It’s not quite the three strikes that got people worried back in February, but the online crackdown against music pirates continues. Following Virgin’s warning letters, five more ISPs have signed up to a similar deal: BT, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB, and Carphone Warehouse.
With pirates having fewer places to turn Virgin will undoubtedly be breathing a sigh of relief, however, everyone else (with the exception of the music industry) will continue to complain. The biggest complaint, at least in today’s newspapers, is parents suffering for their children’s misdemeanors (The Times), although I would personally spin it as ‘parents having to take responsibility for their children’. Suddenly it doesn’t seem quite so unreasonable.
Whilst the warning letters don’t bother me (I don’t illegally download music), they do seem to have some effect. The realisation that their illegal behaviour can identified and recorded seems to be enough for many people. Just the other day a fellow Virgin customer was complaining to me that they were going to have to change their music sharing habits: Obviously I was my usual sympathetic self .
The alternative to buying each song individually seems to be the proposed internet music ‘tax’ (in the words of the irrational Daily Mail), or ‘licence fee’ (in the words of the right-wing Daily Telegraph which whilst hating licences loves big business more). The proposed £30 a year doesn’t seem to excessive for a married couple with 2.4 kids, but there are some obvious concerns, such as will the licence stifle innovation as the music industry sits on its laurels, and will people still be able to buy just the odd song or album when the whole music industry is turned on its head. Apple’s iTunes would be set to lose 90% of their UK business over night; but do we really need such a business taking a cut in this day and age?
I think the letters are a step in the right direction, they are forcing a solution to be found to what is obviously a problem. If you don’t want to pay for the music then don’t buy it, but you can’t expect to have your cake and eat it too.