Sony BMG executive demands Germany ban illegal downloaders

20th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Monitoring of Internet users is highly controversial in Germany.

Munich -- Sony BMG Music Entertainment pressed Germany on Wednesday to ban illegal downloaders from the Internet, with a senior executive saying politicians had given a "positive" response to the proposal.

The New York based record company is a 50-50 joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment of Japan and Bertelsmann of Germany.

Edgar Berger, the Munich-based head of Sony BMG Germany, said France had proved that temporarily disconnecting offenders from the Internet was an effective deterrent.

In remarks to appear Thursday in the weekly newspaper Wirtschafts Woche, he said, "For many people, this is a very severe punishment." He said surveys had found 70 percent of German web users would cease downloading if given a warning they would otherwise be cut off.

"I would like to see this system in Germany. We have received positive signals from politicians."

Monitoring of Internet users is highly controversial in Germany.

The country's constitutional court ruled Wednesday that it was legal for telecoms companies to log downloads and phone calls for six months but the data could not be used against minor crime.

Eco, the German internet business federation, praised the ruling as a "clear warning" to the music industry that the logs of web use would not be available to track down illegal downloaders.

Berger said that a combination of punishment and "customer- friendly" vending of legal music would restore growth to the music recordings business.

He said Sony BMG was already recovering, with earnings in 2007 that were "the best since 2000" despite a 40-percent shrinkage in the overall market, thanks to Sony BMG remaking itself as an "entertainment company."

"We want to take a cut from sound recordings, music publishing revenues, live performances, merchandising and advertising revenues. So far this year we have sold 600,000 concert tickets," he said.

By next year, Sony BMG aimed to achieve 30 percent of its German sales outside its traditional business of selling discs and tapes.

"In five years' time I expect it to be half the total," Berger said.

DPA with Expatica

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