Recently, as the BPI was arguing yet again that ISPs were exaggerating how much it would cost to implement a three strikes type regime in the UK (which would be required under Peter Mandelson's Digital Economy Bill, aka DEB), we wondered if BPI would be willing to foot the bill
, since it's so sure that it'll be cheap. After all, since the whole law is designed to prop up BPI's own business model, it seems to only make sense that BPI should be the one paying for it, right?
Turns out that we're not the only ones to think so. In a recent post about the DEB, Jeremy Silver (who I had the pleasure of meeting at Midem) points out that BPI is in the troubling position of trying not to make it sound so cheap
that it's expected to pick up the bill, while still arguing that it's not so burdensome for ISPs to pick up the bill. But, various proposals actually are
suggesting that BPI should pay the cost:
The Digital Economy Bill that is wending its glacial way through the UK parliament has produced an interesting row between the BPI (representing the interests of the major record labels) and the ISPs, telco's and mobile network operators. They are arguing over who should pay how much to fund remedial measures to clamp down on illegal file-sharing. The BPI is in a tough place since the cheaper they argue the cost will be, the more the ISPs respond by saying "well then you can pay for it." Minister Stephen Timms recently suggested the split should be 75/25 (with the BPI paying the greater amount).
Honestly, I fail to see why BPI shouldn't have to pay 100% of the cost (or, perhaps in conjunction with other copyright industry organizations) if such a plan goes through.
Silver recognizes the bigger issue of course, which is that almost no one actually thinks that a three strikes plan "will make a blind bit of difference," and that this whole game is really about rights holders "wasting their money by trying to control file-sharing." On that we agree. However, I have to disagree with his suggestion that the answer is a collective licensing regime, because I think that introduces way too many questions
where it's not needed. A collective licensing scheme puts yet another bureaucracy in the middle, just for the music industry (well, not for long, because then suddenly everyone else wants one too: the movie industry, the software industry, the video game industry, the newspaper industry, etc. -- and why should it stop there, new industries will jump on board too: don't we need a collective license for people who view blogs too?). As it stands, I just think that we're finally seeing free market business models that are working
, and it's way too early to jump in and distort the market with a collective licensing scheme.