illegal downloads
The European Commission even gave the program a round of applause by saying that it was “well designed” to fight illegal downloads, and that there were safeguards in place to help prevent “distortions of competition.”
Those safeguards include a €5 million cap on the monetary benefits any one music service can rake in, the idea being that independent and niche services can also get in on the action. The participating sites must also slash the price of music, and they must either extend the duration of their subscriptions or help advertise the carte musique.
This is not just about fighting piracy, though. The French government is all about preserving certain aspects of the country’s culture, and French music is definitely one of those aspects that matters to France as it fends off the barbarian “Anglo-Saxon” imperialists. Earlier this year, the French government made waves by considering a tax on companies that advertise online as a way to prop up (French) creative industries that have trouble keeping up with the digital world, such as musicians and publishers.
On top of this, France has been known to be unfriendly to e-books in favor of traditional printed books (and the mom and pop bookstores, protected by price controls on books, that sell them). The state has also promised free newspaper subscriptions to all citizens when they turn 18 in order to help the print media compete with online and broadcast journalism.
From that angle, France’s decision to help out digital music downloads (and not, say, good old fashioned live performances, or mom and pop record stores) seems a little inconsistent, but it’s all of a piece with the idea of “saving French culture.”
Still, the European Commission seems to agree that the carte musique could be a positive measure, noting that it will “contribute to preserving pluralism and cultural diversity in the online music industry.”
Also on Wired.com