ISP Hits Back At U2 Manager’s Billion Dollar Piracy Bonanza Claims

Last month, outspoken manager of U2 Paul McGuinness penned a piece titled "How to Save The Music Industry". Among other things, McGuinness suggested that ISPs were unlikely to help the music industry in their battle against illegal file-sharing since they are the ones benefiting from the "multi-billion dollar bonanza" it has generated. UK ISP Entanet are not happy.

Beginning with a recollection of 19th-century composer Ernest Bourget’s dismay at hearing an orchestra playing one of his own compositions in a restaurant without permission (and subsequently leaving without paying his bill in retaliation), it was a typical and now regular anti-filesharing piece from McGuinness.

We are living in an era when “free” is decimating the music industry, but while those who make our music are having the lifeblood sucked from them, others are profiting handsomely, the U2 manager argues.

“Yet for the world’s internet service providers, bloated by years of broadband growth, ‘free music’ has become a multi-billion dollar bonanza,” says McGuinness.

Internet service provider Entanet took exception to his comments and last night responded. After earlier telling Bono to “Stick To Singing“, they are now suggesting that McGuinness should stick to what he knows best – the music.

“Considering Mr. McGuinness proudly informs us he has been debating on this issue for two years, he seems to totally misunderstand the reasons behind broadband customers’ demand for better broadband speeds and equally doesn’t understand the current facilities available on the Internet,” writes Entanet’s head of marketing, Darren Farnden.

Farnden argues that most broadband customers want faster speeds in order to enjoy better performance on legal services such as online gaming, YouTube, iPlayer, iTunes and VoIP, and slams McGuinness for suggesting people just want to pirate more efficiently.

“It is simply naive to suggest that customers’ desire for faster broadband and more bandwidth is driven solely by a desire to cheat music rights holders out of their royalties through illegal file sharing,” said Farnden.

“Furthermore, without legal services such as iTunes music sales would undeniably decrease. Does Mr. McGuinness want to close down this distribution model that has proven to contribute positively to music sales? Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face!”

McGuinness further provokes ISPs by stating, as if they are somehow responsible for the actions of others, that “their free-music bonanza has got to stop”. This can be achieved, he says, by ISPs entering into commercial partnerships to offer unlimited music via streaming services and “taking proportionate responsible steps” to stop customers sharing unauthorized music.

But ISPs are not the Internet police, they are mere conduits of information, writes Farnden, while questioning why yet again the emphasis is being put on ISPs to solve someone else’s problem.

“It’s about time the music industry took responsibility for its own revenues and embraced the new distribution models available instead of trying to shut them down!” he concludes.

But of course, McGuinness recognizes that ISPs aren’t going to fight someone else’s battle voluntarily and his solution is, predictably for the music industry, the use of lawyers.

“Some things have got to come with the force of legislation.”

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