Free music downloads for Isle of Man with compulsory licence fee?

Jan 20, 2009
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The government of the Isle of Man is considering a proposal that would see its roughly 80,000 residents free to download as much music as they wished, based on each person paying a compulsory music licence fee.  The suggestion was raised by Isle of Man minister Ron Berry at the MidemNet debate on Sunday, and received a mixed-response from ISP representatives present.

"At the end of the day, we’re not going to stop piracy.  Embrace it… Had the music industry embraced [the original Napster], we’d have a very different medium today" Ron Berry

The Isle of Man has achieved 100-percent broadband penetration, meaning high-speed internet access is available to everybody who wants it.  This new music licence, similar to the TV licence schemes operated in countries such as the UK, would be a blanket fee paid to the music labels in return for unlimited access to audio files.

No suggestion of fee amount has been made, nor eligibility details.  It's unclear whether every resident, whether internet user or not, would be expected to pay, or what DRM protection downloaded tracks might be encrypted with to avoid them "getting loose" from the island.  While some ISP representatives at the debate believed the licencing model to be a good idea, others had concerns that some providers still wanted to be simply the conduit to people's internet access, rather than an implicit part of the licencing process.


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