Isle Of Man'ners Could Get Free MP3 Downloads

Residents of the Isle of Man, a self-governing self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea, could get access to free music downloads if proposals to introduce a compulsory blanket licence are accepted.

The local government of the territory, which has a population of 80,000, has been in discussion with the four major record companies and see the move as a potential way of solving the piracy problem without alienating users.

The Manx inward investment minister, Ron Berry, revealed the plans - prepared by the Isle Of Man Government e-Business Division - at the MidemNet conference in Cannes in France adding that "At the end of the day, we're not going to stop piracy, had the music industry embraced [Napster], we'd have a very different medium today."

He mentioned that the licence fee could possibly be as low as one Euro per month but would not cover software, videos or any independent recording labels.

But some are already criticising the plans, saying that it amounts to a tax, similar to a TV licence, that would affect all broadband users including non-downloaders as well.

The Register also reported that Ron Berry made the suggestion as a serving civil servant, not as a broadcaster or as an advertising professional (he's both of them).

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Our Comments

The Isle of Man is the only territory in Europe which has a 100 percent broadband coverage, courtesy of Manx Telecom, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of O2. Interestingly, it has a great track record. It was the first company in Europe to launch a live 3G service in December 2001 and the first to offer HSDPA service back in November 2005.

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