Some will of heard of the broadband provider Playlouder who offer a broadband service with bundled music downloads in the UK. The firm classifies itself as a Music Service Provider (MSP) and it is thought to be in talks with Virgin Media over a deal that would see music rights holders receiving payment for material downloaded over peer-to-peer (p2p) networks.
There is an explanation of how Playlouder envisages this working over on paidcontent.co.uk. The system works by using a combination of deep inspection technology and Audible Magic to allow people to download music from torrents and other P2P networks and even share it with other users while tracking which tracks have been downloaded. This doesn't come for free however, the idea being that the broadband provider can charge a fee for this unlimited access to music.
At first sight there is no incentive for people to pay extra for this subscription, but given the recent memorandum of understanding that will see warning letters getting sent out, the pressure will build on people to switch to legal music download sources. If the figure of £5 a month was to become reality then the chance of households signing up will be fairly high, and in the case of Virgin Media there may be scope for including the deal for free with the premium services such as the 20Mbps service.
The problem will be that as p2p networks evolve there is constant race between these clients and the deep inspection networks. There will be some who have become so used to getting all their digital content for free that no matter how cheap a subscription they will endeavour to employ encryption techniques to evade detection.
Broadband providers are likely to be striking a number of deals like this over the coming months, and if the amount of money flowing towards the record companies improves then bodies like the BPI may relax the pressure on the government to introduce more restrictive legislation. If full legislation is introduced we may see people getting blacklisted from having an internet connection after being caught downloading music illegally.