The ripples made by U2 manager Paul McGuinness when he called on the Internet providers to share some of the monumental profits he claims are being made on the back of cretive people (notably musicians, although movie makers will soon feel the pinch as well) have travelled the world. The speech’s title was clear: “The Online Bonanza: Who Is Making The Money And Why Aren’t They Sharing It?” The background is falling music revenue of between 10-17% per year. At the same time, ISPs are openly using the downloading of music as a feature in their ads. So McGuinness wants them to start sharing the profits.
One of the ideas has been a sort of levy on Internet subscriptions. This has met with some resistance, despite the fact that people have accepted levies on blank tapes, CDs and even video recorders in previous years. I pay authors’ rights on my cable subscription. Putting one of an ISP is not such a big jump.
Talking to a movie director recently, I said that some people were complaining that as they didn’t download music, they shouldn’t be asked to pay more for Internet subscriptions. His reply: “That reminds me of the people that say, ‘I don’t drive at night, why should I have to pay for street lighting?'”.