To the government of Singapore: Please consider the formation of a Blanket Licensing Scheme for P2P downloads sign now

To the Government of Singapore:

BitTorrent and P2P networking are immense aids to the problem of huge file distribution. They cut down the cost of online media distribution. Unfortunately, it's not a simple technology to understand for people who don't want to listen. Especially with the current situation where BitTorrent is used to download content illegally, BT has become a taboo subject in most areas.

Which is a damn waste. Because BT drastically lowers the cost of online distribution for the content owners.

What does BT do? In essence, it allows one person to offer a file for distribution, and the more people download it, the more people offer the file for distribution as they are downloading it, and in effect multiplies the bandwidth available for the file to be downloaded by others. For a negligible bandwidth, one can make a file downloadable at immense speeds by tons of people.

So, BitTorrent is a great technology for distribution, but the devil is in the details. For example, "how to collect money" is the worst bugbear.

Here's a scheme.

Consider the formation of an organization to manage blanket licensing in Singapore. This organization will invite all content owners, big or small, to be participants. The content owners will submit a list to the organization, continually updated, of the content they own.

All Internet subscribers in Singapore have an option to pay an additional license fee every month to the ISP, where the ISP will pass the fees to this organization. All people who pay this additional license fee cannot be sued by participating organizations. This organization will maintain the money in the account, to pay out to content owners, in proportion to the popularity of the downloads of their content. The problem lies in auditing the number of downloads in order to proportionate payment.

The current Odex vs. the kids case that I detailed in my previous blogpost gave me the answer to the problem of auditing. Odex uses the services of a company in the US called BayTSP. Check this out: http://www.baytsp.com/solutions/index.html.

This could be the solution to audit downloaders for the purpose of blanket license payouts to content owners. The company logs the IP address and the content downloaded via various protocols, including BitTorrent, and probably logs the incidence. Using this data, proportions can be worked out and, at the end of every month or quarter, all the money collected by the blanket license organization will be paid out in proportion to the incidence of downloads during the period.

What happens to the people who don't want to pay the license? They can get sued as per normal. What happens to content owners who refuse to take part in this scheme? Simple, they don't get a cut. What happens to people who pay the blanket licensing fee but download content owned by content owners who don't take part in this scheme? They can still get sued, but then it will be made clear what content can be downloaded legally and what content can't. The list will be on the blanket licensing organization's Web site.

To ensure that this scheme works, there must be many participating content owners. If the Media Development Authority of Singapore uses its clout with content owners, it can be very persuasive. What's it in for the Government?

1) No more problems of content owners killing kids--that's bad PR, looks bad on the Government, looks bad on the content owners.

2) Gives the catalyst to ultra-wide broadband connections in Singapore, now with a LEGAL use.

3) Makes Singapore a media paradise, opening the way for new media playback technologies and the utopia for futuristic media delivery technologies without the negative counterproductive complications of DRM and restrictive regulations.

4) Allows downloads using open source clients of the people's choice, powerfully updated.

5) Cuts down the number of infringers in Singapore, keeping a squeaky clean record.

How does it benefit content providers/owners?

Simply, it allows them to monetize the downloads which they aren't getting any money for anyway now, and takes away from them all the problems and expense of legal enforcement, and probably generate more cash for them than themselves having to buy huge bandwidth to allow for non P2P online distribution systems with all the problems of epayments.

Please, consider the formation of this blanket payment administration organization. Set up a Select Committee to consider it.

Thank you.

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Liz CurtisBy:
International PolicyIn:
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Government of Singapore

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