PRS for Music wants "piracy levy" on ISPs

The PRS for Music’s Will Page reckons ISPs should take the burden of how much their customers are downloading illegal content with a levy on piracy – or “incentives through compensation.”

The idea is that a fee on piracy would be able to help along ISPs compensating losses from filesharing customers. However, broadband company in the UK TalkTalk thinks the idea’s a load of tosh – it won’t stop piracy and it’ll just put further strain on customer privacy, it said in an interview with Sky News

TalkTalk told Sky News that the measure would require monitoring of traffic and would have “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 and encrypted services.” Wot, like the legal Spotify, which sees nary a penny going to the artist per click anyway?

PRS For Music – whose speaker Chris Carey buckled under pressure from TechCrunch Europe’s Mike Butcher at the  Music 4.5 conference when confronted over royalty nuances – reckons that ISPs must actively discourage customers from downloading illegally, and a levy would help towards that.

However, piracy is still very much a grey area and no initiative, with the possible exception of the marketing clout behind the iPod and iTunes, has done much to throw curve ball leaving artists and record labels more in the black than they are. We agree with TalkTalk – it’s great that PRS for Music, which looks after handling royalties, is trying to find a solution to a very complex problem. 

Will Page of PRS told  Sky News: “I think they’ll [the ISPs] find this contribution both insightful and long overdue.” It’s true that it’s insightful into the way the PRS thinks, and it’s long overdue in that it’s been a long time coming on an issue which has been a really hot potato for about a decade, but it’s not quite the answer. The full report is available to read here