So, the British Government is suggesting that people who download things illegally should have their Internet access cut. Whoopee doo, let’s deal with those naughty people. Cracked it. Er…not.

Firstly, people can easily hide their illegal downloads. Even if ISPs could ban people from using their systems, they’d have to find them first – and that is difficult. Secondly, if it were possible to track offending ISP users, there’s no guarantee that the person paying the bill is the offender; illegal “piggy backing” on broadband connections is rife – and difficult to stop when so few people take the necessary precautions. And how do you ban people from downloading at public sites, like free Wi-Fi sites?

More troubling, however, is the fact that younger people do not see downloading music as illegal or immoral. They view music as a free resource. They have grown up downloading or “ripping” music. Technically it is illegal, but they don’t view it as such. They believe it is their “right” to have music when they want it, without payment.

The music industry doesn’t yet realise this and, it seems from the latest notion from Government law makers is that neither do politicians. But then who said those in politics had any notion of the real world?

Here’s what’s likely to happen. The producers of music – the bands and artistes – will connect directly with their audiences providing free downloads. They will make their money from live gigs and associated product sales, all organised by web-based promoters. The music industry will have largely disappeared – all faster than they think likely. Politicians meanwhile will try to stem the tide of cash away from this “important industry”. But they have yet to realise the horse has bolted; dealing with that open stable door is useless.

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