Isle of Man Details Legal P2P Music Download Service

New details about the Isle of Man's plan to launch a legal music file sharing (P2P) service across the Island have emerged from the Digital Music Forum East event. Under the scheme all Internet connected devices on the Island would be charged roughly £1 extra per month for their service, effectively allowing anybody to download whatever music they wanted.

ISPs would then be required to install special hardware that monitors network/P2P traffic for shared music files, offering proportional "compensation" for appropriate artists. The providers themselves would also get a cut of any revenue.

However the £1 fee wouldn't just apply to broadband connected premises. The preliminary plans hint that anybody with an active Internet service (e.g. mobile phone data link) would also be required to stump up for the extra cost, even if their kit can't play music.

There are also plans for various value-added music subscription services, although quite how they could be justified in an effectively post-legalised P2P music market is unclear. Mind you, ambitions for such a service are one thing; gaining acceptance is something else entirely.

Typically there are problems with this system, such as how ISPs can be expected to monitor their users' online activity without breaching privacy laws. The heavy use of P2P encryption would also make it difficult to identify content. Not to mention, what about films and software? Illegal downloading isn't just about music.

The other problem is that of fairness, is it right to charge legal Internet users for the mistakes of others? That's effectively what the system proposed would do. Typically all of these plans are subject to change and we'd still be quite surprised if it went ahead, especially since the music industry pulled out of support for a similar Virgin Media service not so long ago (news).

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