As demonstrated here, it seems that the UK will not get tough with those who download music (mainly) and film (secondly, with games following on from that) illegally. Other countries, lead by France, will be (or have) legislated on this issue.
However, despite France’s very aggressive laws, it will be interesting to find out how many people France will be pursuing through the courts on this issue. They are adopting a three strikes and you are out (disconnected from the net) system, which is what the BPI in the UK would like to see.
I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point a human rights organisation took a test case to the European Court for Human Rights to fight for our basic human right to have access to the democracy of all technologies; the internet. So we may find that this new law never really gets into ‘gear’ anyway. After all, when someone commits a driving offense, you can take away their right to drive, but not to access roads. I know thats not the strongest legal analogy/comparison, but you get the indicative point I’m trying to make. Hence, if the UK is not going to legislate, and if France’s efforts will be undermined via the courts, how do we move forward? How do we stop piracy?
Well, as discussed on our podcast (music industry news), the main two methods which are immediately available to us is education and changes in business models. However, our approach to education should not just explain that its ‘wrong’ (which is often counter productive and patronising). Instead, it should be a form of education that explains who is involved in making content so that consumers or non-consumers can start to relate to those who are losing out.
The second method is to bypass it altogether. FInd new income streams, whether they be ‘real world’ (such as tours etc) or changing the link between the person, or persons paying for the music and the actual consumer of the music. For example companies which are setup to offer free music (streamed or downloaded) but which is paid for by banner ads etc.
However, surely the future is about tagging all audio with metadata, and then making sure that data is read by all major OS platforms. Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, NXE, Sony XMB etc etc. Just as with the game consoles and mobile phones, its becoming normal for users to have to input credit card details into their machines so that content can be bought and accessed all the time. Well, if we had a working, fully supported metadata system, then as a piece of music or film was played, money would automatically be taken and delivered to one’s local collection society (to be shared amongst the named creators and IP owners). Does this mean we would be paying for everything we listen to or experience?
It doesn’t have to. Some sites would offer ‘free to listen/download’ experiences as they would have purchased a global license (paid for via advertising for example) and the consumer would not be charged from downloading on that site. However, should the consumer wish to pass the file onto the web, then anyone downloading it would activate the metadata contained within it (as it would ‘know’ it wasn’t a direct download from a licensed site) thereby causing the OS to charge the users credit card/mobile phone bill.
What happens if someone wants to transfer content from one machine to another? As long as the OS could recognise it was a machine to machine connection (similar to HDMI being ‘aware’) then it would allow it at no cost.
This might sound very complicated, but I doubt its more complicated than the current ‘lack of system’. Also its designed to make the rules clear, and provide an income for everyone. What stands in its way?
- Hardware/software companies continuing to support their own files and formats to help boost a certain type of platform.
- Collection agencies not working together. Something which is not getting better. Europe has a plethora of them, which in 2009 is looking very outdated. If the whole of the USA has only a handful, how come Europe has agencies for everyone country, with some countries having more than one?!!?
- Civil Rights campaigns, complaining people are being charged to access information on the web. Someone will need to tell them that content owners, and creators have rights, copyrights, which need to be respected too. No one ever protested about having to buy a book or even pay a small fee to borrow it from some libraries (via a joining charge or local/national tax).
- We now have millions users with ‘old’ hardware and software already out there, which would not be compatible with this proposed system (without a software update - not possible on all devices). The longer we wait to create the system, the harder it will be to implement it without disenfranchising large members of the audience. Trying to service both audiences, would be similar to the effect of having DRM in files whilst still selling non-protected audio CDs.
If a system of metadata is not going to work, or cannot be implemented then all is not doom and gloom. However, what it means is that we will have to rely on education and alternative business models (alternative from just digitzing the traditional record label model, still pursued by many) exclusively. Not a disaster at all, but it will mean that the debate on the rights and wrongs of piracy and more importantly, the monitory value of music will never end.