UK – 7Digital Tries Cashing in With Customers Stuck on Anti-Piracy ISPs

It didn’t take long for businesses to take advantage of the British ISPs caving to pressure and agreeing to fight alleged piracy, but 7Digital is hoping to sell music directly from the ISP.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

The hope appears to be simply unrolling this service in an effort to dethrone iTunes.

It is a scheme few critics would be surprised about – censor the internet and profit from instantly establishing a monopoly. Judging from reports highlighting the issue.

We already know that the British ISPs signed a memorandum of understanding to fight piracy, the question is going to be, what will be the ramifications? Chances are, it won’t stop file-sharing given that an Australian study spelled out again that ISP level filters for file-sharing simply don’t work.

Still, that won’t deter 7Digital from assuming that piracy is going to end in Britain and everyone will go back to music stores as a result of ISPs fighting piracy. From ITPortal:

iTunes competitor 7Digital has a rather cunning proposal for UK ISPs which could not only allow millions to listen to unlimited music without incurring litigation costs, but would also see it become a major online music outfit overnight.

What 7Digital is proposing is in essence setting up the infrastructure necessary for the process of white labelling to take place.

This means that broadband consumers would be able to purchase music files straight from the ISPs or subscribe to DRM protected music libraries and even allow ISPs to create their own download service like iTunes but without a heavy initial outlay.

By acting a one-stop shop, the big music studios will not be compelled to discuss individually with the dozens of ISPs out there, leaving that to 7Digital.

First off, the infrastructure to white label online already exists… it’s called uploading. If an artist is really concerned, they can apply a Creative Commons license to their work. Then again, creativity might be complicated if ISPs really managed to create a sort of ‘authorized creativity’ environment where artists have to go through services like 7Digital or iTunes just to be able to make their music available online for free. Second of all, the internet is already a one-stop shop for pretty much anything digital.

“It’s a natural step for ISPs to offer added value services such as music downloads and streaming to their existing customers,” says 7digital’s CEO Ben Drury. “It will help combat churn and attract new subscribers.”

Unfortunately, when one reduces the functionality of their service, it isn’t likely going to attract new customers to your service. Chances are, 7Digital won’t change hardly anything because people who are searching for music will either bi-pass the filters or switch to an ISP that hasn’t decided to filter out P2P (which is likely the only way that unauthorized file-sharing can take place which would knock out legitimate traffic in the process) altogether while people who use the internet strictly for email and chatting won’t exactly be flocking to 7Digital either.

This isn’t the first time ISPs got to be pressured into filtering content on the internet. Late last year, the Australian government tried implementing an 84 million dollar porn filter on all the Australian ISPs. The result? A teenager broke it in 30 minutes in his spare time. Take into the context of ‘what if the UK ISPs try simply implementing a filter to filter out only certain kinds of P2P traffic as opposed to a blanket block?’ If the Australian case and the studies are anything to go by, the most likely outcome will be that the filters will be bi-passed in some way. If there is blanket P2P blocking, there will be no doubt that the open source community along with digital rights activists will be up in arms over it more so than now – non of which will be good news for 7Digital or the incumbent copyright industry.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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