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Billy Bragg, English alternative rock musician and member of the Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC), which formed this past March to give artists an equal voice in the P2P debate, has written an op-ed in the UK’s Guardian that offers “A Better Way to Sink Internet Pirates.”He first talks about how artists had come together to support bandwidth throttling versus disconnection at the recent “urgent” P2P summit in London’s Air Studios as an example of how artists can have a united voice in the file-sharing debate, even if it’s one that contradicts the record labels’ party line.Bragg , who long ago argued that artists should be able to “decide when their music should be used for free, or when they should have payment,” says that ultimately fighting illegal P2P will be a costly, long-term endeavor with absolutely no guarantee that any savings, if even achieved at all, will wind up in the hands of artists as the record labels promise. When have record labels ever gone out of their way to make sure artists get their fair share?“While the recording industry continues to make threatening noises towards kids who swap music files among themselves, our real enemies, the illegal download sites that make money giving our music away for free, are disappearing off the radar into darknets,” he says.Exactly. Though I don’t condone file-sharing for commercial gain, the true definition of piracy, it’s nice to finally hear a music artist mention darknets in regards to the futility of fighting illegal file-sharing. For every method that can be concocted by record labels or the govt to fight it there are least a dozen ways it can easily be circumvented. It’s as Bragg puts it, a “war that no one can win.”More importantly, new sanctions have implications for society. Filters, throttling, and disconnection all mean that society’s main tool for communicating with one another could eventually be controlled by big business.“As the pirates always manage to stay one step ahead of the latest clampdown, the recording industry will continue to ask legislators for ever tighter sanctions, leading ultimately to an internet controlled by and for big business, which can only be accessed by those willing to pay,” he says. Unlike Lily Allen, whom called P2P a “disaster” for emerging artists, Bragg thinks it’s “vital” for them to “flourish” and he’s right.Independent music business online expert Andrew Dubber pointed out recently that the biggest problem for artists twenty years ago was ‘How can I just get my music out there?’ Record labels were the gatekeepers of music and the fortunes of emerging artists rested solely in their hands. Now the Internet allows them to put their music directly in the hands of fans all across the globe for absolutely free.Hip hop artist 50 Cent has called P2P a “part of the marketing” necessary to make up for what the record labels are no longer able to afford. Even pirates “end up at the concerts,” he continues, “because they can’t help but fall in love with the material at that point whether they consumed it from downloading it on the actual Internet or they went and purchased the material.”Bragg’s solution to it all is to create viable digital alternatives that offer music fans what they want while earning the industry a profit.The first would be all-you-can-eat subscription services like the one Virgin Media plans to roll out later this year. For a nominal monthly fee you can stream or download as much music as you want.The second would entail P2P services offering advertising platforms with the proceeds being used to reimburse artists whose music is downloaded.Both are excellent ideas in my opinion, with the latter being especially appealing. I could even envisage a donate button on individual artist pages of BitTorrent tracker sites like Waffles.fm so that you can easily give money DIRECYLY to the artist with the simple click of the mouse. Either way, at least Bragg is thinking outside the box.For the real truth is, if lawsuits become part of your business model, then you no longer have a good business model. File-sharers are actually highlighting a market failure and pointing out a better way to do things.