Business internet

ISP Conference Notes – Illegal P2P Music Downloads

As heralded I spoke at the Annual ISP Conference in London yesterday. An amazing mix of organisations were represented including ISPs, content providers, mobile operators, security companies, NGOs, charities, government departments and universities. I’m sure I’ll have missed out some group :-).

My session was with Fergal Sharkey, erstwhile lead singer of the Undertones but now CEO of UK Music and representative of the music industry in the UK. In a nutshell the ISP industry has not hitherto concerned itself with what is going on with illegal P2P music downloading, other than in some highly publicised and much criticised cases of throttling the ADSL connections of heavy users.

The mood is changing with both music industry and ISPs getting together to try and come up with a solution that suits both parties. This is the scoop:

  • It costs money for ISPs to police illegal downloads.
  • Legal music downloading removes some of the distribution costs that used to exist in the record industry
  • There must be a way of recompensing ISPs for their work in assisting the music industry.

This process began recently with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the largest six ISPs and UK Music. The “big six” represent a high proportion of UK broadband consumers. The concern amongst the other ISPs that actually represent the majority of the service providers, if not the largest subscriber base, is that the big six will opt for a solution that is good for them but not actually sensible for smaller organisations.

An example would be if they decided to implement technical approaches that suit larger organisations but may be impractical in smaller ones.

The upshot is that Timico was invited to participate in the debate along with the Internet Service Providers’ Association to represent the smaller stakeholders. More as it happens…