A couple of weeks back, the ISPs attempted to fight proposals forcing them to police other companies' copyright on the grounds of the massive costs they'd (i.e. we'd) have to pay.
Well, the BPI wasn't going to take that laying down:
However, the BPI commissioned a report from technical consultancy Sweet Consulting, which shows that introducing measures to identify and notify copyright infringers would cost £13.85 million ($22.5 million) in the first year, £9 million ($14.6 million) in the second, and £3.45 million ($5.6 million) in the third. This is a long way from the £25 a year figure - as low as 24 pence (39 pence) per individual ISP subscriber when costs reach £3.45 million.
"Our evidence shows that ISPs are trying to pull off a massive con job on the British public with their back-of-fag-packet figures - the true costs to them of dealing with piracy will be a tiny fraction of their ridiculous guestimates.
"It's time for Britain's ISPs to stop spreading scare stories and face up to their responsibility to help tackle illegal filesharing."
That quote comes from the Billboard report and, presumably, is drawn from the BPI but they haven't actually said who at the BPI said it. Perhaps they were ashamed at trying to keep a straight-face when saying 'just because the ISPs know their business, why should we accept their estimates of costs - our figures from a consultant we've employed are much more likely to be correct'.
Sweet Consulting, by the way, don't only work for the BPI - they did work for Phorm as well.
So, let's just look at those figures, shall we? Interesting they decide to focus on how little per user it would cost in year three, isn't it? And why would the cost come down so sharply? Presumably because the BPI believes that by year three, all that nasty old illegal downloading will have disappeared in the face of three strikes letters. Unlikely, but let's take that as a real figure. Thing is, though, even on 2009 broadband account numbers, and ignoring the likelihood that commercial operations would also have to carry some of the costs, £3.45million divided 16.5million accounts actually comes out at closer to 20p than 25p. Do the BPI's consultants not know how many people are online, or were they deliberately trying to make the costs seem 25% greater?
I suppose that 20pence might not sound much. Reasonable, even. Until you remember that this is everyone being made to pay to police the copyrights held by a handful of mainly overseas corporations. It's like saying "who could possibly object to only paying 12p a year in order for staff at Deloitte to have cream cakes every day?" It's not very much, but why should everyone be paying it?
This isn't money going to artists, or even to people who've got artists to sign their copyrights over to them. It's not even money going to the labels. That money they've still got to start issuing demands for.