If you are a regular reader of our front page, you will doubtlessly have heard about the recent case where the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) asked the ISPs Tiscali and Cable & Wireless to suspend accounts used for illegal file sharing, and to hand over details of customers suspected of breaking the law in this way. We also reported that Tiscali have said that they will not close any accounts without more evidence of wrongdoing from the BPI, and that they will not hand over any personal details of customers to the BPI without a court order.
Further to this, the BPI has accused some ISPs of "turning a blind eye" to illegal music file sharing and not taking effective steps to stop it. They claim that they have demonstrated in the courts that unauthorised file sharing is against the law, and have claimed that it is unacceptable for ISPs to turn a blind eye to industrial-scale copyright infringement.
It has now been revealed that ISPs are currently outraged at music download licensing plans that would see them charged for illegal file sharing by their users. The idea here is that organisations like the BPI would seek to take action against ISPs instead of users, if ISPs are unwilling to take whatever action is asked of them to curb illegal music file sharing.
"We really need to introduce additional rights and create relationships with those currently profiting at our expense," said Alison Wenham, chairman of the Association of Independent Music.
The Association of Independent Music (AIM) has outlined proposals which include building on the legal file sharing model, and introducing some form of collective licensing similar to the current UK radio licence. ISPs have reacted negatively.
Brian Aherne, a spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) called the plans "ill-conceived", and said that the industry would resist any attempts at implementation.
"We have not been consulted on this," he told Media Guardian. "Aim is asking ISPs to participate without asking their opinions. "
One cannot help but think that all of this is a little ill thought out. The BPI and AIM could have nurtured their relationship with ISPs like Tiscali, and come up with a system that could have benefited all, and been fair to the consumer. But this out and out attack, casting ISPs as the enemy, is only likely to make the problem of illegal music file sharing last longer and get worse.
Read the BPI's point of view here and here.