KILKENNY -- I spend good money on recorded music and it irks me when someone tells me how I should care for that music. Ever since my first transistor radio, I carried my music with me. I continue that practise today. People chide me for my gadget bag. That's where I have a Nokia 9500 with MP3 tracks, a Sony Clie with WAV files, a Sony MDR with ripped CDs, a USB key with a playlist, my iPod and several Memory sticks containing tracks. I don't know if it's legal to have ripped and stored my paid collection in a format that plays for me. I think it's wrong to be told how to play and store music I purchased. It's as though the music industry thinks that its business model must be accommodated by all others. The music industry needs to have its attitude readjusted. Its view of what constitutes copyright in the our digital age is technically naive and financially precocious. During the past two weeks, familiarapocalyptic rhetoric has spewed from the mainstream press, dressed up by the music industry to make their points. It follows a familiar pattern where a monopolist objects to using new technologies of distribution that would force it to innovate.
I get a feeling that the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) is trying to criminalise some of my behaviour. So it's refreshing to read two people today who have a message to IRMA--stand back from the consumer. I also read a column by a solicitor well-versed in commmercial litigation that suggests the P2P methods I use to store my tracks won't please IRMA.
Liam Fay is the most combative. In the Sunday Times, he writes that "Irish record industry bosses are an unsympathetic bunch. Despite their grandiose self-image, most are little more than local agents for the big labels, efficient at collecting royalties but contributing little to the development of new or existing domestic talent".
It's no wonder, therefore that the whimpering of the IRMA about the "evil" of illegal music downloading failed to rouse the nation to paroxysms of pity.
The IRMA has initiated legal against against 17 individuals who, it claims, have illicityy uploaded thousamds of music tracks onto file-sharing networks. The organisation is eager to highlight the effects of illegal file sharing on the livelihoods of composers, musicians, publishers and record companies.
However, the case would carry more weight if the IRMA hadn't been so quick some years ago to scupper efforts by an internet retailer to sell legitimate CDs at erdeuced prices. The IRMA exploited the fact that Irish legislation on postal commerce is hopelessly outdated and insisted that CD Wow impose a €3 surcharge on every album sold to Irish consumers.
An industry that so ruthlessly fleeces its customers shouldn't be surprised when some bite back.
Fergus Cassidy sees worrying problems concerning privacy in the tactics outlined by IRMA. "At the Irish announcement last week, IRMA's legal counsel said that the organisation had asked a number of Internet Service Providers to provide the names of the alleged uploaders. IRMA's consultants have the computer addresses of the uploaders but not their names.
"For the ISPs to hand over such names would be a breach of the Data Protection Act, but they were asked anyway. One major Irish ISP thankfully said it would only do so as a result of a court order."
Eileen O'Gorman, a solicitor specialising in media and entertainment law, gets a column in the Sunday Business Post to present a legal angle.
The decision by the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) to start legal action against people suspected of internet music piracy has caused confusion about who it is targeting and why.
IRMA is pursuing people suspected of illegally swapping songs over the internet, but people should not wipe their iPod hard drives just yet. There are a number of restricted acts in respect of copyrighted music, which are illegal unless expressly authorised by the copyright owner.
These include copying, making available to the public or making an adaption of a copyrighted work. The act of putting copyrighted music onto peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks--or uploading--without a licence is one such act. So too is the act of downloading those tracks.
Liam Fay writes in the business section of The Sunday Times, April 17, 2005.
Eileen O'Gorman -- "Confusion surrounds IRMA crackdown" in the Sunday Business Post, April 17, 2005.
Fergus Cassidy -- "Privacy piracy" in the Sunday Tribune, April 17, 2005.