Soon, The Isle of Man residents will obtain a compulsory music license. Every Isle of Man resident will pay a predetermined amount in exchange for being able to download infinitely. Few details are currently available, except that the plan will include unlimited download activity for all 80,000 residents. Revenue will be shared with the music industry.
This plan raises all the obvious questions that compulsory licenses generate, including the fairness of forcing everyone to pay, whether they want to download files or not.
Geoff Taylor, who heads the UK music trade group BPI, loved the idea, but he noted that ISPs were not all clamoring to get into the music distribution business. “If all the ISPs across Europe were interested in taking licenses, we’d be in a very interesting position,” he said, “and we wouldn’t face many of the problems we face today. But our doors are not being battered down by ISPs looking for licenses.”
IFPI numbers out last week showed that only 18 percent of Europeans engage in illicit file-sharing, though, so it’s hard to imagine a similar compulsory program launching in a larger European state.
The proposal could cost as little as a Euro per year for Isle Of Man residents. Music industry figures are not pleased with this suggestion, predicting that if it does progress to include the UK, it won’t make enough money to offset the record business’ current worth. “An experiment in a small territory such as the Isle of Man might be quite interesting from an academic point of view, but applying a compulsory license in larger markets is not going to prove a workable solution,” said a spokesman for recording industry group IFPI.