The proposal of the UK-based Association of Independent Music (AIM) to impose a compulsory license on ISPs in exchange for free file sharing doesn't ring so well with the Open Rights Group (ORG). The group answered Thursday with a press release that called the AIM plans an "ISP tax" that would be "ill-conceived and grasping".

The press release quotes ORG executive director Suw Charman with the words:

"Suggesting that ISPs and telcos should be responsible for the content transferred by their users illustrates how poorly the music industry understand the net, the right to privacy, and the ISPsí duties to their customers under the Data Protection Act. They are looking at booming technology markets, such as the growth in iPod sales, and wondering how they can get themselves a slice of the action."

Malcolm Hutty from the British ISP group LINX is also quoted:

"We donít accept that ISPs should be responsible for paying for all the value that our customers acquire as a result of using the network. There are already very effective procedures in place which rights holders can use to pursue cases of copyright infringement and ISPs co-operate fully with such investigations, but beyond that, itís nothing to do with the ISP. There is no need for an ISP tax, and it is absolutely inappropriate that the ISP industry should be forced to seek a licence from the music industry in order to operate."

I personally think the growing hostility in the debate about new business models is very unfortunate, and another good reason why any collective licensing solution has to be voluntary. ISPs can end the race to the bottom in terms of access prices by embracing new content offerings built upon P2P infrastructure - think of it as an Audiogalaxy on stereoids.

Record companies on the other hand have to stop blaming others for their misfortune and take their future in their own hand. The solution is not to tax ISPs, but to persuade them to sign up for licenses.

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