US students, alumni to get legal P2P

The beginning of the end of the file-sharing wars?

"What we want is for the fan, the punter, in quiet enjoyment of our music. They should not be hassled or fussed with how it got to them. It's incumbent on the indstry to deal with all the income splits, distribution and accounting."

Nice network you've got there. Shame if something happened to it

While Paul Sanders, of legal P2P network PlayLouder MSP welcomed the move to license music, rather sue users, he warned the music business against short-sightedness.

"The positive point is that what Jim's doing is an essential part of a network music service. It doesn't make sense to bundle the service with a network unless you include that waiver on private use."

"And vice-versa. You can't allow some rights owners to pick up the covenant fees and still sue the customers."

However he cautioned that a Covenant must be the start of the process, not the end - or music lovers would be short-changed. Unless the system evolved beyond a simple convenant, he argued, it would be impossible to create a market for cool new music services.

"It's hard to see how anyone could look at the situation, where the network is paying a low basic fee, and want to do anything other than an ancilliary service. No one is going to want to invest in anything coherent. The network provider has no incentive do anything other than minimize costs. Once you've paid your covenant - why spend a penny more?"

And as the music business' focus switches from preventing use to monetizing it, it brings in new challenges.

The public would be rightly confused and aggrieved, he thought, if they owned a Nokia ComesWithMusic phone - but were still liable for infringement on their home network. Then there's the consequences of a historic shift in emphasis that the move implies:

"You can easily see this as a shake-down. The first target of a covenant might a university in the States. Given that there's a limited amount of resources in the RIAA where do you think the resources are going to be targetted? If you're a rights-holder, you stop chasing the biggest infringers, and go after the richest networks."

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