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Billboard reports that the French government’s plan to fight illegal music downloading by contributing money to young people for its legal purchase has gained European Union approval. French residents between 12 and 25 who purchase the Carte Musique for €25 will receive €50 ($70) of credit to put towards buying music from a subscription-based download service. The government will pick up the tab.
Based on an estimate of one million cards sold, the plan, which is expected to last two years with consumers allowed to purchase one card per year, may cost France €25 million annually.
There are some catches included in the plan for website operators: in return for state aid of up to €5 million, they will need cut the price of music, extend the duration of subscriptions, and contribute to the card’s advertising costs.
Of course, this doesn’t affect American music sharing, legal or otherwise, but does it foreshadow a change in the business as a whole that eventually could? I’d be skeptical about whether this sort of plan would succeed in the States; it’s always seemed to me that people who prefer to buy from Rhapsody, Napster, iTunes, etc., always will, and people who don’t, usually won’t.
The former group might relish a time of cheaper and free music downloads, but would probably accept the return business-as-usual once it ended. The non-buyers, too, might like the opportunity for discounted downloads, but when that $70 card ran out, how many of them wouldn’t go right back to the torrents and peer-to-peer networks that have already served them so well?
Maybe the habit will stick, though, marking a positive step forward for the music industry. Either way, it's a bold move on France's part.
The plan's start date is to be determined.