Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 12/08/2002One of my very evil pals -- you know, the sort that wilfully snatch the bread from the mouths of record producers and film executives -- reports that more and more ISPs are disconnecting users who trade MP3s. "I don't know what mine thinks of it," said pal muttered, "but my line's been solid in both directions for two weeks now.

Monday 12/08/2002
One of my very evil pals -- you know, the sort that wilfully snatch the bread from the mouths of record producers and film executives -- reports that more and more ISPs are disconnecting users who trade MP3s. "I don't know what mine thinks of it," said pal muttered, "but my line's been solid in both directions for two weeks now." It's a dilemma. The ISPs know full well that MP3s and DIVX movies are one of the biggest attractions to get people onto broadband, and telling users not to do it will be as popular as a pub where drunkenness is not tolerated. On the other hand, it is illegal and the various industry associations are just a short step away from demanding the death penalty for anyone found in possession of a sound or video file longer than three seconds in length. What should the ISPs do? I think the answer's clear enough. A modest licence fee to the media companies that kicks in once the broadband suppliers become profitable will cover the true cost to them of the unsold CDs and DVDs (as has been pointed out, if the losses were anything like as big as the companies claimed, they'd have enormous holes in their balance sheets. They don't.). That way, it can all be legal and above board, and the ISPs can carry on selling a service the punters dearly want. Too simple to be attractive, of course.

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