U2's manager wants the power to cut off your Internet connection

JZ sez,
The Guardian looks at the French Three Strikes law, whose final discussion will happen today in both chambers of the French parliament. I thought you might be interested into making a reply to it. It's pure mantra and doesn't talk about the most disturbing points:

- it gives the entertainment industries the power to police the internet by themselves

- the whole procedure is based on immaterial, unverifiable, unopposable proofs (IP address listings)

- you cannot claim your innocence before the sanction is ordered.

Innocents will inevitably be disconnected.

As the NYT reported today: "Nonetheless, Internet advocates call the French proposal legally unsound on the ground that there are inadequate the provisions for challenging an action, and because it gives industry groups the power to police the Internet. Others question whether the law would unfairly penalize those whose wireless broadband accounts are misused by others. The French law tries to anticipate this by making it a civil infraction for citizens to fail to 'secure' their broadband accounts by using approved filtering technology."

The Guardian piece consists of U2's manager talking about how it would be great if private corporations -- phone companies and music labels -- got the power to take away your Internet connection on the basis of unproven accusations of copyright infringement.

I've written about this subject rather a lot here (see below), but I think this is the most cogent response:

In the past week, I've only used the internet to contact my employers around the world, my MP in the UK, to participate in a European Commission expert proceeding, to find out why my infant daughter has broken out in tiny pink polka-dots, to communicate with a government whistle-blower who wants to know if I can help publish evidence of official corruption, to provide references for one former student (and follow-up advice to another), book my plane tickets, access my banking records, navigate the new Home Office immigration rules governing my visa, wire money to help pay for the headstone for my great uncle's grave in Russia, and to send several Father's Day cards (and receive some of my own).

The internet is only that wire that delivers freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press in a single connection. It's only vital to the livelihood, social lives, health, civic engagement, education and leisure of hundreds of millions of people (and growing every day).

This trivial bit of kit is so unimportant that it's only natural that we equip the companies that brought us Police Academy 11, Windows Vista, Milli Vanilli and Celebrity Dancing With the Stars with wire-cutters that allow them to disconnect anyone in the country on their own say-so, without proving a solitary act of wrongdoing.

Why France has the solution to online piracy (Thanks, JZ!)


  1. Lucky for me U2 hasn’t released anything listenable in the last 16 years. Otherwise, it might not be so easy for me to boycott these goons on general principal for the rest of their miserable lives.

  2. I agree with #1 about U2, but Bono’s usually got enough sense to distance himself from stuff like this from his manager, he’s done it before. Managers are full of these kind of greedy fantasies, I remember Radiohead’s manager saying not so long ago that CDs were ‘a great bit of kit’ and should be more expensive.

  3. This just happened in my home of South Korea. Since the entire country is rampant with downloading, I expect that the law will be repealed after half the population is blocked.

  4. U2 has consistently produced dreck since after Joshua Tree. I would find it extremely easy to boycott them. Such overblown arrogance is criminal! Who do they think they are – oh yeah, Bono and Jesus are pretty tight.

  5. I understand that if you google “Song of Ascent” and “torrent” you can find interesting information about the latest U2 album.

    I don’t know why any user of the Internet would ever buy another U2 album after hearing this.

    South Park was right about Bono.

  6. @ Pope Ratzo

    That’s right…. Bono, the biggest piece of shit ever, he weighs over 80 courics!

  7. They just have no understanding of what the nature of the internet. I thought people like this were suggesting that illegally downloading music or films (or whatever) was a crime equal to theft, at least this is what the adverts on my legally bought DVDs insinuate. If this is the case then presumably the downloading of an album is equal to the crime of shoplifting. If this were the case, which it’s not, then surely they should also be campaigning to have shoplifters placed under some kind of strict house-arrest. I mean they clearly want to prevent these people from visiting the shops, researching subjects down at their local library and dealing with banks not to mention watching television and listening to radio both of which presumably still advertise Dutch band U2. Why aren’t they campaigning for this? Why are they so prejudiced against we internet users?

  8. Satellite Internet uplinks?

    In the way that the sat phone has changed state control of comms perhaps this is the next step?

    Just a passing thought.

    And I love it when U2 and their little entourage of chancers get sanctimonious.

    These f*ckers have not paid a penny in taxes to the Irish govt EVER.

  9. But U2 is giving the “income” from “upto” 600 tickets to Charity. If we look at the recent US 3 US concerts we find: approx 216000 tickets sold, so the “income” of .83% of the tickets will go to charity. Now since they say “income” and not revenue I will take this as them using “income” for the term profit. A high business profit could be 20% of revenue. So U2 could be giving as much as .17% of 20 million to charity, or about $34,000. BFD.

  10. I’d make a radical suggestion for this issue (I’m a writer/composer and am fully in support of creative commons licenses): if the entertainment industry tries to ram this type of legislation through, boycott them. We are the most over-entertained population in the history of the human species. We don’t NEED to watch movies, tv, listen to music, or even read every single bloody hour of the day. It would do us all a world of good to go on an entertainment fast for a while. A week without media entertainment would put the whole thing in perspective and scare hell out of the entertainment industry, besides saving immense amounts of energy and teaching us all what time can be. Think about it.

  11. If it’s not too personal a question Cory – why on earth would you “send several Father’s Day cards”?

  12. Two of the main principles of democracy, freedom of speech and presumption of innocence, are sacrified in exchange for individual power of non-state organisations, which to be frank, most people knowing them wouldn’t trust with a hankerchief, let alone the right to cut off anyone’s internet connection without any court approval.

    Not a good idea, but another nail in democracys coffin. And BTW, U2 is not fully responsible for the actions of their manager. Not that I like them, but I want to be fair.

    Greetings, LX

  13. Why stop there? Why not just give them all a ’00’ license so they can legally shoot to kill?

    Lousy, stinkin’ media pirates don’t deserve to live!

  14. My gut feelings about U2 remain unchanged. I always thought they were a sham. This stupid, arrogant move confirms that.
    PS: Who would’ve thought U2 and Metallica were kindred spirits?

  15. As #7 said, the french law had been rejected by a vote at the national assemblée. More info (in french) at:


    Usually, there is a english text version at the “Quadrature”.



    Very good site describing all the fight around the 3 strikes/Hadopi law in detail (in french only, use babelfish to translate).

    Don’t forget this law is unwanted by 90% of the french net users, but alas, we have got a gov who wants to rule it all using the repressive stick. This gov. is a shame, it listens only to the big corps interests, never to citizens concerned on civil liberties.

    May this fight inspire others… We need free internets.

  16. Breaking: U2 and Metallica unite for this summers hottest ticket :-P

    The Aging Rockers Antipiracy Tour!
    Tix start at $150 lol

  17. Sorry to interrupt the U2 bashing fest here, but…

    1) Managers are notoriously dicks. That’s why they are managers. To blame a band for things their manager may say is simply asinine. There is nary a band out there who doesn’t have a manager who gaffes like this whenever a microphone is put in front of them.

    2) This has nothing to do with the music being created by said band. Your opinion of U2’s music is irrelevant to any real discussion about the issue as put forth. -Not that this will stop many from spewing more vitriol.

    3) Having made point #2, I’d feel the need to rebut that, though I too have been fairly critical of U2’s canon in recent years, their latest album seriously kicks ass! C’mon, they are a pop group fer crissakes! To stay relevant for 30 years is no easy task, and not much that has come out in the last two decades by newer bands walking in their footsteps has rivaled what they have put forth even within the same span. Oasis? Coldplay? Give me a break!

  18. @17:

    So U2 are not responsible for those in their employ making dubious statements about the music business?

    This isn’t a “gaffe” it’s a position taken by the manager of one of the most successful bands on the planet. He speaks from a position of considerable influence and helps set opinions.

    You’d think with a lead singer who devotes much of his time to speaking out on social issues U2 would be more mindful of the message their reps put out there.

    Simply, aging rock stars yelling at the internet through their “people” is going to get, deservedly, mocked.

  19. I bought this CD –CBGB Forever, and it’s really good…except for the puke-inducing U2 cover of The Ramones’ Beat on the Brat. It’s so bad I deleted from my Library, and never want to hear it again, so I would like my money back please!

  20. @18: Never mind then. Just blame Bono and lump him in with Lars Ulrich ’cause he is such an easy target, and because he is getting old. Don’t bother to find out whether he or his band-mates really agree with anything their manager spouts. That would take the fun out of it.

  21. the best thing for the rest of the human race is is if someone disconnected mr mcguiness. period.

  22. Bands make music out of distribution. The more people that listen to the band’s music, the higher the chances of getting a higher revenue for any physical product (concert tickets, merchandise, dvd’s, etc).

    U2’s manager doesn’t get it. He thinks in the old way of doing music when the industry had absolute power over the artist’s persona and music.

    There are new ways of doing music, like the one Trent Reznor is proposing.

    By the way, I would not use a single byte of internet transmission to listen the new U2 album. Not a boycott at all, I just don’t like their music anymore. And them, and now I can add their manager.

  23. Cory,

    Next time you post hot air from U2’s windbag manager (which I assume will be next week), can you just auto-fill the U2 and Bono-bashing comments? It will save the obnoxious Pitchfork-lovin’ portion of the Boingboing “community” some time. The standard topic of Negativland is missing as of comment #21, so that would be a good one to add to the script.

  24. @Phikus:

    Do you work U2?

    It’s not that Bono is an “easy target” it’s that he’s someone who obviously knows the power of an opinion-maker. So arguing that he, or anyone in U2, is not responsible for the things their management is saying is pretty ridiculous.

    If he disagrees, then they should speak out. The days when an artist could hide behind their people and lawyers and record companies are ending. Thank goodness.

  25. @23:

    “…The standard topic of Negativland is missing as of comment #21, so that would be a good one to add to the script.”

    (COUGHS MODESTLY) I think you’d better read #16 again…

    Bono has had two days to overrule his manager or force a backpedal. yesterday, nos such statement is forthcoming.

    This is also nothing new.

  26. This news does not surprise me. For those of you who defend Bono, this is a guy whose sunglasses cost more than your luxury car. Get real. And to say that he has “distanced” himself from copyright controversy is indefensibly false.

    For all of us who don’t live on Mt. Olympus, he may seem distant. To everyone else, he seems like a sweatier version of the Queen. One whose mouth never seems to shut.

    U2 and Metallica strange bedfellows? Hardly. Both make shitty commercial music, and neither will ever have to worry about having their Internet connections terminated.

  27. How could this possibly be enforced? Who is policing this? Any operation that stepped into the fray would be so overwhelmed with the tsunami of IP data generated that they would be paralyzed.

  28. I meant to say: what doesn’t surprise me even more is all the sockpuppets coming to Bono’s defense. Bionicrat2, I’m looking straight at you. Apologist. Maybe you think it’s OK to wear $5000 Italian loafers and preach to the rest of the world about poverty.

    It stinks, so it’s a good thing it’s also transparent.

  29. Mgfarrelly: I have appreciated your comments here before, and so I am surprised you have so quickly denigrated the conversation to accusing me of astroturfing, when a quick glance at my comment history should have cleared up that misconception very quickly, assuming you wanted to actually do so.

    It has only been a couple of days since this statement was made, and he did not make this statement on behalf of the band, but merely as a player in the music business. The band are currently on tour, so do you honestly think they have had time to get caught up with a statement their manager made which was unrelated to band business at hand?

    I would not be surprised that U2 might come out with a statement in the near future regarding this, as their opinions have differed greatly from things their manager has made in the past, particularly the criticism he made of Radiohead’s In Rainbows honor system release, to which Bono wrote:

    We agree with our manager that this is a head-scratching and worrisome time for many musicians who, unlike ourselves, are depending on royalty or publishing cheques to pay the rent (particularly songwriters). We also agree that it is disturbing to see internet service providers and technology companies profit from the so-called ‘disintermediation’ of the music business when so many music lovers are losing their jobs. And while there is no doubt that it’s extremely difficult for a new artist to get the kind of investment on which U2 depended in the first few wobbly years of recording, we disagree with Paul’s assessment of Radiohead’s release as “having backfired to a certain extent.” We think they were courageous and imaginative in trying to figure out some new relationship with their audience. Such imagination and courage are in short supply right now…they’re a sacred talent and we feel blessed to be around at the same time.

    With respect,

    Source. [My emphasis was added.]

    So again, it is not “ridiculous” that U2 would have a different opinion than their manager espoused, and this should not be assumed in any intelligent discussion.

    Takeshi: They freely admit this: “I don’t believe in riches, but you should see where I live.” -But they have done a hell of a lot of philanthropy with their money and influence to try to make the world a better place. Regardless of the cost of their loafers, they have done far more than you or I in addressing the world’s problems as they see them. Can you name one other band / musician, other than John Lennon, the Grateful Dead, or Bob Geldoff that have done as much in this regard with what they have earned?

    Mr.N@22: I completely agree with your first 3 paragraphs.

  30. Uh… Bone has already spoken out last year. He clearly states he has different opinions than his manager. Bono has said that illegal downloads don’t matter to people like him, because he’s already made it. Rather, illegal downloading affects new and struggling bands.

  31. Q. What really sucks?
    A. Having a root canal done at the dentist.

    Q. What’s worse than that?
    A. Having a root canal done at the dentist while being forced to listen to a 2-for-Tuesday block of U2 on a shitty easy-listening radio station.

    Q. What’s worse than that?
    A. A follow up block of Phil Collins.

    And another…

    If you’re nowhere near a Bed, Bath & Beyond, but it suddenly strikingly smells like one, chances are U2 are just around the corner.

    Boy, they fucking suck.

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