@ Midem: U2 Manager Backs Sticking P2P Culpability On ISPs

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’.”