The deal cut for the music industry in the UK - whereby ISPs will reluctantly send out tut-tuts to people record companies believe are sucking down great piles of unpaid music from the internet, and in return ISPs get to build their own legitimate stores - hasn't gone down too well in some places. David Pakman of eMusic has suggested that the music industry has, effectively, created a system that could ruin itself:
One of Pakman's main concerns is that the ISPs are now not only distributors, but also potentially retailers, of online music, and that they could manipulate their position to divert customers to their stores. The ISPs are shocked at the very suggestion:
BSkyB said it was talking to several music companies, but had yet to launch its planned service: "It seems premature in the extreme to be warning of the consequences of something that doesn't even exist."
Exactly. You shouldn't object if your drunken neighbour applies for a gun licence - after all, his weapon, at this stage, doesn't even exist. Wait until he's shooting your car tyres out at three am in a few months.
And BT's reassurance isn't exactly reassuring: not a firm, clear, we would never do that, just a "we have no plans to" at the moment. And it's not just a case of making it harder to download a song from iTunes by throttling connections to the servers, as BT seem to be suggesting - many people, through inertia, are using browsers whose home page is that supplied by their ISP. A big, splashy, "buy Coldplay for sixpence" on launch pages could turn a young music lover's head and seize their pennies without the need to mess about with traffic to Apple or eMusic. It's like Tesco's new online cheat, where they don't actually restrict brands access to their website's customers, if you try and buy a branded product, it automatically suggests a replacement from own brand products instead. You can understand why eMusic might be concerned at the gatekeepers flogging their own produce by the gate.