U2's manager Paul McGuinness addressed the music industry conference MIDEM this week with a call to arms in the fight against piracy that put the blame squarely on ISPs. McGuinness admitted that his clients aren't actually going bankrupt anytime soon. U2 has sold 150 million records so far, and the Vertigo tour alone grossed 355 million US-dollars. Still, the recorded music industry is suffering, and Paul McGuinness has an idea of who's at fault:

"Network operators, in particular, have for too long had a free ride on music – on our clients’ content. It’s time for a new approach - time for ISPs to start taking responsibility for the content they’ve profited from for years."

McGuinness had some unique thoughts on why ISPs and other tech companies have been so negligent towards the needs of content creators. In his mind, it's all about the counter-culture of the sixties that was the birth place for today's tech imperiums and venture capitalists:

"Their values were hippy values. They thought the old computer industry as represented by IBM was neanderthal. They laughed at Bell Telephone and AT&T. They thought the TV networks were archaic. Most of them are music lovers. There are plenty of private equity fund managers who are Deadheads. (...) And embedded deep down in the brilliance of those entrepreneurial, hippy values seems to be a disregard for the true value of music."

But now it's time to finally get rid of those hippie values and pay up. He wants ISPs to start enforcing copyright within their networks by cutting off access for file sharers and blocking unlicensed services. McGuinness believes that ISPs have the power to stop file sharing, and he shared a very telling list of examples for this with his audience:

"When the volume of illegal movie and music P2P activity was slowing down their network for legitimate users recently in California, Comcast were able to isolate and close down BitTorrent temporarily without difficulty. (...) Another show of power was Google’s acceptance of the Chinese Governments censorship conditions."


If Google can censor its search results for a dictatorship like China, why won't they do it for the music industry? If Comcast can block Bittorrent, why won't others do it as well? Such are the questions that are on Paul McGuinness' mind these days. He wants ISPs to address them voluntarily, but already calls for lawmakers to step in in case the industry doesn't feel like building a giant copyright censorship system on its own.

And he wants money from tech companies. One dollar per Zune is not enough, but a start. Next up are "Apple, Google, Nokia, HP, China Mobile, Vodafone, Comcast, Intel, Ericsson, Facebook, iLike, Oracle, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Tiscali" and so forth. "They have built multi billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it", said McGuinness. "It’s probably too late for us to get paid for the past though maybe that shouldn’t be completely ruled out."

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