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UK Royalty Group Wants Piracy “Cap and Trade” ISP Levy

UK Royalty Group Wants Piracy “Cap and Trade” ISP Levy

PRS for Music proposes that ISPs be charged a “fee for the transmission of unlicensed media on their networks” and that the fee would be “reduced in line with reductions in the volume of unlicensed media transmitted.”

In a new paper titled “Moving Digital Britain Forward, Without Leaving Creative Britain Behind,” PRS for Music, the UK’s leading royalty collection society, is calling for the introduction of a levy on broadband providers based on the amount of pirated music they “allow” to travel across their networks.

It warns that as ISPs install “fatter and fatter pipes” the problem of illegal P2P will worsen and broaden the constituency of content industries affected. It wants to latch onto the fact that the recently enacted Digital Economy Act requires that the country’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) establish a methodology for estimating the level of illegal file-sharing in order to assess the effectiveness of the Act’s measures.

“The Digital Economy Act states this problem has to be measured and measurable problems can be priced,” says the group’s chief economist, Will Page. “The price would be a fine which he says could be paid to either the state or directly to rights holders, and would would rise and fall based on the level of piracy on an ISP’s network.”

He compares this “negative spill over” approach to the “cap and trade” market for carbon emissions.

“It would be up to operators whether and how they wish to affect the transmission of unlicensed media on their networks,” reads the paper. “This has the potential to produce an internal market of different ISP networks adopting different routes to getting their respective pollution indexes down ” allowing the cost saving to be passed on to the consumer.”

Alternatively, it also proposes a “positive spillover” approach that would require ISPs to obtain a blanket license like the kind currently issued to broadcasters of all types that would allow them to transmit copyrighted material on their networks in return for a fee.

“Network operators would pay such a fee, and determine for themselves how best to capture the raw value of media on networks,” it says. “A reduction of such fees might occur as a result of changes in the level of media transmitted that has been directly licensed from rights holders.”

It even encourages people to think of ISPs as “venues,” comparing them to Parisian restaurants from the 1850’s, in order to offer a “unifying theme” so that different stakeholders will no no longer see the “problem (and therefore the solution) quite differently.”

It’s quite a stretch to think of ISPs as venues, but I must say I’m amazed by PRS for Music’s brazen attempt to latch onto an otherwise innocuous detail of the DEA for the purpose of creating such an extraordinary new content tax regime. Even if you didn’t illegally share copyrighted material online you would still be subject to the tax in the form of a monthly levy issued by your ISP.

That’s hardly fair, especially when Page was the one who published a study for PRS for Music last year claiming that total music industry revenues are up 4.7% since 2007. Squeezing more money from consumers to fund an industry that is apparently not suffering from the dire economic woes it would have you believe is in poor taste, even for a royalty collection society.

There’s also the question of how large the levy would be, and whether or not it would have the intended neutralizing effect on revenue losses from piracy. And won’t customers just switch to an ISP with a cheaper levy?

Stay tuned.

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Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus
The Music Void
The Music Void

UK royalties collector PRS For Music has resurrected the idea ISPs should pay for copyrighted content that their networks transfer without authorisation. “With the introduction of the Digital Economy Act, the harm caused by the problem of piracy has to be measured, and if a problem can be measured it can be priced”

LordOfRuin
LordOfRuin

This must be similar to how better and better libraries are killing book shops. If this goes through, you'll be charged twice for buying a CD, just in case you play it to other people in your home while they visit.Dumb ass distribution companies are going to have to work out that their business of distributing hard to find, low availability, physical products has ended. Either evolve or Fek off, because we the punters, have the technology to distribute the vast range of easy to find digital products ourselves.

bonkers
bonkers

Actually, I'm with the PRS on this one. I'm hoping they'll help me with my claim against HM Gov. plc, who constructed and licence the use of the road outside my house, which some pondlife used to drive along in his van and load my lawnmower in before fucking off for parts unknown. Obviously, we can't now trace the illegal vehicular use, but he definitely used the road to get here, and if they tracked the bastard down and prevented him using the roads he couldn't have nicked me mower. Stands to fuckin' reason, then, they provided the infrastructure for him to get his ill-gotten gains, so they should pay up.I've also got a secondary plan in case, as seems likely, HM Gov declares itself bankrupt when they lose this case and have to pay me eleventy billion pounds (no, I know my lawnmower isn't worth that much, but the PRS seem to have some precedent where they can ask for heaps more than they could potentially have lost). See, I plan to include my next-door neighbour as co-defendant, coz the light-fingered gutter-dweller popped in there first and then came over the fence, straight through my prize rhodedendrons too. If my neighbour had stopped him (and please don't get sidetracked into some lame argument about how my neighbour could possibly have known that someone was traipsing through his garden, because, let's be honest, working that out is HIS problem not mine), my trusty Alco lawnmower would still be occupying pride of place in my shed.For some bizarre reason, the local plod don't seem to think I have a case here, which is obviously bollocks because its exactly the same argument the PRS have here, innit? And my case should be really good, because there's no fucking question that half-inching my lawnmower was illegal, whereas nodoby's even sure if file-sharing is illegal!

Stefan
Stefan

For calling themselves a "creative industry" they show surprisingly little creativity. I find it strange that they have not understood that the fundamental conditions for doing business with information have changed. Not so surprising is that their revenues haven't declined, that result is in line with the scientific reports that states that "pirates" is their largest customer base.

RevK
RevK

What a stupid idea!As an ISP, if we were ever fined for infringing traffic traversing our network, we would start charging them for the non-infringing traffic. After all media companies sell media over the internet and use my network for free. If I have to start metering infringing traffic I'll start metering the legitimate traffic as well, and send them a bill, or else block their networks from access to my users.

Anon I am
Anon I am

What next, are they going to demand a fee from local governments for providing roads that can transport stolen goods?Are they going to demand a fee from phone companies because it can transport sound and could be used to copy songs from one person to another?Are they going to demand a fee from the postal service because of the possibility pirates can send pirated goods through the mail?Exactly, those three examples sound just as stupid.

tomwgf
tomwgf

I think they need to prove that downloading is actually harming the record industry first. The US U.S. Government Accountability Office did a report recently and said that the stats used by the music groups were wrong and that it (the GAO) could not find any proof that pirating was damaging any industry and that in fact there seems to be a positive result from it. This ties in with other studies (not funded by the music industry) that show that people who download music are music fans and actually buy between 4 and 8 times more music than non-piraters. Maybe the 12% drop in physical sales last year (along with a 50% rise in digital sales to 50% of all music sales) has more to do with, hmmmm, recession? video game competition? the fact that mp3 players, ipods iphones notebooks etc don't have cd drives anymore? bad music??? or millions of bands and musicians (like me) who make £50 a year selling our own music on itunes, websites ( and giving it away).

Lee Collier
Lee Collier

It's really simple - if ISPs start to pay in order to 'transmit' 'pirated' content, then that means that the content has been paid for and not pirated. If I'm a customer of an ISP that pays for this proposed license then I should be able to download and upload music as I see fit. I think the problem here is that PRS would love to double-dip, take this fee and still prosecute/fine the ISP customers for exchanging music.

Jason Clifford
Jason Clifford

I run a UK ISP. If they are willing to pay me the same proportion of their gross turnover as they are asking from mine I will be willing to consider their proposal.ISPs don't engage in or encourage copyright violation. We are in fact now subject to the risk of massive additional costs under the Digital Economy Act to protect the revenue of others (the big media companies) with no benefit whatsoever to ourselves.If there is to be any kind of levy on anyone for this it should be a tax on those benefiting from such additional copyright "protection" as the D.E.A. affords to reflect the significant cost to government of that "protection".

Alsee
Alsee

I *almost* support such a system, but only because I think it would be beneficial if all internet communications were routinely encrypted. This proposal would be extremely effective in getting users and ISPs on board with encrypting everything.

Lee Roy
Lee Roy

ISPs are protected by the safe habour provision specifically set out in the DMCA and as such should be considered neutral carriers.The PRS can fuck right off.

Anon
Anon

I don't know about in the UK, but in the US, ISPs are classified as common carriers, which means that they can't be held liable for what their customers transmit over their networks as long as they don't interfere with any of that traffic. The instant an ISP starts to police its own network, they lose this protection.Frankly, this is the only way to go. ISPs should be "dumb pipes" that transmit anything without prejudice, since it's basically not possible to forbid the transmission of certain strings of ones and zeros.

D.AN
D.AN

Indeed, this levy proposal is purely brazen."[...] a levy on broadband providers based on the amount of pirated music they “allow” to travel across their networks."ISPs are not suppose to 'disallow' anything going through their networks. Despite this fact, the pro-copyright side arrogantly remains oblivious to it."It warns that as ISPs install “fatter and fatter pipes” the problem of illegal P2P will worsen and broaden the constituency of content industries affected."Of course, it is without merit, because speed is irrelevant to "the problem of [not] illegal P2P"."[...] “The Digital Economy Act states this problem has to be measured and measurable problems can be priced,” says the group’s chief economist, Will Page. “The price would be a fine which he says could be paid to either the state or directly to rights holders, and [would] rise and fall based on the level of piracy on an ISP’s network.”"The fact is that such measurement is impractical if even possible. The hypothetical methodology will no doubtingly be similar to anti-virus scanners, which are quite slow and prone to raising false positives."He compares this “negative spill over” approach to the “cap and trade” market for carbon emissions."That comparison is utterly nonsense. Either there are carbon emissions or none at all. Data streams are incorporeal, and their meanings must be determined through stages of computations. Carbon emissions are scientifically quantifiable matter, but size of particular data is meaningless, let alone irrelevant."“It would be up to operators whether and how they wish to affect the transmission of unlicensed media on their networks,” reads the paper. “This has the potential to produce an internal market of different ISP networks adopting different routes to getting their respective pollution indexes down – allowing the cost saving to be passed on to the consumer.”"All wrong: a contemptuous mockery of logic and reasoning, let alone weak economic foresight."Alternatively, it also proposes a “positive spillover” approach that would require ISPs to obtain a blanket license like the kind currently issued to broadcasters of all types that would allow them to transmit copyrighted material on their networks in return for a fee."ISPs are not broadcasters. The end.“Network operators would pay such a fee, and determine for themselves how best to capture the raw value of media on networks,” it says. “A reduction of such fees might occur as a result of changes in the level of media transmitted that has been directly licensed from rights holders.”At this point that is merely just only baseless speculation."It even encourages people to think of ISPs as “venues,” comparing them to Parisian restaurants from the 1850′s, in order to offer a “unifying theme” so that different stakeholders will no no longer see the “problem (and therefore the solution) quite differently.”"As Jared had written, this is quite a stretch, although its credibility cannot go any lower.

D.AN
D.AN

"[...] I have a case here, which is [...] exactly the same argument the PRS have here...."So it's just as stupid.

annoyed
annoyed

Well i for one do not really listen to much music anymore, however, all the radio stations are on my satellite bill even though i dont listen to them i can remove them. . . there is a levy on cd media here in Canada for the music industry even though i don't burn music but only backup my business data i still have to pay it.1. i have purchased 8 tracks 2. i have purchased cassette tapes 3. i have purchased vinyl 4. i have purchased music cd'sI have draws full of all kinds of music that i have already purchased multiple times over my life time and frankly i don't feel like paying anymore.So if they introduce things like this even though i am not downloading or copying i WILLa. start to pirate as i am paying for it. b. build the capability into all software i create from now on to allow others that are paying to pirate an extremely easy way to pirate.So in conclusion i hope it is passed and catches on throughout the world as pirating music will in fact be seen as LEGAL by all of those that have to pay the levy's.Just my 2cents . .

Jared Moya
Jared Moya

It's because ISPs here are protected by the DMCA. The UK's DEA requires as soon as next year that technical solutions like throttling or disconnection will be imposed.

bonkers
bonkers

Errrr..... your irony filter is broken :)

D.AN
D.AN

"[...] paraphrased your comment [and followed-up] in too few words [...]"

D.AN
D.AN

Actually, I am quite aware that your comment is a mockery of this proposal. I was trying to be subtle at insulting PRS further, but I suppose I erred when I paraphrased your comment in too few words, so my comment seemed to target yours.



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