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Study Supports Imposition of Illegal File-Sharing Broadband Tax

Posted: 11th May, 2009 By: MarkJ
The Institute of European Media Law (EML) has found that a levy (tax) on broadband Internet usage, which would essentially support the legalisation of illegal file-sharing (P2P) downloads, does conform to European copyright law; though it would require some changes.

The news comes shortly after the European Parliament chose to retain amendment 46 (138) of the new Telecoms Package (original news), which makes it very difficult for an ISP to disconnect users suspected of involvement with illegal downloading. Typically an alternative solution is needed.

The Intellectual Property Watch website states that two models are emerging: a free-market approach based on private blanket licences and voluntary subscriptions, and a legal licence approach based on exceptions in copyright law and mandatory levies (above).

It certainly seems like a simple enough approach but cracks quickly show up when you dig deeper. For example, the majority of broadband Internet users in the UK are law abiding and unlikely to be pleased with having to pay extra for the misdeeds of others.

Then there's the matter of how you gauge fair distribution of the revenue between rights holders. Don't forget, we're not just talking about music here, it's movies and software too. If you think about it, such a solution could risk making the situation worse unless literally every copyright holder in the world is included. That's a mammoth task, to say the least.

Finally you have the matter of how much to charge (tax) broadband users. There are different proposals on this, although one suggestion is that such a levy would be held against all communication services, not just broadband/Internet connections.

We doubt that £1 extra per year would do it, as some have hinted, so you'd probably be talking more in the range of £1 to £2 extra per month, which is a lot if you're on a low income. This is pure speculation of course, but it definitely wouldn't be popular.
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