A recent article at Ars Technica alerted me to the news that songwriters want to get paid a license fee for 30 second previews.  Since even the smallest sample requires a license this makes legal sense.  However there would seem to be a fair use argument as the preview could be considered not commercial (don’t get me started on why that shouldn’t be part of the standard but it is) and presumably leads to increased sales (thus not hurting the would be licensor.)

Since the preview should lead to increased sales, should songwriters be getting paid a license fee?  It seems to me that Amazon, Apple, and whoever else is offering 30 second previews should call songwriters’ bluffs here and pull all of the previews.  My assumption is that music sales would go down as people would only buy songs they already know they want and would be less likely to be extra songs on a whim.  Assuming this is correct the decrease in music sales would pressure the songwriters to give up on their license demands for previews.  Additionally record companies would supply pressure also as they would be losing money as well.

The songwriters demands appear to me to be a poorly thought out method of trying to increase their license for paid music downloads without renegotiating the license agreement.

Of course my whole theory could be rendered moot if people just find other (less legal) ways to preview songs (and continue to buy the same amount of music)

P.S. I found a great cartoon but don’t have $10 for the license fee. Check it out here