UMG music boss can’t wait to start suing UK file sharers

The UK boss
of the Universal Music Group John Kennedy says he can’t wait to start suing
British music file sharers.  John Kennedy will be succeeding Jay Berman as
head of the lobby group IPFI (The international version of the RIAA) and
defended both the lawsuits and file poisoning at the In the city music
conference held in Manchester last week.

In the past the record
industry tried to lobby governments to do something about file sharing just to
be told that they will have to deal with the problem through civil legislation.
Lawsuits gave the music industry a weapon in which to stop file sharing that
worked. Kennedy continued talking about the theft of music during his speech and
vowed to extend the 50 year European copyright law to bring it into line with
the rest of the world.

He had very little
sympathy when it came to suing people such as the 12 year old girl who
lived in a New
housing project who had downloaded the favourite
theme of her TV show and ended being sued by the RIAA.  The girl’s family
ended up paying out thousands of dollars to get the RIAA off their back, John
Kennedy’s response was that the girl was a major file sharer.  He said that
Suing file sharers in the US had worked especially colleges and
was now getting support from governments. Kennedy then went on to
talk about if a student was caught drink driving then they would face jail,
music downloader’s should face penalties too. 

The industry in the
US is keen to put a college tax on
students so they will get music at university for free but when the students
graduate they loose any music they have acquired.

The music boss had even
less sympathy for song writers who only receive small fractions that record
owners receive, he believed this was fair as big hits are down to marketing and
investment.  He said he would be more sympathetic to song writers when the
day comes that the music company’s makes 50% margins on a song.  He also
claimed that music companies spend more on R&D than technology companies
because it’s their advertising and sales techniques that put a song at number

Kennedy was confident
about online music stores even though it’s early days yet though the press and
media had been very favourable and none had gone bust yet. He
said that in the past the record labels had got greedy and had become
the wholesaler and retailer even though the music brand name meant nothing to
the consumer.  He was asked why was it that a technology computer such as
Apple who brought in the legal digital music age, he replied with it was down to
the Apple iPod a record company couldn’t do that.  Referring to online
music stories he said for 79 pence your getting good quality and value that’s
like a Picasso that’s as close to the original as

He still emphasized that
record companies were needed as no unsigned band has been broken by the
internet.  Many bands are screaming for space on the net and a record
label is required.

The boss of
Universal Music Group UK John Kennedy can’tLegal wait to start suing British music sharers. John who? Although
he’s well known in the British music business, Kennedy will have a bigger
pulpit fairly soon. The combative former shipping lawyer will succeed Jay
Berman as head of the lobby group the IPFI – the international version of
the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) – and he defended both the
the lawsuits and file poisoning at the In The City music conference in
Manchester this week.

In the past the record industry had lobbied
governments, only be told that it needed to deal with the problem through
civil legislation. The lawsuits gave it new credibility, he said. Kennedy
spoke repeatedly about “stealing”, but didn’t use the occasion to offer
any new ideas on monetizing file sharing. He also vowed to fight hard to
extend European copyright past the 50 year limit, “to bring it into line
with the rest of the world,” he said.

Universal MusicThe UMG
boss had little sympathy for the twelve-year-old girl in a New York
housing project who had harbored an MP3 of the theme tune to her favorite
show on her computer, and had been sued by the RIAA. Her family paid out
thousands of dollars in a settlement. She was a “serious file sharer”,
insisted Kennedy.

But he had even less sympathy for songwriters, who
receive only a small fraction of royalties that recordings owners receive.
that was fair, he insisted, as hits were down to investment in marketing,
he said. At Polygram (which became Universal), Kennedy had stopped the
practice of chart-fixing, he said, “because we were so bad at it. Songs
that were supposed to chart at No.6 were coming in at

He’d be more sympathetic to songwriters, he said, the
day that record companies had “50 per cent margins”. In fact, he claimed
that record companies spend more on R&D than technology companies,
because of the marketing spend required to create a hit [*]. The
implication was clear: the success of an artist was down to the Shock and
Awe bombing of the record company’s marketing team, which is very

Kennedy said that the practice of sueing file sharers
had government support and had begun to make a difference, especially in
US colleges. Students knew that if they were caught drink-driving they’d
face jail, or downloading an exam cheat from the Internet, they’d face
expulsion; but students could download music with impunity. The music
industry is keen to impose a per-college tax on students for sharing
files, although the students lose the music when they

Kennedy was bullish about the new music download
stores, which is not surprising since it’s early days, the press has been
favorable, and very few have gone bust yet. In the past labels had “got
greedy and decided to be retailers as well as wholesalers,” he said, and
had forgotten that the record company isn’t a brand that means anything to
the mass market.

AppleAsked by The Observer’s Faisal Ahmed why it took a technology
company, Apple Computer, to create the online goldr ush, Kennedy said it
was down to the iPod.
“A hardware company came
up with a sexy piece of hardware. A record company couldn’t do that,” he
Nevertheless, he enthused about the
quality and value of the downloadable song.
“For 79p you’ve got a work of art that’s like a Picasso, only one
that’s as close to the original as you can get,” he said.

But record companies were still needed, he said,
because “no unsigned band has been broken by the internet,” he said.
“Bands are screaming in space on the

Full story over at The Register.  Well looks like british file sharers will
soon face the rath of a music extremist and if he has his way Europe will be
come more like America when it comes to copyright laws.


Source: The Register