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Isle Of Man Charging One Pound Per Month For Unlimited Music

February 3, 2009

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Isle Of Man Charging One Pound Per Month For Unlimited Music

Rebuilding copyright for the digital age. It’s a massive task, but perhaps crafting a new and digitally coherent way of protecting content for creators while exploiting the web’s distribution network would be easier than trying to batter a centuries old system into something that will work today.

One conceptually intriguing but practically complex solution would be an internet tax, payable through every web connection to cover all copyrighted material online.

Content owners would have to register their work with some giant central rights database (surely YouTube has made a start with that?) but users could download anything and everything they fancied, in whatever form and through whichever platform they preferred. It would legitimise file sharing amongst others.

But where in the world would this tangled web of online content ever become a reality?

In the Isle of Man, says the New York Times, where a proposal would allow the population of 80,000 to pay £1 per month on top of their broadband charge and have unlimited music downloads.

‘Blanket licensing’ was proposed in France in 2006 but turned down after furious lobbying from copyright owners. They prefer the ‘disconnect them’ approach, which seems rather Canutist in the face of illegal music that accounts for 95% of digital music, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

Its chief executive John Kennedy dismissed the proposal as “a state-imposed tax that would be unworkable in practice and discriminate against consumers who want Internet access without music services”.

Meanwhile, the Isle of Man’s inward investment department has started talks with record labels.

Given the island’s record in launching 3G phones before the rest of the world and its 70% broadband penetration, this could become a fascinating experiment.

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