Piracy Surcharge Set To Force 40,000 Households Offline

Earlier, ISP BT predicted that operating an anti-filesharing scheme in the UK would cost £365m a year. Now the government has admitted that not only will broadband customers have to foot a £500m bill, but that burden will prove too great for 40,000 households - who will have no choice but to give up their Internet connections.

The music industry’s own research indicates that, on a ridiculous ‘one download equals one lost sale’ basis, losses to online piracy will amount to £200m ($319.67m) in the UK during 2009.

Labeling the claims “melodramatic,” in September boss of ISP BT’s consumer division, John Petter, warned that proposed measures to tackle these supposed loses would prove costly for ISPs – a staggering £365m ($583.4m) a year.

Today, according to a new report, government ministers have admitted that the costs will amount to £500m ($799.2m).

ISPs say that issuing warnings will cost every customer £1.40 ($2.24) and otherwise meddling with accounts at the behest of the music industry will add £25 ($40) total to an annual subscription.

Worryingly, ministers say that this extra cost will force 40,000 UK households offline, with BT’s John Petter calling the plans “collective punishment that goes against natural justice.”

Jeremy Hunt, the Shadow Culture Secretary, said that it is “grossly unfair” for the government to force all broadband customers to foot the bill, and noted that forcing tens of thousands offline will go against government targets of increasing Internet take-up among the most disadvantaged communities.

“We are confident that those costs will be a mere fraction of the stratospheric sums suggested by some ISPs,” a BPI spokesman told The Times, adding, “..and negligibly small when set against their vast annual revenues.”

British music churned over £3.6bn in 2008, up by 4.7%. In the same year British films accounted for 15% of worldwide box office takings, totaling £2.6bn ($4.2bn) – an increase of $1bn over 2007.

So, if this anti-piracy scheme really is destined to bring them an extra £1.7 billion extra in media sales over the next 10 years, why don’t they offset these “negligibly small” costs against their own “vast revenues” ? Because they can get the customer to pay, of course.

When this £25 charge is added to customer accounts, ISPs up and down the UK should put the amount separately on the bill as an extra item which clearly reads “Music industry surcharge.”

Let’s see how that affects piracy and, indeed, the attitudes of people who now quite rightly feel they should at least be getting some music for their money.

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