Tags: billy bragg

Who Will Bandwidth Squeezing Really Hurt?

It's getting even more annoying.

Back in May, Billy Bragg wrote, "as recording artists we question the wisdom of pursuing and penalising our potential audience."

Now he has signed the FAC / Lily Allen statement supporting "a three-strike sanction on those who persistently download illegal files, sanctions to consist of a warning letter, a stronger warning letter and a final sanction of the restriction of the infringer's bandwidth to a level which would render file-sharing of media files impractical while leaving basic email and web access functional."

Firstly, filesharing is not the problem.

Mike Masnick of Techdirt points out, "none of these artists have been able to respond to the basic questions posed by many of us, asking for any evidence that the problem they face is actually unauthorized file sharing, rather than a shift in technologies and business models." He continues, "Again, as we've pointed out countless times, the size of the overall UK music industry is growing, not shrinking, and those who have put in place business models that embrace file sharing have seen their own markets grow, not shrink.".

Secondly, three-strike sanctions won't work.

Andrew Orlowski in The Register reminds us that, "file sharing over dial-up speed connections isn't impossible, it's just slower". That's if the sanctions are even legal, which it looks like the EU says they are not. It doesn't even matter. You can still share files without using the internet at all. Simply copy them from your machine onto a USB key or mp3 player, or phone, or whatever, then you can copy them over anywhere else you can physically get to.

So no-one will benefit from the sanctions, which won't work anyway. Be that as it may.

What would sanctions do, were they implemented? Who would they hurt?

Being pretty much impossible, both technically and legally, the implementation details are messy - multiple users share one connection in most houses, people leech bandwidth from their neighbours, or use Wifi networks as they travel, or download an mp3 of a CD they already own - is that an infringement? - but lets skip all that for now.

Assume for the sake of argument that the sanctions are implemented by some means. Chances are there'll be ways round them, though they might involve a new machine or a new ISP connection. Or being able to fund a simple legal challenge. Who will find it easier to get around them in that way? The richer or the poorer 'suspected illegal filesharers' and their families?

So shame on you, Billy Bragg.

'Here comes the future and you can't run from it' he wrote. 'You are judged by your actions and not by your pretensions', he wrote.

Huh.