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UK Consumer Group Calls for Change of Focus on Illegal ISP P2P File Sharing

Posted: 30th Sep, 2009 By: MarkJ
p2pConsumer Focus (CF), a statutory organisation campaigning for a fair deal for consumers in the UK, has called for the debate on illegal broadband file sharing to focus on the reform of the UK copyright licensing system, not on punitive enforcement measures (i.e. customer disconnection from ISPs).

CF claims that, despite the existence of services like Spotify, the UK's copyright licensing system does not support the growth of legal alternatives to illegal P2P file sharing - such as streaming, “all you can eat”, micropayment, advertisement or subscription based models.

Jill Johnstone, director, Consumer Focus, said:

"We need to be talking about solutions, not about slowing down people’s broadband. Most people would happily pay a reasonable price for music they enjoy, but little is being done to take this forward.

Consumers still have limited choice when it comes to online content. There is huge potential for our creative industries to take advantage of the online market, but reform of the copyright licensing system is needed to support this."

The call for reform comes in Consumer Focus’ response to the consultation on illicit peer to peer (P2P) broadband ISP file sharing, which also calls on Government to:
• Reform of the copyright licensing system to support the growth of the legal market online.

• Ensure that consumers’ right to due process is not violated by any ‘graduated response’.

• Not include account suspension in the list of possible technical measures.
It's worth remembering that the final Digital Britain report did raise the importance of providing effective legal alternatives. However almost all of the forward push since then has concerned or focused upon punishment for those "suspected" of involvement with illegal downloading. Two small exceptions have been UK ISPs Sky Broadband and Virgin Media , where work towards alternative legal music services are being finalised.

It took Rights Holders literally years to comprehend the importance of music file downloads, which began with the MP3 generation - years before Apple’s first iPod surfaced. Today’s situation is very much a result of that same failure to embrace new demand and technology, an issue that is also affecting films and games.

Issues such as price, staggered release dates across different countries and the accessibility of content must also be tackled. We don’t all want to visit the cinema to watch a newly released movie, especially when so many people now have perfectly good cinema screens at home. Sadly part of the problem is the age old division between the desire to sustain old media in the face of new and more flexible solutions.
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