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Music industry to tax downloaders

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Nigel Morris,
London Independent
Thursday, July 24, 2008

Internet users could face an annual charge of up to £30 to download music, under plans to be unveiled today that aim to tackle illegal file-sharing.

Ministers are backing proposals that would enable millions of broadband users to pay an annual levy which would allow them to copy as much – previously illegal – music from the internet as they wanted. The money raised would be channelled back to the rights-holders, with artists responsible for the most popular songs receiving a bigger slice of the cash.

John Hutton, the Business Secretary, and Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, will unveil a package of proposals, beginning with thousands of prolific downloaders receiving letters warning them they are breaking the law by copying music and sending it to friends. The Government sees that move as the last chance for internet service providers (ISPs) to get a grip on the growing problem of piracy.

(Article continues below)

In the longer term, Mr Burnham is supporting calls from sections of the music industry for a yearly levy of £20 to £30 to be imposed by ISPs on customers who want to share music.

They believe it would prevent criminalising large sections of the public, while helping to compensate the music industry for lost sales. If successful it could be extended to cover films and television programmes.

An estimated 6.5 million broadband users unlawfully download files every year, which the industry warns has resulted in a slump in CD and DVD sales. About 95 per cent of music downloads from the internet are thought to be illegal.

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This article was posted: Thursday, July 24, 2008 at 3:17 am

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