Music Biz Considers Backing For ISP Account Suspensions

In response to the government’s recent proposed Digital Britain amendments, the UK music business has issued a holding statement that some media are describing as a “climbdown” on the issue of suspending P2P freeloaders’ accounts – but which actually says nothing of the sort.

After the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) last month issued a consultation urging quicker action and consideration for allowing Ofcom to order suspensions by ISPs, UK Music – an umbrella representing AIM, BASCA, labels group BPI, MPA, MU, PPL and PRS for Music – on Tuesday issued a statement saying: “We believe that government intervention is extremely welcome and that, subject to assessment, Ofcom should be granted appropriate and proportionate powers as directed by the secretary of state”.

— So it’s hard to square that apparent backing for the new proposals with Times Online’s report that UK Music “is preparing to back down from its demands that people caught downloading songs illegally be disconnected from the internet after a revolt by leading musicians”., too, notes that UK Music’s statement “stopped short” of declaring its support for disconnections.

In July, UK Music had said measures in the original Digital Britain, which lacked the option of disconnections or suspensions, “will still not be enough” to reduce piracy by the target of 70 percent within two to three years. It called for a system of account suspensions running from 72 hours to four months. And that could be exactly what it gets if BIS’ amendments hold up.

While opposition to account suspensions comes from some sections of the music biz, like the Featured Artists Coalition (not a UK Music member) this has been a perennial, rather than a new, complaint. ISPs also continue to oppose the prospect they might be force to nuke customers.

Right now, UK Music is likely formulating a joint response behind the scenes with its constituents. We won’t know the final view of the music industry – as represented by UK Music – until after BIS’ September 29 deadline for responses to its consultation.