Bono, frontman of rock band U2, has warned the film industry not to make the same mistakes with file-sharing that have dogged the music industry.
Writing for the New York Times, Bono claimed internet service providers were “reverse Robin Hoods” benefiting from the music industry’s lost profits. He hinted that China’s efforts prove that tracking net content is possible. The editorial drew sharp criticism, both on its economic merits and for the suggestion of net content policing.
“The immutable laws of bandwidth tell us we’re just a few years away from being able to download an entire season of ’24’ in 24 seconds,” he wrote. “A decade’s worth of music file-sharing and swiping has made clear that the people it hurts are the creators…the people this reverse Robin Hooding benefits are rich service providers, whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business.”
In a move that drew significant criticism, Bono went on to suggest that the feasibility of tracking down file-sharers had already been proven. “We know from America’s noble effort to stop child pornography, not to mention China’s ignoble effort to suppress online dissent, that it’s perfectly possible to track content,” he said.
Several commentators assailed both the logic of net monitoring and the economic arguments of the essay, pointing out that U2 topped 2009’s list of top-grossing live acts. “Bono has missed that even a totalitarian government…can’t effectively control net-content,” tweeted Cory Doctorow, a blogger and journalist noted for his study of file-sharing policy.
“If only greed and ignorance could sequester carbon, Bono could FINALLY save the planet,” he added