Report: ISPs To Be The Cashbox For Net Downloads
April 1, 2008 at 4:04 PM (PT)
Discussions are underfoot that would have Internet Service Providers charge Net users a fee to freely download music on P2P networks such as LIMEWIRE, WIRED.COM reports. WARNER MUSIC GROUP has hired industry consultant JIM GRIFFIN to implement an ISP surcharge for Net use, which would free P2P users from litigation for file sharing activity. BIGCHAMPAGNE would be one of several sources supplying the necessary data to track file sharing activity and divvy up the cash among rights holders.
"The music industry has no choice," noted music-licensing expert BOB KOHN, CEO of ROYALTYSHARE, which manages digital revenues for the labels. "It's significantly weaker than it was in 2000. And the longer this drags on, the more difficult it will be to succeed."
What remains to be sorted out ... is basically everything
Such a plan is launching in DENMARK, where the country's leading telco, TDC, went live MONDAY with a variation of GRIFFIN's plan -- an unlimited-download offering from WARNER, EMI, SONY BMG and a number of indie labels. There's no initial charge for these subscribers, but the downloads expire if their contract isn't renewed. Other Scandinavian network operators are said to be interested in similar arrangements.
ISP surcharge discussions are reported to be going on with NORTH AMERICAN universities, where the RIAA has been concentrating much of their share-sharing lawsuit campaign. At the same time, APPLE is discussing the availability of unlimited access to the iTUNES library in return for a premium on the iPOD. NOKIA and British wireless carrier OMNIFONE will offer free music plans with cell phone contracts later this year.
The idea that ISPs should pay money to rights holders -- the labels, artists, songwriters and publishers -- is not that different than what radio stations pay for airplay. Yet there are those who consider the concept little more than a "protection racket." Even so, major obstacles remain--such as what the ISPs should charge and how all the artists and even the smallest labels get paid. "What remains to be sorted out," a WMG senior executive told WIRED, "is basically everything."
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