Monday, August 22, 2005


The new deal struck between Playlouder and Sony-BMG is being hailed as a new route to the future whereby people could fileshare, without being sued by the BPI. It's not quite as rosy for the consumers - or "us", as we're known - as it might seem at first glance.

For twenty six quid, you get your broadband deal and are allowed to download as much music from Sony BMG through the filesharing networks as you want. Just Sony so far, but Playlouder are convinced that the others will come on board shortly. You can see the attraction for Sony: they get a massive chunk of guaranteed cash, regardless of how many tracks get downloaded. But how is your average music fan meant to know if Sony-BMG own the rights to the track he's downloading? Are we supposed to check the individual, often tortuous, trail of copyright every single time we're going to download something?

And will Playlouder customers be given special treatment when it comes to BPI lawsuits? If they download a Mozzer track from his EMI years thinking HMV was a BMG label, will the BPI turn a blind eye as there would be a plausible defence for them if the case came to court?

And, more to the point: the BPI says that its targeting people who make their music available online - in other words, it's going after the uploaders. But if there are deals being cut whereby people can download legally, how can the record labels continue to prosecute anyone any more? People have every right to make digital copies of the music they own; they have every right to have peer to peer software on their PCs. If there are people on those networks who have paid for the legal right to download music - where exactly is the justice in suing anyone in the deal? Indeed, since Sony are taking a big slice of cash from people on the basis that they expect to be able to download the label's music from peer to peer networks, in what way is it in Sony's interests to remove the music from those networks by bringing punitive legal actions against uploaders? If the BPI is successful in forcing file sharers off the internet, nobody is going to be paying a cash premium to Playlouder and on to the labels in order to download that music in the first place, surely?

Unless they expect only people who are paying for the music through the Playlouder model to be uploading as well - but why would anyone want to buy music twice, once at the store, and then again through their ISP by paying for the upload?

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