Some UK politicians have been pushing to get ISPs to play the role of copyright cops
for an unclear reason. It appears they've bought into the misleading and incorrect claim by the music industry that somehow ISPs are responsible
for the record labels own failure
to adapt its business model. So despite claims from some ISPs that wouldn't
sign up for such a plan, and wouldn't
kick users off the internet, a bunch of those UK ISPs are now promising to play the role of copyright cops anyway
-- and this even includes the ISPs who insisted they wouldn't go down this road.
It's unclear why exactly they are agreeing to voluntarily waste their time acting on behalf of an obsolete industry's business model, but the misguided threats from UK politicians probably helped move things along. Either way, this starts things down the incredibly slippery slope of making ISPs responsible for policing the actions of users. For years, most governments have realized what a bad idea this is, but suddenly in many countries that concept is falling away, and the end results will not be positive for the internet -- as plenty of perfectly legitimate activities are about to get blocked in an overzealous effort to prop up a few obsolete business models.
Already there are rumors spreading that there is behind-the-scenes maneuvering for the next big step to occur: making all internet users pay an annual "music tax" fee
. The original article on this agreement has someone from BPI denying that such a tax is under discussion, but some UK politicians seem ready to introduce it anyway -- and folks like Billy Bragg's manager, Peter Jenner, are claiming victory. And even a music person industry admits that this is a slippery slope (though, he thinks it's in the right direction), saying that this is: "a first step, and a very big step, in what we all acknowledge is going to be quite a long process."
The BPI representative backs this up by noting that his goal isn't to take steps towards ending file sharing, but to end it altogether: "There is not an acceptable level of file-sharing. Musicians need to be paid like everyone else." As for the artists who benefit
from unauthorized file sharing? That doesn't seem to occur to the BPI. And, if musicians really need to "be paid like everyone else," how come the rest of us don't get paid for the work we did 50 years ago? How come if everyone else picks a business model that the market rejects, we don't get all the other companies in the value chain and the government to artificially prop up that business model for us? You know, we work pretty hard here at Techdirt to make a living, but apparently "everyone else" just complains that their business model isn't working and has ISPs take care of it for them. Can we now get UK ISPs to send "warning" letters to everyone who reads Techdirt to start telling them they should send us money? That would be a much easier business model.