Famous Last Words: A Business Proposal -- WIPCO
The ASCAP Model
Back in 1914, the American Society of Composers, Artists and Publishers (ASCAP) devised a system that enables composers and lyricists to collect a small royalty every time a song is performed in public—on radio and TV, in concerts, malls, nightclubs, etc.
Why should songwriters get money when their work is used while the creators and publishers of non-musical intellectual property get nothing—or just a few bucks from researchers too stupid or lazy to go to the source?
The WIPCO Model
I propose the formation of the Web Intellectual Property Collection Organization (WIPCO)—a nonprofit association made up of authors and publishers whose material is available on the Internet and who feel they deserve to be paid in perpetuity for their work just as their colleagues in the music industry are. The ASCAP scenario is a nightmare compared to WIPCO. Imagine trying to collect a royalty for every song played by 11,500 commercial radio stations; 11,000 cable systems; 2,300 colleges and universities; 1,000 symphony orchestras; 5,700 concert presenters; 2,000 non-commercial broadcasters as well as the TV networks; and then getting that royalty to the copyright owner. In that sense, ASCAP is amazing!
In terms of WIPCO, everything is electronic and trackable. Royalties instantly can be collected and distributed. What is required is for publishers to join the organization, register the work and the royalty deal. For the researcher or newspaper reader, WIPCO would work like E-ZPass, a system that allows motorists to go through tolls without paying cash each time. When you sign up for E-ZPass, you give a credit card account number and the account is charged, say, $100. Every time you use a bridge, tunnel or toll road, the toll is deducted from your account. When the account gets low, E-ZPass automatically charges another $100. Same thing with WIPCO; it would take 20 percent of all royalties collected for expenses.