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Summary:

U2′s manager has called on ISPs to police subscribers’ online activities and kick off illegal file sharers. “Their snouts have been feeding…

U2′s manager has called on ISPs to police subscribers’ online activities and kick off illegal file sharers. “Their snouts have been feeding at our trough for free for too long,” Paul McGuinness said, in a scathing and well-received keynote to a packed theater of artist managers.

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.

McGuinness said legislators had given ISPs “a decade of excuses” and the safe-harbor provisions in the US’ DMCA had been a “thief’s charter” – so he urged governments and the European Union to adopt France’s new three-strikes-and-your-out monitoring policy, disconnecting illegal file sharers.

“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.”

Sticking closely to the case laid out by the IFPI’s Digital Music Report ’08 last week, McGuinness also warned access providers illegal file sharing is “hogging bandwidth ISPs are going to need”, also hailing recently-introduced monitoring measures in Sweden, the SABAM collection agency’s victory over Tiscali in Belgium and called on the UK government to implement similar recommendations in last year’s Gowers copyright review.

He reeled off a liltany off technology, web and ISP companies he called “shoddy, careless and downright honest” – “the list of people who’ve got our money is endless”. “It’s time for a new approach – it’s time for ISPs to start taking responsibility for the content they’ve profited from for years.”

Saturday at MidemNet, rock promoter Sir Harvey Goldsmith said: “The technology is there but savvy kids are saying ‘while the (music industry is) arguing, I can grab this stuff for free’.”

  1. If ISPs are forced to police every user of their service, surely that will lead to increased costs for everyone to cover the implementation of new practices, and action to kick-off illegal file sharers (and sort out those incorrectly penalised, as is bound to happen).

    Isn't it time that the entertainment industry finally looks at ways to encourage payment via new business models, instead of penalising all and sundry, and blaming everyone else for their current problems?

    There are plenty of reasons for having broadband, including online games, surfing the web, streaming legal music and TV etc. And to tar everyone under the age of 20 as an illegal file sharer shows the attitude which has turned me away from the entertainment industry.

    And I'm writing this as a 30-year-old with a huge CD and vinyl collection, who would probably have never heard PJ Harvey, one of McGuiness' other acts, unless someone had illegally made a C90 cassette tape for me years ago. And the reason C90 tapes didn't replace album sales is because albums offered better quality, were longer lasting etc. Now to combat piracy, the music industry needs to look at how it can offer more to make purchases worthwhile…

    There are plenty of people exploring legitimate music services, ranging from last.fm to slicethepie, which allows users to invest in new bands. If the music industry is really interested in surviving, then this is where it should be looking.

    Noone tell him that people have apparently started swapping MP3 players to share music, or he'll be after Apple as well.

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  2. Boohoo, poor Paul McGuinness and U2 are getting robbed are they? funny, they are currently robbing the Irish people by having moved all their companies off shore in order to avoid paying tax. Then they have the nerve to get up on their pulpits and lecture everybody on just about everything. Keep your Big Brother style greed to yourself Paul McGuinness, go and innovate in a legitimate and moral way to ensure you keep your precious money. You will not infringe our privacy rights in order to swell your ever increasing wealth.

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  3. No no its not about U2, its about the rest of us professional "middle class turned poverty stricken" composers songwriters and musicians. What Paul McGuinness really is saying is a voice for all of the artists out there, not a greedy money grubber.

    As a professional composer and performer who isnt in the top 1% of success and MTV rock monsters I am THRILLED that someone with clout is making these issues be vocalized. Its not the U2s and the Mettalicas that suffer, its the indie artists, score composers, and working musicians that are being destroyed by the wide open not even attempted at regulating illegal downloading of all kinds of media, including music, song & albums, films, art, scores, etc

    Thank you Mr. McGuinness for bothering to talk about the issues that are a nuisance to you but are life threatening to thousands of us!

    I also was a dot com boom programmer and I was an original pre-IPO member of InfoSpace and I understand the tech side very much. I will say that what happened is a natural evolution of technology and human nature. Clicking on files and getting that intellectual property of another person was SO EASY and since it was just digital it felt to have to real value. But we all listened to those MP3s and watched those quicktime movies. And we LOVED the fact that we could stuff a 200 gig firewire drive to the brim with all the music we ever wanted to listen to and not pay a dime. If you didnt do it on some level you are probably either a priest or someone without internet

    And so Mr McGuinness is saying lets not blame individuals and human nature, but something MUST be done about this and soon before we lose many facets of modern art and culture to the destabilizing and deflation of its economy.

    Its no joke and its not like yea yea whatever, its like EMERGENCY *DINGDINGDING* EMERGENCY. Right now the AFM (musicians union) performance fund (which is the fun for retirement and emergency funding for professional musicians) is about to die, because it is based on CD sales. There are *countless* programs similar to this that are dead or dying quickly because of illegal downloads.

    Certainly non-"mainstream pop" art forms like non-synthesizer orchestral film music, among many others are going to become extinct and then fade away completely the farther this goes without being checked.

    There absolutely needs to be legislation that forces ISPs and tech companies to create technology to stop non-paid-for illegal downloading of music, film and art. This would be relatively very easy to create. All it needs is ubiquitous agreement and cooperation from all sources that host and transmit data.

    Without it our world is going to become a shallow grey world without culture and professional art. That is a place I don't want to live in.

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  4. I just posted my reply to Paul's speech here: http://www.mediafuturist.com/2008/02/welcome-to-paul.html
    I guess I just couldn't resist – there is just too much bizarre stuff in this speech. Cheers, Gerd Leonhard (Music & Media Futurist, Author of "Music2.0)

    Let me ask you this, Paul: do you really advocate web sites, communities and networks scanned and censored, emails read and screened, Instant Messenger conversations monitored, Skype calls supervised, USB sticks DRM’ed, hard-drives sealed, flash memory cards locked, rootkits and software locks on our computers, a read-only web, the end of remixes, and the implementation of an online police state that without a doubt will only bring us new censorship and the demise of fair use and free speech while the un-paid and unlicensed trading of music will soar to new heights in 100s of new ways that we don’t even know about today?

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