Electronic Frontier Foundation Propose a Licensing Scheme for Filesharers

After a year of research, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging copyright holders to join together to offer blanket licenses to P2P networks.

They are drawing parallels with the copyright problem radio once faced in the US – Performing Rights Organisations (PRO) such as ASCAP and BMI were founded to allow radio stations to play music legally and ensure that artists and publishers were properly compensated.

The EFF also regard music licensing in the internet age as dogged with the same problems that the player piano industry fought though in 1909 with sheet music manufacturers. This early situation was also solved by a blanket license.

The money to be made is attractive – if users paid, for example, US$5 per month, income to the music companies would be more than US$3 billion – and almost in pure profit as no CDs would have to be manufactured or shipped.

The EFF’s proposal (PDF)

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?