Monday, January 28, 2008

MIDEM 2008: U2 manager bangs "hold the ISPs responsible" line

Speaking at MIDEM, Paul McGuinness has pushed the music industry line of the moment - having failed to sue the public into compliance, they'll now try and shake cash out the ISPs instead:

"A series of warnings to a file sharer would culminate in disconnection would address the problem."

"If ISPs do not cooperate voluntarily, there will need to be legislation to force them to cooperate - you cannot compete with illegal files for free on P2P networks."

"They've been making excuses that such things have not been possible for a very long time - we're sick of it - we're not dealing with honest people here."

Let's just leave aside the interesting concept of "forcing" people to "co-operate" and wonder if the question is not so much if it's possible for ISPs to watch everything going through their cables (and we're not sure it is, and if it is, how are they to tell the difference between legitimate files, out-of-copyright material, samples, paid-for, legal filesharing and 'wrong' files?) and ask, once again, if it's desirable, on any level, to enforce responsibility for traffic onto the ISP. It's rather a dangerous step, removing the telecom companies' defence of being dumb pipes, while making it mandatory for them to spy on their customer's activities.

Clearly, Bono's camp is more interested in grubbing a few extra Euros than the nasty implications of opening up that can of worms - if ISPs "must" ensure customers don't file share, why should they not also be compelled to ensure their customers don't indulge in intemperate behaviour? Or, perhaps down the line, campaign against the government of the day?
He accused the "hippies" and "deadheads" who built technology companies of having, "for far too long, had a completely free ride on clients' content" and having "built a multibillion dollar industry on the back of our content without paying for it". "We all know kids don't pay $25 a month for broadband just to share their photos and do homework," he said.

Apart from wondering exactly how many people of an age where they have to do homework would actually be paying the phonebill in the first place, this speaks much of the solipsism of the music industry. Just as how a few years ago, the RIAA couldn't conceive of a use for blank CDs other than the duplication of their member's products, McGuinness believes that everybody is so enamoured of bloody U2 songs that their sole reason for going online is to steal their songs. It doesn't occur to him for a moment that a lot of kids are actually using their broadband connection to push content they've made out, rather than suck stuff other people have made down; that they live online, sharing and meeting and tweaking and - sometimes, yes, sneaking the odd track they haven't paid for.

The music industry has never understood the internet; never understood the motivation of people who are online, the people who should be their customers. To hear a supposedly intelligent man argue that people with broadband connections must be indulging in largescale copyright theft because he simply can't imagine anything else they could be doing would be funny, if he and his chums weren't so close to an equally clueless political class.

[Part of Midem 2008]


Anonymous said...

Every time McGuiness open his big fat mouth he says something crass so no change there. I know plenty of people of all ages who don't download any music let alone illegals so where do they fit into his warped worldview? P2P can't be either stopped or monitored effectively. TV download services now make use of it, Channel 4 for one, and as always technology evolves to avoid whatever hindrances are placed in its way. There are now bittorrent clients that allow encryption of the data stream so nobody could know what the content was. But then that's probably what those "dishonest" ISPs would say.

Actually, kids only buy computers in the first place so they can download music illegally, so surely some kind of tax should be paid on those to the big labels? And possession of a pair of ears, which are only really of use to listen to music (and McGuiness's ill-informed ranting), should probably be taxed too.

Anonymous said...

Christ almighty, like 'the kids' would pay 20 squid a month to listen to that old man's wank.

Olive said...

Presumably this is a different Paul Mc Guinness to the one that signed off on the U2 special edition iPod.

Anonymous said...

And a different Paul McGuinness to the one that dumped U2's business affairs into the Netherlands to avoid paying tax in Ireland where they actually live and work. Because that Paul McGuinness appears to be trying to avoid his responsibilities, rather like those hippies who run the internet.

Anonymous said...

"We all know kids don't pay $25 a month for broadband just to share their photos and do homework," he said.

The hell we do. If people (and their parents) want even one online activity to run quickly and smoothly, they get broadband. Most people I know who finally made the upgrade from dial-up did so entirely in order to play their favourite MMORPG without stalling or crashing.

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