For a number of years, file sharing has been the bane of the lives of musicians, movie producers and media companies alike. From Napster and Limewire through to torrent sharing sites like The Pirate Bay, each appears to have had their time, and it appears The Pirate Bay’s has come.
With its dissolve, the UK government has issued a timely proposal that if enforced, will see ISP’s be made responsible for monitoring their own customers internet usage, and cutting them off if they spot any suspicious activity.
Unsurprisingly, spokespeople for the various major ISP’s have responded critically to the proposal. Stating that the costs involved in creating a system to monitor internet usage and the time involved with dealing with customers who may or may not be file sharing, would lead to unhappy customers, unhappy businesses and a great deal of wasted time and money.
European politicians recently ruled that cutting off someone’s internet connection could be a breach of their human rights. Interestingly, the challenge came in response to France’s tough policy on file-sharers where you are given three chances before being disconnected by your ISP.
Should this proposal become law in the likes of Britain. Could we see this spread internationally…? Whether in this format or another, file sharing as we know it will end soon.
Personally, and I don’t mean to sound condescending, I think it’s about time we acknowledge reality. Nothing is free and the internet isn’t a geeks playground any more, it’s a place full of real people and real businesses that need to look after their own. It’s only a matter of time before we are prevented – by law, strict monitoring and/or through technology – from downloading content which we shouldn’t be sharing in the first place.
The internet in its nature is wonderful, free and liberal, a world that belongs to us right? Well not quite. Free speech? Sure. All for it. Free content, not so much. The world unfortunately doesn’t work like that and neither will the web once governments, record labels and such, have their way…and they will have their way.
Bloggers, technologists and web users in general enjoy patronising politicians by accusing them of not really understanding how the web works. Many probably don’t, but they do know nothing is free and if millions of internet users are downloading movies and music for free – there’s something not right, and something needs to be done about it.
A Happy Place
Web based media player Spotify seems to be the middle ground and might just be the closest thing to a solution yet. We’ve yet to establish whether or not it will work though, it’s just too soon to call. The company made a loss of $4.4 million last year, but with funding totalling €21.6M and one of world’s richest individuals, Asian billionaire Li Ka-shingin as an investor, they should be around for a few years to come and with any luck, a successful business model for other companies to run with.