Across Irish Sea: two bold tactics against music piracy
Isle of Man considers unlimited downloads as Ireland pulls plugs.
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“At the end of the day, we’re not going to stop piracy,” Mr. Berry said.Skip to next paragraph
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In Ireland, a new crackdown
For some, the battle against piracy is still worth pursuing.
“There is now a whole generation who have never paid for music,” says Willie Kavanagh, chairman of the Irish Recorded Music Association and managing director of EMI Ireland, one of the four companies that recently sued the Internet service provider Eircom. “We’ve done research in classrooms and it’s astounding how young people of 17 have never bought a CD. Not only that, none of them had ever paid for music. So the problem is of total epidemic proportions.”
The settlement means that Eircom will disconnect customers if they ignore two warnings. Paul Bradley, head of communications at Eircom, says that his company won’t directly monitor customers’ Internet usage. The record companies, via a third party, will supply Eircom with the IP addresses of all persons they detect to be illegally trading copyrighted works on a peer-to-peer (P2P) basis. Once Eircom is made aware of illegal activity it is bound by law to take action.
The Irish model may be one of the first, but it is likely to be copied. The British government has recommended similar measures in its Digital Britain Interim Report, published on Jan. 29. France, after rejecting an approach similar to the Isle of Man’s, now supports the idea of disconnecting Internet pirates.
Attempting to stop the vast (and largely free) global flow of music file sharing through punishment will ultimately prove futile, predicts Bob Lefsetz, a leading music industry analyst based in California.
“This three-strikes thing is not a solution,” Mr. Lefsetz says. “Licensing is a solution. The Isle of Man [model] is a solution.”
The future is in on-demand services, Lefsetz says. The record industry should be looking ahead to those challenges.
“Do you still think that eight years from now people are going to be stealing music track by track?” Mr. Lefsetz says. “The bottom line is you are going to have instant delivery of everything you want, whenever you want. P2P is already antiquated.”
Sectors of the recording industry are already planning ahead. Last year, major players in the recording business, including the Digital Media Association (DiMA), the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), made an agreement that proposed royalty rates for online streaming and limited downloads. Also last year Warner Music International appointed Jim Griffin, a music industry analyst and former head of technology at Geffen Records, to develop digital distribution models.
Careful number-crunching is needed to ensure the recording companies and artists are adequately compensated, says Mr. Kavanagh, of the Irish Recorded Music Association. “At some point, all-you-can-eat loses money for somebody.”
Author and futurist Leonhard says the recording industry is fighting an uphill battle: “The tactic of criminalizing users hasn’t produced any money. The industry needs to look for compensation, not control.”