Some news that might not seem immediately edifying, but might have far reaching implications. The Intellectual Property Office in the UK has issued a ‘Scoping Document‘ attempting to assess the potential role of a Digital Rights Agency. Given what’s currently happening between the PRS and Google, the rights of artists to benefit from the exploitation of their music online is quite a hot topic at the moment.
More rumblings in the same region of the law are sounding in New Zealand, where Google has deposited it’s two cents in a discussion being held by the Telecommunication Carrier’s Forum – a think-tank organised by the TeleComms and ISP comapnies in that region to decide how to monitor and deal with digital copyright violations. Google has come in on the side of the consumer, saying that the idea of banning users who are caught infringing three times from using the ISP’s services – in effect cutting them off access to the internet as a whole – was too heavy a penalty. They also chime in with approval of measures designed to protect ISP’s from the consequences of copyright infringement perpetrated by their customers. Google is in a pretty unique position to provide a balanced opinion, given that they are operating a service across every nation in the world, but their ultimate position is always going to be pro-internet and pro-traffic of information, including music, because that is essentially pro-Google. More pageviews, more ad revenue.
How then, to deal with copyright violation on the net? The RIAA is abandoning it’s programme of coming down heavy on individuals in the hope that it will act as a deterrent to other pirates, as sending threatening letters and scaring little old ladies seems to be generating more negative publicity for them than deterrent effect on the pirates. Perhaps prosecuting people like middle-aged Mavis from New Hampshire in their fearful absence is not quite the shining moralistic proof that pinching a devious little ferret of a computer scientist with a server-filled basement of porn and Michael Jackson albums might be, but then he’d have used proxies and covered his tracks, and would be much harder to catch.
Ultimately this blogger just hopes all the legislation and discussion and arguing and imprisoning of housewives helps us home in on the inevitable. It is inevitable that consumers on the net will find a way of quickly and conveniently getting hold of the music they want, through filesharing, paid downloads, ad supported models or whatever other method they can. It is inevitable that artists must profit from the consumption of their music, directly or indirectly, because otherwise they won’t be able to afford to make music, and we’ll all have to listen to U2 and the Beatles for evermore, and no-one wants that… So we must, eventually, inevitably arrive at a solution that bridges that gap; that provides a way for music consumers to get what they want cheaply, quickly and conveniently, and for artists to profit from it. Some sort of commercial, digital radio… I’m going to go and listen to Spotify while I think about what that perfect solution might be.