UK music industry shows divided opinions on cutting off p2p users

By EDRi · September 23, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Britische Musikindustrie ist bei der Verbindungstrennung für p2p-Users geteilter Meinung |]

UK Secretary of State Lord Mandelson’s proposal to use technical measures to
cut off connections of illegal file-sharers met different reactions within
UK music industry.

A coalition including the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), the British
Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and the Music
Producers Guild (MPG) has recently expressed its opinion that the
suspension of connections of allegedly illegal file-sharers was a “grossly
disproportionate” measure. Besides the fact that the costs necessary for the
implementing of technical measures to cut off online connections are much
too high as compared to the supposed benefits, the members of the coalition
also stated they did not want to punish their fans.

While believing that copyright is essential for the protection of songs
writers and artists, the members of the coalition “have serious reservations
about the content and scope of the proposed legislation outlined in the
consultation on P2P file-sharing. Processes of monitoring, notification and
sanction are not conducive to achieving a vibrant, functional, fair and
competitive market for music.”

FAC brings as argument that, as a recent research made by MusicAlly shows,
the decreasing in the CD sales should not be solely blamed on illegal online
filesharing and that “it is dangerous to view the downloading of music as
the direct online equivalent of CD sales”. The coalition believes that what
the proposals lack is a differenciation between downloading and online
sharing music by fans on a non-commercial basis and those who do it for
financial gains or advantages. “This second group of ‘commercial’ P2P
users and facilitators should be pursued with the full force of the law as
is the case with illegal CD plants in the offline world. Ordinary music fans
and consumers should not be criminalised because of the failings of a legacy
sector of business to adapt sufficiently fast to new technological

FAC expressed the opinion that the music industry should adapt to the
digital age and create new business models. “As creators’ representatives we
are willing to be partners with government in exploring and navigating the
opportunities and challenges brought by digital technologies. What we will
not be a party to is any system that alienates our members’ existing
audience and potential new audiences.”

Actually, on 25 August 2009, Mandelson’s Department for Business said that
following the responses to the consultation on Digital Britain proposals,
the introducing of the threat of disconnection from the Internet should be
reconsidered. “Since the issue of the consultation some stakeholders have
argued strongly that none of those technical measures (short of suspension)
is powerful enough to have a significant deterrent effect on infringing
behaviour,” it said.

UK Music, the body representing a large part of the music industry
made a statement on 16 September clarifying its position on file-sharing in
which it was forced to drop any mention of cutting off Internet connections
in order to ensure unity across the industry. Although FAC is not a member
of UK Music, BASCA, which made common front with FAC, is.

“UK Music would like to clarify that all our members remain committed to
supporting proposals that will benefit the future growth and sustainability
of our commercial music industry. We believe that Government intervention is
extremely welcome and that, subject to assessment, Ofcom should be granted
appropriate and proportionate powers as directed by the Secretary of State.
The purpose of these powers is to encourage users of unlicensed P2P networks
towards existing and future digital music services,” says the statement
making no mention to any specific enforcement measures.

A final view of the industry will probably be submitted after the
consultation process closes on 29 September.

Cracks show in music industry over P2P enforcement (16.09.2009)

UK Music statement on Government’s proposed P2P file-sharing legislation
(15.09.2009) revives net cut-off threat for illegal downloaders (25.08.2009)

Don’t punish our fans, say UK musicians (16.09.2009)

Joint Statement on P2P Legislation (10.09.1009)

Music industry ready for climbdown on internet piracy demands (16.09.2009)

EDRI-gram: UK: p2p three strikes clamp down despite civil liberties concerns