Three Strikes Not A Done Deal in Europe
Last Monday, the Spanish Minister of Culture Angeles González-Sinde said the government “is not considering punitive measures for the end user of Internet” thus saying “no” to a three-strikes policy. González-Sinde said it instead plans to “attack the origin of all these products that are on the Web sites, as well as those who benefit from them.”
Even the head of country’s Coalition of Creators and Content Industries has said that “we have no desire to criminalize Internet users who download illegally,”
Recently the European Union dropped an amendment from its upcoming Telcoms Package that would have prevented member countries from disconnecting illegal file sharers from the internet.
So the plan in Spain is to aggressively pursue and prosecute operators of sites that blatantly infringe on copyrights. Such is the case with last spring’s trial of Madrid-based Blubster. The court had promised a decision in September but it has yet to be handed down.
Also on Monday, a Norwegian court ruled against the IFPI and in favor of ISP Telenor. The court ruled that Telenor in not illegally contributing to copyright violations by The Pirate Bay and subsequently there is no basis to force it to block the site, saying “Telenor and other Internet providers, including private companies, may have to do an evaluation on whether an Internet page or service shall be blocked or not. This is an evaluation normally assigned to the authorities, and in the court’s view, today’s situation makes it unnatural to assign such responsibility to private companies.”
Meanwhile Francis Gurry, director-general of the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), gave a speech today at the opening of India’s 5th International Forum on Creativity and Inventions saying the answer to illegal downloading is not “putting teenagers in jail.” But he added, “Part of the battle here is to sensitize the public to the fact that there is a real issue involved. It is not simply a victimless crime.”
Ragnar Kårhus, Head of Telenor Norway, hit the nail on the head when he said “The problem is that the business model for selling digital content is in many ways old-fashioned and has not adapted to the reality of the Internet. The problem is not the ISPs, rather the rights holders themselves.”
It all comes back to the rights holders. OK. Let’s acknowledge that they have a massive problem. Even though record labels are making some progress with ISP’s in Europe to help them police illegal file sharing, not every ISP and EU nation is up for that. There is no “one size fits all” solution.
The only real solution is to develop products and models that consumers want to pay for. Here again, it doesn’t have to be one size fits all. Itunes can easily coexist with other services, but there has to be a realistic willingness on the part of labels to face the market conditions together with music service providers. And that means pricing. Recording companies and music publishers can’t just go on looking for someone else to take care of their problems for them. They must adapt to the new marketplace. Lower licensing fees and bold experimentation are desperately needed if they have any chance of at all of surviving. Otherwise innovation and investment will be thwarted and it will be back to business as usual. And for the recording industry, that would not be a pretty picture.
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