Music industry and ISPs need to work together on copyright – IMRO

29 Jun 2011

The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) said there is no adequate legislation to protect songwriters, authors and publishers in the digital era and said it was imperative it sits down with ISPs to agree to practical ways to fight piracy.

IMRO, which says it considers the ICT industry very much a partner in the fight against piracy, today reported its total licensing revenue in 2010 amounted to €38.1m, a decrease of 5.8pc on the previous year.

The fall in revenue was anticipated due to a smaller number of live music events taking place and the fall in advertising revenue from independent radio. It followed a particularly strong year in 2009, where overseas and concert revenue reached all-time highs.

Victor Finn, IMRO CEO, said: “In the digital area, it is clear we do not have adequate legislation to protect our songwriters, authors and their publishers. We welcome the separate consultation issued by the same Government in seeking to grant injunctive relief to copyright holders against online intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe copyright. This will ensure the correct transposition of the 2001 EU Copyright Directive.

“Together with this necessary legislation, however, we also believe there must also be co-operation at industry level. This can only be achieved by the ISP and content industries sitting down to roundtable discussions to agree practical measures to ensure that piracy on the internet is minimised. If it is necessary, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation can facilitate by directing all ISPs to partake in such a process.”

Finn continued: “Many of the laudable objectives in the Programme for Government recently published depend entirely on robust copyright foundations and strong enforcement.

“The ICT sector, now very much our partners in the delivery of copyright works, also depend on intellectual property to ensure that investment in software, hardware and patents is protected. Continued spend on research and development is thus assured. An environment where so-called fair use exceptions are expanded, creating a light-touch copyright regime is not a viable option.

“We will work with the relevant departments and the review group established by the minister in the coming months to deliver a balanced review of our copyright legislation. This will ensure that innovation in the technology sector is encouraged while also providing a fair return for creative endeavours,” Finn said.

Key milestones achieved during 2010 for IMRO included:

·         The launch of the IMRO Academy, which was set up to celebrate the successes of Ireland’s iconic songwriters and composers who have made a significant cultural and social impact in Ireland and/or internationally. The first inductees were Brendan Graham and Bill Whelan

·         An improved web portal for IMRO members, with enhanced facilities for members, including the ability to register their works directly online, view royalty statements, supply details of live domestic and international performances, search and claim royalties

On the issue of copyright infringement, Finn added: “It is an extremely important time for the creative community, when music and other intellectual property rights are more widely available than ever before. We will continue to work with our partners in the creative industries to underline the important contribution creatives make to the Irish economy. We welcome the timely review of copyright announced by Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, recently. This is necessitated by the advances in digital technology that have rendered some of the existing provisions obsolete.”

Public meeting for stakeholders

In related news, the Department of Enterprise said today the Copyright Review Committee will host a public meeting on 4 July, in the Robert Emmet Lecture Theatre, Room 2037 Arts Block, Trinity College Dublin, to discuss its work, from 8.30-10am.

Dr Eoin O’Dell, chair of the Copyright Review Committee, will chair the meeting and the speakers include Brian Fallon, founder of Distilled Media, Darragh Doyle, communications manager of, TJ McIntyre, chairman, Digital Rights Ireland.

The speakers will have five minutes each to explain how copyright helps or hinders them in their work, and what impact the Copyright Review Committee’s terms of reference will have on them. The meeting will then be opened to comments from the floor.

Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock, said: “It is important that we get a clear understanding of the effects of copyright policy, and in particular, the economic effects of possible changes to existing copyright law. It is for this reason I feel it is necessary to consult with as wide a range of stakeholders as possible.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years