UK to Ban Illegal Music Downloaders from the Internet?

Apparently the UK has come up with a way to prevent all the illegal downloading that's going on... cut the downloaders off from the Internet. That's right, in case you missed this bit of music industry news, a new Green Paper from the UK government is "supposedly" in the works that says ISP's should be required to implement a three strikes rule against those who use the Internet for acquiring pirated material and illegal file sharing. First strike would be an email warning, second a suspension and third a termination. Apparently this proposal comes from a leaked document of sorts and statements from the spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in the UK seem to indicate that this was only an early draft for a new plan.

For all the music lovers out there in the UK, I certainly hope this is only an early draft. Maybe I'm biased because of my belief that downloading (preferably legal, but illegal as well) actually benefits the music industry, but this just seems like a very poorly thought out plan... perhaps almost laughably at first glance.

First there is the issue of tracking down these people. I'm pretty sure that it would be rather difficult for any ISP to keep track of everything that each of their customers downloads and even if they can, the sheer number of people would mean that ISP's would be cutting off a lot of customers, which means they'd be losing money, something I'm sure they'd be thrilled by. The real pirates know how to fake their location information and route their traffic anyways to get around such restraints. This means that the people who really would be effected by this are not the ones who are really "pirating", the true criminals/bootleggers/media pirates. Instead it's the regular people who are probably either downloading because they're seeking new music, or because CD prices are a little steep.

Second there's the question of what does this actually solve? The way I see it, if they cut off downloaders and sharers from the Internet, they're not only cutting those people off from a huge, albeit illegal, venue of new music, but they're also not encouraging the purchase of CDs at all. In fact, I think the only thing that cutting illegal downloaders off from the Internet accomplishes is make a lot of people mad. It certainly doesn't get artists anymore money.

There are always going to be pirates, but if CDs or downloads were cheaper... say cheap enough that I wouldn't feel gouged taking a chance on an artist... then I think a lot of people would trade downloading for actual music purchases. Business models seem to dictate that if you want to sell more product, you lower the prices. Isn't that the concept behind sales?

And if they want artists to get more of the revenues from album sales, maybe they should give them a higher percentage to begin with, so that a few thousand sales can generate a decent income and artists don't have to go platinum before they can actually pay their bills.

It seems like there's more news about this issue everyday. I like to keep on top of it and see where the industry is going, but overall just let it go and see where things head. Occasionally though, like with this bit of information, something just sets me off and I start to rant.

Maybe soon, governments and the music industry need to realize that intimidation, and negative consequences are NOT the solution to the illegal downloading problem. For all the music lovers in the UK, I hope this plan of action ends up heavily revised and rethought before actually put into legislation.

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