Business Matters: World Coming Around to U2 Manager Paul McGuinness' Piracy, ISP Views
Business Matters: World Coming Around to U2 Manager Paul McGuinness' Piracy, ISP Views

Visionary or Apostate? U2 Manager Paul McGuinness
-- Paul McGuinness has a guest column in The Telegraph titled "The Age of 'Free' is Coming to an End." It's a well-timed article. Last week, U.S. entertainment companies and ISPs announced they had created a "copyright alert" system intended to educate and deter copyright infringers.

He may be lambasted - again - by tech bloggers and media pundits, but the fact is the vision McGuiness has publicly outlined for over three years is actually taking shape all over the world. McGuinness has long argued that ISPs need to be a part of a piracy solution. A few years ago it was hard to imagine ISPs either coming to the negotiating table or being forced to act by governments.

But both have happened and will happen even more in the future. Piracy is no longer a music industry problem. It's just about everybody's problem. And it's no longer a moral issue. It's an economic issue. A country that relies on and values the cultural and economic impact of their intellectual property sees the fight against piracy as a mater of national importance.

In January 2008, McGuinness attracted worldwide attention - and a fair amount of ridicule in some circles - for his speech at Midem that called on ISPs to take an active role in helping content owners fight piracy on their networks. "For ISPs in general, the days of prevaricating over their responsibilities for helping protect music must end," he said.

He has continued to speak out on the issue ever since that Midem speech. In a guest article at The Guardian over two years ago, McGuinness called the debate over ISP involvement "a critical debate that I believe will shape the lives and the working conditions of creative professionals for years, even decades, to come."

And in a GQ article last year, McGuinness noted that the momentum had already begun to change. "Today we take a far more sober view as we see what damage 'free' has done to the creative industries, above all to music."

As I noted last week, the U.S. agreement could inspire similar actions elsewhere. Some countries will let the government take the lead. Other countries will see market-driven solutions preempt the less favorable option of legislative interaction.

McGuinness also recognizes the impact of the recent developments in the US. "The ISP agreement in the US is good news for music and the creative industries," he wrote in the Telegraph article over the weekend. He called on parties to "stop the thumb-twiddling and the soul-searching" and encourage ISPs to become partners in shaping the Internet. "In the US they have made a welcome voluntary step in that direction. Elsewhere, it will need the pressure of government and legislation to make it happen."

Call it what you want - a level playing field, a fair shake for the creative industries - but the truth is countries' responses to digital piracy are following the advice laid out by that speech at Midem three and a half years ago. Free was once considered to be the ultimate weapon in fighting piracy and was seen by some as the foundation for new business models (give away the music, sell the T-shirt and ticket). But free has lost its luster. Instead of giving away music, companies increasingly want to get paid and have a fair chance at operating a sustainable business.
( The Telegraph)

Hype Machine's Music Speed Dating
-- Hype Machine has introduced a new feature called Fast Forward that's like speed dating for indie rock fans and indie rock songs. Here's how it works: After clicking "go" on the Fast Forward home page, Hype Machine plays 30-second samples of songs and shows the blog post from which the song came. (For the uninitiated, the Hype Machine is a streaming service that plays songs that have been posted at a select group of music blogs.)

If Fast Forward seems familiar, it may remind you of, a great site that streams music from music blogs through a couple dozen or so curated channels of both mainstream and niche genres. Each song played at Shuffler comes with the blog page with the source music (Shuffler takes the music from each blog's RSS feed), allowing the listener to read up on the artist as the song plays. Shuffler launched last year, got some good press and won a B2C award at MidemNet Labs startup competition earlier this year.
(Fast Forward)

UMG's PDA For PDX Service by Crunch Digital
-- Universal Music Group has chosen Crunch Digital to provide its PDX Service for selected cloud and Internet streaming music services. The publishing data exchange service handles data management in order to improve the accuracy of royalty reporting. This is the second major publisher Crunch Digital has signed up. Just last week the company announced that BMG Chrysalis has also signed up for PDX Service.

Companies are having a difficult time keeping up with the number of digital service providers selling their music, Crunch Digital CEO Keith Bernstein told last month. "Publishers are asking for a solution that will lead to more accurate payments and transparency."
( Press release)