Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Six Million Ways to Buy: The Music Industry Shows Bad Business Sense by Threatening Downloaders, Writes Becky Hogge

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Six Million Ways to Buy: The Music Industry Shows Bad Business Sense by Threatening Downloaders, Writes Becky Hogge

Article excerpt

Are you expecting a nasty letter from your internet service provider this summer? If you are one of the alleged six million illicit file-sharers in the UK, you should be. Hundreds of thousands of letters will be sent out by the UK's six major ISPs in the next three months as part of a "voluntary" agreement, strong-armed by the government, between ISPs and rights holders.

This "education" scheme is the beginning of a strategy to curb online file-sharing, with technical measures including filtering and traffic shaping--even mandatory disconnection of repeat offenders-on the horizon after parliament gets back from the summer recess.

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Industry says that online piracy costs it profits. But who is really out to get something for nothing here? On the face of it, the answer is the illicit file-sharers. It is they, after all, who end up with the hundreds of tracks on their iPods without once needing to put their hands in their pockets. But look at the situation a different way. Where other sectors that have been challenged by the internet--the news media, for example-have adapted their business models to suit the digital age, the record industry has, instead, gone cap in hand to the government, asking for the clock to be turned back, and for the nasty digital world to somehow be magicked away.

The sad thing is that the government appears to have listened. What's worse is that, for all it tries, any efforts it makes to curb illicit file-sharing through legislative means are likely to be unacceptably draconian, or hopelessly ineffectual, or both. …

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