SCL Policy Document: Digital Music and Online Intermediaries

May 26, 2010

The search for solutions to the intractable problem of unlawful breaches of copyright by sharers has been a constant concern for those interested in IT law in recent years. The Society for Computers and Law has made many contributions to that search for solutions, in hosting relevant seminars and publishing articles from all sides of the great debate. In September at the SCL Forum hosted and sponsored by Herbert Smith LLP, a unique gathering of practitioners and academics exchanged ideas about many aspects of law and regulation in the new information age. The convenor of the Forum, Professor Chris Reed of Queen Mary University of London, resolved to review the law and ideas arising out of the SCL Forum and, together with Berna Akcali Gur of King’s College London, he has produced a policy paper for the SCL. 

SCL’s Trustees have now accepted that paper as an SCL Policy Document. The paper, Digital Music and Online Intermediaries, is now published on the SCL web site. Clive Davies, Chair of SCL, said:

‘We are delighted to adopt this important contribution to the debate on solutions to the problem of unlawful file-sharing and its effect on copyright holders. The Paper from Professor Chris Reed and Berna Akcali Gur looks beyond the obvious solutions – ‘solutions’ which have proved largely illusory and which may continue to fail. It recognises the social and economic realities, shows an understanding of consumer behaviour and the true nature of copyright and takes a long-term view. As the paper states, a long-term solution must strike a balance between the interests of the wider community and those of content owners. It must also recognise that the old model for music generation is dead and that consumers have new expectations about sharing – and history suggests those expectations will be met. The Paper’s suggestion that access providers pay licence fees to content owners is an approach worthy of close examination and debate.

‘SCL’s members represent a wide range of stakeholders in the IT industry and SCL cannot take a stance on exactly where the balancing point lies. But we do see it as a fundamental part of our functions to further debate in this area and the Trustees are very grateful to Professor Reed and Ms Akcali Gur for their work. We are especially pleased that the 2009 Forum has produced such a worthwhile result.’ 

The SCL Policy Document can be read in full here.