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Detica Opposes Tough Anti-Piracy Legislation against UK ISPs
By: MarkJ - 12 November, 2008 (1:50 PM)

Detica, a business and technology consultancy, has urged the UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) to shift the focus of its consultation process away from enforcement when considering legislative options for addressing illicit peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing.

Instead Detica has called for stronger collaboration between ISPs and the entertainment industry, with the aim of making it easier for consumers to download music and films legally whilst also providing ‘fair trade’ for artists:

Andy Frost, Director of Media at Detica, says: “While we commend BERR’s focus on upholding copyright, we believe the practicalities of enforcement will prove too costly and time-consuming for the ISPs to administer. The best solution will be one that meets the needs of the broader community of artists, consumers and labels — and the ISPs that bind them — and not one that fixates on the labels and the hardcore criminal minority that threatens them.

The spirit of the BERR consultation document appears to be overly focused on protecting the interests of record labels who own the copyright material and are being threatened by an explosion in unlicensed P2P file sharing.

Of course, labels have a legitimate interest in seeing the authorities resolve this issue, but the reality is that the digital marketplace is very complex. Any solution will need to encapsulate the needs of other stakeholders too, especially artists and consumers who are not necessarily able to demonstrate such a united front to the Government.

We can now deploy proven, scaleable intelligence technology within an ISP’s network to enable them to deliver exciting new business models such as a ‘per track’ download fee or an ‘all in’ monthly subscription service. Ultimately, this approach could see the spectre of illegal downloading disappear altogether since users will be charged automatically — and fairly — for any files they download or share.

Detica is essentially supporting the somewhat slow but existing movement towards a voluntary framework, in which ISPs and the entertainment industry work together to warn and prevent customers from downloading illegal content.

However we're less sure about the music subscription model, which is already been pursued by larger providers; if not handled correctly it could run the risk of becoming a highly anti-competitive force next to existing online music stores (e.g. iTunes) and subscription services.

Existing services might find it difficult to compete with alternatives offered at the point of connection from ISPs. UK Music recently hinted that some form of finalised agreement with providers to tackle piracy was getting closer (here).


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