Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

 A UK MP has spoken up in the online copyright enforcement debate, urging that  the policy-makers look into the possibilities for new business models before imposing draconian measures such as automated suspension of Internet access and throttling of peer-to-peer users. To which I have added a few  suggestions for the beleagured chaps at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.


Tom Watson, the Labour Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East, and Civil Service Minister, has entered the 3-strikes debate. He  suggests that instead of consulting on how to punish Internet users, the government's resources would be better spent on helping

companies to set up viable alternative distribution structures for online music and entertainment. The way to begin, he says, is by asking the right questions.


Mr Watson argues that  ‘technical measures'  are, to all intents and purposes protectionist measures, for an industry that is resisting change. The government should be looking  at how to  promote innovation, and understand the real business drivers for online entertainment. 


I have a few suggestions of my own to help BIS come up with the questions:

1. A public examination of the  financial results of the music and entertainment companies that are lobbying to get Internet users cut off. Since they are asking for measures which will entail the surveillance of the entire population, they should be prepared to lay open their accounts for public inspection.  (Several of the relevant companies are subsidiaries, and  published accounts are not available)

 2. Obtain and publish an analysis of the cash flows and revenue models of these companies, so that it will be possible to establish the correct starting point for a discussion. For example, it may be possible to find areas for cost-savings, which would improve their profitability. From a societal perspective, this may be more desirable than  asking  others to carry out sanctions on their behalf,

3. The next step is to map out possible new business models in the appropriate level of detail. If BIS are unsure where to begin, then I suggest the classic marketing quadruple of Product, Place, Price and Promotion.

4 Followed by   NPV calculations based on a range of scenarios, using agreed and public assumptions. This is tool to aid decision-making regarding which new business models may prove most effective.

5 And finally ...  the European Commission needs to grasp the Collecting Socities nettle and sort out a way to get multi-territory rights for online distribution.


If BIS are unclear where to start, I can highly recommend Harold Vogel,   Entertainment Industry Economics: a guide for financial analysis

It is  written in such a way that an industry outsider can easily follow it, and will enable them to ask the right questions.

Incidentally, the company asking Lord Peter Mandelson for technical measures to cut off Internet users - Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks Studio -   has just raised $825 million in funding - quite a coup in  today's hard times!

Read Tom Watson's blog post

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2009)UK 3-trikes -  MP urges consultancy not censorship, 4 May 2009.  



States v the 'Net? 

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is a policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a published author & Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet Freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

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