The big guns of the music industry are currently getting their heads together at an annual gathering in Cannes, and the key story to come out of the discussions seems to be an overriding belief that ISPs and governments should be playing more of a part in stopping illegal music downloads.
A 21-page report details how huge the digital music download industry has become.
The IFPI, which is behind this latest research, represents the recording industry worldwide with some 1400 members in 75 countries and affiliated industry associations in 49 countries.
It says that there are now more than 500 legal services, offering more than six million tracks.
In fact, the digital music industry is now worth approximately US$2.9 billion, and now almost a sixth of music sales come through digital channels just
five years after legal options became available.
However, illegal downloading and sharing is a huge issue,
It quotes EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson: "The fact is that in a commercial culture that doesn’t protect intellectual property, today’s violator is tomorrow’s victim. There are no long-term winners from growing intellectual property theft".
The reports says that the the illegal side of the music download industry is becoming more of a problem as there are now an increasing number of ways of sharing music including instant messenger, blogs, local network sharing,
Bluetooth mobile sharing and e-mail sharing.
The reports states: "Despite fragmentation, P2P file-sharing still accounts for the large bulk of digital piracy
and, given the volume and the role it plays in distribution to other piracy engines such as blogs and cyberlockers, is still the primary target of industry anti-piracy actions".
"Third party surveys estimate that up to 80 per cent
of all ISP broadband capacity is taken up by
At the moment, the law in the US, Australia and Singapore puts some onus on ISP to help fight against illegal downloads.
The legislation states that ISPs must "adopt and
reasonably implement ... a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders ... who are repeat infringers".
In Europe, we have Article 8(3) of the Copyright Directive provides that member states must ensure that right holders
are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe copyright.
France in particular has a strict policy of cutting broadband users off if they are caught illegally downloading.
President Nicolas Sarkozy stated his view in an interview: "The Internet must not become a high-tech Wild West, a lawless zone where outlaws can pillage works with abandon or, worse, trade in them in total impunity".
But IFPI chairman and CEO, John Kennedy, says in the preface to the report that more must be done.
He writes: "ISP responsibility is becoming an accepted idea. This is a critical development, because until now ISPs have played no such role".
"Copyright theft has been allowed to run rampant on their
networks under the guise of technological advancement. Some estimates say no less than 80 per cent of all internet traffic comprises copyright-infringing files on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks."
He continues: "ISPs have largely stood by, allowing a massive devaluation of copyrighted music. This in turn – and despite all the positives about our digital growth – has prompted a crisis in recorded music that has wide implications for the whole digital market place and all those businesses to whom music is an important ingredient".
Kennedy says that the Sarkozy agreement is currently the most significant milestone is curbing "music piracy".
It requires ISPs to disconnect copyright infringers on a largescale, using an automated system and to test filtering technologies.
Kennedy is now calling for other countries to adopt similar policies.
A court in Belgium has recently confirmed that ISPs must take responsibility for curbing infringment, the report states, and there has also been new legislation engaging
ISPs in Taiwan and Korea; the Swedish government’s Renfors Report; and the Gowers Report in the UK.
Kennedy ends by calling on the EU to "capitalise on the momentum created by the Sarkozy Agreement".
Should the calls be heeded, people downloading music illegally could face a warning, suspension of their service and then disconnection, says Kennedy.
He also warns that ISPs not taking action could face the might of the music industry. "At the same time, we as an
industry will not be shy to use legal action to force ISPs to act when dialogue fails but I would like to think that they now understand that meaningful voluntary action is a more attractive option than coercion – we have always advocated that!"
Kennedy concludes: "2007 was the year ISP responsibility started to become an accepted principle. 2008 must be the year it becomes a reality".