Big Bono Wants to Watch Us

Posted on January 5, 2010

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Now, I might perhaps be biased in writing this little snippet because well, firstly, I have an intense dislike for Bono. Secondly, I have no qualms against downloading – legal or illegal. Thirdly, I’m living in a country that since the first of January has enforced a blasphemy law so I am discovering an increasing disquietude when it comes to hearing of backward, intrusive and somewhat tyrannical laws or law suggestions.

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In yesterday’s (4-1-10) Irish Independent, one article detailed Bono’s wish list for the world for this coming decade. Some of the suggestions on this wish list were typical of Bono, and anyone else on earth who has a soul, humanity or just a bit of common sense.

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However, amid his suggestions of sexier environmentally friendly cars and interdenominational cultural festivals, he struck out at the Internet service providers who he accused of “reverse Robin Hooding”. It’s a phrase I have to wonder about.

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The general idea behind Robin Hood is; robbing from the rich, giving to the poor. So reverse Robin Hooding then would be robbing from the poor and giving to the rich? In this scenario then, the consumers (currently struck by worldwide recession and job-loss) are the rich whilst the poor are the artists, such as Bono himself? Yeah, real poor there man. How’s the south of Italy this time of year? Warm? Thought so.

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“Bono said that the world’s news and entertainment industries were under threat unless there was an across the board clampdown on piracy.”

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Already in Ireland, we’ve seen Eircom refuse access to Pirate Bay for its customers.  However, as most people know, there are millions of file-sharing providers online, and a significant amount of torrents you find on sites, have all been tracked from Pirate Bay anyway. It’s kind of like turning off the water supply in one bathroom, so everyone has to go to a different one, that although is further away, still does the same thing. And there are plenty of bathrooms in the world.

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Bono is calling on the ISP (Internet Service Providers) to take tougher actions against file-sharing offenders. And I suppose, in terms of new artists trying to make a break for themselves, he is right, but it’s hard to believe that there isn’t a certain amount of self-preservation at the back of his mind too. Especially when you consider his suggestion for how to tackle the problem of illegal file-sharing.

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“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.”

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So let’s get this straight. Bono doesn’t consider China’s method of censorship noble, yet he brings it up in line with the American’s method as a means of stopping illegal file sharing? Bono would like to spy on us, to make sure that we’re not getting something for nothing. (How much Irish tax do you pay a year, sir? How much money do you make from the few gigs you play here?)

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To be fair, he may have had a decent argument until he made the mistake of drawing attention to the censorship methods of a Communist country. Fine, he may not have meant to appear to be commending them, but mentioning them at all, and in such a suggestive manner really poured a big bucket of water over any simmering flame his argument might have had.