A YouGov poll commissioned by Britain’s Open Right’s Group has revealed strong public opinion regarding Lord Mandelson’s proposals for tough sanctions against UK file sharers. Seventy percent of those surveyed voiced strong opposition to Mandelson’s proposal that accused file sharers be disconnected from their Internet connections.
A significant 68% of Britons feel that the accused should have the right to a fair and unbiased trial before disconnection of their Internet access.
Nearly a third of the respondents said that they would be much less likely to vote for a political party that supports disconnection from the Internet without a trial.
Now we all know the two things that most influence politicians: polls and money.
In France the recording industry lobby has gained traction recently. Money.
To the best of my knowledge there has never been a poll of the likes that the Open Rights Group has commissioned. So now we have a classic struggle brewing between the voice of the people and big music lobbying cash.
According to Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group, “Our conclusion must be that this is a politically unwise move, that will be unpopular and a vote loser for its architects,” “[They] won’t make a single penny for artists, or help online music businesses get off the ground”.
Calling the government’s proposals “disastrous”, Killock says they will not sit back and watch the rights of the people being taken away.
“The right to freedom of expression, a fair trial, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty: and for proportionate punishments, these are basic principles on which democratic societies are built,” he said.
It’s clear that the record labels are making concrete political progress with EU countries in their efforts to enlist government intervention to thwart file sharing. And in the ISP’s they have the perfect foil. Those efforts have been much less successful in the US. And as we all know, the RIAA’s litigation campaign against accused file sharers finally ended after years of bad PR and impotence. Now when European users get disconnected for alleged file sharing they’ll blame their ISP, not the big bad record companies.
In my mind, the best way to stop file sharing is not to try to come up with new punitive measures that will get the labels off the bum PR rap, but incentives instead. It all comes down to pricing. The law of supply and demand: “in a competitive market, price will function to equalize the quantity demanded by consumers, and the quantity supplied by producers, resulting in an economic equilibrium of price and quantity.” And folks, we have no equilibrium.
Once labels start to realize that (1) the supply of their product far outweighs the demand, (2) one of the most significant reasons for that is accessibility is free, (3) lawsuits and punitive action do not work, then perhaps they’ll start to realize that they overvalue their content in today’s market.
Furthermore, by continuing to overvalue their content they make it increasingly difficult for start-ups, or any company for that matter, to afford to be in the online music business. Which of course stymies competition, keeps prices unnaturally high and ultimately continues to drive illegal downloading. Vicious circle, right? Maybe the British public will be the catalyst to force the issue with the majors. Finally. I understand their dilemma. It’s a tough situation, but as BPI head Geoff Taylor recently pointed out, the music industry created their own demise 10 years ago by killing Napster. And its all led to this.