Should ISPs Pay for Music Piracy?

should isps pay for music piracy prs logo  july 2010

The UK’s PRS for Music—formerly the Performing Rights Society or just PRS, a royalty collection agency similar to firms like ASCAP and BMI in the United States—has suggested a new way for the music industry to recoup money lost to online music piracy: make ISPs pay for it. In a nutshell, the proposal (PDF) argues that if ISPs and broadband providers are going to provide consumers the means to pirate music content—and the problem will only get worse as available bandwidth increases—ISPs need to either curtail piracy by “wising up” their pipes to prevent transfer of illegally distributed content, or “pay a fair price” for the copyrighted material traversing their networks.

“Were ISPs required to pay a price for the value of copyrighted media on networks, the mechanism would be in place to encourage a balance between these costs and benefits,” wrote authors Will Page and David Touve. “This balancing act might occur through the incentive to either (a) “wise up” the dumb pipes by cleaning out the unlicensed media files in an effort to avoid paying the real costs of these files, or (b) accepting this payment for media as the cost of doing business while finding new ways to source the value of these creative works.”

The paper also suggests the music industry could adopt a new licensing strategy that would give ISPs blanket licenses to publisher’s content; in the past, such proposals have been dubbed a piracy tax; however, such a license could theoretically shield individual Internet users from piracy claims.

ISPs in the UK and elsewhere around the world have resisted calls that they be required to pay for piracy occurring on their networks, arguing that they cannot be held responsible for their customers’ actions (dubbed “safe harbor” provisions in the U.S.) and urging the media industry to adopt licensing models that enable consumers to get media they want legally. In the United Kingdom, the issue has been brought to a head by the passage of the Digital Economy Act this past May, which deals in part with piracy and assigned Ofcom (the UK’s communications regulator) responsibility for creating a code of practice for ISPs. A draft proposal is up for comment now; it includes language that would have ISPs terminating Internet access for users accused of copyright infringement.

Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?

Multi-monitor issues? Here's how to resolve them

If you're running into multi-monitor problems, you're not alone. Two screens are very useful, but they can present some difficulties. Here are some common multi-monitor problems and how to fix them.

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best MacBook deals for November 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

All the best deals on Surface products for Black Friday

A number of retailers are discounting Surface devices for Black Friday. Be it the Surface Pro 2017, Surface Pro 6, or the Surface Go, here's a look at how (and where) you can save big on Surface this holiday season.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…