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UK Proposes Broadband Expansion, Plus a Music and Film Tax 262

Posted by timothy
from the delicious-candy-with-a-sweet-poison-center dept.
Wowsers writes "First the tech illiterates in the UK government want to extend broadband internet connections to every home, whether it makes sense or not, then at the same time they propose a £20 per year (approx $29US) broadband tax which they claim will pay the record and film industries for their failed business models. Coincidence the two proposals are linked? And why should people be forced to pay for the failed film and music industries?"
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UK Proposes Broadband Expansion, Plus a Music and Film Tax

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  • Not a bad thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by daveime (1253762)

    If the tax REALLY meant that we were free to download whatever we wanted, and the RIAA / MPAA extortion tax had already been paid, we could do away with all the ISP torrent throttling / shaping, and all the frivolous lawsuits (which lets face it, we pay for anyway in terms of other taxes).

    • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by itsdapead (734413) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:37AM (#26663741)

      If the tax REALLY meant that we were free to download whatever we wanted, and the RIAA / MPAA extortion tax had already been paid, we could do away with all the ISP torrent throttling / shaping, and all the frivolous lawsuits (which lets face it, we pay for anyway in terms of other taxes).

      Read TFA - its nothing as "fair" as directly compensating the industry for "lost" revenue: the proposed tax would fund a new agency which would (muffled buzzing and mumbling) between the entertainment industry and ISPs.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by daveime (1253762)

        I'd just hoped for one second that someone in authority had actually done the math and said ...

        "Let's see, 25 million homes x 20 quid = 500 million quid. We give that to the music and film industry, then tell them to STFU and leave us alone".

        Ah well back to the drawing board :-(

        • by damburger (981828) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:58AM (#26663837)
          That is the idea. Basically the same principle as curing Heroin addict by giving them lots of Heroin.
        • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:4, Insightful)

          by davester666 (731373) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:59AM (#26663847) Journal

          This money would enable the industry to be able to afford to hire investigators and lawyers, so they can sue the downloaders.

          Currently, there is an argument over who pays for the investigation/notification of the 3 strikes agreement between some ISP's and big media. This will nicely solve that "problem", by making everybody pay for it.

          There's no downside.

          I'm glad I'm living in Canada.

          • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Decado (207907) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:43AM (#26664057)

            So let me get this straight.

            1. You tax the people.
            2. You give the tax to the record companies.
            3. The record companies use this tax to sue the very people who were taxed.

            Isn't that just a roundabout way of forcing the defendant to pay all the legal bills regardless of the outcome?

            • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:4, Informative)

              by Chrisq (894406) on Friday January 30, 2009 @05:16AM (#26664217)

              So let me get this straight.

              1. You tax the people. 2. You give the tax to the record companies. 3. The record companies use this tax to sue the very people who were taxed.

              Isn't that just a roundabout way of forcing the defendant to pay all the legal bills regardless of the outcome?

              No its worse than that - it gets paid twice. Once by all the innocent people and then by the guy that they use the money to catch.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by weetabeex (1065032)

              I guess that's pretty much what is happening with the financial crisis going on:

              1. You tax the people.
              2. You give the tax to the (almost bankrupt) banks.
              3. The banks lend money with high interest to the people who were taxed.

              All in all, it's just another day and the world is still spinning.

              • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:5, Insightful)

                by digitig (1056110) on Friday January 30, 2009 @09:41AM (#26666015)

                I guess that's pretty much what is happening with the financial crisis going on:

                1. You tax the people.
                2. You give the tax to the (almost bankrupt) banks.
                3. The banks use the money to pay each other huge bonuses, whilst still refusing to make any loans.

                Fixed that for ya.

    • by Xest (935314) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:41AM (#26663753)

      The tax is to pay for a new government department that will aid lawsuits file sharers and hold anonymised information that can be used to identify repeat infringers.

      And yes, I know anonymised information to identify people makes no fucking sense, but that's how the report phrased it. I'm still trying to figure out how it can be both anonymous and used to identify too.

      I've not only read TFA but I've read the actual interim report too and the whole thing was simply non-sensical. If you read the section on copyrights etc. the first few pages are really quite good- they make comments along the lines of "We realise file sharing is something that's widely done and widely accepted and that people have come to accept. It is clear therefore that in this case it is perhaps the laws and business models that need to change". But then after the first few pages the mood changes completely and they outright contradict statements such as the above by mentioning they intend to introduce a new department and so on to protect failing business models and not change the laws.

      I find this particularly interesting because they've clearly put it into the report to make it sound like they care about the other side of the argument, but more importantly- it shows they understand the problem in it's entirety. If they understand it but are contradicting their understanding of it anyway then frankly there's only one possible explanation I can come up with for this obscure situation- corruption. I can simply see no other reason why they'd accept they're fighting the unfightable but going to do it and appease the music and movie industry anyway.

      Some of snippets that were interesting were statements that the UK is the world's biggest exporter of culture. That seems rather unlikely to me, certainly compared to the US' McDonalds, Hollywood, RIAA affiliated companies etc. I can't see that we come close.

      The only upside of the report I can see is that they have at least done away with the idea of three strikes and intend to follow the lawsuits based approach. This is good because unless the UK courts are equally corrupt as Lord Carter clearly is then this should be shown up to be a massive waste of money. The RIAA's evidence doesn't stand up in court at the end of the day because there is still no way to attach file sharing to a particular person (only to a particular IP) other than literally sitting looking over their shoulder and watching them do it.

      The irony of the proposed tax is that it's actually worse for everyone than if it were a tax to legalise P2P. If it were for that then more people would be happier, the music industry would be netting in a small fortune, file sharers would be paying a not unreasonable amount. The people who would lose out are those who don't file share but still have to pay the tax. As it stands though the proposed solution only gives the music industry a load more unwinnable cases, the tax payer is funding another ultimately useless government department and ISPs have to bear the cost of dealing with the situation.

      The final report is still to come, and hopefully MPs will realise the idiocy behind all this. Certainly the Conservatives seem to realise the idiocy of a tax-based approach, even if they as a party support prevention of file sharing through equally unworkable methods. The problem is of course, Labour can do what they want, and if they crack the whip it doesn't matter what the other parties want, it doesn't matter what the MPs themselves want, all that matters is what the Labour niche- Brown, Burnham, Carter and probably Smith want.

      • by Xest (935314) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:52AM (#26663815)

        The report also kills off any hope of seeing net neutrality laws in the UK under a labour government. Not only have they said they don't want laws for net neutrality, they've outright said they believe it's the wrong thing to do and that ISPs should be able to pick and choose what to transfer, for who and at what cost.

        This was supposed to be a report for the UK's digital future but coupled with this, my above post and the fact they're referring to things like DRM that even the music industry now accepts is a failure as solutions to piracy then it sounds more like a report for a draconian broadband dark age.

        Nothing in this report bar the idea of universal broadband access can help the UK's technology sector. Despite accepting that it's worth £50bn they've put what they also accepted was only worth about £3bn - the creative industries above it. This report is out and out going to destroy any chance of the UK ever catching up to the world technology leaders if the actions included are carried out. Again, the fact Carter can put a £3bn industry above a £50bn industry suggests Carter is corrupt to the core and is putting his personal agenda above the health of the country's economy. Just as Labour gutted the UK's science research, they're now gutting the rest of the technology futures in the UK.

        • by Ngwenya (147097)

          Nothing in this report bar the idea of universal broadband access can help the UK's technology sector. Despite accepting that it's worth £50bn they've put what they also accepted was only worth about £3bn - the creative industries above it.

          Yeah, but can the tech sector offer politicians the chances to play guitar on stage with Feargal Sharkey?

          Of course, cynicism abounds, but celeb endorsements are worth serious votes in our current society. Sigh.

          Incidentally, I will say that the Times article is pitifully short of real detail, or sources. "will announce", "could be as much as £20".

          Nothing about a broadband levy in the interim report. Not saying it won't happen, but just don't see any evidence for it.

          But - hey, this is /. - all we

      • by Artraze (600366)

        > I'm still trying to figure out how it can be both anonymous and used to identify too.

        You're thinking about it the wrong way. The idea is that you don't know they're a repeat offender until they're caught a second time, at which point their info can be checked against the database. So think of it like a hash of your name: they can't figure out your name from it (small problem space aside), but can verify it.

        That being said, this sort of thing is usually (read: supposed to be) managed through court rec

        • by Xest (935314) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:54AM (#26664119)

          Well here's the relevant section of the report in full:

          "We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order."

          A court order is required, but that's meaningless here in the UK, the courts just order it handed over without the defendant getting chance to point out how useless their evidence is. They literally ask the court "Can we have this data?" and the court says yes without question. Effectively, so far the courts might as well be removed from the process anyway as they have absolutely no positive effect in ensuring a valid claim for personal information because the orders the courts have given so far have been based on evidence that doesn't prove in any way whatsoever the actual person whose details they're asking for has done anything wrong, only the IP address attached to the internet connection that person pays for.

          Are you suggesting the personal data will be anonymised and passed to the music industry as a hash then it's up to them to decide if they want the linked personal information? Or is the anonymised data simply data on what has been shared? If it's anonymised then I don't see how it's admissable in court at least. The text doesn't seem clear on that, it sounds like some anonymised data and personal information is passed over only after receipt of a court order. Quite what the anonymised data is if personal information is handed over anyway I'm still not sure.

          • by Chrisq (894406)

            A court order is required, but that's meaningless here in the UK, the courts just order it handed over without the defendant getting chance to point out how useless their evidence is.

            Rumour has it that to save money they are using old court orders as toilet paper in the Judges chambers.

      • by badfish99 (826052) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:39AM (#26664033)
        The present UK government is mostly driven by doing "favours" to their friends in business. So this report will have been created by splicing together two different documents: one (originally written by the ISPs) describing a scheme for the government to give tax money to the ISPs under the pretext of "broadband for all", and the other (originally written by the record companies) describing a scheme for the government to give tax money to the record companies under the pretext of "doing something about copyright infringement". That would explain the sudden change of tone in the middle of the document.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cliffski (65094)

        that's not the only people who lose out. Small businesses will lose out.
        I sell on-line. Not a huge amount, but enough to pay my bills. If a tax is introduced to compensate content creators for lost income, do you think the UK government will cut me a proportionate slice of it? I doubt it. What will happen is that the tax will be paid to businesses over some lower limit (maybe a few million income a year) and everyone else will be ignored, or red-taped into oblivion.

        So such a system will just entrench big bu

      • by symes (835608)

        Some of snippets that were interesting were statements that the UK is the world's biggest exporter of culture. That seems rather unlikely to me, certainly compared to the US' McDonalds, Hollywood, RIAA affiliated companies etc. I can't see that we come close.

        The UK lead the world (or rather, are slowly invading it) with young, male, unintelligent, binge drinkers. That culture!

        Insome ways I feel sorry for the UK government - they're piggy in the middle of powerful companies trying to save their outmoded business model on one side and almost every broadband user in the UK on the other. I would see these efforts as a reasonable attempt to reconcile differences. But any developments will be hampered by the lack of a body representing and putting forward the views

        • by Xest (935314) on Friday January 30, 2009 @05:22AM (#26664239)

          "What is more, going around calling government minsters corrupt really doesn't engage with the process, now does it..."

          Why? It's not as if it's far fetched:

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7849594.stm [bbc.co.uk]

          If these politicians are corrupt, and their actions and comments suggest very strongly that they are (either that or they're immensly stupid and ignorant but I'd at least like to give them the benefit of being intelligent and not simply call them that) then they need to be called out on it. Just like the Bush administration, Labour in the UK has had too much power for too long and they're drunk on it, they feel they can do whatever they wish regardless of how morally, ethically, and sometimes legally wrong this is.

          Do you really believe it's better to allow corruption to go ignored and unquestioned? The very fact Carter has contradicted himself in his own report again means one of two things, he has a personal agenda, which again means corruption or he's immensly stupid. Certainly there is no reason whereby you can give benefit of the doubt because the contradictions simply do not make sense. Unfortunately the only explanations are rather negative in their form so it really is a case of either ignore them or call them out on it and show that it's not acceptable.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        And yes, I know anonymised information to identify people makes no fucking sense, but that's how the report phrased it.

        When has that stopped any British governmental IT initiative? Its par for the course I'm afraid.

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        Some of snippets that were interesting were statements that the UK is the world's biggest exporter of culture. That seems rather unlikely to me, certainly compared to the US' McDonalds, Hollywood, RIAA affiliated companies etc. I can't see that we come close.

        The observation about Hollywood and the RIAA is obvious. McDonalds, though? I'm pretty sure that doesn't fall within the definition of culture that they're using.

    • If the tax REALLY meant that we were free to download whatever we wanted, and the RIAA / MPAA extortion tax had already been paid, we could do away with all the ISP torrent throttling / shaping, and all the frivolous lawsuits (which lets face it, we pay for anyway in terms of other taxes).

      And what about those who don't download or upload such copyrighted material without permission? We should NOT have to pay this extra fee/tax/whatever. The music/movie/games businesses have no right to dip into my pocket. If I buy something from them (it happens, occasionally), then I'll pay for it. However, I doubt if my annual spend on CDs and DVDs nowadays exceeds their proposed monthly fee.

    • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jurily (900488) <jurily@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:35AM (#26664017)

      we could do away with all the ISP torrent throttling / shaping, and all the frivolous lawsuits (which lets face it, we pay for anyway in terms of other taxes).

      You don't need money for that. You need legislation.

      Just make fair use cover p2p for personal use.

      That's what Hungary does, and it works great.

    • Re:Not a bad thing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RDW (41497) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:42AM (#26664055)

      Virgin Media supposedly just tried to set up a legal filesharing system for subscribers. Everything was apparently going well until the last minute, when Sony & Universal decided they liked everything about the plan except the actual 'sharing files' aspect:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/01/23/virgin_puts_legal_p2p_on_ice [theregister.co.uk]

  • Ask Canada (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GF678 (1453005)

    And why should people be forced to pay for the failed film and music industries?

    Don't the Canadians pay a small tax on black CD/DVD media for a similar reason? Given the tax has been there for a while, maybe some Canadians can give their own opinions, given they're more intermediately aware of it.

    Oh, and a small apology for the next bit...

    Come on you Canadians, tell us what this is all aboot!

    • by prelelat (201821)

      I honestly don't think that I notice the tax that much. They wanted to extend it a year or two ago to a bunch of other devices but I'm pretty sure that it got turned down. This is also a Levy and not a Tax. I heard at one time that the Levy was only being applied to blank music recording media so blank data discs were still exempt but I've never seen that many blank music discs(when I did I do know they were more) I'm not sure if the increase in costs is because of the exchange rate or the Levy is being

    • by Teun (17872)
      I don't have insight in the Canadian sotuation but over here in The Netherlands we also have such a charge levied on blank media. The result is that I like many others now buy my media in Germany.

      And we're all waiting for the first court case where the claim will be used that the legally downloaded music from an illegal site became legal once it was put on such a taxed disk.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by borizz (1023175)
        Oh YES, I would very much like to see that case. I wonder what Justitie's (or maybe Brein's?) defense to that will be. "The tax does not give you the right to download stuff". Then what's it for exactly? And why do I pay the tax if I store my personal photos on those CD's?
        • Re:Ask Canada (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:15AM (#26666469)

          Oh, in my country you can fill out a form where you have to put down in detail what you burned on the CD, it will be checked and if approved, you may, some time in the not so near future, get your "tax" back.

          This form has to be mailed, one form per mail, for a refund of a few cents. Now take into account the price for a stamp and you know what this "fair agreement" is worth...

    • by Zoxed (676559)

      > Don't the Canadians pay a small tax on black CD/DVD media for a similar reason?

      Google gave the answer (and for many other countries to) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_copying_levy/ [wikipedia.org]

  • Failed? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Twigmon (1095941) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:17AM (#26663619) Homepage

    The industries are hardly failed. Perhaps 'failing', but even failing might be too strong a word.

    The 'failed' status is propaganda spread by those industries so that they don't have to change with the times. We shouldn't be reinforcing their marketing.

    • by Mattsson (105422)

      Exactly.
      Last time I heard, the film and music industries still made huge profits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      They are failing. As much as SCO was failing. When your business model is a service nobody needs anymore, you have a problem. And while SCO's problem was unsolvable, the music industry actually could adapt to the change. They have a key position in PR and marketing, they can make your CD the number one hit, no matter what kind of crap you make (proof: take a look at the charts). That's where their place is and that's how they can continue their business without a problem.

      They should simply disconnect from t

  • by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:19AM (#26663633) Homepage Journal
    How would that tax apply to, say, companies and people that just use the Internet for anything but pirated copy downloads?
    How would that money be distributed? Worldwide? Europe? UK only?
    I would finally prefer ISP to fine labels for poor content protection which causes network congestion and degradation!
    • Replace 'internet' with 'CD-Recordables' or 'casette tapes' and you've got the questions people have been asking for well over 20 years now in various countries. The answers have always been the same as well:

      1. tough luck for them, the reality of the matter is that the majority of people do use CD-R's/tapes to record things they do not have a right to record - ergo illegal - and it's far more costly to society to actual pursue those people so instead we're making everybody pay a small levy as compensation

      • by timmarhy (659436)
        the MAJORITY??? what crack pipe are you smoking? people use their ipods or hard disk storage. i also take issue with this idea that it's more costly to pursue them than tax everyone for other peoples crimes, there is a 3rd option, don't do anything it's free. taxation to cover PRIVATE COMPANIES legal issues is NEVER right.
        • yes, the majority. Lemme go pull figures out of my hat while you ponder where I said anything about iPods and harddisks - which, for now anyway, do not carry such a levy.

          you can take issue with the notion that filing suits against / prosecuting people is more costly for society than a tiny tax, but if you do so on the basis of "there's a third option - don't do anything", then you should realize how incredible flawed that issue-taking is as it does nothing to prove that it would be cheaper to file suits /

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:33AM (#26663713)

    I don't know if I'm more angry at the fact that I'm paying for the chancer who downloads movies and mp3s he wouldn't pay for anyway or for the fact only that certain oligopoly insiders will get their cut. The remainder who create content are ignored. (I'm not just talking about music and film, digital art has many forms including everything from fiction to high quality blogs, graphic arts, photography and source code)

    Shame on the British Government for U.S. style pandering to the whiners in the MPAA and RIAA cartels.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Lol... US style, you mean Canada style right? In the US, the RIAA still has to fund their own lawsuits.

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:38AM (#26663745)

    Music industry is not very useful in the age of internet. They have no added value. Why do a music-industry "Bail-out"???

    Music industry, car industry (for cars with internal combustion) - it's all a bit obsolete.

    To me this feels like doing a bailout for steam engine locomotives.

    Old stuff just disappears. Accept it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by damburger (981828)
      Its worth noting at this point how the UK government botched the change from steam to diesel quite badly. Perhaps that is a precedent for how they are trying to handle the transition from physical to online media distribution.
  • by mrpacmanjel (38218) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:42AM (#26663765)

    As typical of "our" "Government" this policy is ill-thought-out, completely out-of-touch with voter's opinions and as usual the "Government" listen to the wrong people.

    1)A legal right to broadband in every home is *up to* 2Mb only. I know people who "technically" have broadband and *at best* up to 512Mb.

    2) If a £20 "tax" were introduced, the piracy rate would increase because people will want to justify the increased cost - "If I have to pay the music publishers a levy even if I do not pirate thier music - I must as well start doing it then"

    3) The "Government" & Music industry want to monitor our connections for illegal material (thankfully but idiotically only over P2P traffic). The early stages of monitoring ("because of crime and terrorism") our connections is already under way.

    I know that many ISPs and other telecommunication companies have criticized the report this announcement was based on.

    Intrestingly the European Human Rights act guarantees an individual's right to privacy - as far as I know the U.K. have not officailly signed-up to it yet.

    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      The BBC were saying that the government wanted everyone to have access to enough bandwidth to watch streaming TV. IIRC they quoted around 6Mb/s.

      The second point does ring true, though. I don't pirate anything at the moment (not got the bandwidth, I've got all the apps I need on Linux, and I've got enough of a collection of music, plus I prefer buying the CD then ripping the MP3s so that I've still got a physical copy) but if I'm getting taxed to pay for unauthorised downloads then why shouldn't I?

      Good old c

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jmpeax (936370) *

      A legal right to broadband in every home is *up to* 2Mb only. I know people who "technically" have broadband and *at best* up to 512Mb.

      This is just wrong. The proposal is that ISPs be obliged to be capable of providing at least 2 megabit connections to every home in the UK.

      Intrestingly the European Human Rights act guarantees an individual's right to privacy - as far as I know the U.K. have not officailly signed-up to it yet.

      There is no such thing as the European Human Rights act. There is, however, the European Convention on Human Rights. This is a treaty to which all EU members are signatories, and have been for a long time (the UK has been since 1965 I think).

      However, because the UK's legal system is dualist (international law does not take effect until it is enshrined in UK legislation)

  • Reiteration (Score:4, Informative)

    by CobaltBlueDW (899284) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:45AM (#26663785)

    This article is a bit mis-leading. Frighteningly, a more accurate account actually makes it sound even worse.

    The government is planning to force ISPs to extend 2Mbps service to all locations with-in their domain.

    The government also plans to force ISPs to "provide data about serial copyright-breakers to music and film companies..."

    The government would create an agency to over-see this transfer of data about music/film copyright infringers, and the ISPs would flip the bill for the costs of operating this new agency.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CobaltBlueDW (899284)

      It's in the best interest of IPSs to offer broadband to as many people as they can before they encounter diminishing returns. This means by definition costs for ISPs will go up.

      Costs for ISPs will also go up, because of the data monitoring infrastructure ISPs will have to implement.

      On top of that, Cost will continue to go up for ISPs because, they will have to pay to have the data monitoring infrastructure over-seen by the government.

      All three cost hikes will inflate consumer costs. This reminds me of the

  • Currently rather busy emptying the public coffers into the pockets of the banks. Unemployment is rising rather quickly so the tax haul is reducing - thus, a new income stream must be found and the internet is untaxed.
    You could argue, and you'd be right if you did, that connection prices in the UK, as say compared to Europe, are extremely high with a seriously sh*tty service for your money and that this constitutes a form of tax. Call it a "ha ha, you live on an Island, where are you going to go for a cheap
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by damburger (981828)

      Its a good job we have a strong left-wing party to oppose all this corporate welfare.

      Oh, wait...

      But at least there is a media that will take the government to task over issues that affect our daily lives, rather than running scare stories about immigrants and peadophiles, right?

      Hang on a moment...

      In that case we had better exercise our right to freely assemble and protest!

      Oh dear...

      There is nothing for it then, lacking democratic recourse, any means of protest or public debate, we should rise up and replace

  • UK context (Score:3, Informative)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:51AM (#26663811)

    First the tech illiterates in the UK government want to extend broadband internet connections to every home, whether it makes sense or not

    This isn't quite so daft in context: the UK used to have a nationalised phone company. Although this was privatized and became BT many moons ago they've subsequently enjoyed a semi-monopoly. Most ADSL broadband services, whatever the brand, are re-badged BT services - Its only fairly recently that some ADSL providers started installing their own equipment at exchanges.

    One of the quid-pro-quos for this commercial advantage is that BT are obliged to provide (voice) connections to every household. Updating this to include data connections in some way is eminently sensible - at lesat in principle.

    A pox on the 20 quid tax to fund a copyright enforcement quango, though.

    • by Xest (935314)

      I have to agree, this is probably the only positive thing in the report regarding the UK's internet future.

      I'm not sure how it'll work though, there's talk of the minimum required net access being 2mbps. My ADSL syncs between 1.8mbps and 2.2mbps. It's not because I'm too far from the exchange or anything like that, it's simply because the phone lines are crap.

      I'm intrigued to know whether the fact my connection sometimes drops below 2mbps means BT would have to replace the lines. Funnily enough, if this is

  • by damburger (981828) on Friday January 30, 2009 @03:57AM (#26663835)

    The UK government is getting daft with corporate welfare. Banks get billions of pounds, the recording industry is going to get hundreds of millions under this proposal, and BT is also likely to get a big wad of taxpayer money running broadband out to the most remote areas.

    And yet, the government and media still come down hardest on the 'scroungers' receiving state benefit for unemployment. The News Of The World carried a front page story about 'the biggest scroungers in Britain' the same week Brown bailed out the banks for the first time. The government has maintained its advertising campaign trying to convince people on benefits can go to prison if they lie about their status (whereas in reality most of the people 'caught' doing this haven't done anything wrong and are let go).

    The message seems clear: if you are a giant corporation and a bank that has got used to making ridiculous profits and can't anymore, the government will throw huge amounts of taxpayer money at you. But if you dare to try and diddle the government out of £40 a week they are going to FUCK you SO hard...

  • TV Shows (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jlebrech (810586) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:05AM (#26663885) Homepage

    That is quite unfair on TV shows, I download tv shows much more than I download movies and I hardly even download any music.

    shouldn't they give some of that tax to tv producers too?

    • by Xest (935314)

      Their proposals for TV channels are that two of the private broadcasters (most likely Channel 4 and 5 in the UK) should merge to become another public broadcaster to compete with the BBC.

  • If it suddenly completely legal to download films and music and the artists/producers are getting their money through my tax, what incentive is there for me to go out and buy the CD/DVD/Mp3 from a brick shop or even from a digital content delivery site like iTunes?
    Something tells me that these companys would have even bigger influence than our UK's MPIAA/RIAA (BMI?) in lobbying to get such legislation passed once it becomes apparent that *their* business model is under threat.
    In the future I may welcome t
    • by jimicus (737525) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:45AM (#26664077)

      This £20/year tax isn't going to suddenly make it legal to engage in filesharing - it'll just pay for a government department (or, more likely, a quango) to prosecute you for doing so.

      So not only is it still illegal to share files, you're also paying for the privilege of being prosecuted for it.

  • by defsdoor (737019) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:06AM (#26663895) Homepage Journal

    So they charge everyone with broadband 20 quid to effectively allow them to legally download everything for free.

    So no one will buy music/video again - they've already paid for it.

    How will the money raised by this tax get distributed to the artists ?

    Of course the answer is it won't. It will shore up the record companies, who will still bleat about people stealing music and use that as the excuse for the artists to get even further shafted.

    Welcome to 21st Century Government - where the government's only purpose is to take your money from you and give it to whoever currently has their ear (and wallet).

  • Anecdote (Score:3, Informative)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:11AM (#26663919)
    The town of Ashland, OR was way ahead of the curve getting internet out to all its residents. It was owned and managed by the city itself (they fancy themselves progressive).

    Of course, the artificially low price keeps out competitors, but because of that it's been losing quite a bit of money. Rather than raise the price of the broadband connection, the beneficent city leaders recently decided to add a surcharge to all resident's power bills. All residents, whether they utilize the connection or not. Power bills.

    Anyway, our leaders here in the US are no more competent than your leaders over in the UK.
  • NuLabour? New Tax! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rob8 (913383) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:26AM (#26663979)
    The £20 will not in anyway mean downloading music will suddenly be legal. It will just be another NuLabour Tax. And guess what Gordon Browns latest arsewave is? For everyone in the UK to have broadband. So every one will have to pay the new Tax. Anyone know how much the recording industry have donated to the NuLabour party? Nuff said.
    • by Ngwenya (147097) on Friday January 30, 2009 @06:43AM (#26664589)

      Anyone know how much the recording industry have donated to the NuLabour party? Nuff said.

      No. I don't. So I guess that there's not "Nuff said." Please tell us.

      And stop with the "ZaNuLiarBore" crap, it makes you look like a twat from the Daily Wail or The Register forums.

      --Ng

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:31AM (#26663995)

    The "Industry" wants taxpayers to pay for an official entity to essentially enforce DRM on the entire population.

    Didn't we start dumping tea over the gunwales because of something like this?

    Granted, times have changed, but c'mon folks.

  • I'd be happy to.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'd be happy to pay a couple dollars more per month to my provider having a chance to legally download and own some unrestricted movies and music I like for that. Everybody pays that, the media industry is saved.

    But times are long still before the digital revolution comes, and all (data, voice, video and audio) can come at once and without zillions different standards in the same network pipe, so to say: press a button, watch that movie. Press another: listen to that song: noone would even need having much

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday January 30, 2009 @04:58AM (#26664139)

    I saw the shill from the music industry playing the "oh my god we are so poor and billions of pounds are being lost from file sharing" card. I was amazed he was able to say it with a straight face (although I guess he could believe his own shit).

    He went on to say that this report (an interim report!) "didn't go far enough" to deal with the crippling online piracy that is causing music execs to have to bum for change on the streets.

    And while he did mention "changing and adapting the business plan" to take advantage of the online era, the iTunes store was conspicuously absent (he did mention other services specifically by name, including Nokia's subscription service with their phones). So it's clear that the industry doesn't want to see iTunes succeed, even with their new tiered pricing deal. It seems that a runaway success download music store, with thousands of people buying tracks that "they could easily get for free" isn't worth mentioning in an interview about how the music industry is dealing with online downloading... How very.... selectively forgetful of them.

    So, if any British music producer/record company/BMI researcher is reading, and I'm sure there must be some. Send another "-1 full of shit" moderation up the chain of command to the PR/management. Also, let them know that they'll never be able to stop online downloading, but it's not the end of days. Some simple reasons from the music buying public:

    Sales of CDs are falling because:

    1. Music just isn't as good as it used to be. Hours and hours of manufactured rubbish, heavily processed and canned and then carefully timed for release to score a number 1 is not music.

    2. Even if some people like that type of music, and some must do, CDs and CD singles are *far* more expensive than they should be.

    3. You prosecute grannies who don't own computers, and assign arbitrarily silly values of "lost revenue" to "stolen" songs. Hint: if people who wouldn't buy it if it cost money obtain it for free, you're not losing money.

    4. 99.999999999999% of the profits of music sales do not go to the artists in question that we love. At least in the public perception. I'm sure it;s something like 3% of the price of a CD goes to the artist. Now, I understand basic economics, that everyone in the chain needs to be paid, from artist, vendor, distributor, manufacturer etc, but the labels are snarfing deep at the trough and fucking everyone else over. I'd rather download the music and just send the price of the CD to the band in the post, but that would be unfair to the company that pressed the CD and the shop that sold it.

    5. I have bought from iTunes, quite a lot in fact. I wanted to show you guys that it was a viable business model, but you just won't let the subject go. Ignoring the success of the store and instead moaning that people still share music (well, duh!)

    6. I seem to remember the movie industry proclaim that the sky was falling when the video cassette recorder hit the shops. That "home taping will kill movies! We'll lose BILLIONS! The World Is Over!!!!", but then they started selling their movies on VHS tape and made money hand over fist. Funny that. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, home taping *didn't* kill movies. They're still going strong. The really good movies that were released after VHS recorders were around made more money than the cocaine industry in the 80s.

    7. You are never going to stop online music sharing. You just can not. Even getting it classified as a felony in the US (alongside rape, murder, grand larceny, grand theft auto, online music sharing is clearly as bad as those crimes) you will not stop it. Look to the software industry - Microsoft has almost more illegal copies of Windows out there than legit installs, yet they are still making hay while the sun shines. Would they prefer if everyone bought legit copies? Of course. Can then enforce this? No. Should they? Not really - people are always going to go outside the rules. Sell your product. Make it attractive to buy so th

  • by StoatBringer (552938) on Friday January 30, 2009 @05:58AM (#26664373)

    I acquire all my music/films/software legally.

    If I'm going to be taxed on the assumption that I'm illegally downloading stuff, then I guess I might as well go ahead and start getting pirated versions instead.

    If you punish people for things they haven't actually done, expect them to go off and start doing it.

  • by Jane_Dozey (759010) on Friday January 30, 2009 @06:24AM (#26664487)

    As most people here can probably see, this is a technological and financial disaster waiting to happen. Even without the media company tax, free broadband, by 2012 no less, is going to be an absolute nightmare for all concerned and will most likely help to degrade broadband performance. If they really cared they'd be leaning on the likes of BT to upgrade the current infrastructure so ISP speeds and costs can slowly come down.

  • The worst bit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717)

    is that the government also wants to give everyone 2Mb broadband, which means those who can't afford broadband get it anyway, AND they don't have to pay this crappy fee.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:08AM (#26664725)
    If I'm paying £20 for downloading music illegally, you better believe I'm going to get my money's worth.
  • It's easy to see how this type of legislation gets in place. People like Lord Snape and Lord Moonie are obviously taking backhanders to serve their master, Gordemort.

    When you look at what happened in France yesterday, the riots, the marches, the protests on a large scale, it's so sad that the British public aren't willing to do the same thing. The sooner the Brown-shirt Regime is toppled, the better.

    Of course none of this legislation is really about music or movies, it's about further justifying Hadri
  • by jabjoe (1042100) on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:30AM (#26664841)
    If torrents where legal, surely it's easy to make money.

    1) Make sure you only have one torrent for each thing.
    2) Index sensibly. Hyperlink related/reference/influenced by/influences items.
    3) Burn in your own logo top right on each movie/episode.
    4) Charge a tiny amount for each download. Or (better perhaps) charge for advertising space.

    Why don't people learn from AllOfMp3? If it's cheap enough and a good service, people can't be bothered to pirate. If just looking at the site is generating income, even better.

    Sure people will copy among themselves, but you can't stop that, and will cause problems for yourself it you try. If there is a logo burnt in, it's just free advertising anyway.

    Distribute the advertising income according to where people are spending their time on the site (i.e. hit show).
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Friday January 30, 2009 @07:39AM (#26664893) Homepage
    If we are to give money to the music industry because the Internet is making their business out of date, then surely we ought to also compensate:
    • The post office - people send each other documents/letters by email
    • The phone company - VOIP is starting to erode their profits
    • The air lines and rail companies - corporations increasingly hold meetings by teleconference
    • Publishers of porn magasines - people get their porn over the Internet these days

    There should be an additional tariff on visitors to wikipedia, encyclopedia publishers are seeing a drop in sales.

    I could go on.

  • by JohnnyGTO (102952) on Friday January 30, 2009 @10:17AM (#26666499) Homepage
    Because they have better lobbyist and more money for lawyers!

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

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