EU and UK seek piracy crackdown as free music service opens

The European Audiovisual Social Dialogue Committee (EASDC), a pan-European group of media firms and rights holders, has called for governments across the continent (EU) to take a tougher stance against "illegal" (it's actually a civil offence) file sharing (especially P2P) by customers of broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Presently the UK is still finalising how it intends to deal with the problem, though a system of warning letters followed by information on repeat offenders being passed to Rights Holders is almost certain to be put in place. Indeed this is one of the few things that UK ISPs appear to accept.

If that fails then those who do not heed the warnings could face disconnection and or service restrictions (slower speed, blocked websites etc.). Despite massive disagreements between ISPs, consumer groups, the government and Rights Holders, the EASDC would still like to see something similar adopted around the EU.

The European Audiovisual Social Dialogue Committee said:

"The unauthorised filesharing of protected works and performances - as well as the need for all right holders to derive tangible benefits from the exploitation of their work - are important issues that need to be better recognised by the European commission and other EU institutions."

Separately the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is reported by The Register to be proposing that a new Section 97B is added to the 1988 Copyright Design and Patent Act in case its favoured Clause 17 is removed (highly likely). C17 effectively allows the Secretary of State (i.e. Peter Mandelson) to change all copyright law relating to the Internet as and when he pleases and with next to no debate.

By contrast Section 97B would be acted upon when an ISP refuses to take down allegedly infringing copyright material. The Secretary of State would then be granted the ability to review and amend the provision "by allowing the injunctive relief available to the Court to evolve and to keep pace with technology".

But it's not all bad news today, Universal Music has launched a beta of its new FREE Music Download site with the imaginative title of FreeAllMusic. The service works by forcing users to sit through one video advert per MP3 music track download, with a maximum download of 5 per week.

In addition the user's choice of music is then taken and used externally through an opt-in advertising network. It's a price many would be happy to pay if it meant being able to get tracks for free, although we suspect the model could be just as difficult to earn money from as it is with Spotify. One small downside though, it's currently only available to USA surfers.

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