Why Must ISPs Pay To Be The Mandatory Copyright Cops Of The Entertainment Industry?

from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept

A bunch of folks have been submitting various versions of the story of how the UK government appears to have — somewhat arbitrarily — decided that copyright holders should pay 75% of the costs of tracking down those accused of file sharing, while ISPs should pay the remaining 25%. It’s all meaningless, of course. The reality is that consumers will pay either way, via higher prices, which will then be used to kick them off the internet. How nice. Of course, even more ridiculous is that the recording industry is still complaining, saying that ISPs should have to pay even more. This is the entitlement mentality of the industry at work. They want everyone else to pay for everything. The artists “pay” via the recouping process. Radio stations need to “pay” to promote their songs. And, now, ISPs should have to “pay” for mandatory efforts to act as the record labels’ copyright cops. The sense of entitlement from the industry is staggering. Along those lines, what’s up with UK communications minister Ed Vaizey, as part of announcing these plans, making the blatantly false claim about “our valuable creative industries, which have already suffered significant losses as a result of people sharing digital content without paying for it.” After all, as the music industry’s own research shows, the industry has been growing. It seems blatantly and intellectually dishonest for Vaizey to claim otherwise.

Filed Under: , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Why Must ISPs Pay To Be The Mandatory Copyright Cops Of The Entertainment Industry?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Paddy Duke (profile) says:

I would love to hear one of these corporate shills we call politicians explain in their own words just exactly how copyright infringement has damaged any of our creative industries.

We have more music and working musicians than ever before. Movies have never made so much money. E-readers are at the root of a surge in (ludicrously overpriced) digital book sales.

We’re in a period of incredible cultural growth and prolificacy, yet our goverments are being tricked into supporting invasive, regressive laws, just to save a few rich and out of date corporations, who only achieved their wealth by royally fucking over the actual artists they repesented for years.

Why can so few people see this?

Dementia (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You misunderstand. The governments aren’t being tricked into this, they are doing it willingly and knowingly. They are simple following orders from the special interests that fill their pockets and campaign coffers. Their idea of representing means representing those who pay them. Who cares about the little people they are supposed to be representing when RIAA and MPAA will give them tons of money?

Paddy Duke (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Call me unrealistic, or just optimistic, but I have to believe that there are at least some politicians who go into the job hoping to do right by the people who elect them.

The framing of the debate, the misdirection, and the outright lies from the big gatekeepers are all designed to fool the politicians and the unfailiar public into believing there actually is a problem that needs to be solved, when in actual fact there isn’t one.

Tim Dickinson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

@Paddy Duke

You’re absolutely right – there are plenty of politicians (the vast majority in fact) that have gone into the job for the right reasons – but problematically very very few of them understand digital issues.

You could see that in the discussion on the DEA in the Commons – there were a handful like Tom Watson that argued intelligently on the subject – but most simply didn’t even understand the terms involved like IP addresses. They all understand the idea that digital industries have become very important to this country – and then just accept the bag of half-truths the lobbyists throw at them because that is often the only information they are presented on the subject.

The only way to solve these issues is to have a digital freedoms lobby group that argues the other side. Not the Pirate Party that is easy to dismiss, but something with support of tech companies and the like who can flash their market caps and show how many jobs and how much tax they are worth to the UK.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Money for nothing

If a corporation can lobby the government to let it continue to legally extract money from all participants in mankind’s cultural exchange and yet provide ever diminishing levels of service in return, then it’s increasing its profits and share price – something it’s legally constrained to do.

So, really it all comes down to corrupt law: The creation of legal entities we call corporations. The creation of legalised extortion rackets (monopolies of copyright & patent). The creation of further laws to force others to police/enforce their rackets and laws to punish any disobedience on the part of the citizenry.

To assume corporations have an entitlement mentality is to buy in to the idea that corporations are human beings who might have a brain into which a feeling of entitlement might manifest. Corporations are best considered immortal alien robots whose predatory Asimov-like ‘laws’ direct them to maximise the extraction of revenue from the human workforce.

The solution is obvious:
1. Dissolve corporations into associations of culpable individuals (with no legal constraint to maximise share price)
2. Abolish all privileges, such as copyright & patent
3. Reform trademark, e.g. change to law against passing off
4. Reform libel laws – end legal concept of defamation

Implementing that solution is of course a bigger problem, with a less than obvious solution.

This predicament was created through an accretion of corruption (lobbied legislation).

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Money for nothing

“directors and officers of a company are bound by fiduciary duties to act in the best interest of the shareholders”

“When a fiduciary duty is imposed, equity requires a stricter standard of behavior than the comparable tortious duty of care at common law. It is said the fiduciary has a duty not to be in a situation where personal interests and fiduciary duty conflict, a duty not to be in a situation where his fiduciary duty conflicts with another fiduciary duty, and a duty not to profit from his fiduciary position without express knowledge and consent. A fiduciary cannot have a conflict of interest.”


This pretty much makes corporations sociopaths. The law says ‘Ignore your petty ethical considerations, the ends of maximising the share price justify any means of achieving it’. Even emptying oil wells into the ocean to bring about stricter regulations to impede upcoming competition is fine, irrespective of incurring trivial pollution penalties (and forget any environmental conscientiousness).

You cannot both have an interest in protecting the environment AND protecting the share price.

The PR benefit of expressing a damn about people’s cultural liberty is a speck of dust compared with exploiting state granted reproduction monopolies – and lobbying for ever greater enforcement until there are so many kids in jail there are none left with any money. But, then considering the example set by fishing industries, they WILL extract revenue until there’s none left and no-one left to earn it. Hence why transitioning to the taxation of the Internet is seen as a more sustainable revenue model (by the state in its favour for publishing corporations).

Similar ‘over-fishing’ issues apply to use of monopolies in drugs (patents) and crops (GM patents).

What mankind fails to learn from history is that he is doomed to repeat it. Check out the history concerning previous cases of monopoly blighted societies. It’s the sort of thing to foment civil war.

Peter says:

Don't feel sorry for the record mafia one bit

The music industries bottom line is more money. Whatever it takes to do that whether it be burning kittens to power the CD presses or putting a fee on all blank cd’s (oh wait). Morals are a mere speed bump on the road to billions for the majority of record companies today. So for them to have a go at the rest of the planet for not playing fair I think is the height of hierocracy. I mean what exactly do these companies do anyway? Its not like there is much to making CD’s these days. One or two sound engineers make the masters and then they get sent to China to be churned out at a few cents each. And considering what the artists get after the labels have deducted all their fees is I am guessing less than 50% you have to wonder why things have been able to carry on the way they have. I think the labels are so desperate to maximise their profits is because they know they have only a few years left before becoming another obsolete stage of the business. A bit like the oil industry and the ever climbing cost of fuel. Anyway, so they feel it is not their job to look after the artist’s work and that the ISP’s should do this for them for nothing. How exactly then do they justify the vast quantities of money extracted by themselves from the poor artists again?

Call me Al says:

Re: Re:

Excellent idea ticklechicken.

I’ve been making a concerted effort the last year or so to move into legal downloading. I try and do it as cheaply as possible but since I’m not a broke student anymore I figure I can afford it.

If they start to make me pay for copyright policing and pay for the content then I’ll have to offset one against the other as I refuse to bear the cost burden of their ridiculous war on infringers.

cc (profile) says:

“It’s all meaningless, of course. The reality is that consumers will pay either way, via higher prices”

That’s true. However, it does make a difference who bears the costs. If the entertainment industry bears the costs, then the price of entertainment goes up. If the ISPs bear the costs, then the price of internet access goes up.

Sp, the products of whoever pays for this will become more expensive, and fewer people will be able to afford them.

Entertainment is a luxury, but internet access is not. By raising internet prices, some people (many of them innocent) may lose their internet connections.

The government consists of retards. Q.E.D.

Hmmph says:


I don’t watch or listen to BBC stuff, I pay my cable supplier & watch TV via their system. But the UK law says I MUST pay the BBC or I am not allowed to watch the TV channels I have bought from the cable supplier.
So it makes perfect sense that our government will back a charge for the entertainment industry to screw me as much as the BBC law does.
This is private business, the government should not have a say or be able to pass laws that enforce payments for non-service.
But then again this is the UK government, & still got their heads up monies arse since broadcasting entertainment began.

We cannot win! – Corruption reigns harder than ever under the guise of anti-theft we will be stolen from – AGAIN!.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: What-about

But the UK law says I MUST pay the BBC or I am not allowed to watch the TV channels I have bought from the cable supplier.

Try watching television in a country that doesn’t have the BBC – or an equivalent.

It is (mostly) rubbish punctuated by frequent advert breaks. Even if you never watch a BBC programme (which I doubt), the existence of the BBC forces the cable channels that you do watch to provide better programmes, with fewer commercials, than they otherwise would.

Also you should ponder on the fact that your cable subscription is almost certainly funding Rupert Murdoch….

WhatAbout says:

Re: Re: What-about

I’m sure, they just don’t produce anything that I like.
I’m not dissin the Beeb but the corny LAW that demands that if I own a TV I must pay money to an organisation that does nothing for me personnally.

A twisted couple of points here:
1) If I buy a TV to just play my PS3 (& not use IPlayer) on I must buy a license, that seem fair?

2) If I am paying to watch a Beeb program on a cable channel which is susidised with adverts & I also have to pay the Beeb & the cable company just where does it end… Me in bankrupcy?.

Honestly I watch very little TV all in all. So it is possible to have a TV & not watch BBC stuff.
Just like it is possible to have internet access but not download any copyrighted or protected material.

I want to pay for what I get not what might be possible.

Glad you questioned me on that one, made me think a bit more about it.

It’s really unfare anyone paying for someone else to enjoy their entertainment, BBC or Internet piracy.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What-about

If I buy a TV to just play my PS3 (& not use IPlayer) on I must buy a license, that seem fair?

No you don’t.
My son avoided paying for a license for a couple of years on exactly that premise – you just have to send them a letter and they will go away.

The same applies if you only watch pre-recorded material – there was a case about 20 years ago that established that principle.

It would also apply if you signed up with a cable provider that didn’t offer any BBC channels.

The fact is that whenever you buy an entertainment package you end up paying a lot for stuff you don’t actually watch.

It is virtually certain that your cable provider is paying a whole shedload of money for stuff you will never watch – and passing the cost on to you. You only notice the BBC part because it is “billed separately”.

Your problem is not the BBC license fee – it is the bundling policy of your cable provider.

Hmmmph says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What-about

I only used the BBC as analogy. As I have stated I’m not dissin them. I’m sure their products are of higher quality than that of cable channels which cost more. And your probably right that they push up quality expectations of other TV stations.

I was just trying to point out that taxing the ISP’s means that I would be suckered by my own government into paying for other peoples entertainment.

Once is enough, twice is bad (Over-priced cable service) but DON’T TOUCH MY BROADBAND.

I will admit to a little white lie – I like BBC 3, for its original & kooky comedies, but thats it.


vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What-about

“It would also apply if you signed up with a cable provider that didn’t offer any BBC channels.”

Please cite the 20 year old case that proves this. If there is such a thing then it’s news to the TV licensing authority, who are quite clear that you need to pay for any live TV, regardless of origin:

“Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to install or use a television receiver to watch or record any television programmes as they’re being shown on television without a valid TV Licence.”

In any case, I would wonder whether a 20 year old case would apply, given the new legislation in effect.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: What-about

“Try watching television in a country that doesn’t have the BBC – or an equivalent.”

I don’t want to watch television, here or in any other country. I don’t even want to own a television. I don’t want to access the BBC web site. I don’t want to listen to the radio. The only thing the BBC does for me is ensure that my money won’t go towards something I want. I get fed up about hearing how great their programming is. If that’s the best that can be done then switch off the broadcast towers because it’s just not worth it any more.

“the existence of the BBC forces the cable channels that you do watch to provide better programmes, with fewer commercials, than they otherwise would.”

On what do you base that theory? To suggest that forcing people to pay for a competing product somehow makes for a more competitive market seems absurd. If it worked then we should apply the principle everywhere and scrap the free market altogether. We could start with a cooker licence to subsidise food production. Eventually we’ll find something that’ll subsidise the cooker too. You’ll have less choice but at least there’ll be plenty of people saying how great that is.

“Also you should ponder on the fact that your cable subscription is almost certainly funding Rupert Murdoch….”

It is a sad irony that the biggest force the BBC has in its favour is rational distrust of the Murdoch family. They might be arseholes, but at least I can choose not to buy their crap. That’s what freedom is all about.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What-about

Perhaps you should STFU and not pay for the licence if you don’t use anything it pays for… or pay it if you do.


“It is a sad irony that the biggest force the BBC has in its favour is rational distrust of the Murdoch family. They might be arseholes, but at least I can choose not to buy their crap. That’s what freedom is all about.”

…and yet you’re here complaining about them and not the ad-funded Fox crap you can’t choose not to support.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What-about

“Perhaps you should STFU and not pay for the licence if you don’t use anything it pays for… or pay it if you do.”

Why would I shut the fuck up? As for not paying the fee, if you’d stop watching the BBC and browse the internet some more then you might know the trouble that causes. Note on your link how they also refer to computers, laptops, mobile phones and DVD/video recorders as grounds for requiring a licence. It’s a criminal offence to not pay the licence fee and all you have to do to be liable is click on an internet link to a live TV stream. So, the option of paying ?145.50 a year or risk a criminal record for browsing the internet. Aside from that, why should I have to forgo non BBC TV just to satisfy your need for me to shut up.

Enough about me, I’ve helped enough families in financial difficulty budget to give a broader picture. The TV licence is regarded as an essential expenditure, thus while a person may not be able to offer more than ?1 per month to their creditors (whom they actually entered into an agreement with), they will still be paying over ?12 per month for a TV licence. Before you say ‘well they should give up their TV’, from all reports and experience I would say that you will be pursued more ferociously for a TV licence you don’t need than for a debt you actually owe.

“…and yet you’re here complaining about them and not the ad-funded Fox crap you can’t choose not to support.”

Can’t choose not to support? Advertisers support Fox, not me.

Please, tell me to shut up again. It validates my position so well.

Hmmmph says:

Re: Re: What-about

Sure they do & I don’t watch them either. But as a subscriber & the fact that they are full of ad’s means I’m not taking money out of anyones pocket as I presume the cable channel has to pay the BBC for the privilage of showing their programs. And guess what I pay the cable company.

So license is a double whammy!, for something I can assure you I do not watch.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What-about

I presume the cable channel has to pay the BBC for the privilage of showing their programs. Maybe they pay something (I’m not sure) but one thing is certain – if there were no license fee then the BBC would charge very much more for their channels – and seeing as they are pretty popular (in spite of your individual preference) it is pretty certain that the cable company still wouldn’t give you a way to opt out.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: What-about

“Are you sure you don’t watch any BBC?”

I watch plenty of BBC but I share the parent’s sentiment and don’t see how it harms the argument. Just because I watch BBC programmes doesn’t mean I wouldn’t give them up in a heartbeat if it meant I had £145.50 extra a year to spend on stuff of my own choosing. If I wanted to contribute to Jeremy Clarkson’s wage that desperately then I’d buy that paper he writes for (coincidentally owned by Murdoch), instead of toilet paper.

Nick Coghlan (profile) says:

Explicitly blame the government

I’ll repost here a comment I made when I saw this news on Ars (I doubt it would have much impact in practice, but it would let the ISPs make a point):

The ISPs should just make sure to charge customers separately for this tax, rather than including it in the base subscription.

Call it the “Government mandated recording industry subsidy” on all invoices, put a little * on all advertised prices with a “*Plus government mandated recording industry subsidy” down in the corner, wait for the complaints to roll in, then point all disgruntled customers at their local MPs.

Concerned says:

SACK: Ed Vaizey

This guy is working for the wrong team here. Doesn’t he see that the UK is on its knees. Public spending cuts everywhere, unemployment sky-rocketing.
Solving these issues on behalf of the people who gave him his power should be his ONLY priority.

Not pushing for laws that only benefit greedy organisations at the expense of the population. A population which will ensure his reign will be far shorter than he reckons… but I presume the payoffs from the entertainment industry will see him through the dark times.

Ed your are an evil money grabbing freak – resign now, and stop treating us like a bunch of dumbasses that can’t see through your agenda.

DirtyScoundrels says:


So the Copyright owners PAY & the communicators of these works PAY & the consumers PAY (even if when they do not consume).

1) Who gets all the money?.
2) What is it they actually do to justify making more out of the works than the hard working artists & studios, & from taxing every other medium than can transmit the intellectual property that they do not own.

I’m baffled, how does this money for nothing industry work so well that it has now got laws to block all contestants.

Oh thats right – they hold all of the money!.
Now MP’s in the UK are rumbled on their expenses, they have found a new niche to milk.

REVOLUTION – its a coming

ZD (profile) says:

What is funny about this situation is that a large portion of it’s existencce is due to the economy pomoting 2-class system, a wealthy class and poverty class. The people downloading books and movies and music are made up of the dwindling middle class that has been buying the products all along and those who were too poo to have ever bought the poduct anyway.

So then where is the loss? Why the outrage over people using your product? You didn’t lose a sale but you gained a fan.

For the past 30 to 40 years the middleclass has been shrinking and a lot of it has to do with corporations starving off innovation and progression, creating a world where if you want to make any money, you have to work for a giant corporate entity that has no concern for you or your well-being. But what’s the alternative? You can always quit to work for another corporation or try your luck at a local store but then you are competing with those corporations that have endless supplies of cash to ensure that you don’t gain marketshare as a small local store.

So instead your stuck in a corporate world that has consistently refused to adequately increase wages while at the same time, driving up inflation with their products leaving you, the employee and consumer in a hopeless situation. You may make enough to buy a decent number of entertainment products: movie tickets, blu-rays, itunes songs, etc. You also might be making too little and can barely pay your bills as it is so in reaching for some form of entertainment, you start downloading songs, movies, books, none of which you could have paid for based on your limited income. Both of these people are patrons to the same products but only one of which could have ever created a possible sale for the media company. Downloading content is no different than if these two people knew eachother, and one lent the other a book or a movie; sharing is taking place, not a loss of sale.

It’s unfortunate that the same corporations driving this fight against sharing, are some of the same companies that refuse to properly pay employees.

I’ve yet to understand why capitalism gets so much praise…

Paddy Duke (profile) says:

The Aftermath

According to the UK governement’s own figures, once the ISP pass on the costs, up to 40,000 households will no longer be able to afford a broadband connection.

Pen Rights Group | Tens of thousands could be priced out of broadband after Government announcement on file sharing code

I’m sure they’ll all be flocking to the record stores after that.

David Sanger (profile) says:

Great Idea

I think this is a great idea. I am a professional stock photographer and make my living from licensing images, plus some writing.

This means that the British ISPs will scan every photograph uploaded to their servers, plus all illustrations, designs and text quotations and snippets, compare the usage with the terms and conditions of any outstanding licenses or authorized uses, evaluate for fair use and derivative usages, determine what content is in the public domain, resolve jurisdictional issues, and then if necessary either bill the user and send me the money, or insist that the content be removed.

Wait. You mean this only applies to Hollywood films and recordings from the major music labels?

Oh darn, looks like it is not such a good idea after all

Damian (profile) says:

Just to clarify on the whole TV Licence thing

It is like this in Ireland, at least, and seeing as how so many Irish laws came from Britain, I can reasonable assume they’re the same.
In Ireland, if your TV is equipped with a TV receiver i.e. input connectors (S-video, Antenna, Component, Composite, HDMI etc.), then you must pay a licence fee (goes to RTE and funding for independent programming). There is one fee for a household, so you could have four TV’s and only pay about a hundred odd quid (I forget the exact number).
Myself, I have two screens at the moment. One is a 23-inch computer monitor, connected with DVI, the other unused connector is standard VGA. My other screen is a standard TV, a 19 inch 1080i, with Antenna, AV and HDMI, connected to my computer as a secondary display via HDMI. I do not pay for any type of cable service or sattelite or any other means of TV programming. I have no means of watching broadcasts, at all, save from my computer’s hard drive (and all my video files come from sources other than the national broadcaster, in this case, RTE, which I refuse to watch). And yet, the law says I must still pay the licence fee, even though I have no way of receiving programming at all

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Just to clarify on the whole TV Licence thing

“And yet, the law says I must still pay the licence fee, even though I have no way of receiving programming at all”

By all reports and experience, in the UK you’ll be chased more ferociously for a licence for a TV you don’t have than you will for a debt you actually owe. Especially if you’re in financial difficulty because legitimate creditors have to give way for essential expenditure like the TV licence.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...