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Bono Hopes Content Tracking Will Help Media Moguls 569

Khalid Baheyeldin writes "In his New York Times op-ed column, Irish singer Bono, otherwise noted for his humanitarian efforts expressed dismay at losses music artists incur from internet downloads. He notes that '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 then goes on to wonder 'perhaps movie moguls will succeed where musicians and their moguls have failed so far, and rally America to defend the most creative economy in the world, where music, film, TV and video games help to account for nearly 4 percent of gross domestic product.'"
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Bono Hopes Content Tracking Will Help Media Moguls

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  • by Anik315 ( 585913 ) <anik@alphaco r . n et> on Sunday January 03, 2010 @06:59PM (#30635170)
    Artists are actually doing much better [] since the dawn of the Internet because of increased ticket sales from live performances, and box office sales are better now than ever. I highly doubt illegal downloading contributes very much to lost revenue since a very small percentage of the people who download illegal media would actually buy the product.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @07:02PM (#30635180) Journal
    He managed to choose two analogies. One poor, the other extremely sinister.

    Kiddie porn: A terrible analogy for online copyright infringement. Child pornography, possession or production, is always illegal. No "fair use", no parodies, no commentaries, no educational purposes, etc. Plus, it isn't all that popular. Online violation of copyright law is probably about as popular as ordinary pornography, not some obscure niche thing. In terms of police resources per unit kiddie porn, the porn is vastly more heavily policed(and, given the number of times that a computer search of somebody suspected for other reasons will discover some kiddie porn, it looks like our "content tracking" efforts aren't actually doing so well).

    Great Firewall of China: Chinese "content tracking" is a huge(and probably fairly expensive) initiative, encompassing a substantial state censorship apparatus, a large amount of technical infrastructure, huge market distortions(notably, the enthusiasm for self-censorship among web companies that is created by the state's ability to just eliminate access to any of them, at any time, without comment or justification), and substantial support from private-citizen snitches.

    Either Bono is just a fucktard, and hasn't really though this through, or he is willing to go to some very unpleasant places to protect his precious "content".
  • By the numbers (Score:5, Informative)

    by mliu ( 85608 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @07:12PM (#30635292) Homepage

    I really wish that newspapers would cite their information so we could understand what they're basing their claims on.

    Looking at the US government's Bureau of Economic Analysis Numbers, they seem to paint a very different picture than what he suggests: [] []

    The line for Motion picture and sound recording industries has been constant from 2003-2007 (with information from 2008 still not entered) at 0.3%.

    Bono claims, "music, film, TV and video games help to account for nearly 4 percent of gross domestic product". Assuming no tectonic shift in profits, that would suggest that video games are producing nearly 3.7% of GDP, but the line for all Publishing industries (includes software) floats at around 1% of GDP. So even including "real" software like Windows as well as books, we're not even close to 4%.

    Another factor which he neglects to consider is the scale of damage that would be done, both in terms of freedoms as well as innovation. Even if America and all of its best buddies were to enact this type of draconian censorship regime he advocates, I doubt that America's enemies would be as eager to join in. That would suggest a net effect of simply forcing innovation to move abroad to places that don't sign on or enforce. One of the few areas where America is truly a global leader still seems to be in Internet services. If foreign Internet services provide more to consumers that they want than American services, I don't doubt that American services on the Internet would be abandoned in a flash. While I don't discount the importance of the export of America's pop culture abroad, the price to protect outdated business models seems like a weighty one. Bono talks a lot, but I wonder how much depth he really puts into his thinking.

  • by Lorien_the_first_one ( 1178397 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @07:32PM (#30635478)
    I think Radiohead answered that question rather well when they released In Rainbows.
  • Re:Second that. (Score:3, Informative)

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @07:38PM (#30635538) Homepage Journal

    yea. and how many future artists, and artists who havent made it big yet are going to make it big, in the future, if the current system of monopolized distribution continues ?

    they want to turn internet into a cable tv clone. please tell me how many budding young artists cable tv helped to make a break, or make a living, out of millions.

  • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Informative)

    by yacoob ( 69558 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @08:02PM (#30635706) Homepage

    Mr. Williams should read up on his stories. []

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @08:41PM (#30636010) Journal

    Does he not see that these treaties signed with underdeveloped nations to help them "defend" American businesses against "piracy" and patent infringement is exactly what is keeping them behind?

    Really? You don't think it's the lack of education, lack of infrastructure, over-reliance on subsistence farming, and the general lack of business knowledge? Try to find a CEO in El Salvador with experience in streamlining a production pipeline, or find a CFO in Burundi who knows how to smooth out a cash flow. Running a developed economy is tricky business, and it takes a while to develop enough expertise, an experienced workforce, and a good infrastructure.

    Not being able to get pirated songs isn't what's holding underdeveloped nations back.

  • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @08:45PM (#30636070)

    I merely suggested the reading and never stated I fully agree with those articles. But still, the fact is that all efforts to feed hungry people, in Africa and elsewhere, leave only even more hungry people. Obviously many of them insist on mindless breeding even while starving. How would you exactly address this problem humanely?

    Don't be put off by the kind of do-gooders who have a heart but no brain. They are in fact the ones who are responsible for creating the whole mess. But just for their edification:

    It is well-recognized now that "foreign aid" in the form of shipping food, medicine, etc. to starving populations has done little but exacerbate the problem. As the guy stated (and this is a fact, which has no respect for whether you feel it should be true), those traditional forms of foreign aid did in fact do exactly what he stated. This is nothing more than a real-world example of the old saying, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime." Except what really happened is a slight modification of that: "Give a man a fish and since he is now healthy he fathers a child he can't feed by himself either..."

    It doesn't matter whether you people like that situation or not. It exists. And doing more of the same will just get you more of the same.

  • by emaveneau ( 552950 ) * on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:00PM (#30636606)
    Tracking doesn't work. I have a youtube video with background music specifically legally licensed from magnatune for use on youtube [].

    Regardless, google/youtube flagged the audio and the dispute has been open for a month. In the dispute filing, I pasted the relevant text from the license and linked to it.

    The video itself clearly has a link to the artists site at magnatune (as required). So if any person were to intelligently go to the site and read the license or just read the dispute data I filed, the problem would cleary seen to be valid and legal.

    But I'm still waiting to hear back from WMG. The point I have is that Bono's technical suggestion to track everything will not work. In a very closed and controlled environment like youtube, the false positives are so numerous that legal content cannot be cleared and shared.

    Here's the license from magnatune (from link above).

    "If you'd like to use Magnatune music in a video that will be posted on YouTube, ... simply buy the album and use the music. ... you're required to include attribution of our music.


  • Re:Media moguls (Score:3, Informative)

    by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Sunday January 03, 2010 @10:39PM (#30636852) Homepage Journal

    The movie moguls of yesteryear were equally interested in swindling their artists (which equates to actors, writers, etc.) out of their fair share. A few got rich but most were lucky to get paid at all. Studios have ALWAYS been creative at getting out of paying royalties, no matter the venue.

    It seems to be the nature of the industry, all the way back to the earliest productions (I remember reading something from Shakespeare's era about how when a play was put on the actors always got the shaft, and I doubt the concept of "creative financials" was new then either).

  • Re:From Wikipedia (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @12:40AM (#30637556)

    That isn't exactly what's going on. What they did was move some of their business out of Ireland to The Netherlands because of the lower tax rate on royalties. It's tax avoidance (legal), not tax evasion (illegal).

    Actually, it wasn't so much a lower rate they were looking for as the fact that Ireland decided to cap the tax-free portion of royalties at $250000 euros []. How any starving artist, such as Bono, is supposed to survive on a mere $250000 euros tax-free, rather than all of their hard-earned cash, is hard to understand. As we all know, it is only really after the first quarter million euros that artists are truly motivated to be creative.

  • Re:Second that. (Score:3, Informative)

    by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @02:56AM (#30638112)
    "I haven't seen a failing music industry yet."
    Music sales are half of what they were in 1999, and still on a major decline. Here's a chart: []
  • Re:Sorry (Score:3, Informative)

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:26AM (#30639178)

    I have a link for Zambia's textile industry collapsing as it can't "compete" with donations: here []. It's from 2000, and I've seen more recent articles, but I don't have time to look right now.

  • Re:Sorry (Score:3, Informative)

    by bloobloo ( 957543 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:30AM (#30639200) Homepage

    If EWB didn't place arbitrary age restrictions on its volunteers, it might be more effective. I'm an engineer, but I'm too old to participate in their projects. I'm not even 30 yet.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"