Cultural Flatrate Won't Work. Here's Why It Won't Work.

The old idea of a cultural flatrate or an internet levy has popped up again. This idea basically says “tax the net heavily – maybe €10 per user and month – and give that money to creators via the legacy copyright industries; the more somebody’s work is shared, the more money they get”. This idea will not work. Here’s why it will not work.

Let’s ignore for a moment that one-third of the material shared online is pornography, and that it would be politically impossible to subsidize the porn production industry with the several billion euros a year that would result from such a scheme.

Let’s ignore for a moment the insanity of giving the copyright industry a guaranteed source of income, regardless of their utter business failures, where they can take another 40% in “administrative costs” to pay for their zillions of lobbyists.

Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that something like 99.9% of the culture on the net didn’t fit in the previous remuneration scheme, and that if all creators are to be rewarded according to share, then there will be thousands of times more creators to be thus remunerated than there ever were in the legacy copyright industry. (The writers of this very blog, for a tangible example.)

Let’s ignore the legislative quality control that fails to answer the basic who is going to be compensated for what? question.

Let’s ignore the impossibility of measuring what is shared without invasive surveillance that is utterly incompatible with fundamental rights.

In fact, let’s assume that all of these problems can be solved, or already have been solved.

Let’s assume, then, that there is a fixed pie to be divided among creators, divided according to popularity, as measured by how much they are shared on the net. This is the cultural flatrate concept. What would happen?

This is where it gets convenient, as we already know for a fact what would happen.

We know how the events would play out, as exactly this has been tried over ten years ago, and it failed in the most predictable way possible. It was tried by the site, which was so much a forerunner and vanguard that it was promptly sued out of existence by the copyright industry, bought out, and closed down. Only in recent years has its business model of cloud music storage been established as valid, but by new players such as Apple, Google, and Cablevision.

Here’s what they did. They had this pay for play business, where the more an artist was played and shared from, the more money they got from out of a revenue sharing pool. The band 303 Infinity was a favorite that rose to prominence through, for instance. This is the exact model of the cultural flatrate idea.

So what happened?

As described on Wikipedia (my highlighting):

For a time, it looked like this continent of new artists would indeed change the music business, but several factors came about to stall the momentum of The pay-for-play experiment that rewarded artists monetarily for their downloads was sabotaged by the artists themselves. Honest acts were robbed of their intended share by enterprising gamers who exploited the system with programmed play bots and download gangs (posses) who would play long songlists often with the volume turned down to run up artificial numbers that equated into big bucks. tried and threw numerous cheaters off the site but they could not control the gaming…

This is the most predictable development ever. The second somebody gets paid from a common pool if a file is shared or downloaded, that file will get shared over and over again way beyond what would have happened otherwise, just to rack up artificial numbers that will translate into financial reward.

This is a school textbook example of how you can’t measure something for money without changing the thing measured completely in the process.

This is why cultural flatrate will never work. Please stop pretending it’s a good idea. It’s a terrible idea, as I have described previously, for many other reasons as well.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. børge

    I’ve always thought that this was a bad idea, but I’ve never clearly seen all these issues with it. Thank you!

  2. Gridlock

    Too bad really the idea is good in theory.
    Those who are played the most gets most money.

    But like communism (which when you only see it in theory is an absolute BRILLIANT way to run society) it gets screwed over double time when human nature comes into play in practice.

    That said i do believe the model has some merit in real life, but instead of Free music numbers where the pay comes from shearing.
    I would way use a subscription model a little like certain Internet companies have(in Denmark its TDC and Yousee play).
    It works like this you log in a special service and have unlimited access to several music numbers.
    How the artists gets payed here i don´t know, but its secure (as much as such things can be) against the numbers going up falsely. As you can only access it through a password system a password you need to be a paying customer to be able to get and use.

    1. ANNM

      What prevents a paying customer from playing songs by the same artist over and over again 24 hours every day?

      1. Charbax

        They can play the same song again and again 24h a day. But those playbacks simply don’t get taken into account! A system that does not detect spam is a bad system. Google has been able to detect spam for the past 14 years. Thus using the spam argument against culturate flatrate is completely ridiculous in this day and age!!!!

        If you think Google has no idea what is the most popular and the most relevant on the Internet, you are COMPLETELY out of your mind!

    2. Morten

      Communism is not brilliant in theory. A brilliant theory is one that works in practice, or it is simply a bad theory. Communism doen’t even have a theory of how to run anything… It just has this grandiose idea of “From each according to ability, to each according to need”. Sounds nice, sure, but doesn’t mean anything. How it is to be decided what each person is to do and what he must contribute and towrds what, is not so important. And the how to make him is by force. And who is to recieve exactly what, not so important either, they’ll let some smart people figure it out.

      You make it sound like Communism is this wonderful thing that humans do not fit into, while it is the other way around. Humans are wonderful, and communism is a bad theory of how to kill the most wonderful things about humans in order to make them fit into a system designed by psychopaths who think their goals and more importantly their means are more worthy and noble than others.

      Embrace humans, and you see that you only need a way to protect them from people who want to impose their will(like for example imposing a centrally managed copyright compensation system, communistic in its very core). And humans are pretty good at doing also this for them selves.

      Embrace a plan for how to “run” society, and you soon start hating humans left and right, and comitting attrocities to keep the all-mighty system going.

      Now, your plan of a subscription model is af sounds fine, since no-one has to be forced to pay into anything there. You should go try it out by finding people who agree and starting it up for yourselves. I might subscribe if the service is good.

    3. Fredrik

      The model that those companies have is that they provide a prison, and you pay them to become their prisoner. You download handcuffs (DRM) from them and install on your computer so that they control your computer and monitor your activities, while you cannot control your computer yourself. Because that is a horribly awful model, people rip the music out of the prison to make unauthorized “pirate” releases and share freely. If nobody wants to be a paying customer, then the system is secure, as nobody will use it, and that’s good! We must all choose freedom and not user subjugating services.

      Have you seen for yourself that communism is a brilliant idea, or did you just say so because others say the same thing and you thought it sounds clever?

    4. triplethinker

      communism never has been tried for longer than a few month.

      and every time “real, theoretically sound communism” has been tried it has been destroyed by outside forces (münchener räterepublik, spain civil war, commune de paris and so on and so forth)

      russian leninism/stalinism was founded by capitalist banks from the start,
      comunism that gets funding by capitalism cant call itself comunism.

      i know i am losing this fight for historical accuracy (mostly thanks to nazi and american propaganda [those two forms of prop dont differ that much after all])
      but i still have to try 😉

      if you want to see comunism at work,

      »Der sozialdemokratische Philister ist neuerdings wieder in heilsamen Schrecken geraten bei dem Wort: Diktatur des Proletariats. Nun gut meine Herren, wollt ihr wissen wie diese Diktatur aus­sieht? Seht euch die Pariser Kommune an. Das war die Diktatur des Proletariats«
      London, am 18. März 1891, dem zwanzigsten Jahrestag der Pariser Kommune. Gezeichnet: Friedrich Engels

      the socialdemocratic philister is bound in healing fear once again when hearing the word “dictate of the proletariate”. Now, gentlemen, do you want to know how this dictatorship looks like? look at the commune parisienne, this was the dictatorship of the prols
      signed: friedrich engels, 20th anniversary of the commune parisienne
      (translation pretty bad, sorry, he uses beautiful language and i am lazy right now 😉 )

  3. Mikael Nilsson

    Of course it will work: a government-appointed council consisting of representatives from major labels will decide on the distribution based on their own analysis.

    New media gets 0.1%, porn 0% and the old industries the rest, based on traditional measurements.

  4. Fredrik

    Perhaps the biggest problem in society today is marketing. A cultural flatrate that gives the most money to those who already have the most money to spend on marketing does not solve any problem at all. Only a system that eliminates the incentive to marketing can solve the big problems in society.

    1. Justus Römeth

      But isn’t the eroding price for functioning marketing campaigns something that would go into that direction?

  5. Justus Römeth

    Maybe it could work if you would combine it with a mechanism like Flattr…? IE somethign like Flattr becomes part of every internet contract, and through ‘flattering’ something the money that is associated to that contract is divided accordingly. If someone does not flattr for a month the division is just the same as last month for a few months, and if people don’t flattr some of the money gets divided according to how everybody else flattrs, some money goes to culture funds (start up money for new artists), some money goes to distributors (labels, etc.) and some money goes to a good cause. That way it should be hard to game the system, as to manipulate it you would have to spend more money than a label or artist could get.

    You would have to be vary of virusses and people taking over other person’s machines.
    Probably there is another loophole that I am overlooking, but a mandatory flattr account would certainly be a better idea than a classical cultural flatrate.

    1. Tor

      I had not seen your comment when I posted mine. Interesting that both the idea and the way it was described in our two comments is so similar. I have mentioned it a couple of times here and there, but to my surprise it never generated any discussion so I’m glad to see that there are more people who think along these lines.

      1. Justus Römeth

        I am not sure if I read this idea somewhere else or just came up with it, but I would be very very happy if we could replace the old redistribution models (GEMA in Germany for example, but also fees on empty CDs and the likes) like that, too.

      2. Gordon Mohr

        Peter Eckersley in a 2004 writeup “Virtual Markets for Virtual Goods” proposed a vaguely-similar system, a sort of compulsory pool that was allocated by explicit public balloting.

        Yes, in these kinds of systems if you require someone to pay $X, then let their votes allocate exactly $X, some will just re-allocate it back to themselves, or to fronts serving other purposes. But maybe that’s a feature not a bug: it’s OK for dissenters to opt out with a little effort, as long as they’re not gaming for other people’s money as well. Such a system could be thought of as mainly setting a conscious norm of a certain level of patronage, and making it easy to meet that norm via a universal system. Many would simply allocate their share as expected, even enjoying the process.

        It’s a bit like, “this venue has a two drink minimum, get whatever you’d like, but at least the minimum or you’re not welcome.”

    2. Fredrik

      Flattr only makes it easier to game the system. With Flattr we don’t need a bot that plays music. We just need to press a button to give the money back to ourselves. Flattr is utterly pointless.

      1. piratgurra

        What? That’s absurd. You know it’s your money that is distributed in flattr, right? You put an amount of money into flattr each month. Flattring yourself would be like sending yourself presents with your own cash. So yes sending money to yourself would be pointless.

        1. Justus Römeth

          Please, read my proposal again.

          Done? Okay:
          You would only distribute your own money to the system, and only a certain part (25%?) of the money of those that don’t flattr at all would be ‘up for grabs’, so as long as the amount of people that flattr is not ridiculously low it should at least prevent the scenario you are describing. The flattr account of every person would be allocated individually, I am not talking about one big flattr account for everybody. So, as long as you (or the artists or the corporations) don’t directly control what other people flattr it should be fine.

        2. Justus Römeth

          (this was supposed to be to Fredrik, not Piratgurra, of course 😉 )

        3. Fredrik

          You missed the context. The proposal is that it is the tax money that is distributed in Flattr, and what I would do is to give myself a tax refund through Flattr to opt out of using it.

        4. Justus Römeth

          Well, then you should safeguard it so that you can’t give money back to yourself, and that you need to have a certain spread of the money. But fair enough, that exploitation is possible.

        5. Fredrik

          I think I should give money to myself. “Pay yourself first” is valuable advice. If we anyway want to “safeguard” against giving money in certain ways we can do that by totalitarian surveillance, fear and sanctions, which would not still not be a solution for replacing the current copyright model which requires exactly the same things. Flattr keeps records of what people support, just like when the Swedish government collected information about peoples opinions to make a list of communists. It would not be a nice thing when I’m refused to enter a country because I’m accused of funding terrorism because I support people who criticize the government.

    3. JLind

      @Justus, also look at my longer comment below. We are basically addressing the same problem from different angles.

  6. Tor

    Most of the problems you mention can be avoided to some degree if people are given the right to decide to whom their money should go. Think of it like Flattr where some basic level of the fee is mandatory. If the amounts that are distributed this way are large it may give incentives to route money to people who do not actually do anything culturally related, but if the amount per person is not too high the risk of penalties and the inner moral voice might be enough for it to work to a reasonable degree. (The money of people who don’t actively vote would be distributed according to the average taste of those who do).

    I’m not convinced it would work, but it would be interesting to hear people’s thoughts about it.

    1. Fredrik

      I think Flattr is completely pointless. If I got a Flattr account payed by tax money, I would only give the money back to myself every month.

      1. piratgurra

        Then you don’t understand flattr. It’s your money that goes into what you click on.

        1. Fredrik

          Why do you think that I don’t understand Flattr?

      2. Justus Römeth

        And neither do you understand what Tor and I proposed. It is not perfect, and I am sure there ARE loopholes, but not the ones you describe.

        1. Fredrik

          I think that it is you that don’t understand what you proposed. The loophole I described is perfectly valid.

      3. Tor

        As I mention above it’s hard to make this work if the money amounts are very high for the very reason you mentioned. However, if the amount of money per capita isn’t too high, and one puts a lower threshold on the number of Flattrs that a person must receive in order to be able to collect money, penalties on using the system incorrectly and perhaps even require some formalities for those wishing to be on the receiving side, then you may raise the bar high enough for most people not to find it worthwhile to try to game the system.

        One also has to keep in mind that already today a lot of money collected from empty media fees and the like is distributed according to a quite unfair distribution scheme, so a Flattr-like system shouldn’t be rejected just because it’s not perfect – because the current system isn’t either. One should rather compare the two and consider the question of which system is most fair and stimulates culture in the best way.

        1. Fredrik

          “penalties on using the system incorrectly”: We implement ACTA and SOPA and let representatives from the major record labels decide what they think is incorrect and who they think is using the system incorrectly, so those can be disconnected from the internet without trial.

          “require some formalities for those wishing to be on the receiving side”: Only major record labels are allowed to be on the receiving side.

          Once again, this Flattr suggestion just suggest the same draconian measures as we are trying to eliminate. The copyright industry has had the privilege to require a formality for those wishing to create things. The wonderful thing with the internet is that people can bypass the copyright industry and their formalities and create things freely.

          “a Flattr-like system shouldn’t be rejected just because it’s not perfect – because the current system isn’t either”

          A bad system doesn’t need a bad replacement. The current system needs to be dropped and replaced by nothing at all.

    2. JLind

      @Tor, also look at my longer comment below. We are basically addressing the same problem from different angles.

  7. Phil Hunt

    You’re absolutely right that a simplistic system would be gamed. Other systems however might be more resistant to gaming. Here for example are two such systems:

    #1. In the UK, every household with a TV has to pay a license fee of £145 to the state-owned broadcaster, the BBC. The BBC is controlled by the BBC Trust, 12 people appointed by the government. A simple change would be that (1) the BBC trust are directly elected by all TV license payers, and (2) the BBC’s remit be extended to produce the whole range of works — TV, radio, films, web sites, software, computer games, etc — that their elected trust chooses.

    #2. My proposal for a Broadband Tax, where everyone would pay an amount, which would go to one or more of various Content Compensation Funds, where each taxpayer individually chooses where his or her tax goes. Each CCF’s accounts would be made public, so any that are incompetent and are prone to gaming would lose revenue as taxpayers would switch to others.

    1. Fredrik

      “Content Compensation Fund” sounds exactly like a backwards name that the record industry would invent. “Content” is something that is put in a box. If there is no box, there is no content. The copyright industry uses the word content to tell that something is just padding for their box and does not have a value of its own. Compensation is a word the copyright industry would use to make people incorrectly believe that the industry deserves to be compensated for something.

      “Each CCF’s accounts would be made public, so any that are incompetent and are prone to gaming would lose revenue as taxpayers would switch to others.”

      Just like Monaco which is good for gaming loses revenue as taxpayers switch to pay their taxes in fair and expensive Sweden instead! *sarcasm*

      1. Phil Hunt

        “Content Compensation Fund” sounds exactly like a backwards name that the record industry would invent.

        Care to suggest a better name?

        1. Fredrik

          If such funds existed, that lets taxpayers choose where their taxes will go, I would just choose that the tax goes back to myself. “Yet Another Unnecessary Middle Man” would be a good name for that.

  8. JLind

    Rick is obviously right that a compulsory IPR flat rate is a terrible idea. However, it could work as voluntary payment pool.

    In a world where certain categories of content producers such as daily newspapers and specialty magazines have lost 3 /4 of their traditional revenues, less content will be produced and the quality of the produced content deteriorates rapidly.

    The major revenue sources for news-“papers” and specialty “magazines” today are advertising and corporate sponsorship. The readers (the audience, the eyeballs) is just the product that is being sold to the big corporates.

    As a user I am acutely concerned about this. These days, newspapers almost never allocate resources for investigative reporting and research. And just look at the corrupt reviews of new IT products at CNET. They never address the obvious flaws of new products that are discussed at forums by real users. Most new products get a very high rating. Everything to please the advertisers.

    As a user I am prepared to pay for unbiased high quality content that serves MY purposes, not the big corporates’.

    If “we the people” could create a large enough payment pool we could be powerful enough to make media serve us again (as it was meant to be). (Even though I voted for the Pirate Party I am willing to pay for content if it could solve this problem.)

    It could work like this. Users sign up and pay for example 4 dollars/month to the payment pool and get a password, an app and/or cookie. Content providers that are interested in getting revenues from the pool sign up on their side. Each user’s monthly contribution is distributed in proportion to time spent on the participating web sites.

    If I spend most of my time on, Consumer Reports, and, these three providers will share most of my 4 dollars. If I visit NY Times 2 percent of my time one month they will receive 8 cents. The Pool Provider organization will manage the anonymized records for the monthly surf time and handle payments.

    If the size of pool grows many content providers will get an incentive to join the scheme and get a slice of the pie. I would gladly join such a scheme if it would give me deeper and more unbiased information.

    I have already developed a reference design and business plan for this. If anyone is interested in joining the project, leave a comment here and we can figure out a way of exchanging contact data.

    1. Fredrik

      What you suggest is horrible spyware that needs draconian censorship to enforce. A system that does not respect the right for everyone to read anonymously should not be supported by anyone. Luckily we have good people who rip the information out of such systems and make unauthorized releases to distribute freely.

      1. JLind

        Fredrik, you have a point. This is a valid objection. That’s why it is critical that this Payment Pool is managed by people who are credible Netizens and privacy advocates. No ties to the US military-corporate complex, no servers in the US, no investors with connections to the CIA, and preferably no profit-max only VC investors. The privacy issues can be solved with Open Source software and third party auditing (by EDRI, Julian Assange, or EFF?)

        I disagree with your notion that this system requires “draconian censorship”. It is basically like a system for one-password, multiple site access. Site owners can easily offer a free version with ads and a paid for version without ads (and possibly faster servers). High traffic bloggers such as can join the system as a way for supporters to offer voluntary donations but keep their sites open regardless of the user pays to the Pool or not.

        1. Anonymous

          EFF would agree with me that nobody should give away records of what they read, no matter how credible the organizations receiving the records are. We already have systems that require password. Notice what happens with them: People rip the information out of those closed gardens and make unauthorized releases to be used without password. The only means to prevent that are totalitarian surveillance and censorship. I already use Adblock to eliminate all ads.

        2. Fredrik

          EFF would agree with me that nobody should give away records of what they read, no matter how credible the organizations receiving the records are. We already have systems that require password. Notice what happens with them: People rip the information out of those closed gardens and make unauthorized releases to be used without password. The only means to prevent that are totalitarian surveillance and censorship. I already use Adblock to eliminate all ads.

        3. Justus Römeth

          Fredrik, your ideas are unrealistic unfortunately. We won’t be able to get rid of organizations like GEMA, SABEM, MPAA and all of the corresponding laws, but we should be able to change the laws in our favour. If that works one day we might be able to get rid of them alltogether, but in the current climate that is just not possible, and stomping on your feet demanding it will accomplish absolutely nothing.

        4. Fredrik (

          Justus, I have not presented any ideas, so to say that my ideas are unrealistic does not make sense. If you want to claim that an idea is unrealistic, then please tell which idea is unrealistic.

  9. Hak Foo

    Maybe the real aim of a flatrate is more as a pay-off system instead of a actual business model

    Give the legacy monopolists something to chew on so they will back out of the way and let the rest of the world actually move on

    Something like the legendary union “job banks” which kept un-needed employees paid in perpetuity just because it was less of a hassle than fighting the union

    1. Fredrik

      There is an important difference: Workers want a reasonable amount of money. Corporations want an infinite amount of power.

  10. Charbax

    I am VERY VERY disappointed by your lack of common sense on this issue!!!

    You can’t possibly be a leading creative thinker of Internet cultural technologies while being so against the cultural flatrate! You need to immediately re-evalue your position on this!

    1. You don’t need invasive surveillance to measure popularity of content! TV/Radio has been satisfied with popularity measurements based on panels of few 1000s representative people having snooping boxes installed on their TV/Radio to measure popularity. That is how Trillions of dollars of advertising money on TV/Radio and how Hundreds of Billions of dollars of Public TV/Radio funds are being redistributed today! Do you hear those people scream for unfair unprecise measurements? No they don’t!

    – What gets done here is the people voluntarily can install snooping software on their Android/iOS/PC/etc playback devices which can report their stats precisely. Hundreds of thousands of people will voluntarily install that snooping software, ergo the popularity measurements are 1000x better and more precise than current, better taking into account the long tail popularity.

    – People will gladly install the snooping software voluntarilty because it will provide them with same as Google’s search history, it provides them with possibility to receive personalized recommendations for the personalized recommendation services that can be allowed to hook into this database of playbacks and +1 ratings. This can be done totally anonymously (to the personalized recommendation services) if needed. For example, if you want, you can let Google/Apple/Amazon/Spotify/ and any other provide you with your personalized recommendations based on your snooped usage/ratings profile.

    2. Are you suggesting it’s a good thing of young women being exploited by the online pr%n industry? You think it’s fair of those women expose themselves to being in pr%n content and nearly never being fairly paid for their work? Are you supporting the current system of middle-men, digital pimps, you think that is fairer than an opportunity for these women to actually get paid if many men watch those pictures/videos featuring them and regardless from which legal/illegal/official/unofficial website that content is being “consumed” on?

    3. Why should the cultural flatrate guarantee a source of income to the copyright industry??!!! You can’t just disregard cultural flatrate because you decide that it’s impossible for actual content creators themselves directly getting access to most of that income!!! The whole point of the cultural flatrate is to have a system that can pay the content creators directly and finance their continued content creation! The whole point is to circumvent the current copyright industry and provide all artists, all content creators, all open-source programmers with a way to earn an income by simply publishing their content on the web with NO INTERMEDIARY REQUIRED!

    – By being against the cultural flatrate you are IN FACT helping the copyright industry, you are in fact supporting the current system where most cultural revenue has to circulate through the monopolistic intermediaries of the copyright industry! You seriously have to rethink this!

    4. Yes, the cultural flatrate will allow for thousands new content creators an income! That is the whole point! Yes, that includes Bloggers, that includes YouTube uploaders, that includes online photographers, that includes independent musicians, independent film makers, open source programmers, that is the whole point!

    – To earn an income from the cultural flatrate, what you do is to apply and claim copyright ownership of the streams of content that you create online. You then get paid accordingly based on the measures popularity and measured ratings of your content. You really have to lack creative thinking to not understand how this measurement of popularity and quality of content can’t be done given the TONS and TONS of digital tools at our disposal for doing exactly that on the Internet today.

    5. The share of revenue per content creator can be fairly established based on the actual measurement of several aspects of content creation, this is not magic. Someone spending a lot of time creating content and that creation being of higher importance is absolutely measurable and guidelines can be established in terms of how the measured popularity translates into percentages for how to distribute that money to each content creator.

    – For example, a big movie production is created by more than 1 content creator. All contributors to the movie get a percentage share of the creations overall revenue. The Film Director, Writer, Actors, Cinematography, Sound, etc, all the people involved each get their percentage determined by totally common sense of how to fairly attribute credit to each of these! That will also be more clearly part of contracts as content creators get the funds to hire the teams that they want to have to help them create their content.

    – The share of revenue per content category is determined by fairly measuring the attention, interest level, appreciation for that content that simply every user has when “consuming” each of those content types! It might be that the area of open source programming is less appreciated to the average user than certain pr%n, then totally open and fair balance in redistribution of the income is rebalanced to help those content creators that have more of a tendency to work “behind the scenes” but should definitely be compensated.

    – Defining fair percentage redistribution shares for each content creating types is really not that hard at all. It’s about how much time people spend on your content, how much they get out of it, and re-balanced taking into account the important content creator types that are “behind the scenes”.

    6. was a fantastic site, it got sued out of existence by bad luck by the founder Michael Robertson going into the cloud hosting of music a bit too early and basically evil Universal seeing as too much of a threat.

    – did NOT have a cultural flatrate system! All did was to redistribute some of its advertising income. There was NO cultural flatrate system on! It was ONLY $1 million per month, which didn’t care much if was fairly redistributed or not.

    – You seriously need to re-evaluate your position on your suggesting that spam would overwhelm such a system! What nonsense!! Have you totally missed Google? How do you think Google can function? Just as Google knows to disregard spam, they also know to disregard fake Google+ Profiles, they also know to disregard fake Google Music accounts, they also know to disregard fake YouTube views for overlay advertising money redistribution. How do you think the $100s of BIllion advertisers spend on Google advertising wouldn’t be at complete risk if those advertisers couldn’t be confident pageviews were by real people???

    – It is actually a piece of cake to make sure content popularity, content ratings are being measured through reliable verified user accounts!!! It’s a huge piece of cake. But even disregaring that it is a piece of cake to verify real identities of users online. You can ask for the help of companies like Google to help make sure that popularity and quality ratings taken into account when redistributing the money is being done by 99.999% of REAL VERIFIED NON-SPAM USERS!

    – Verifying users is done by looking at activity. Spam activity is instantly detected by a proper anti-spam system. Even anti-spam systems as WordPress and phpbb plugins are easy to find on the Internet. A real user profile has up to years of verifiable REAL activity on the Internet. Google knows EXACTLY which user is real and which is potentially or definitely fake! Many if not most Gmail users have YEARS of daily acvitity being logged on Google, they KNOW IF YOU ARE REAL OR NOT.

    – Verifying users can be done by credit card micro-payment that then has to be verified on users bank account and entered later. Same thing Ebay/Paypal does to verify real users. Go look at Airbnb/Couchsurfing for other ways to verify real users are on the other side.

    7. There, I totally destroyed all of your arguments against the cultural flatrate, now you can rewrite your post and say that the cultural flatrate is the best idea in the world.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Dear Charbax,

      thank you for this lengthy treatise. However, your stated sentiments of disappointment do nothing to convince me of a logical policy position, of course. Neither do liberal uses of caps lock and exclamation marks.

      I think your rebuttal is interesting, but weak in several places. For instance, supporting the porn industry with several billion euros a year is politically impossible, period. It doesn’t matter if I think that young women deserve more money.

      And yes, I definitely discard cultural flatrate because and since the legacy copyright industry will be getting a percentage of the whole system just to administer it.

      But in your rebuttal, you have failed to provide the most basic justification: why this governmental interference would be needed in the first place. See this article for more. The concept fails to live up to the most basic quality control for legislation – that it has to be necessary, effective, and proportionate.


      1. Erik

        My God, are you still here? Pirates, the Pirate Party?

        And you are still discussing these topics as if they were valid in any way? Didn’t you notice that the Swedish supreme court blew the Pirate Bay out of existence and put an end to the nonsense? And that the FBI did a razzia on your friends in Megaupload, fronted by the very trustworthy money launderer Mr. Dotcom, and confiscated all his millions?

        Please acknowledge defeat. The world has moved on and left you behind, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

        And, seriously: “The Pirate Party?” How could you ever believe that such a childish plot, with such a childish name, would work? 🙂

  11. Sharing Licence Library «

    […] Falkvinge, Rick (SE 2011): Cultural flatrate won’t work. Here’s why it won’t work, Falkvinge & Co. on Infopolicy, 23.2.2012 (online). […]

  12. Anonymous

    Ok, as far as I understand it, had a system where each play was equal. Now what would happen if the flat fee of each customer would be divided between the artists he listened to?

    For example, If I pay €10/month, and I listen to 200 minutes of artist 1, 600 minutes of artist 2 and another 200 minutes of artist 3. Now, artist 1 would get €2, artist 2 would get €6 and artist 3 gets €2.

    Another user might only listen to 5 minutes fo artist 4 and nothing else. In this case, all fo the €10 would go to artist 4.

    This approach would be Immune to cheating.

    However, a cultural flatrate may be a bad idea anyway.

  13. Oleksii Kolinko

    Oh, no one will care about pornography. Commercial pornography should be banned. If you mind about this in your blog very less politicians will consider you as a serious politician.
    But not about this.
    Regarding all kind of cheating. With MP3 and online services it was so because it was without systems to protect. If you would be on our site you would think more about that and you could be no so angry about debates on Cultural Flatrate.
    I know that your Pirate Party is against Cultural Flatrate because if the service will be implemented with protection from cheating then it will have possiblity for police and spys to navigate through music, books and videos consumers are using. That can be a problem for such a people who like to listen or watch movies related to drug use. Today police and spys should get access to online stores in order to get this information.
    I am optimistic about this issue and prepearing article on Ukrainian. And if will be successfull will prepear for publishing in Russia on Russian.

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