British Story Gets Bigger; Report Says Legal P2P Ahead

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A licensed file-sharing framework could soon hit the United Kingdom, according to a report surfacing Thursday.

The UK-based Register pointed to the arrival of “legal broadband subscription services that permit file-sharing” by the end of the year, citing industry sources.  Last week, multiple executives in London pointed Digital Music News to ongoing negotiations between ISPs and various rights holders, spurred by governmental threats.

The possibilities remain open-ended, though an ISP-driven, all-you-can eat system is one option reportedly under consideration.  The Register hailed the potential move as “the most radical supply-side reform ever considered by the music business in the modern era,” and pointed to a launch as early as the fourth quarter.

But getting from a-to-b on such a grandiose initiative would undoubtedly require serious licensing and structural overhauls.  That makes the timetable aggressive, especially for an industry famous for its disharmony.  And devilish details and potential disagreements are likely to surround usage terms, payout levels, tracking specifics, participation terms, and top-level pricing.

That makes the story somewhat speculative, though a broad-based, blanketed access model could make perfect sense for the market.  A recent survey by British Music Rights (BMR) strongly advocated the outcome, and major labels – most notably Warner Music Group – are actively considering the possibility.