The French kiss
New rules in France have been set up to punish on-line exchange of files. The new deal between the French administration, the recording industries and the Internet service providers is supposed to protect the artists' revenue.
The deal is supposed to be against on-line movie and music exchange but I am not sure how easy may be to detect that a given user is downloading a song whose rights belong to a French corporation or artist. So it may well be easier to rule out any file exchange, just in case. We will see...
Not everybody agrees on the idea that preventing music or video sharing over the Internet is going to improve sales figures, though. If the system they are putting in place in France does work, it may well be a market to watch carefully. I won't be surprised if, instead of the expected results (higher revenue for artists), a significant decrease on Internet users happens. Because of this, I think this is a social experiment we need to pay close attention to.
Do not forget that unless you are using a campus network (or freeloading on your neighbour's wifi), any residential Internet access does not come for free. ISP business is to bring Internet access to your home, and they do this for a monthly fee. It is somehow astonishing that your provider might stop serving you while they keep on charging you.
Think of a new law against rude language where telcos would cut your telephone line once you have said a forbidden word. But you would still have to pay your telephone monthly fee. Weird, isn't it?
What I am afraid is that P2P users are the ones that will be punished the most, not because they do anything wrong but because they are easy to pinpoint (ok, some of you may complain here). But file sharing has nothing wrong in itself, even some corporations in the movie industry are using BitTorrent to distribute their paid content, maybe even to customers in France :-)
Update: Just a few days later I've learned that MTV Networks is planning to make the TV show South Park available for free download. Just another way to understand the problems and their solutions. BTW, I've never seen that show though it's been available on free TV for quite a while.