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Should P2P filesharers be paid for filesharing?

Socking it to The Man

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Take that, pigopolists! A novel idea has been proposed to take the fight to the RIAA and the BPI. Since P2P filesharing has a discovery element which permits people to discover new music at no cost - why shouldn't filesharers be compensated for filesharing?

The idea was floated on the Open Rights Group discussion list earlier this month.

"Studies point to filesharing as a driver for *increased* music sales (among the heaviest downloaders). Possibly filesharers should start trying to recover promotional costs from the music industry?" asked anti-copyright campaigner Rob Myers.

"The music industry should be thinking about business models in which it pays commission to filesharers," echoed a poster.

It's an intriguing idea, one which turns conventional ideas of "compensation" on their head.

However, ORG's Becky Hogge told us that this emphatically didn't reflect official ORG policy.

We also ran the idea by former Undertones lead singer Feargal Sharkey. Sharkey recently took the job of chairman of British Music Rights, a group that acts as a counterweight to the BPI, representing songwriters and composers. Feargal's reaction?

"Fantastic!" he told us.

"The obvious thing is who's going to provide this compensation? Shall I assume it's the original songwriters and composers who don't make much money as it is?"

"That's one of the most fanciful and non-practical ideas I've heard for quite some time. But God bless them for making me laugh and cheering me up today!"

So alas, this might be a hard sell outside the Republic of Freetardia - where music is free, and compensation is always someone else's problem.

We'll run the full interview with Feargal later in the week. Great fun it is, too. ®

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