ZOO Station: U2 Centraal

U2 and Corrs Disagree over Internet Music
Matthew Anderson, ZooNation News
October 16, 2000

Two of Ireland's biggest exports, U2 and the Corrs, stand north and south of the river when it comes to downloading music via the 'Net.

The Corrs: In Blue

While the progressive worldview of U2 supports using the Internet to download music, the Corrs see it as nothing more than piracy and are working to stop the practice.

Acting as representatives for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the Corrs are taking a stand against Internet sites such as Napster.

That site's founder, Shawn Fanning, while already a multimillionaire courtesy of the software which he originated in his college dorm room, has been spending a lot of time in court trying to save the life of his creation.

Over the course of a year, more than 20 million people traded music files via Napster, with no mediators or accountants to keep track of the royalties.

"It is basically theft," Sharon Corr has said. "You spend your life recording albums; you take a year to record an album and write all your songs and, when it comes down to it, people are selling it for nothing close to the value of it."

A new edition the Artist Petition, aimed at gaining legal support and stronger copyright protection from the European Parliament, has gained the signatures of 1,500 European recording artists. The list of signatories includes such European powerhouses as Robbie Williams, Andrea Bocelli, Spice Girls, Boyzone, and Travis.

The petition includes the following passage: "We want to use new digital technologies like the Internet to create and to deliver our music. But we will only feel confident doing so if we know that the laws are there to stop our works falling victim to pirates.

"The digital era provides the technical systems for us to protect our works; but we need the laws to be able to use those systems. That is why the European Copyright Directive is so important. It must allow us to use technology to protect our works. It must make technology a friend and not an enemy of our creativity."

According to the IFPI, there are approximately 25 million smuggled music files on the Internet. Also, around one billion files are being downloaded each year via MP3 technology, which is a file format for storing digital audio that provides quality rivaling that of compact discs.

Jim Corr finds this akin to theft. "Most people would not dream of stealing a CD from their local record store. In the same way, we don't think it's cool to go to cyber shoplifting."

He further notes, "In just an eight-hour period, over 18,000 illegal Corrs music files and over 17,000 Jean-Michel Jarre sites were found on the internet." (Jean-Michel Jarre preceded the Corrs as the spokesperson for European artists.)

On the other side of the river, Bono has told Billboard, "The Edge is actually very pro-Napster. He thinks that as long as people are using their computers for music, and not playing mindless games, that's good."

U2: All That You Can't Leave Behind

It was surprising to even U2's fans when Bono went on to state, "My feeling is that it's cool for people to share our music - as long as no one is making money from the process. We tell people who come to our concerts that they can tape the show if they want."

As Bono knows, some days are better than others and some days there are bouncers who won't let you in. Hopefully on the next tour, though, fans will have a beautiful day when they show up at the concert with their recorders.

"I think it's cool that people are so passionate about our music - especially about this new album, quite honestly," Bono said.

Additionally, The Edge told New Musical Express that he is tickled to hear their new album has already found it's way on to the 'Net. The album, All That You Can't Leave Behind, doesn't street until October 30 in Europe and October 31 in North America.

"It's new, it's out there, let's see where it goes; figure out how to get paid later," The Edge said.

In defense of Napster, statistics from Jupiter Communications, an Internet research firm, indicate that the site actually acts as a catalyst for music sales and Napster usage could actually be used as a predictor of music spending.

Nonetheless, the overwhelming popularity of Napster has caused record companies to re-evaluate their stand on both the technology and how they do business.

In adapting to the new distribution channel that is the Internet, some record companies are now creating their own MP3 sites that allow users to download albums - after paying for them.

Note: I'm pleased to say the BBC's Web site linked to this article for quite some time.



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