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UK Proposes Broadband Expansion, Plus a Music and Film Tax

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the delicious-candy-with-a-sweet-poison-center dept.

The Internet 262

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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Not a bad thing (2, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663607)

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 (4, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Not a bad thing (2, Interesting)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663757)

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 :-(

Re:Not a bad thing (3, Funny)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663837)

That is the idea. Basically the same principle as curing Heroin addict by giving them lots of Heroin.

Re:Not a bad thing (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663847)

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 (4, Insightful)

Decado (207907) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (3, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

But that isn't the case. (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Oh and before I forget. (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:But that isn't the case. (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663855)

> 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 records, sealed or otherwise. That fact that they're not would indicate that this is just more of the same "civil terrorism", if you will.

Re:But that isn't the case. (3, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:But that isn't the case. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664235)

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.

Re:But that isn't the case. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664237)

Is that any rightsholder or only one cartel of them? Because, you know, anyone can hold a copyright...

Re:But that isn't the case. (2, Informative)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664261)

"There remained major concerns how consumer protection would be properly addressed, while developing the self-regulatory aspect through a code of practice raised significant questions on how to accommodate other rights holders, the smaller ISPs and consumer bodies."

That's a breif mention of that very problem. Basically it remains unaddressed, they simply have absolutely no idea how to deal with smaller rights holders and smaller ISPs that can't afford the massive costs of user surveillance, but they're going to do it anyway.

The report is at:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/29_01_09digital_britain_interimreport.pdf [bbc.co.uk]

Copyright stuff starts at page 36 of the document (page 41 in Acrobat's PDF page numbering) and the above stuff is on page 49 in Acrobat's PDF page numbering.

Re:But that isn't the case. (4, Insightful)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:But that isn't the case. (2, Interesting)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664083)

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 business, and kill off the little guy.

A tax is not the answer. Doing away with DRM and frivolous lawsuits on end users, whilst cracking down on the big, high profile warez site hosters and uploaders is the best solution that doesn't involve destroying an entire industry or trashing everyone's civil rights.

Re:But that isn't the case. (1)

symes (835608) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664167)

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 of broadband users. What is more, going around calling government minsters corrupt really doesn't engage with the process, now does it... In my opinion, I'd like to pay a little more tax if it meant the values of fair use were upheld.

Re:But that isn't the case. (3, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:But that isn't the case. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664223)

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.

Very BAD for most people. (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664001)

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 (4, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

RDW (41497) | more than 5 years ago | (#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]

Re:Not a bad thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664071)

Government basics:
If it moves, tax it.
If it keeps moving, regulate it.
If it stops, subsidize it.

We're screwed no matter what.

Ask Canada (2, Interesting)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663617)

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!

Re:Ask Canada (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663699)

Uh, that was suppose to be "intimately aware", not intermediately.

I must be channeling the stupidity of this proposed tax into my typing ability.

Re:Ask Canada (1)

prelelat (201821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663731)

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 applied.

Also there was a bill being presented(not sure it's current state) that would basically be like putting a DMCA into Canada. This Bill was and is a pile of crap it would make fair use of certain media illegal in Canada. So basically if you want my opinion if they get cranky enough they could lay down a tax and still say it's illegal even though you are already paying for it and still make you pay if they catch you downloading.

I basically think it's a pile of crap, you should be either not guilty until proven innocent and then have to pay, or given free rein over the whole spectrum if your being charged the fees.

Re:Ask Canada (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664035)

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.

Failed? (5, Insightful)

Twigmon (1095941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663619)

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.

Re:Failed? (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663725)

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

Re:Failed? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664195)

What do you mean still? They keep growing every year.

Remind me again (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663629)

why we saved these fucking royalists from the Germans?

Re:Remind me again (1, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663777)

why we saved these fucking royalists from the Germans?

By the time they'd got to Leningrad, you didn't have too much choice.

If you didn't beat them there, they've been in Moscow and you'd be Sprechen die Deutsch.

Re:Remind me again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664137)

Nicely done.

Re:Remind me again (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663849)

You didn't. The buggars still live in Buckingham palace

Questions and suggestion (4, Insightful)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663633)

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!

Re:Questions and suggestion (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663711)

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 - and no, that does not automatically make the actions legal.

2. that's none of your concern, groups such as the RIAA and MPAA will deal with that.

Re:Questions and suggestion (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663881)

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.

Re:Questions and suggestion (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664281)

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 / prosecute.

that's not to say I disagree with you - legislation does usually give the government either direct, or by direction of private individuals/businesses/interest groups, the power to intervene in what should be issues between two private parties. Quite technically, if somebody stabs you, that should be a private matter between you and the assailant. However you then need cops, do the ambulance and hospital thing, insurance companies get involved and before long people realize that government has to step in here to make these things possible and try to make things 'good enough' again. And yes, I know getting stabbed isn't the same as having your MP3 copied - point is that government realizes that laws are being broken left and right and they don't need the interest groups filing hundreds of civil suits (which still end up in public court houses if going through) that clog up the system.. so they ponder alternative means... and voila, there's the levy on audio casette tapes... then (Video2000/Beta/VHS) tapes, then CD-Recordables, DVD-Recordables, Blu-Ray recordables and - if those interest groups had their way - soon MP3 players, HDD recorders and harddisks themselves as well.

Re:Questions and suggestion (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663729)

How would that tax apply to, say, companies and people that just use the Internet for anything but pirated copy downloads?

The same way it applies to people in the UK who have a TV but do not watch the boring BBC channels... or those who have Cable or SKY and similarly, do not watch the BBC.

Sadly that is, they will have to pay anyway. I find these TV/Radio/whatever licensing so annoying. However, the UK has it not so bad as it only costs £139.50 a year. In Germany on the other hand, it costs â204.36!

Flame Bait (0)

prelelat (201821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663677)

This whole summery screams flame bait. While I don't agree with what is going on in Europe I don't think firing up the propaganda machine is necessary. Maybe they see putting broadband into everyone's home as the future. I tend to think from the articles I see on here and other news sites that the UK just kind of does what ever.

The other thing is the incessant accusation that the music and video industry are failing. They have over the last how many years struggled to hold onto a dying model(like that girl in titanic holding onto DiCaprio at some point it's just going to freeze and sink) but they have been putting an effort into different digital markets like amazon.com and itunes store. Calling the whole industry a failure also groups in Indy artists to that same group as well as people like Reznor or Radio Head. There are a lot of people who like to have the newest vinyl or the cool artwork on their physical collection there is a market out there for it, just not what it was 10 years ago.

Yeah there's a part of the industry that's going down but at some point it's going to sink while the good parts of it swim, otherwise if no one in the industry is making money we will see a lot less money.

As for the thought that they would have to pay money to the music and video industry for using their internet connection I don't like it. I know that in the UK they have a TV tax that is used to fund the BBC and such things, but with the TV tax you at least know that they are watching TV shows and at the time they instituted the tax BBC was I think the only or at least the biggest player. Now with sky and other channels there's more people that should be getting that money(I dunno if they do or if they are terrestrial or what). With the internet tax your charging a large number of people for something that only a smaller percentage might be doing. I don't know about in the UK but I know here in Canada most people I know that arn't computer savy(grandparents, parents and their friends that make up a large portion of the population as well as younger people) tend to use itunes to get their music. So why does everyone have to pay it. Like I said the UK to me(I have a very narrow view I probably only hear the bad things) seems to do strange things like this all the time.

Confused summary (5, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663773)

I know that in the UK they have a TV tax that is used to fund the BBC and such things, but with the TV tax you at least know that they are watching TV shows and at the time they instituted the tax BBC was I think the only or at least the biggest player. Now with sky and other channels there's more people that should be getting that money(I dunno if they do or if they are terrestrial or what)

The BBC is funded by a direct tax on households with television. It carries no (overt) advertising and therefore is able to provide programmes without reference to the Rupert Murdoch world-view, unlike Sky. Sky should definitely not receive any taxpayer subvention as it exists to promote the views of an Australian/American billionaire, like its US counterpart Fox News.

I am afraid that this latest proposal is nothing to do with the BBC model, it is all about keeping foreign recording companies in the country and onside. Which is about continuing to try to keep the City of London at a level of importance disproportionate to the country as a whole. Just about every plan we hear nowadays is about taxing the rest of us to, ultimately, keep bankers in bonuses.

License Fee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664339)

...the other thing we get from the license fee is a public service obligation - to provide services that aren't otherwise commercially viable. Like children's programming that's more than thinly veiled adverts for spinoff toys. And Arts programming that does more than shill for whatever Hollywood pumps out.

Of course, they do stuff that *is* commercially viable as well, which also cross-funds the other stuff. The license fee is by no means the BBC's only income!

"T.V.tax" (5, Informative)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663865)

It works like this. Everyone in the UK who owns a T.V. has to buy a licence for £131.50 ($187.2). The money raised all goes to fund the BBC, which is "non-commercial" ie no ads etc. This covers the cost of some 7 TV channels and numerous national and local radio channels, as well as the BBCi online services. The BBC also gains revenue from sales of it's programmes abroad, and from a commercial merchandising arm. None of the licence fee goes to any other broadcaster. ITV, Channel Four, Channel Five, B-Sky-B (Sky) and Vigin media are all commercial operations and depend on advertising revenue etc for their income.
Having said all that, I don't see that this is relevent to a "Broadband Tax" at all. This is just another misguided nonsense from this misguided and non-sensical govenrment that we Brits are currently enduring.

Re:Flame Bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664011)

I know that in the UK they have a TV tax that is used to fund the BBC and such things, but with the TV tax you at least know that they are watching TV shows and at the time they instituted the tax BBC was I think the only or at least the biggest player. Now with sky and other channels there's more people that should be getting that money(I dunno if they do or if they are terrestrial or what).

The term 'tv tax' is just how us brits jokingly refer to the BBC licence fee, because of the special laws and allowances that have sprung up since it began. It's not actually a tax at all, it's an annual payment of about £150 that is paid to the BBC, which has independance from the government. The interesting thing about the licence fee is that you have to pay it if you have *any* broadcast recieving equipment (ariel, dish, etc) set up in your house, regardless of whether you want the BBC service or not. There have been free to watch channels in the UK for years now, and there are more now than ever before (thanks to digital broadcasting), but thanks to the arcane broacdasting laws in place you are unable to watch them without first paying the BBC licencing fee.

Another interesting development is that the BBC now want people with broadband internet access to pay the fee, regardless of whether they have a dish, or whether they use the BBC iplayer website. Luckily, by paying this £20 annual fee the govt. are suggesting, I will have already paid for all the content of theirs I might wish to pirate, and can freely download all the shows I wish without paying any additional fees. ...yeah right.

Re:Flame Bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664045)

One thing i'd like to add to my summary is that this is the worst aspect of the BBC I can imagine. They are probably the best channel in the world right now, and do a lot of great things thanks to their special relationship with the govt., such as free party political broadcasts at election time for everyone, broadcasting of commons and lords meetings, and some of the best political commenters in the world (oh john snow, what would we do without you?).

I would gladly pay the fee without any of these coercive tactics.

Re:Flame Bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664253)

I had wondered if all these articles made us UKians seem dumb. It's mostly just the government trying to seem like it's doing something. Like most of eveything else it probably won't get passed and if it does Europe will probably squash it.

So how can real artists collect our share? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:So how can real artists collect our share? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664375)

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

Is this surprising? (0, Redundant)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663739)

Isn't the BBC almost entirely funded by taxing everyone in the UK with a TV? How is this any different?

If that tax meant that I could download all the movies and music I wanted for free, I'd jump on that in an instant. I spend far more than that on legit music downloads in a year already.

Re:Is this surprising? (2, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663813)

Personally I think there's a huge difference between handing out money to corporations responsible to their shareholders and an the BBC who's responsibility is to fulfill a charter [bbccharterreview.org.uk] established by the people who are stumping up the cash (albeit via government).

Re:Is this surprising? (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663869)

That isn't a belief personal to you, its one shared by the UK public at large. Having had the BBC running alongside commercial stations for so long means that I doubt the UK public would be easily fooled by a government trying to blur the line and hand out taxpayer money to commercial media companies.

Re:Is this surprising? (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663821)

Isn't the BBC almost entirely funded by taxing everyone in the UK with a TV?

Everyone who watches broadcast TV yes.

How is this any different?

It's not completely different, as even though the TV license money only goes to a couple of channels BBC & Channel 4 you can't choose not to pay if you only watch other channels. Where it starts to differ is that this £20 a year doesn't give anyone the right to do anything, it just funds a government department we don't even want.

Re:Is this surprising? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663877)

Isn't the BBC almost entirely funded by taxing everyone in the UK with a TV? How is this any different?

Read TFA (particularly the second link). This money is not going into the pockets of struggling artists.

In contrast, the TV license fee really does pay for a number of high quality, ad free TV and radio channels (plus numerous comittees, well-paid executives and Jonathan Ross, but nothing's perfect...) I'm sure its technically correct to call it a tax, but (unlike taxes on fuel, booze and tobacco etc.) it is collected and distributed separately and doesn't just disappear into government coffers.

Re:Is this surprising? (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663931)

The BBC is funded that way so that it doesn't have to carry advertising, which means advertisers cannot effectively blackmail it into ignoring certain topics. It also ensures that non-commercially viable minority views can be represented. What the record companies are asking for is a tax so they can make more money doing more of the same thing that is already bringing them substantial financial returns (with growth reported yet again for 2008) - and only the big commercial record companies would get a look in, resulting in minority interests being further suppressed. The result is the complete opposite of what BBC provides.

Re:Is this surprising? (4, Informative)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663941)

No, the BBC is funded by taxing everyone in the UK who has a equipment that they use to watches or records TV signals as they are shown [tvlicensing.co.uk] .

The difference is that the TV License has a benefit (it lets you have a TV, it funds an organisation that provides the only watchable TV channel, and it funds some decent UK shows that aren't complete drivel* and which are an hour long if they are scheduled for an hour, rather than being 40 minutes long in an hour long slot) while the broadband tax will be levied on people to cover the illegal actions of others even if the person being taxed isn't doing anything illegal themselves.

.

* Channel 4 has "Big Brother", BBC produces things like QI. If I had to specifically decide which my license fee went to and which producers had to be locked away for eternity for crimes against TV and sanity, the Big Brother people would definitely have to be the ones locked in the Big Brother house along with the mindless contestants of each series they've made so far.

tv license != tax (4, Informative)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663973)

I'd just like to say that I don't think the TV license should be called a tax; even if it's virtually equivalent to one.

Taxes are collected and administered by the Government. TV license fees are not.
There's a good and important reason for that: To keep public television free of governmental/political interference.

Calling the TV license a tax, as well as referring to the BBC and other (west-)European public TV companies as 'government-owned' and similar gives the inaccurate picture that they're under some kind of direct government control, which they are not.

Re:tv license != tax (2, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664259)

BBC is worth every penny paid for it, and then some. Having a news/media source that has no 'big money' fundamentally biasing it is fantastic, and doubly so that I get an hour of TV per hour, not 35 minutes + advertising.

Re:Is this surprising? (1)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664323)

If I had to specifically decide which my license fee went to and which producers had to be locked away for eternity for crimes against TV and sanity, the Big Brother people would definitely have to be the ones locked in the Big Brother house along with the mindless contestants of each series they've made so far.

And the Komodo Dragon. Don't forget the Komodo Dragon.

Re:Is this surprising? (2)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664177)

"Isn't the BBC almost entirely funded by taxing everyone in the UK with a TV? How is this any different?"

It's very different, firstly even people who don't share are going to have to pay it- that's the same as if people who didn't have a TV had to pay a TV license.

Secondly, it doesn't legalise P2P. The tax is there to create a new government department whose aim is to assist the music industry in bringing lawsuits against file sharers.

Pay the bands, not the music industry (4, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Pay the bands, not the music industry (2, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663875)

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.

It Will Encourage Piracy (4, Insightful)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:It Will Encourage Piracy (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663961)

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 crime, "terrorism" and government stupidity.

Re:It Will Encourage Piracy (2, Informative)

jmpeax (936370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664147)

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), in order for the ECHR to be enforceable in domestic courts, domestic laws have to be passed giving effect to it.

And they were: the Human Rights Act (1998) does exactly this. Article 8 of the ECHR to which you allude ("the right to respect for private and family life") exists under UK law in the HRA. Also note that courts can declare current legislation incompatible with convention rights (although this doesn't invalidate legislation, it puts a lot of pressure on the government) and ministers introducing new bills have to declare that they are compatible with convention rights before they proceed.

Also, note s 3 of HRA which requires that courts read existing law in a way which is compatible with Convention rights.

If a £20 "tax" were introduced, the piracy rate would increase because people will want to justify the increased cost

Yes this is a good point. If the government were to use the money to compensate the industry, then it would effectively allow filesharing of copyrighted works because they would be paid for, and so it wouldn't be piracy.

Unfortunately, as is typical, it was decided instead to wrap everything in a layer of bureaucracy that isn't going to benefit anyone: consumers have to pay out without getting anything in return, the industry has to fight endless court battles with defendants who don't have the funds to provide much, if any, substantial compensation and the government has to spend time and money overseeing the whole thing.

It's also interesting to consider the sums involved. At £20 per year, with 13.8 million broadband subscribers in the UK, the tax will generate £276 million (~$393 million).

Re:It Will Encourage Piracy (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664265)

I still think we (as in, the UK taxpayer) should just take the hit of getting fiber into every household.

Let's skip the 'broadband revolution' and carry on past to 'lets get LAN speeds into every household'.

Reiteration (4, Informative)

CobaltBlueDW (899284) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Reiteration (2, Interesting)

CobaltBlueDW (899284) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663871)

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 "No Child Left Behind" initiative.

Also notice that the infringement initiative only concerns music and film, as if those are the only copyrights that matter. Sorry software and all forms of literature, you don't deserve protection, because you don't increase the utility of our society... Oh wait.

net neutrality in the UK (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663795)

Speaking of the Internet in the UK, the Register reported [theregister.co.uk] yesterday:

The government today rejected any prospect of US-style "net neutrality" laws to prevent ISPs from charging online content providers for traffic prioritisation, or from restricting bandwidth-hungry protocols such as BitTorrent.

Right. I suppose Great Leader will need to have his new FCC guy [theregister.co.uk] straighten them out.

Uhm.. (2, Insightful)

SuperDre (982372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663799)

It's funny how people say 'failed businessmodels' if they are the ones who are ripping those companies off.. There's nothing wrong with their businessmodel, it's a lot of consumers who are just wrong, because it's easy to steal music/movies these days using the internet doesn't mean it is ok to do so.. Why should I pay for some deadbeats who should be punished instead of being rewarded for their actions. If you want to listen to music of want to watch a movie but you are not willing to pay for it then you just wait until it's on the radio/tv or just wait until the price has dropped. There is no reason other than your own lack of moral to steal movies/music..

Re:Uhm.. (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663889)

I am sorry to say, that I just stole your copyrighted material. You see, as the above post was (I assume) entirely your creation, and I have just made a copy of it on my computer using my web browser, I am a dirty thief who may as well be jacking cars.

As for your idea that their business model is fine, its just the consumers who are wrong - that to me seems like the classic last words of a failing industry right there.

Mod parent troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663975)

Playing an idiot to make point which at best is ideological is the same as trolling.

Re:Mod parent troll (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663991)

Posting one liners as an AC and calling people an idiot is trolling. Using an analogy to demonstrate the stupidity of someones position is not.

Its called 'Anonymous Coward' for a reason you know...

Re:Uhm.. (1)

SuperDre (982372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664277)

And there you are wrong in your 'analogy'. I'm writing text on a public forum which means it's my copyright BUT i'm "giving" permission to 'copy' it onto your computer using your webbrowser. Your 'analogy' only would be right if the rightsholder of the music/movie is putting their content online with the permission to copy/download it (for free), but that's not the case in my text. Because you can get it via a torrentsite/newsgroup/warezsite doesn't mean you are allowed, as 90% of the movies/music available through those sites aren't put there with the permission of the rightsholder.. If contentowners want to ask outrageous prices, it's their right to do so, but it's not your right to steal the content because you think the price is too high. If you don't agree with the price then just don't buy it, but don't go stealing it.. you wouldn't steal a ferrari because you think it's too pricey.. That doesn't mean I'm with the high prices, I also think it's ridiculous to ask $40 for a new BR, but I won't go stealing it, I'll just wait a while until the price has dropped to a price I'm willing to pay..

Re:Uhm.. (2, Interesting)

davro (539320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664115)

Im blind and deaf do i have to pay for this Music and Film tax ?

Re:Uhm.. (4, Funny)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664211)

"Why should I pay for some deadbeats who should be punished instead of being rewarded for their actions."

Yeah, that's how I feel about the music industry too.

Oh, wait, what? You were talking about consumers??? So which one do you work for then, Sony BMG? Universal?

The UK Government is... (2, Informative)

salparadyse (723684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663801)

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 cheaper connection?" tax *(the same principle can be applied to most things on the particular bit of dirt we call the UK).
It says everything you need to know about Government, the ISP's and capitalism in general. Profit is privatised and loss is socialised.
WIth a bit of luck it will be a voluntary tax and we can all refuse to pay it and f*ck the lot of them.

Re:The UK Government is... (1, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663913)

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 our government with one more favourbly disposed towards freedom. At least we still have our guns...

Shit.

UK context (2, Informative)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:UK context (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664309)

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 the case it would push me much closer to the 8mbps speed cap on ADSL Max because it really is only quality of cables that's the issue in my area.

I think that's probably being a little hopeful though, realistically I think they'd just push ADSL2 out quicker and then I'd get maybe 3mbps instead. This is perhaps why a minimum wouldn't work well, because they could fulfil the 2mbps obligation at the same time everyone else has jumped from near 8mbps to near 24mbps. I'd argue they should set the cap higher else this legislation is going to become dated quickly as things change much faster in the technology world than they do in the political world.

I am quite offended by this (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Re:I am quite offended by this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664091)

Now imagine 1000000 people EACH week trying to diddle the goverment for 50 pounds each, and your analogy actually... uh still fails.

And try to also understand the banks (ie. the crooks in your book) also have employees thah have families to feed.Each fired employee ends up costing MORE money for the system.

And furthermore, try to understand the huge profit making corporations PAY TAXES for the British system out of those profits.

You fail at maths (2, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664109)

50*52*1000000=£2.6 billion

Banks recieve £400 billion: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7658277.stm [bbc.co.uk]

And if you think that the money given to banks is going to their employees, your understanding of capitalism sucks even more than your arithmetic.

Re:I am quite offended by this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664289)

They're not diddling the goverment out of £40 a week, they screwing *me* out of it. Why should *I* work for a comparable amount to those who do sod all all day, get free or reduced accommodation, help with their bills and numerous other money saving benefits? I don't earn a terrible wage but it's getting more and more parity with what I'd get if I stopped and claimed I have a bad back or a sore knee and can't work.

If you bother to look at the figures you'll see it's actually the people in the middle that get screwed over the hardest. Those who earn too much to get any breaks but not enough to support themselves properly due to most of it being taken in taxes to support people like those sponging off the state.

And what do you think will happen if one of the big four banks fail? Everyone would be in the stinky stuff.

TV Shows (4, Insightful)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663885)

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?

Re:TV Shows (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664341)

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.

Amazon/Play/HMV/iTunes (2, Interesting)

Ross D Anderson (1020653) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663893)

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 this, however at the moment, I do not think there's any way the money could be divided fairly between artists and considering the state of our economy at the moment, that's just too many lost jobs for the government to create.

Re:Amazon/Play/HMV/iTunes (4, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Free Downloads For Life (5, Insightful)

defsdoor (737019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26663895)

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).

Re:Free Downloads For Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664369)

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)

That's the definition of government since forever. Ever noticed how rulers behaved back in Robin Hood times? Do you really think the tribal chiefs used to be different back when someone offered a years worth of mammoth steak supply if the chief would look the other way ...

The world's oldest profession is really a euphemism for politician.

More corrupt government? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26663907)

Universal broadband availability should certainly be mandated in any modern industrial economy, but the corrupt handout for the record industry is just shameful, unless it is a yearly payment that gives everyone the right to download and share anything they want.
Somehow, I can't imaging that from the current British government, which has granted unprecedented rights to large corporate interests at the (massive) expense of the general population.
Lets just hope we don't end up with a Tory government soon, as they were even worse, last time they were in power.

Anecdote (2, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#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! (3, Insightful)

Rob8 (913383) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Hrmm. To put it another way... (2, Insightful)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664023)

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 storage home anymore, the media industry could, as top node provider, getting the royalties from the lower network providers who give pure bandwidth to final users. Too hard?

Oh, and: Yes, of course should broadband get to everywhere, even who "don't need" it. Like phone lines did a century ago, it's called "progress".

Analogue to water mains (-1, Troll)

Teun (17872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664097)

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,

Compare it to the significant subset of the British that do have water in the home but never take a shower, there is a value in at least having the line installed.

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.

That stinks, but no surprise when you don't shower.

I watched the industry shill on BBC News (5, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 that people will buy it.

People ultimately *will* purchase a product they can get for free if they perceive the cost as worth it, so this is down to quality, time, and convenience. If the value for money is good enough, they will buy it. However, you won;t get *everyone* in on this. There will still be people who won't buy, no mater how cheap. Let them go and focus on your paying customer base and how you can make them happy. DRM-free is a good start.

Also, don;t pretend anything other than the reality that Apple dragged you kicking and screaming into the online music business. If there was no iTunes music store in the beginning, there would be no online music download stores right now. You'd still be sitting in your 80 storey glass skyscrapers moaning about how online file sharing is costing you billions.

UK is more communist than China! (2)

Dixcuxx.com (1459623) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664185)

So why should UK people pay for the failure of music and environment industry? This is pure communist! Does even UK goverment knows their own jobless rate is going to be like 10% soon? Why should they find ways to charge people money while they keep losing their jobs? UK = Communist!

Re:UK is more communist than China! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26664345)

This is pure communist!

No, no it is not. It is capitalism.

Treat us like criminals? (5, Insightful)

StoatBringer (552938) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Flamebait, surely - but... (1)

achievement11 (1136269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26664377)

go on, I'll bite: Why should the music industry be any different to the banking sector, or car manufacturers? The UK government has decided to spend it's way out of the recession and they're not too worried where the money's going to come from - that'll be somebody elses problem after the next election...
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