In a recent opinion article of his own within the New York Times, U2 front man Bono warned all creative types to beware of the evils of the Internet, especially us greedy ISP types.
- New York Times: Ten for the Next Ten
He states “The only thing protecting the movie and TV industries from the fate that has befallen music and indeed the newspaper business is the size of the files. The immutable laws of bandwidth tell us we’re just a few years away from being able to download an entire season of “24” in 24 seconds. Many will expect to get it free.” A tad over dramatic but he’s probably right on that one.
However he continues “A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators — in this case, the young, fledgling songwriters who can’t live off ticket and T-shirt sales like the least sympathetic among us — and the people this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business.”
This statement just goes to show why multi-millionaire Bono should stick to singing and campaigning for poorer nations and leave the economics of Internet service provision to the professionals. Those of us within this supposedly swollen, profit rich Internet industry are more than aware of the reality. Consumer demand for the cheapest, fastest broadband continues to increase resulting in even lower profit margins for us “greedy” ISPs.
And as for the comment about our “swollen profits perfectly mirroring the lost receipts of the music business” – where do we begin? I would hazard a guess that these, are yet again, calculated on flawed hypothetical principles that everyone who downloads illegally would actually legally purchase the same amount of music. This is ridiculous. Just because Fred can download 20 songs for free does not mean that he would have otherwise paid for them all.
It goes from bad to worse as he goes on to slate ISPs for not being prepared to police the Internet (I refer you to our previous articles see Entanet Opinion: Guilty until proven innocent is wrong approach to file sharing and Entanet Opinion: Murdoch vs Google – biting the hand that feeds him?) and completely misses the point here, stating “We’re the post office, they tell us; who knows what’s in the brown-paper packages?”. There are two things very wrong with that analogy. Firstly by law, the Post Office is not allowed to open your mail nor would most reasonable people with reasonable privacy awareness want them to. Secondly, ISPs have not said they can’t or won’t inspect packets, they have simply raised concerns regarding privacy and the morality of this practice. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?
He emphasises this point by congratulating the US for its attempts to stop child pornography and even mentions China’s censorship, stating “But we know from America’s noble effort to stop child pornography, not to mention China’s ignoble effort to suppress online dissent, that it’s perfectly possible to track content.” The point is ISPs never questioned that these types of tactics were possible. We simply raised concerns over the quite obvious morality of censorship and DPI, a concern that I am sure is shared by many of his ‘Save The World’ supporters. I wonder what his old pal Bob Geldof would think about that?
Bono is simply demonstrating once again that these industries (namely music and news) do not understand the new distribution models that the Internet has provided and rather than attempt to adapt and embrace the new opportunities like many of his ambitious rivals have (e.g. Radiohead and Ash). He instead wants someone to blame, and that I am afraid is once again, the ISPs.
As we said in our previous article ‘Guilty until proven innocent is wrong approach to file sharing’:
“What’s needed is a total re-think of how digital rights are managed and controlled by the entertainment industry. They need to come up with a way of maximising availability while also protecting the copyright of the material and thus profiting from its eventual popularity. This is not going to be easy of course as, in order to make a film, video or piece of music a success, you need to find a way to make it available. At the moment, once a user has it in their possession in the form of a file that they can play back, stopping them from copying that file and / or sending it elsewhere is very difficult.
In essence, the very thing that makes a song or video popular – the ability for it to be shared – is also the problem. It is really the same problem that we have always had with the Internet in that it removes barriers and makes it difficult, if not impossible, to control the spread of information and bar entry to markets. This though has also been one of the main benefits of the Internet – it has created truly global markets, removed the barriers to entry for smaller and more innovative companies, and made information (as well as video and music) much more freely available to everyone.
In any event, we think it’s high time that rights holders rethink their distribution models to take account of modern channels and the nature of customer demand.”
My favourite comment of Bono’s article is possibly his closing line where he states “Note to self: Don’t get over-rewarded rock stars on this bully pulpit, or famous actors”. Oops too late!
Have your say!
What do you think about Bono’s comments? Is he right, should ISPs be policing the Internet or do you agree with Entanet that the music industry needs to embrace the Internet instead of fighting it? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.
- Entanet Opinion: Guilty until proven innocent is wrong approach to file sharing
- Entanet Opinion: Mandelson – New master of the digital economy?
- Entanet Opinion: Mandelson’s mindless meddling infuriates Internet industry
- Entanet Opinion: Murdoch vs Google – biting the hand that feeds him?
- The Register: Bono accuses ISPs of ‘reverse Robin Hooding’ over piracy
- BBC News: Bono net policing idea draws fire
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