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File-sharing clampdowns won't stop p2p music downloads

Four in five music fans will find new web outlets

Digital music fans will not be deterred by filesharing clampdowns introduced by the Digital Economy Bill, a survey by broadband service provider Talk Talk has found. Instead, eighty percent of the 18-to-34-year olds said they would defy lawmakers and continue accessing music for free.

Rather than curtail their filesharing activities, if the Digital Economy Bill is passed and p2p detection becomes widespread, they will move to new, undetectable means of accessing and sharing music.

While 18 to 34-year-olds were the most adamant about their intentions to continue accessing music for free, 71 percent of all survey respondents, regardless of their age, said they will do so. As a result, says Talk Talk, the proposals contained in the Digital Economy Bill, will be "an ultimately futile deterrent".

The Bill, which is currently being debated in Parliament and may become law within weeks, aims to protect copyright owners such as music publishers and artists. Under a "three strikes rule" proposed by Lord Mandelson, anyone found to be downloading or distributing music or videos to which they do not own the copyright may be prosecuted for doing so.

The "three strikes" rule refers to warnings given to the individual to curtail their p2p activities. If they don't stop doing so after having been warned, they may have their broadband connection suspended or cut off. As yet, the length of the connection suspension has not been defined and many industry commentators believe it is an empty threat.

Nevertheless, the majority of Talk Talk's customers who admitted to routinely downloaded music for free, said they will continue to do so once the Digital Economy Bill becomes law and will simply disguise their online activity using widely available tools. Furthermore, two thirds of survey respondents said they would not start buying music for download and would not purchase music they had already acquired for free. If they bought any music at all, it would be two percent or less of the total amount of music they have.

In fact, Talk Talk believes the legislation will simply end up penalising broadband users and put the onus on them to prove they haven't contravened file sharing rules. "The Bill reverses the core principles of natural justice by requiring customers to prove their innocence," says Andrew Heaney, TalkTalk's director of strategy and regulation.

The ISP has warned its customers to tighten up their Wi-Fi networks to ensure people can't piggyback on their wireless networks and use their bandwidth to download content. Under the Digital Economy Bill rules the person paying for the broadband subscription will be liable for whatever it is used for, regardless of whether they are the person downloading or distributing content.

Talk Talk says it's not consumers who are at fault but music distribution methods and the music industry's reluctance to accept the consumers expect to be able to access online content for free.

"It doesn't matter how many sites are blocked, how many families are snooped on or how many customers are disconnected, music fans who want to can and will get the content they want online for free", says Heaney.

See also: Government won't disconnect illegal downloaders

See also: Digital Economy Bill threatens freedom of speech


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