Music labels want ISPs to pay extra for illegal filesharers
Thursday July 13, 2006
Britain’s independent music labels say they want internet service providers to pay for the illegal filesharing that happens on their networks.
The announcement, made by a broad alliance of indie music organisations, comes after recent attempts to pressurise internet companies over the actions of their users.
Announcing proposals for changes in copyright law, officials said they would like to see ISPs charged extra to make up for the actions of customers who download illegally.
“We really need to introduce additional rights - and create relationships with those currently profiting at our expense,” said Alison Wenham of the Association of Independent Music, which led the discussions.
The group said ISPs and other companies act as “intermediaries” in the process of filesharing, but have gained business value from promoting music services in the knowledge that many customers would download illegally.
Ms Wenham dismissed claims that internet companies already pay their full dues to artists and labels via the legal services they run, and rejected the idea that ISPs could not afford to pay for the bad behaviour of some customers.
“If they are working on slender margins then they should try working on none at all, which is where we are,” she said.
The proposed rights system - which has the working title of the Universal Recognition Right - could also impact on mobile phone companies and communication technologies like Bluetooth, which can be used to send music tracks from one handset to another.
Officials rejected suggestions that universal recognition would amount to a digital levy, but admitted that current methods of measuring internet traffic were currently too crude.
Service providers, meanwhile, said they should not be punished for the actions of users who are not under their control.
“We do not support abuses of copyright and intellectual property theft,” said a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association.
“ISPs bear no liability for illegal filesharing as the content is not hosted on their servers. Although such files may be transmitted across an ISP’s network, they are mere conduits of information.”
Earlier this week the British Phonographic Industry lobbied two internet providers to shut down the accounts of customers it said were among the country’s biggest filesharers.
One of the ISPs in question, Tiscali, said it had not been presented with enough evidence.