The German Green party has defended the idea of a "culture flat rate" to pay for a legalization of file sharing, according to a report from heise.de. Germany's Greens have been proposing collective licensing in combination with the legalization of non-commercial file sharing for a while, and party officials recently came out to defend the idea against critics from other parties as well as industry associations.

Party board member Malte Spitz told heise.de that the actual fee to cover file sharing and many other aspects of the proposal still has to be determined. He also clarified a few essential ideas of the party's proposal: The Green part doesn't believe that such a culture fee should be rolled into the TV access fees that everyone in Germany has to pay. Instead, the money should just go to ISPs, which already have a billing relationship with Internet users.

Spitz also said that users probably would have to pay different amounts, depending on the speed of their Internet connection. A cost-free access to media via P2P for people below a certain income level is currently being discussed, and the same goes for the question whether certain forms of art should receive more money from the collective licensing pool than others - a practice that's common amongst some performing rights organizations, which tend to pay classical and jazz musicians more than pop musicians.

The German Greens want to establish this type of collective licensing through changes to the country's copyright. That's a fundamentally different approach than the one taken by most U.S. collective licensing advocates, who tend to prefer more or less voluntary approaches based on licensing agreements between rights holders and ISPs or other intermediaries.

We'll have to wait and see which approach will be more successful in the end. A first test of the popularity of the model proposed by the Green part could be the country's federal election at the end of September.

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