broadband Business internet online safety piracy Regs

UK Government Efforts ISP Regulation Gets Opposition from Unexpected Sources

There has been a lot in the press recently regarding Government plans to regulate the ISP industry. ISPs have been vociferous where they consider that this regulation is unnecessary and adds cost burdens that will have to be borne by consumers.

Quite pleasingly other industries which the Government is likely to think would be the beneficiaries of the legislation have also come out against it.

For example the high profile “three strikes” approach to Music Piracy whereby persistent file-sharers have their broadband cut off is attracting a lot of opposition from the music industry itself. The BBC reports:

Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, a member of the Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC), said: “It’s going to start a war which they’ll never win.”

Feargal Sharkey’s UK Music allegedly has a war chest of up to £20 million a year to lobby Government on the subject of ISP regulation. This FAC stance seems to be clear disagreement within that industry.

The leak in the Independent this week that the Queen’s Speech currently is planned to propose mandatory blocking of consumer broadband connections for child abuse images has also created a bit of a stir.

The vast majority of consumer broadband connections already have such screening and it seems that the Government is trying to make political capital out of a subject which everyone will of course support in principle.

The issue is how much effort and money will it take to cover the last few consumers not already “protected” particularly as it is smaller ISPs who are most likely to be affected. This is particularly relevant considering that all we are not talking about stopping hard core child abusers who already know how to get around the blocking.

The Register has come out with an interview on this subject with Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), and effectively the UK’s leading investigator of online child abuse who has come out against legislation in this area.

There is potentially a lot more regulation in the pipeline. Somewhere in a Government office near you someone is plotting to gain more control ever our every day lives. It is at least nice to see that there are people out there with some common sense who are willing to stick their hands up and say “this is not right”.

End User internet media piracy

94 percent say they would choose a legal music site over a pirate one

Bit of a long post title but this is the feedback from research conducted in June on consumer behaviour and preferences in respect of music downloading.  The research was commissioned by music site We7 and conducted on 2012 consumers aged 16 to 60 over 7 days in June 2009.

Its key findings make very interesting reading:

  • 46% of UK music fans do not understand how to legally consume music online
  • 64% do not know how to stream and share music legally
  • 85% of consumers are happy to listen to a short ad in exchange for unlimited access to free music that they can share with others
  • 94% say they would choose a legal music site over a pirate one if it had the same range of music and was easy to use
  • Women and those over 55 are least likely to stream – 85% say they don’t know how and are unlikely to try
    64% of 16-24 year olds share music with friends online and 71% know what streaming is but only 48% have ever tried it
  • Londoners and Bristolians are the biggest sharers of music online but only 39% and 46% respectively have ever streamed music. 
  • The majority of music buyers (78%) would buy the same or more music if they could listen to streamed music too, showing that the We7 model compliments the industry rather than cannibalises it

All this reinforces the ISP industry’s position that what we need is more legal ways for consumers to easily access music online.  7  million consumers can’t be criminals.  We7 is doing a great job pioneering this so thanks goes to Steve Purdham, and his team. 

Tonight I’m going to go home and listen to some free and legal music streaming online. Frank Sinatra methinks.

Business internet piracy

Virgin agrees anti-piracy music deal

Virgin has announced a deal with record label Universal that will provide unlimited access to the company’s music catalogue for a fixed monthly fee.  The level of this fee is as yet unnanounced but is reckoned to be the equivalent to the cost of two albums. The service will be available by Christmas 09.

The biggest aspect of this news is that Virgin has also undertaken to attempt to tackle the problem of online music piracy with the ulitmate disconnection a potential penalty for persistent offenders.  This appears to be a big step forward and is likely timed in advance of the Digital Britain report, delayed now until later this week.

This deal is likely to bring pressure to bear on other large consumer ISPs.  It does remain to be seen how the removal of broadband service from persistent pirates (to put it poetically) is handled.  This has been the one aspect of the debate that has had ISPs up in arms. They don’t want to be seen to be doing the police’s job.

The Virgin paid for model is of course different to the We7 advertising funded service discussed last week. The whole area is of a great deal of interest to many people.  My We7 posts get more hits than any other published item on this blog.  Helped no doubt by the fact that I have been giving away free We7 promotional codes :-).

If you want one let me know. I got a fresh batch in recently.

Business internet media piracy

ISP and Music industries meet at UK Summit

At the board room of the Performing Rights Society in London today the great and the good of the UK Music industry met with representatives from the mainstream ISP community for an open discussion on how to handle illegal P2P music downloading.

Organisations represented included UK Music,  BAC&S, PPL, PRS, MMF, MPA, MU, MCPS, MPG, Timico, ISPA, O2, Orange, AOL, Yahoo, BT, GlobalMix, LINX, Playlouder and KCom. I’m sure I’ve missed some out and you will have to work out for yourselves what some of the acronyms stand for.

I was essentially there on behalf of the Internet Service Providers’ Association to represent the smaller ISP community who have been left out of the talks up until now. Whilst the “big six” largest ISPs probably represent over 90% of the market the other ISPs, of which there are easily in excess of 300, do represent a “significant other”.

As much as anything the meeting was a “getting to know each others’ perspective” session but a few points in particular stuck in my mind.

  1. We were not allowed to discuss commercial issues and there was a lawyer sat in the corner who interrupted whenever the conversation moved towards this area – the concern being that nobody wanted the meeting to be seen as price fixing. I understand that any initiatives up until now have failed because the Music Industry can’t agree on prices that will allow ISPs to make money out of offering legal music download services. 
  2. It was suggested by yours truly that to make the whole business model work there needed to be a wholesale provider that would make it easier for smaller businesses to participate.  This wholesale provider would have sorted out the rats nest of copyright and licensing issues. Some larger ISPs had 5 corporate lawyers in a department exclusively dedicated to this area. What hope the rest of us!

There is clearly some way to go to get to a working solution although there was general agreement around the table that  everybody wanted to help.

ISPs present were asked whether P2P traffic caused problems for them on their network. I stated that typically B2B ISPs did not throttle P2P traffic  and customers were provided with a high quality experierience for which they paid a premium.

In the consumer space customers seem not prepared to pay for quality and thus in order to try and preserve a reasonable experience for “ordinary” applications such as browsing and email  it is often standard practice for ISPs to throttle P2P traffic. In fact in fairness some ISPs publish these policies on their website. This touched a nerve with one Tier 1 ISP who avoided the word throttling using, instead,  “traffic management” as a less contentious phrase.