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January 28th, 2008

U2FU. @ 09:18 pm


Paul "I want my fifteen percent!" McGuinness, longtime manager of the band U2, has called on Internet service providers to immediately introduce mandatory French-style service disconnection policies to end music downloading, and has urged governments to force ISPs to do so.

With an incendiary whine, McGuinness accused ISPs, telcos, device makers, and numerous Silicon Valley companies including Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Oracle, etc. of building "multi billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it", and accused them of being "makers of burglary kits" who have made "a thieve's charter" to steal money from the music industry. 

McGuinness called on high-tech companies to not just share ad revenue with them -- presumably for streamed but not downloaded  music -- but to also collect money across the board from consumers who use their sites, products, and services.

So, the next time that loud, obnoxious music loads automatically when you visit someone's MySpace site, just remember... you're a thief, and you're gonna pay for it!

Here, Mr McGuinness is seen recieving Ireland's "Pennypinching Bastard of the Year" Award, as he tries to describe the giant sucking sound that his vision of the Internet would bring to music fans.

The entire text of his speech has been posted to the frontpage of U2's website.

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Date:January 29th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
Facebook, Yahoo!, Facebook...

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Date:January 29th, 2008 06:32 am (UTC)
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Date:January 29th, 2008 05:45 am (UTC)
McGuinness is an idiot. His idea that there's no point releasing an album any time but the fourth quarter of the year is bad enough, but this just shows how completely behind the times he is. He doesn't want to work with the tide and make a profit from it; he wants to fight it every step of the way. His idea of "three strikes and you're out [of the Internet]" shows how much he simply does not get it. Not to mention that it's collective punishment - if just one person in a family is illegally downloading music, should the Internet connection (that the whole house uses) be cut?
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Date:January 29th, 2008 06:15 am (UTC)
I don't get his view of thinking at all. And it's hard to swallow coming from the manager of one of the most profitable bands in the world. I hope these aren't the views of the band.
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Date:January 29th, 2008 07:01 am (UTC)
Fuck, that's disappointing. That the band posted his speech on the website, that is. I could care less about another record exec mouthing off.
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Date:January 29th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
But just because it's posted on their website doesn't mean they're in agreement, they might not even know it has been posted there. I'm sure Paul has contact with the webmasters more than the band sometimes and asked for it to be put there or something so the fans read it.

So, the next time that loud, obnoxious music loads automatically when you visit someone's MySpace site, just remember... you're a thief, and you're gonna pay for it!

Haha, so now we're thieves just for listening? What's the deal with radio stations then?

But yeah, I could understand if they were a struggling band with hardly and $$$ to their name but they're not.
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Date:January 29th, 2008 10:15 am (UTC)
"What I’m trying do here today is identify a course of action that will benefit all: artists, labels, writers and publishers."

He forgot to mention one tiny little thing: THE CONSUMER.

Oh wait, we aren't supposed to be benefiting from this, are we?

"This is proved by the upward trend in ticket prices, generally unresisted."

I know a LOT of people resisting prices.  Personally, I probably wouldn't have seen any shows on the Vertigo tour if it weren't for last-minute dirt cheap tickets on eBay (and that show led to two more, both purchased slightly below face value from desperate scalpers).  U2 is one of my favorite bands, but I can't always afford $100+ for two hours of entertainment.

"So what has gone wrong with the recorded music business?"

Unwillingness to change and embrace new technology.  Price-gouging.  Refusal to take a short-term loss so long-term profits can be made.  Price-gouging.  Relying on outdated methods of promotion and insisting on using old business models that just DON'T WORK in light of digital technology.  Pre-fab pop stars, processed and packaged by people who don't really care about music so much as they care about money.  And did I mention price-gouging?

Oh wait, that's right.  It's all the fault of those evil little music thieves.

"And embedded deep down in the brilliance of those entrepreneurial, hippy values seems to be a disregard for the true value of music."

The true values of music?  You mean bringing enjoyment and pleasure to the masses through a unique cultural method?

Or is he talking about money again?  Because the TRUE meaning of music is obviously in the dollars and cents.

Articles like this one really irritate me.  In the past month, I purchased at least half a dozen albums that I would NEVER have bought if I hadn't downloaded the mp3s.  Sometimes friends send me files, some things I find posted on communities and message boards, others I find by association (lead singer's previous band, guitarist's side project, who else the producer has worked with, etc), and a LOT of my stuff comes from internet radio (which has also been under threat by the music industry).

Sure, I download a lot of stuff that I never actually buy - largely because the cost of music is so unbelievable.  $1+ per song is NOT worth it, not when the format is often low-quality and the cost to purchase the entire album digitally ends up being higher than the price of the physical album.  CDs priced at $14-$19?  I don't think so.  Bring those prices down to $8-$10 and maybe we'll talk.  When I do decide to part with my hard-earned money, I look for sales, check Barnes & Noble and Amazon for discounted prices, wait for going out of business sales (I made a killing when Tower Record closed down), or I buy used CDs.

That's right.  Used CDs.  What are you going to do about that Mr. McGuinness?  Because you will NEVER see any of that money and there's nothing you can do about it.  Is it time to start suing all the used book stores?

Bah.  I would gladly throw money at the musicians I enjoy, but knowing much of the profit goes to asshats like this man makes me never want to buy an album ever again.
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Date:January 29th, 2008 12:37 pm (UTC)

McGuinness is so out of touch it's embarrassing. Bands would be making more money if record labels weren't arseraping them by treating the cost of creating and distributing digital downloads the same as cd albums.
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Date:January 29th, 2008 06:30 pm (UTC)
It's easy to complain about the problem. It's a lot harder to shut up and start trying to figure out a solution. I really hate when people download readily available music, but I also hate when artists and management sit back and whine about it. Our government has plenty of other and more important things to do than shut down P2P sites.

I especially like the part where he's talking about how Radiohead's online release of In Rainbows "backfired" and makes a sweeping generalization about music fans being thieves. The problem of P2P downloading isn't going to go away overnight. At least Radiohead had the guts to try something new. That's more than we can say about U2. Who can blame people who already own all of U2's albums for downloading the new material from releases like U218 and the Complete U2? Making it difficult for longtime fans to get what they want without also having to pay for what they don't need is going to keep U2 as part of the problem instead of part of the solution. It's time for Paul to shut up and try doing something different.
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Date:January 29th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
"Who can blame people who already own all of U2's albums for downloading the new material from releases like U218 and the Complete U2? Making it difficult for longtime fans to get what they want without also having to pay for what they don't need is going to keep U2 as part of the problem instead of part of the solution."


I'd also guess that 3/4 of the fans don't have the luxury of forking out dollar after dollar for one reason or another. I certainly don't have that luxury. Between school fees, travelling to school, and all the other things life throws in ones way, I barely have enough to survive, let alone hand out money for 15 songs I've already got when I only want two.

Take the U2 collection on itunes for example. There's some songs I don't have and would love to add to my collection, but you can't get them unless you buy the entire u2 collection. I can't afford that and don't want to buy songs I've already got, just to get ones I don't. I'm sure there's others in the same position.

I don't want to sound all dramatic, but I'm pretty disappointed right now, especially that the band saw fit to post it on their website.
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Date:January 30th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
Shut up, Paul. How much money do you have again?

I don't condone downloading files you can buy, as I think I've proved on comments here. But really, shut up, Paul.
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Date:January 30th, 2008 04:27 am (UTC)
Who can blame people who already own all of U2's albums for downloading the new material from releases like U218 and the Complete U2?

You can buy at least some of those songs individually from iTunes. There ware some songs from the Complete U2 which you can't get unless you fork at the four gazillion dollars, but I was able to get a lot of singles/b-sides I didn't have before for .99 each.
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Date:January 30th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't mind buying b-sides individually or actually tracking down the singles (my 90s singles are one of the favorite parts of my U2 collection, in fact), but it annoyed the hell out of me that we were all expected to fork over $150 for the Complete U2 when many of us already had nearly all of it. I also agree with your "shut up" comment. Talk is cheap, and you really look like a fool when you're complaining about a band worth millions and millions getting ripped off.

I think fans should do the right thing and support the bands they love by buying their music, but on the other hand, I think bands should listen to what fans want. Just saying that consumers will steal music unless they're monitored is a troublesome attitude to have, because I don't think it's completely true.
Date:January 30th, 2008 04:55 am (UTC)
There is also the fact that it is not always evident that some services are illegal, so that sometimes those of us who obviously would rather support the band than steal from them inadvertantly steal. For instance, I thought Limewire was legit. What other services have tricked me this way, I wonder?
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Date:January 30th, 2008 11:29 am (UTC)
Maybe if the music industry dragged itself into the 21st century and actually responded to what consumers want, it wouldn't have to spend its time whining about piracy. McGuinness is a prat and a dinosaur.

I'm deeply disappointed.
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Date:January 30th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)

Fair warning

I don't think I'll be uploading anything, anytime soon. I subbed Rhapsody so that some royalties get to the artists I stream off my Rhapsody sub. This had more to do with space requirements in my apartment and the amount of cd's taking up every available space.

Mr. McGuinness you might want to use some more tact the next time you blow off steam. Katie, bar the door.
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Date:February 1st, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
I can't cite the source at the moment, but it's been shown statistically that the people who download the most music also buy the most CDs. And I'm definitely one of them.
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Date:February 2nd, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
i really cant believe that not one person here agrees with at least some of the things mcguniness said in his speech. he addressed more than the illegal downloading issues-he addressed the record companies being greedy, he addressed the lack of quality music these days and that the technology isnt being used to maximum benefit etc, but everyone jumped on the topic of illegal downloads.

my own personal view is that if you respect the artist you will pay for the product and that downloading songs that are readily available for purchase on itunes or at your local store, is stealing. From his speech:

If you were publishing a magazine that was advertising stolen cars, processing payments for them and arranging delivery of them you’d expect to get a visit from the police wouldn’t you? What’s the difference? With a laptop, a broadband account, an MP3 player and a smartphone you can now steal all the content, music, video and literary in the world without any money going to the content owners. On the other hand if you get caught stealing a laptop in the computer store or don’t pay your broadband bill there are obvious consequences. You get nicked or you get your access cut off.

as for dinging the little guy (ie, us) he addresses the idea of enforcement not on the consumer, but on the very entities who make it so easy to download the illegal content in the first place - places like limewire, kazaa and others. What he says about prosecuting the consumer:

I think the failure of ISPs to engage in the fight against piracy, to date, has been the single biggest failure in the digital music market. They are the gatekeepers with the technical means to make a far greater impact on mass copyright violation than the tens of thousands of lawsuits taken out against individual file-sharers by bodies like BPI, RIAA and IFPI. To me, prosecuting the customer is counter intuitive, though I recognise that these prosecutions have an educational and propaganda effect, however small, in showing that stealing music is wrong.

and what he says about the ISP providers who are in effect making it easy for us to download:

It is time for ISPs to be real partners. The safe harbours of the 1990s are no longer appropriate, and if ISPs do not cooperate voluntarily there will need to be legislation to require them to cooperate.

Fortunately, there has recently been some tremendous momentum to get ISPs engaged – notably in France, the UK, Sweden, Norway and Belgium. President Sarkozy’s plan, the Olivennes initiative, by which ISPs will start disconnecting repeat infringers later this year, set a brilliant precedent which other governments should follow. I’d like to see the UK government act promptly on this recommendation. In Sweden the Renfors Report commissioned by the Ministry of Justice, also came back with clear and firm recommendations for requiring ISP cooperation. And in the courts, the Sabam-Tiscali ruling spelt out, in language as plain as could be, that ISPs should take the steps required to remove copyright-infringing material from their networks. The European Union should now take up the mantle and legislate where voluntary intra-industry agreement is not forthcoming. This is the time to seize the day.

as for someone who mentioned u2 having a myspace with music on it-if its available to download for free, then its not the offical u2 myspace.. there are about 10 'fake' ones over there. and myspace allows the artist to post music that belongs to them, with the option of just playing it, or allowing download.

but again, there is no followup by myspace to ensure that people posting music over there as a 'band' actually own rights to the music. i have a music myspace and have posted and allowed downloads of three of my friends songs. I dont own the rights to the songs, they arent mine, (but i do have permission from him to do this)... but myspace hasnt even checked on me once.

Thats the issue Mcguiness is talking about. and it gets right back to it... downloading and not paying the artist is stealing.
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Date:February 2nd, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
"downloading songs that are readily available for purchase on itunes or at your local store, is stealing"

What about downloading songs through other countries where they are considerably less expensive under their liscensing laws? Or downloading songs that were legally released elsewhere in the world... or copying songs that were freely obtained by someone else via one of the new legal ad-driven download sites? Or making a digital copy of a streamed broadcast or analog copy? What if I'm listening to something from online through streaming or whatever which writes a temporary -- but entirely functional -- digital audio file to my drive?

I think the biggest problem with laws about such copying is that it treats a digital copy of a strings of ones and zeroes as something that can be owned in any meaningful way, other than the way that was originally intended through copyright laws -- that of preventing others from competing with you in selling a given product for a limited period of time in order to promote commerce. I also think that the "limited time" has become so unlimited as to be a kind of institutionalized theft of our history and culture.

"he addresses the idea of enforcement not on the consumer..."

Except, of course, that he wants to permanently strip consumers of their internet access, if anyone who uses their internet connection -- whether locally done by the owner, a guest, or a stranger accessing their WiFi hotspot -- chooses to download music.

Given that the Internet is increasingly tied to phone service, to security alarms, etc. isn't this a bit too much like threatening to cut off a person's emergency 911 service?

but on the very entities who make it so easy to download the illegal content in the first place"

Like ISPs, who he claims make their money off the backs of artists. But given that artists are making their mp3s for sale on the internet, and are using far more traffic than others, aren't they making money off the backs of the ISPs too? How do you charge ISPs without charging consumers in higher costs?

(Short answer: you don't.)

As for the other centralized p2p services, admittedly, they're a more obvious target, even though they are also widely used for legal purposes. However, going after them is ultimately futile and selfdestructive, in that it encourages unstoppable decentralized services that can't be controlled or regulated in any meaningful manner.

"there is no followup by myspace to ensure that people posting music over there as a 'band' actually own rights to the music"

If you required such a high level of monitoring, there is no way such businesses could possibly stay in business without charging the consumer directly just for the right to access the service. I say this with some degree of certainty, because when I was overseeing the business end of LJ, there was literally no way we could possibly monitor everyone's entries to make sure they weren't violating copyright or laws regarding "improper" content.

In any event, the existing laws from the '92 Telecommunications Act make it clear carriers such as ISPs and services like LJ and MySpace are exempt from all liability, so long as they comply with legitimate DMCA takedown requests.

The internet is HUGE and services like LJ and MySpace have millions of users and hundreds of thousands of daily updates, making them completely unmonitorable without an army of Stasi, which nobody wants for obvious reasons.

If MySpace did have to do such a task, there is literally no way they could do so on an ad-driven basis. They would have to charge you just to access their site so that they could afford to potentially violate your privacy.

Edited at 2008-02-02 08:47 pm (UTC)

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