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RIAA, IFPI, and the BPI line up to praise passage of the Digital Economy Bill, which includes Internet disconnection, website filtering, and a virtual ban on public access WI-Fi, hoping that it “creates momentum for the graduated response approach to tackling piracy internationally.”The ink has yet to dry on the recently passed Digital Economy Bill (DEB) in the UK, and already the music industry is lining up to take turns praising the country’s MPs for ushering in a new era of online anti-piracy rules and regulations.“We welcome the recognition by the UK government – as with increasing numbers of countries around the world – that ISPs have an important role to play in protecting creators and preserving the Internet as an engine of economic growth and a platform for innovative business models,” says RIAA Chairman & CEO Mitch Bainwol. “To be sure, the more this trend goes global, the greater the possibilities are for a thriving music marketplace that better serves the creators of music and their fans.”The DEB includes website filtering, a ban on open Wi-Fi, and a “three-strikes” regime that would disconnect accused file-sharers from the Internet. It forces ISPs to change from neutral “dumb pipe” broadband providers to “protectors” of the Internet that root out copyright infringement at every turn.One of the problems is that it invests heavily in the notion that increased scrutiny of Internet users for signs of illegal file-sharing, and then sanctioning them accordingly, will somehow turn them into paying customers. It doesn’t address the core issue of the music industry’s failure to develop a business model that convinces them to buy on their own. The Internet is instead molded to suit the needs of private businesses.Worse still, as we’ve already seen in France after passage of its own “3-strikes” bill, P2P users will by in large simply switch to alternative methods of acquiring copyrighted material. In the case of France, 2/3 of former P2P users simply switched to non-P2P alternatives like illegal streaming sites and HTTP-based download services (i.e. Rapidshare), but other options like VPNs, Usenet, etc., still remain. But, a desperate music industry doesn’t seem to care, and as usual, is blinded by its own ignorance.“The Act’s measures to reduce illegal downloading will spur on investment in new music and innovation in legal business models,” says the British Phonographic Industry’s Chief Executive Geoff Taylor. “An internet that rewards taking creative risks will mean more British bands enjoying global success, more choice in how to access music online, and more jobs in our fast-growing creative sector. These measures will not eliminate all piracy, but they will go a long way towards reducing illegal freeloading and will help to build a more sustainable ecosystem for content on the internet.”Locking down the Internet, especially by banning public Wi-Fi, is no way to reward an industry for deciding to take creative risks. Every time millions of UK Internet users go online – music fans or not – they’ll be monitored for signs of copyright infringement to make sure the record industry isn’t losing out on potential profits. Restricting people’s freedom is hardly a way to create a “sustainable ecosystem” for selling them music. The BPI wanted ISPs to police the Internet and it finally got its wish.“And we have got the law to recognize that internet service providers, who have benefited so much from creative content on the web, have a joint responsibility to ensure creators’ rights are protected,” says Tony Wadsworth, Chairman of the BPI. “This is a significant step in the transition of our business to the online world.”Notice how it’s still trying to “transition?” It spent a decade practically sitting on its hands until declining profits forced it to act, and how does it respond? By forcing the “transition” on Internet users, and not just music fans by the way. Instead of it adapting to the needs of society, it forced society to adapt to its needs instead, and if the music industry could have its way the DEB would go global.“The move by the UK creates momentum for the graduated response approach to tackling piracy internationally,” says International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) chairman John Kennedy. “Governments increasingly understand that, in the digital economy, creative industries like music, film, books and games can drive growth and jobs for many years to come if they are provided with the right legal environment and with a modern system of enforcement in which ISPs actively cooperate.”“The UK has today joined the ranks of those countries who have taken decisive and well-considered steps to address the issue. We hope this will prompt more focus and urgency for similar measures in other countries where debate is underway,” he adds.Well, I can tell you one thing, and that it will NEVER EVER happen in the US. Our country may have its faults, but let it be noted we take free speech and privacy protections very seriously. Too bad the UK and France don’t seem to be as enlightened as we are. Oh the irony.