Broadband providers being told to fix their pipes is something consumers will be used to when connections are running slow, but Elio Leoni-Sceti of EMI has re-used the illustration that broadband connections are like a water utility to illustrate his view of the effect broadband is having on firms like EMI.
"Internet service providers play a significant role because they own the pipe,... In England we know there is a lot of water and content filtering wastefully through the pipes across the country. The pipe owner has a responsibility to close the holes."Elio Leoni-Sceti (Chief Executive), EMI Music
We don't think the illustration works fully and it seems the rest of the article in the business section of the Times Online is calling for content filtering, which is more akin to sticking a massive Brita water filter into the mains. With sites like Spotify appearing, the ability for consumers to effectively create their own radio playlists is increasing, and sites like this may be more useful in getting people to reduce the amount of tracks they download in violation of copyright rules. What no-one appears to have asked is how often people listen to the tracks they have downloaded. There is a real possibility that most people are still buying the music they like and enjoy, but sampling new and unknown acts, or using peer to peer networks as a way of obtaining a copy of an album they have on vinyl.
If the music industry were to get its way and broadband providers were to filter digital content it would be a massive undertaking. How does an ISP differentiate between a track shared with the owners permission and an illegally shared one, particularly when this becomes even more difficult due to the use of encryption. The most likely solution is that providers will assume all newsgroup and bit-torrent traffic is in-violation of copyright law and block it.
For too long the corporations would seem to have been distant from the music buying public, and many of the statements coming from the music industry are not helping to close this gap. We hear of restriction, punishment and enforcement, but little in the way of providing content in a way that the consumer has got used to.