ISPs’ P2P Pledge ‘Won’t Stop Downloading’, Govt Admits It’s ‘No Easy Task’

imageISPs’ pledge to send letters to subscribers who illegally download music is unworkable and won’t stop the practice, according to the body which lobbies for UK consumer rights. The top six ISPs joined the British Phonographic Industry, Motion Picture Association of America and the UK government in signing a memorandum of understanding today that commits them to reduce illegal downloading by sending hundreds of thousands of warning letters to their customers (see our earlier post).

But a National Consumer Council spokesperson told paidContent:UK: “This new proposal is not going to solve the problems; it’s just going to lead us back to square one – they haven’t come up with a viable workable solution. The music industry is going to continue to punish P2P filesharers as criminals. They’ve lumped together genuine music fans with organised crime who commercially counterfeit on a huge sale, and we think they’ve missed out on an opportunity to develop a new market.

“We don’t think industry regulation or government regulation is going to benefit consumers or give them what they want – this will essentially drive it underground, people will get around it as they tend to with technological things like this. We know that consumers would be willing to pay for a (legal) service to continue filesharing.”

The government consultation on illegal P2P, published this afternoon (and available in full after the jump in this post), does, in fact, moot commercial models – as well as sanctions and education – as a requirement of the new approach. But it acknowledges encouraging people to pay for music again will be “no easy task”.

The paper contains wide-ranging estimates of the problem, citing a variety of research that states either 14 percent, 25 percent or 43 percent or 63 percent of internet users download illegally.

Though it proposes four alternatives, it favours a co-regulatory solution like that suggested by the memorandum of understanding, but this “would require the voluntary participation of all ISPs and it has become clear that we do not yet have this”. “There is a case for calling this issue ‘media literacy’ or ‘education’,” it says. The option will be agreed after public consultation ends on October 30.