U2: The Unforgettable Embarrassment
U2 manager Paul McGuinness must be beside himself. Despite the band’s best efforts to prevent its new album, “No Line on the Horizon,” from appearing prematurely on the Internet, copies are being distributed there a week prior to its scheduled release.
It’s not the fault of the ISPs, never mind that they are, according to McGuinness, “destroying the recorded music industry” by failing to tackle piracy. Nor is it the fault of Apple (AAPL) and the makers of other digital media players who are wrongly profiting from their “burglary kits.” Nor can it be blamed solely on Silicon Valley and its “entrepreneurial, hippie values,” which in McGuinness’s opinion have bred a deep disregard for the true value of music.
No, it appears there’s no one to blame for this particular cock-up but Universal Music, which mistakenly put the album up for sale earlier this week at getmusic.com.au. It was only available there for a brief period, but there was time enough for fans to buy it legally. Not surprisingly, copies of the record began showing up on torrent indexes a short while later.
An embarrassing turn of events for a band that had gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent exactly this situation from happening. Still, as TechDirt’s Mike Masnick notes, there’s a lesson to be learned here. “At some point, folks in the music industry are going to (finally) recognize a rather simple fact: it just takes one digital copy of a song/movie/whatever to get out there, and it’s everywhere. You can’t stop it. No matter how annoying it is. No matter what laws it violates. It will happen.”