Discussion paper proposes all internet users should pay

Performing rights group advocates ISP ‘pirate tax’

PRS for Music has launched a discussion paper that proposes ISPs be charged for "unlicensed media" in line with how much unauthorised material is being transferred. 

The UK music royalty collection society, PRS for Music, is advocating the charging of ISPs for pirated material swapped on their networks while also claiming that problems will get worse with faster broadband speeds.

The strategy suggested by PRC for Music economist Will Page, takes the form of a economic "externality" concept with the intention of bundling unintended costs into the cost users ultimately pay for their Internet connection. The PRS claims this will result in ISPs "cleaning out the unlicensed media files" or simply having to put up with the measures as a cost of doing business.

The proposal hinges on the idea of using a section of the Digital Economy Act that calls for an evaluation of the levels of piracy. This in itself has been highly controversial since involves delegating responsibility to Ofcom for creation of a mechanism which is assumed to involved detailed eavesdropping on ISP traffic.

UK ISP TalkTalk told Sky News that “It would require monitoring of traffic and this has huge implications in respect of directives on privacy and data retention. It’s profoundly unfair – it is like making a bus company responsible for shoplifters who use their buses to get to the shops. It is futile since people will switch to undetectable methods e.g. encrypted services, streaming.”

The Internet Services Providers’ Association also came out against the idea, stating that it prefers an approach based on reforming licensing so that "legal content can be distributed online to consumers in a way that they are demanding."

The Digital Economy Act is also topping the list of unpopular laws which the government is presently consulting on with a view to potentially overturning. Measures to implement a system such as the PRS advocates would be dependent on those in the DEA as it stands today as well as additional legislation which would likely be even more unpopular with Internet users.

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