Next session at MidemNet sees four speakers talk about how ISPs and the music industry could and should be working together. First up, Nicholas Lansan, secretary general of the UK’s ISPA – a trade body for the ISPs.He kicks off with some figures – 16.5 million UK households connected to broadband internet. Around 48% of the European population is now connected. And then some figures proving how many Brits are downloading or listening to music on the internet.Now to the barriers. Rights negotiations and acquiring licences across borders is time-consuming (“if possible at all”). Big websites have stopped buying licences because of the cost of streaming music. And among consumers, there’s a lack of understanding of copyright issues, and frustrations with DRM.“The quality of downloads is a real bugbear,” he says. “Ironically, lossless downloads are only offered on pirate services.”So ISPs and the music biz must work together – educating people on why they shouldn’t be downloading illegally, and providing them with attractive alternatives.”Discussions in the UK have been ongoing since 2006, and the UK government stands ready to impose legislation on the industries should an agreement fail to be reached,” he says, talking about the UK government’s work with the six largest ISPs and the music industry.He’s basically giving a state of things speech, at the moment. So he’s onto the three strikes Internet and Creation law in France, which is awaiting final approval in March. However, “the law will put France on a collision course with Brussels”. And Sweden is working on laws to help track down persistent pirates.”Laws rarely prevent what they forbid,” he says. “Different countries have different laws – the site AllofMP3 is legal in Russia… If we really want to capture the hearts and mins across Europe, is imposing legislation on our customers really the answer?” He says that legislation may push P2P underground and alienate consumers.Apparently ISPA is hoping to hold a joint conference with UK Music later this year to discuss the opportunities and challenges ahead. “Fortune, in both senses of the word, favours the brave.” There you go.Now Gerd Leonhard is up, the infamous Media Futurist, who promises some funny slides. Kicking off with a tipped over cart (the internet) lifting a horse in the air (the music industry) – immobilising it.Now he talks about the way internet access – via PC and mobile – is going to explode in the next 5-7 years, as the cost of it declines. “Right now, we’re at the complete tip of the iceberg in terms of sharing content, not just music. We can’t lock all these people up. Because that doesn’t make any money.”And now he talks about the RIAA’s policy of suing file-sharers – which cost millions of dollars, yet didn’t stop the music industry’s revenues from falling. “We have what I call the copyright dilemma,” he says, while stressing he’s not a “copyright abolitionist”. So everyone in the world is copying and sharing content. But on the other hand, there are rights – all this sharing is not legal.It’s another fast presentation I’m afraid. I’m doing my best…”You don’t have to be a futurist to see that the current concept of forcing people into consuming music in a way that suits us better will not work,” he says.He’s on lifeboats now. I wish I could type fast enough to say how he got to this point. Oh, “we need a boat – a new collective licence for use of music on the internet.”How? What? “The new concept of disconnecting file-shares is not a life-raft, it’s just another bet on the sinking ship of control. How does that get anyone paid except for the lawyers, once again?”You can’t fax a cat, he says. Indeed.So it has to be about collaboration – a collective licence that works for the user. His idea – customers need to get a licence from the music companies. A payment is made on a revenue share and licence per user, which is paid into a pool of money.Who pays? Advertisers, search engines, portals. “We take this money, these brands that want to align with artists and genres, we bring it over to the user, and the result is payments of all kinds, and the government blessing it.”Ads? “New kinds of advertising. A pool of roughly 250 billion Euros a year that is destined to be online, digital and interactive advertising in five years – which is basically content. If we can get 10% of revenues relating to music, that would be 50 million dollars a month from Google right now.”So, possibilitiues include branding and sponsorshop, marketing subsidies b y ISPs and networks, device makers subsidising it, users paying (if they don’t want to see ads), even bundling this licence into the TV licence fee.It all adds up to 26 billion Euros per calendar year through a collective licence, you’ll be pleased to hear. “Sounds familiar? It’s radio,” he says. “It’s not rocket science. Why will this happen? Because we have mutual interests. We’re all in the same boat.”Gerd’s presentation will be on MediaFuturist.com tonight – probably a better way of taking the whole thing in, plus those funny slides. “Let’s do what’s right for social, cultural and business reasons,” he says, and then signs off with a Winston Churchill quote.Now Kenth Muldin is up, the CEO of Swedish collecting society STIM, who has a hard act to follow. STIM represents authors and publishers. “The vision STIM has is very simple – file-sharing won’t go away, it won’t be driven away from this earth. The only option for rights-holders is trying to get paid for it. Licensing with ISPs is one option, but that comes with another pre-requisite – it also requires legal actions, sanctions and co-operation between rights-holders and ISPs to reduce the illegal file-sharing that WILL take place, regardless of efforts to license it.”I’m enjoying having someone I can keep up with, as you can see.”Copyright is the right that creates the market. Without it, you would not see a market,” he says. “It’s also the right to counter illegal use of your work, but that is not the only use of copyright… In my mind, even if I’m a boring copyright lawyer and live on other people’s creations, must try to keep two ideas in the mind at one time – one is sanctions and litigation, but the other is to release the copyright and get paid for the illegal usage.”He says The Pirate Bay is being prosecuted because they will never acquire a licence, but that there are other companies out there who will. STIM is conductng a big survey showing well over 60-70% of current illegal file-sharers are willing to pay. “The question of course is how much they are willing to pay for it, and how this will affect other legal services,” says Muldin.But he admits keeping these two ideas in the mind at one time is hard – some people think the only option is to litigate. A year ago STIM talked to other rightsholders bodies in Sweden, and also ISPs, and detected a big interest in this whole area.So, he says STIM hopes to present the findings from its survey in February, to show if licensing file-sharing is workable. “The only way this could work is if we can show that the money we collect from licensing file-sharing will be distributed to rights-holders,” he says, stressing that STIM is looking at reporting technologies as a big part of this. And that’s him.Finally, Feargal Sharkey takes the stand, in his role as CEO of UK Music, the body that launched last October,bringing together pretty much every arm of the UK’s commercial music sector – artists, composers, songwriters, labels, managers and collecting societies (among others).”We have the opportunity for the first time to create a single vision,” he says. So what’s that and where do ISPs fit in? “Music and ISP relations are central to that objective,” he continues, saying that the value of music has been sucked away through unlicensed unapproved copying and sharing. “That status quo is unsustainable.”He cautions that the industry needs to remain acutely aware of music’s role in the bigger picture of “a digital economy and a digital culture”. And now he takes aim at “pseudo-intellectual cyber-professors”. Cor! “This is a creative and commercial challenge that can and should be solved by creative and commercial solutions,” he says.”2009 should be the year the music industry learns to stop worrying and learns to love the bomb,” he says, in a deliberate Dr Strangelove paraphrase.Are people dazzled by technology? “The concept of carrying 1,000 songs in your pocket doesn’t blow anyone’s mind any more,” he says, while also taking aim at the idea that a MySpace friend count is any kind of tangible currency.”It’s the music that matters. That Bon Iver album is still a fantastic album, regardless of whether your preference is CD, vinyl, download or stream, and it still will be in ten years’ time,” he says, welcoming the earlier ISPA presentation.”We recognise the constructive role that ISPs can and have been playing. I am sure this year is the year we can all stop fretting about delivery platforms, and concentrate on what really matters. Without human creativity and high-quality content, technology is… utterly redundant”.He says we’re at a tipping point – ISPs are feeling the pinch from bandwidth being used by all the content pinging around their networks. “Music may not be a scarcity online, but bandwidth certainly is,” he says. So in short, the industry has to give consumers what they want, legitimately, ensuring that artists, composers and labels get paid.He suggests the UK’s strategy has been “among the most progressive” in attacking this problem, saying that the memorandum of understanding signed between the industry and ISPs has trained everyone’s sights on finding a solution. “That MoU is only a starting point. There is still much to do, and we need to acclerate the pace at which we turn constructive dialogue into deeds.”And he urges caution to the UK government. “Any intervention must be designed to embrace new horizons, and must be fit and proper to use in a modern society and a modern culture. In this society, regression is not an option. We have learned from our past mistakes and have no wish to repeat them… Regulation brings a cost to all parties. We need to be sensitive that the debt to be paid for an imposed government solution does not outweigh the benefits.”He’s slamming the cyber-pseuds and “speculators” again now. “Music has been their whipping boy, but the future is catching up with the futurists…” – is Gerd still here?”It’s simple. It’s the music that matters. My name is Feargal Sharkey, may your God be with you.”Good signoff! And that’s a (very long) wrap.
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