UK Government to tax every British broadband connection £20 for copyright enforcement

Broadband, Intellectual Property

uk-broadband-density.gifA £20 charge could be levied on every broadband connection in Britain, to pay for an agency that will provide data about serial copyright-breakers to music and film companies, if plans due to be announced today by the Government in its ‘Digital Britain’ green paper come to fruition.

Today, Lord Carter of Barnes will propose the creation of a quango which will be paid for by a levy on ISPs, who’ll almost certainly pass the cost on to their subscribers. Also in the white paper is a proposition that every house has a right to 2Mb/s broadband.

Why are customers of ISPs having to pay for the creative industries’ copyright enforcement? Particularly because the creative industries, and the music industry in particular, are only in the situation they’re in due to their own shortsightedness when it comes to how content operates in the digital world.

Put more simply, their old business models don’t work any more. It’s not up to the UK public to prop those up indefinitely – the creative industries need to be innovating and working out ways to make money from the new status quo.

Additional taxes, especially in a time when many households are struggling financially, will only serve to hinder the adoption of broadband, as families decide that they can’t afford the extra cost and don’t opt for their connection that they have a new-found ‘right’ to. It’s going to be a spectacular own goal.

On top of that, I can’t see ISP customers being happy about paying for an organization that will snoop on them. How about using that £20 to compensate the rights-holders instead, like the Isle of Man’s proposal for a music tax. That’s where the goverment should be looking for inspiration.

In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see the reaction to the proposal when it’s announced at lunchtime. I predict that the content industries will love it, the ISPs will hate it, the internet will hate it, and the general public won’t be very keen either. It’s hard to see how such a proposal will come into force with the inevitable public outcry that’ll happen.

UPDATE: This story was based on this morning’s rumours, and the reality isn’t quote so bad. Click here for our post on Digital Britain.

(via The Times)

Related posts: Isle of Man gets free, legal, P2P downloads | New Zealand’s approach to file-sharing – “guilt upon accusation”

Duncan Geere
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