The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) has moved against several top Irish blogs, demanding they pay hundreds of euro annually to continue sharing songs – even if they are sent to them by the artists and labels themselves, according to the Guardian newspaper.
So far, IMRO has contacted only three Irish blogs, but it plans to widen its net – requiring licences for any site that offers song downloads/streams and “is made available in Ireland”. One such blog, Nialler9, is maintained by Dublin-based journalist Niall Ryan. He says he has no problem paying artists’ royalties. But he points out that most of the downloads on his site are provided by artists, labels and their PR companies. In the five years Ryan has been blogging, he says “not one band … has ever mentioned IMRO or royalties to me when asking me to post their music”.
But IMRO’s response is: “If the composer/author or publisher of a track has mandated a collection society, ie IMRO in Ireland, PRS in the UK etc, to license and collect royalties on their behalf then this licence must be obtained.” They add: “If a composer has mandated us to license or if a track is published then a composer hasn’t got the right to give full permission for use of the track.”
In the past, music publishing groups were sleeping giants – leaving spats with music bloggers to the recording industry associations. Now, bolstered by massive licensing deals like IMRO’s recent agreement with YouTube, they’re awakening to possible revenues – and dispatching the lawyers.
Insisting he wants to stazy on the right side of the law, Ryan says the new licence costs are “prohibitive” to those who want to post MP3s “with permission” from their favourite bands.
Meanwhile in the Irish courts, Judge Peter Charleton ruled that record companies handing over the IP addresses of illegal music downloaders is not a breach of data protection law. Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes had held that it was an invasion of privacy. The move could be worth €20m to the music business, IMRO boss Dick Doyle says.