The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Department for Culture Media and Sport have just opened a consultation on how such a body would work and has estimated - depending on the agency's eventual structure - that it could cost at least £2.5m.
The Stephen Carter and David Lammy-penned document - What Role For A Digital Rights Agency? - sets out 29 key questions for interested parties, such as UK Music and the BPI, which are both working up responses for the March 30 deadline.
BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor says, "The potential workstreams of the proposed Rights Agency, its structure and costs need careful consideration, but it is clear that the Rights Agency can be more than a talking shop and that its role may encompass developing enforcement measures to tackle repeat infringement."
The consultation suggests the cost of a Rights Agency will depend on factors such as its structure and legislative underpinning. The ministers state, "There are a range of options for the agency. At one end of the scale it could be a very light touch organisation acting in a similar way to the Advertising Standards Authority... at the other end of the scale, the agency could be a substantial self-regulatory body, working under the authority of the regulator to draft codes of practice."
The latter setup, it is estimated, would require a staff of around 50 to run it, and would need a "minimum budget" of £2.5m. That means the music industry finding at least £1m (with ISPs providing the remaining funds). "Considering illegal P2P is going to cost another £200m this year, that might seem like money well spent," says one insider.
However, another executive says, "?2m might be a bit steep." He adds, "The question is, will the agency bring filesharing to a tolerable level? I'm not sure it will."
The ministers for, respectively Technology, Communications and Broadcasting and Intellectual Property, also posited whether the Rights Agency could acts as a voluntary registry of rights and operate a rights fund.
However, some executives have questioned whether this is the right role and are much more comfortable with the Rights Agency taking up a lot of the work that has, until now, been tackled by the Memorandum of Understanding on P2P set up last summer.
"If it could do a lot of the stuff the MoU had been doing in terms of education and enforcement order measures, then it could be good," says one.
Indeed, the consultation does suggest consumer education, information and tackling persistent P2P users - both discussed by MoU working groups - as other possible responsibilities for the agency.
Taylor adds, "We are encouraged that ministers have clearly restated their commitment to deliver a significant reduction in online infringement in two to three years. The discussion paper recognises that legitimate new business models are fatally undermined by illegal filesharing. There is a clear understanding that the future for ISPs is in monetising content and not just providing internet access, and that preventing online piracy is, therefore, now a shared imperative."