The UK-based Association of Independent Music is supporting an initiative that would disconnect repeat infringiers from the Internet, also known as three strikes and you're out, according to a report from Musicweek.com. The organization, which is made up of UK indie labels, submitted its position as part of the ongoing government consultation about P2P file sharing. Here's a short quote from the Musicweek article:

"We support provision for a range of sanctions which can be invoked proportionately including, with necessary safeguards, the suspension of individual broadband accounts as a last resort against the most persistent offenders."

The consultation has divided the UK's music industry, with many artists coming out on both sides of the debate. Lily Allen wants to punish file sharers, Radiohead believe P2P is just another way to promote your music. AIMs stance is not really that surprising. The organization has advocated for three strikes in the past, but it has also always shown an understanding for the fact that the genie is out of the bottle. Back in 2006, AIM wrote (PDF):

"The average consumer will assume the right to copy what he/she wants from whatever format, to any format and to anyone. Copying and sharing is now an explicit part of modern cultural and social exchange."


Wait a minute, you might think: Why would you want to punish people for taking part in modern culture? Well, turns out, AIMs position is actually not that simple. The organization wants to legalize and monetize file sharing through licensing agreements with ISPs and others. Users would just have to pay a few bucks extra to their ISP for the right to share files without repercussion. That's the carrot, if you will. Three strikes would be the stick, according to a recent op-ed by AIM CEO Alison Wenham:

"Consumers opting for value added service would be free from any threat of disconnection. Those who didnít, but who continued to copy and share music from pirated sites would be required to make a simple choice Ė pay for your content, or go somewhere else."

AIM now seems to believe that it needs the stick first in order to come up wth the carrots. It's an understandable position, even though it's not one I share. However, the tragedy of the current discussion is that everything once again gets reduced to sound bites, and you probably don't have to wait too long before someone will claim that UK's indie labels are "against file sharing."

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