Skip to main content

UK Outfit Demands ISPs Pay For Pirates' Behavior

Now here's a way to force ISPs into monitoring network traffic: make them pay for its subscribing pirates. The Performance Rights Society (PRS) for Music, a UK firm collecting royalties for the music industry, is proposing just that--make the ISPs pay compensation to the music industry.

The proposal comes in a published recommendation entitled "Moving Digital Britain Forward Without Leaving Creative Britain Behind," written by PRS economist Will Page. The published paper didn't specify actual dollar amounts, however the resulting funds would be paid to the state or the music right holders. Fees would also adjust in proportion to piracy levels.

But UK ISP Talktalk didn't take too kindly to the "recommendations," saying it's "profoundly unfair" to make ISPs pay for subscriber actions. The company provided an example, saying that it would be like making a bus company responsible for shoplifters who use their buses to get to the shops.

"It would require monitoring of traffic and this has huge implications in respect of directives on privacy and data retention," a company representative said. "[Enforcement] is futile since people will switch to undetectable methods e.g. encrypted services, streaming."

The rep also said that it's not up to the company to dictate to paying customers on how to control their piracy tendencies. In fact, it was recommended that both the music and film industry develop a new business model that encourages consumers to legally acquire and purchase content.

But Will Page seems convinced that his recommendations will work in the overall scheme to reduce piracy. "What's ironic to me is that there are lot of players in the game who have a foot in both camps--who own connectivity industries and have invested heavily in intellectual property rights," he said. "I think they'll find this contribution both insightful and long overdue."