Time for ISPs and Content Owners to Get on the Same Page

News of the UK government’s proposal to pass legislation to compel ISPs to stop illegal file sharing on their networks appears to be polarising debate and bringing out the usual discussion of privacy concerns etc.

They key issue here is that it is in the interest of content owners and ISPs to reach collaborative, voluntary agreement. If both parties could come together and create a viable and compelling (dirt) cheap alternative to illegal content online for consumers ISPs would be able to monetize traffic and content owners would extract revenue from otherwise elusive audiences.

To compete against free, and of course (in the case of music), with Apple, content owners need to empower ISPs with groundbreaking licenses. The shift to free or near to free legal content is of course well underway – just consider Spiral Frog, Qtrax, Comes With Music, MusicStation Max, imeem etc. for music and iPlayer, 4OD, ITV.com, ABC.com, Hulu etc for video.

An all in one content bundle that ISPs could wrap into broadband packages for little additional cost to the consumer would take this to a logical next step. But there isn’t much room for charging a premium – my colleague Ian Fogg points out that home broadband is becoming increasingly commodified. A family content bundle might just be a differentiator for ISPs and would certainly be door opener to mainstream audiences for content owners.