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Traffic light system to combat illegal downloads

by Jenna Mc

The issue of piracy is a major concern for the music industry. It has become much more of a problem with the growth of the internet because now anyone with internet access can search for their favourite song and find a website to download it from. Illegal downloads are now accessible to everyone, and piracy has turned the young and the old into common criminals.

Music industry bosses claim that every one of the millions of music files downloaded each day counts as a “lost sale” and that illegal downloading robs our economy of millions of pounds every year and seriously damages business and innovation throughout the UK. The most recent figures from the UK’s recording music body British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said 1.2 billion individual tracks were illegally downloaded in 2010.

There have been many attempts from arts industries to prevent piracy, including prosecuting offenders and threatening advertising campaigns, however recent reports still suggest piracy is on the rise.

One theory is that some people genuinely do not know that they are breaking the law when they download music illegally and if they did it would perhaps deter them from doing so. A music body, the Performing Rights Society (PRS) For Music, has now come up with an idea for search engines to show which sites offer content illegally by way of a traffic light system. When the search engine results are displayed, links to sites offering legal downloads will show up with green tags, while links to illegal download sites will have red tags.

This will not be a legal action and illegal downloading sites will not be blocked from the user. Instead the move is aimed at informing people which content is licensed and which content is not licensed. It is hoped that this system will make people more conscious of their actions and help them to make the correct decision by utilising legitimate download websites.

The PRS are hopeful that plans will be in place by the end of the year. In order for the scheme to be successful they will need to get the big search engines on board, currently Google has ‘no comment’ on the plans, while Bing and Yahoo are also still to respond.

There is a great deal of debate over whether this scheme could be effective.

Do you think a traffic light system would make people “do the right thing”? Or do you think people already know when they are downloading music illegally and do so regardless?

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