April 24, 2014

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RIAA: ISPs Should Pay For File Sharing

A Reuters story quotes RIAA head Hilary Rosen as saying that ISPs should be held responsible for their users’ file sharing:

“We will hold ISPs more accountable,” said Hillary Rosen, chairman and CEO the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in her keynote speech at the Midem music conference on the French Riviera.

“Let’s face it. They know there’s a lot of demand for broadband simply because of the availability (of file-sharing),” Rosen said.

[...]

Rosen suggested one possible scenario for recouping lost sales from online piracy would be to impose a type of fee on ISPs that could be passed on to their customers who frequent these file-swapping services.

Perhaps she is suggesting a compulsory license (users pay a flat fee, then get free access to copyrighted music), as others have suggested before. If the RIAA were supporting a compulsory license, that would be big news.

More likely, her plan is a lopsided one in which users pay a fee but don’t get free access to music, or anything else, in return. If so, the plan would probably only increase the number of users of file sharing systems. Many users already find ways to rationalize their use of file sharing. Imagine the user who, unlike many of his peers, has resisted the temptation to use file sharing; and then he learns that he is being forced to pay the RIAA anyway on the assumption that he is a file sharer. What are the odds that he’ll start using file sharing, since he’s paying for it whether he uses it or not? Pretty good, I’d say.

The RIAA’s biggest problem is the public’s fading respect for the legal limits on file sharing. A step that erodes that respect even further is exactly what the RIAA doesn’t need.