According to U2 manager Paul McGuinness, Internet service providers are to blame for continuing music piracy. Speaking at conference in France, McGuinness said that ISPs should be disconnecting those who download tracks illegally, stating that ISPs have “been at our trough for too long.” He also claimed that ISPs are to blame for the “shoddy, careless and downright dishonest way” in which artists have been treated in the era of digital music.
Excuse me for noticing, but U2 seems to be doing just fine, so how McGuinness thinks that artists are being treated poorly in the era of digital music is simply ridiculous. In fact, I would say that the statement that artists are being treated poorly because of Internet Service Providers is hysterically funny if it were not so tragically sad. Either McGuinness just isn’t paying attention to reality, he is recklessly ignorant or he is just plain arrogant.
Certainly, the downloading of music from the Internet is a copyright infringement when it is done so illegally, so I do not intent by this post to either encourage such activity or excuse it, but for anyone in the music industry to believe that the industry is suffering because of illegal downloading is just as ridiculous today as it was when such allegations first surfaced years ago.
While it is not a well known fact perhaps, earlier in my career I was an executive for an independent record label in Orlando, Florida, which means I invested in an independent record label and got looped into the fray so to speak. It was going to be great! Back in 2000 everything “dot com” was golden and we had a plan, but we all know what soon happened, but I digress. The point is that I do happen to know a thing or two about the issues surrounding the downloading of music. It has always amazed me that the industry was and apparently still is hell bent on focusing on what they are losing rather than what they are making.
When will the music industry realize that new technologies present new opportunities? I would have thought that everyone in the industry would have learned that lesson by now, but apparently not.
McGuinness’ attack on Internet Service Providers is a familiar ploy taken from a very old play book. Perhaps this is a good thing in the long run. Traditionally the only way to stop infringement was to sue those who made it possible, such as was done with Grokster, Napster and others early in the digital era, and Sony at the birth of the VCR. Then the rules changed and the industry started suing customers, which was never a good idea, nor a long term solution. It just drew battle lines in the sand. Perhaps the focus on ISPs signals the industry waving the white flag and finally acknowledging that it was stupid to sue individuals directly. If that is the case then McGuinness’ naive remarks are welcome.