A trade group representing the music industry in the United Kingdom wants internet service providers in the region to pay a fee to combat piracy. The group, PRS for Music, represents around 65,000 songwriters and publishers and is also comprised of another group - the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society.
The group proposes that ISPs either combat unlicensed media files on their networks or pay a fee to blanket license copyrighted material and offer it to its users. In other words, copyright enforcement becomes the job of ISPs. The organization also suggests an alternative where ISPs could be charged for "blanket licenses" so that they can "determine for themselves how best to capture the raw value of media on networks."
"Operators would face a fee for the transmission of unlicensed media on their networks though that fee would be reduced in line with reductions in the volume of unlicensed media transmitted," according to the proposal from PRS for Music.
Meanwhile, the Internet Services Providers' Association UK, a trade group that represents about 200 companies, said that it strongly opposes the ideas put forth by PRS For Music. Instead the group would prefer a "market-based approach, reforming "the licensing framework so that legal content can be distributed online to consumers in a way that they are demanding."
"We reject the idea that ISPs should have to pay a fee for levels of copyright infringement that may occur on their networks," the group told PC world in an e-mail statement.
Copyright infringement in the U.K. has been getting a lot of attention lately; politicians in the country recently passed the Digital Economy Act, which assigns new responsibilities to communications regulator Ofcom. Ofcom is obligated to create a "code of practice for ISPs aimed at reducing online copyright infringement." Ofcom has already drafted and published a plan and is open to public comments through July 30. The draft includes guidelines for ISPs to limit or cut off Internet access for users accused of illegally sharing files without copyright holder permission.
But PRS For Music faces another hurdle in its plan, which it notes in its proposal: "safe harbor" legislation in the U.S. and Europe:
"In the United States and Europe, the ISP is not necessarily liable for the infringement of rights by their customers because of the safe harbors granted through e-commerce legislation," it said.
PRS for Music noted in its paper that it would be necessary to revisit these safe harbor rules so that rights holders could license ISPs content for file sharing on their networks.
Source: PC World