Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ISPs Feel the Heat

Paul McGuinness
, longtime manager of superstar rockers U2, recently gave a speech at France's MIDEM conference about the responsibility of Internet Service Providers in combating online piracy.

Click here for the full text of the speech.

His presentation comes at a time of increasing pressure on ISPs from content owners and artist groups. Recently, international trade organization IFPI (sort of like the global RIAA) stated in its 2008 Report on Digital Music that copyrighted content needs to be protected by ISPs — and with government regulation, if necessary. Foreign lawmakers, particularly those in France, have seemed highly receptive to the idea. In the US, it's been rumored that ABC and AT&T are collaborating on an ISP-based solution to illegal file-sharing. So far, there's no word on what that technology might look like, or whether it would interfere with perfectly legal activities.

McGuinness' speech covers a lot of ground, but centers mostly on his belief that the technology industry has built its empire on the back of stolen creator content. He comes down hard on ISPs and hardware manufacturers, but he also calls the RIAA's practice of suing individual file-sharers "counter-intuitive."

I suggest we shift the focus of moral pressure away from the individual P2P file thief and on to the multi billion dollar industries that benefit from these countless tiny crimes — The ISPs, the telcos, the device makers.

McGuinness does mention the importance of transparency in the digital music economy, suggesting that the big labels haven't been the greatest examples of trustworthiness over the years. But he fails to comment on the legitimate uses of technologies like BitTorrent, and whether or not ISPs can be trusted to manage such behind-the-curtains technology.

No matter where you fall in this debate, we're guessing it's gonna be a big deal throughout '08.

No comments: