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IRMA To Sue Filesharers For Clawing Back Profits From Greedy Exploitative Corporations

category national | sci-tech | feature author Wednesday April 13, 2005 20:46author by Auntie IRMA Report this post to the editors

'The darknets are where it's at I'm told'' sez Wag ''Anyone got directions?"

The Irish Recorded Music Association is to start legal action against 17 Irish people whom they accuse of sharing copywrighted music. IRMA announced the decision today, claiming they 'were forced' into the move and are 'unhappy' about it. They cite figures that the 'Irish Music Industry' is 'losing' €3.8m annually because of illegal downloading. Since 2002 they have seen profits fall from €146m annually to €118m, which is a 19% drop over 3 years. The put this drop in sales down to what they call 'serial filesharers'.

IRMA is the trade organisation representing 47 members, including major and independent record companies. IRMA say that file sharing is “effectively stealing the livelihood of the creators of music”.

But who is really 'stealing the livelihoods' of musicians?

Take an average new CD that costs between €15 and €20. According to Patrick Norager, who runs an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) net-radio station: “Artists only get 10 percent of (the money from) their sales before they pay managers and absorb breakage fees and other expenses... The fact is unless you can sell 250,000 copies on a major label you will probably get dropped. The way they do it, it’s like they’re selling toasters instead of music.”

So the artist (unless they are huge sellers like U2 or Metallica) will only get between somewhere between €1.50 to €2 or less for every CD sold, before additional expenses and record company 'recouperation'. The 'record industry' (the labels, the stores, the middlemen) and taxman get the rest.

Steve Albini, a longtime rock producer (perhaps most famous for working on Nirvana's final studio album) lays out a typical example of a new band signing to a major label, from an Indie label.

After signing for a £250,000 advance with a 13% cut of record sale profits (-10% of that 13% for 'packaging') - this band will find themselves having made a paltry $4000 each. And the really strange thing is that NONE of this comes from the record royalties - the band actually owes the record industry $14,000 for the album. The small amount of money made actually comes from touring and merchandise. As Dougie Thomspon, former Supertramp bassist, says: "make sure that you book as may shows as you can, as far in advance as possible, for as much money as you can get while the fire is hot."

It's surplus value gone mad - imagine a worker who ends up owing their boss money after they've carried out their work they were contracted to do!

Articles Of Relevance
A Day in the life, a look at the current P2P scene
Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig (How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity)
Indymedia Blog On Bill Gates recent comments about the 'dotcommunist' pheonemeon
Overview of the peer to peer networks
Cartoon On Copyright Violation
Courtney Love Does The Math

At the end of the first album and a five week tour here are the profits made:

Record company: $ 710,000
Producer: $ 90,000
Manager: $ 51,000
Studio: $ 52,500
Previous label: $ 50,000
Agent: $ 7,500
Lawyer: $ 12,000

Band member net income each: $ 4,031.25 (for four people)

So this band, on their first album and tour have made the meagre amount of four grand each, while they have generated over $3.3 million for the record industry. See Albini's article here: http://www.negativland.com/albini.html

Who's ripping off whom exactly?

Some say services such as I-Tunes are more 'artist friendly' than big label CD releases. This is arguable, there's an interesting article about it here: http://www.cdfreaks.com/news/8232

Now, lets look at IRMA's figures.

They cite a sales drop of almost €4 on an annual basis. I'm not a maths expert (B in pass Math 1998) - but I can't figure these numbers out. According to IRMA these are cumulitive losses - ie, every year they lose a further 3.8 million to 'downloaders'. So in 2002 they are down 3.8m, in 2003 they are down another 3.8 on top of the 3.8 (in total 11.4m), and in 2004 they are down a further 11.4m - bringing our total to 22.8m.

146 - 22.8 = 123.2

The figure they cite is 118m - where did the other 5 million go? But I guess in relative terms, 5 million is nothing - and I am open to correction from a mathemathician on this question.

However, lets look at what IRMA could be leaving out. They cite losses for the 'Irish Music Industry' - I'm guessing this doesn't include people like session players, producers, studio owners etc, they are simply talking, I assume, about 'sales revenue'.

What is the Irish Music Industry? Thats a good question. One would expect it to be composed of groups like Whirlygig, Celtic, Spaceboy etc. Well, yes they are represented by IRMA. But so too are such great Irish companies as Warner Music (Ireland), Sony Music (Ireland), Universal Music (Ireland) and EMI (Ireland). Just to take the example of Sony - after looking at their website, I can see only four Irish bands on their label. (There may be more, but that is all that is listed, and one of them is B*Witched). Universal has about four too, at least according to an incomplete artist list on their site. EMI apprently have no Irish bands (again according to the list on their site). Warner's website is horrible (they don't even have an Irish website) but I think they have at least three Irish bands, possibly more.

So, this isn't about evil downloaders stealing from -Irish- bands or singers. At least not for the Big Four - who lets face it, own most of the Industry anyway. This is about the sales -in- Ireland of international artists. Using IRMA's own figures, theres been a drop of €28m for the record industry, which when you apply Steve Albini's math (in which artists get 0.48% of what the record industry does), artists themselves have lost only €134,400! Or taking it as just a percentage of what the record company makes (2.25%) a whopping €630,000.

Even then, the figures may be misleading. How is revenue calculated? Does the calculation rely simply on sales within Ireland? Do they take into account the fact that many (well I do) people buy their music from much cheaper places like Play.com (based in Jersey), CDWow.ie (actually based in Buckinghamshire, UK) and Amazon (there is no Amazon.ie)? Are these sales to Irish people calculated into the losses or what?

Speaking personally, I can't remember the last time I bought anything other than second hand discs/DVDs in Ireland. Probably at Christmas 2002. Since then I've pretty much ordered everything from Amazon and Play - thats about 25 DVDs and maybe 5 discs. I pretty much buy discs only second hand these days (and that would amount to somewhere in the region of 30 discs in the last 2 years - all second hand).

Also, I'd like to know do they figure in pay-per-download sites, such as I-Tunes or Mp3Download.com in these figures?

Then there is the fact that every download is not necessarily a 'lost' sale. People will download things they would never think about buying.

Finally, there is the question that the record industry will never address. The majority of absolute shite that passes for music these days. Yeah there are some decent mainstream bands, but they are a vast minority (in my opinion anyway). Just look at the top ten charts:

--Singles--

(Is This The Way To) Amarillo
Tony Christie feat. Peter Kay

Candy Shop
50 Cent

Rich Girl
Gwen Stefani feat. Eve

All About You / You've Got a Friend
McFly

Let Me Love You
Mario

Switch
Will Smith

Get Right
Jennifer Lopez

Over and Over
Nelly feat. Tim McGraw

They
Jem

Falling Stars
Sunset Strippers

--Albums--

Hot Fuss
Killers

Language. Sex. Violence. Other?
Stereophonics

The Massacre
50 Cent

Hey Dreamer
John Spillane

American Idiot
Green Day

Love. Angel. Music. Baby
Gwen Stefani

O
Damien Rice

The Singles
Basement Jaxx

Lullabies To Paralyze
Queens of the Stone Age

The Definitive Collection
Tony Christie

I'd never buy any of those - I did get copies of the Killers and Damien Rice albums off a mate - and despite three or four good songs on each, they're not great. Certainly not worth upwards of €15 (again, thats my personal taste - my mate likes them).

(c) JacksonSun.com image of cop cuffing virtual hands
(c) JacksonSun.com image of cop cuffing virtual hands

author by on the lampublication date Tue Apr 12, 2005 21:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Artists 'not concerned' about file sharing

A survey of artists and musicians in the US has revealed that a large majority have embraced the internet and consider it to be a helpful tool to their careers.

[....]

Whilst the survey revealed that musicians agree that file-sharing should be illegal, they do not seem to be overly concerned about it, with 66 percent of musicians citing it as just a minor threat or no threat at all.

[....]

There is general agreement amongst artists and musicians on the issue of what is permissible and what is not in terms of copying digital music or material. Selling material without the creator's permission is broadly regarded as wrong while copying material for private use is seen as acceptable.

Related Link: http://www.enn.ie/news.html?code=9568702
author by Paulpublication date Wed Apr 13, 2005 04:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

have they realeased the names of those they're after?

author by nervous indymedia editorpublication date Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

aaaahhhh

author by barrypublication date Wed Apr 13, 2005 14:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ive been a big fan of Tony Christie for years. I downloaded the definitive collection, but the version of "Avenues and Alleyways" was both lacklustre and woeful. Not an ounce of "oomph" in it.

Just managed to get the original videos of "Amarillo" and "I did what I did for Maria" downloaded from Win MX.

Jimmy Saville was still introducing Top of the Pops , in a suit. Excellent stuff.

IRMA can eat my shorts. And anyone who downloads Westlife deserves to be prosecuted.

author by Auntie IRMApublication date Wed Apr 13, 2005 19:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

No, they have not yet released the names of the 17. Becasue they don't yet have the names. At this point they have only IP adresses and usernames. They are asking the ISPs to release the account details. According to RTE News last night, one (unnamed) ISP has refused to reveal them under the Data Protection Act (or whatever its called). However, the same thing happened in England, and the ISPs were brought to the High Court and made reveal them.

The result was an average fine of £3,000.

author by jsrpublication date Wed Apr 13, 2005 19:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There have been a group of people in the Uk who were fined £2000 each for the same thing. The US music industry is going to target stundents in its round of sweeps and is also taking legal action against file share software producers.
In short my friend the Jig Is up.

author by jack whitepublication date Wed Apr 13, 2005 20:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The US music industry is going to target stundents in its round of sweeps and is also taking legal action against file share software producers. "

Most of the software producers wil be fine, just like the home taping 'crisis' in the 80's (anyone remember that one? when the record companies wanted to put a huge tax on all blank tapes because "HOME TAPING IS DESTROYING THE MUSIC INDUSTRY!!!!!) software producers can show that there is a 'legitimate ' use for their product i.e distributing free software (most linux suites can be downloaded on bittorrent s for example) or copyright free media (the kind of thing you see linked to from indymedia).

They have managed to shut down some sites, like suprnova for example but others have just taken their place.

What they might be able to do is prosecute a few individuals, but even thats just a maybe, they'll never be able to touch the vast majority of us. they'll also find it impossible to prosecute anyone if isp's refuse to release the information. Personally I would immediatly switch from any internet service provider who had such a low level of respect for my privacy that they'd pass on all of my internet records to commerial companies.


"In short my friend the Jig Is up."

The jig my friend is only starting.

author by jsrpublication date Wed Apr 13, 2005 20:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lets hope the jig never ends and everyone should get their dancing shoes on.(ok I just about streached that one as far as it can go)
Anyway we always have the betamax rule to fall back on if things go against file sharing software. everyone say a big thanks to sony

author by Mickpublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 01:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Whats the Betamax rule?

author by Auntie IRMApublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 01:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As I recall, the Betamax Principle stems from a court case brought in the early 1980s by the Movie and TV industry against the Betamax, the makers of the first (?) video machine that could record onto videotape.

In a nutshell, courts in the US found that the makers of the technology (the VCR) could not be held liable for illegal acts carried with said technology (such as taping off the TV, or video to video). The precendet has stood for some 20 years. The 'entertainment' industry has also tired to stop companies from making Dual Deck tape recorders, CD Burners and presumably DVD burners - but always failed.

Of course, the Betamax Principle only applies to the manufacturers of the technologies, not to people who fileshare.

Of course, once again the misnamed Entertainment Industry are attempting to have the rule overturned. And one of their cheerleaders is none other than 'progressive activist' Sheryl Crow. But Sheryl, all we wanna do si have some fun!

http://www.macnewsworld.com/story/40054.html

Its kinda funny, no, that capitalists always seem to be looking for deregulation of this and deregulation of that - except for what they don't want deregulated, like copyright law.

author by Paul Baynespublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:49author address Fairviewauthor phone Report this post to the editors

There is another argument out there.

I would imagine that the 17 people being targeted by IRMA have already spent more than most on recorded music. Anybody who downloads a large amount of music clearly has a serious interest in music, and probably has a larger CD collection than most people. They probably attend more concerts than most people. I would consider these kind of people to be among the most supportive of the Irish music industry that IRMA claims to be trying to defend. With the advent of accessible downloadable music on the internet, it certainly may be the case that there are some people who have made a conscious decision to stop paying for music altogether. But it seems likely to me that there are plenty of people who will continue to buy CDs as well as downloading music. Many people like to have a CD in its commercial format, for the album artwork and sleeve notes. The internet is just another format for getting music: it does not necessarily follow that people who download music illegally will stop buying CDs altogether. It seems more likely to me that people will continue to buy CDs, but will also download music, and thus they will have access to a much larger library of music to listen to. And surely, in the long term, the more music people listen to, and the more music gets out there, the better it is for the music industry in the long term.

author by Auntie IRMApublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 17:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While agree with your point (most definatley) - the IRMA aren't actually targetting donwloaders as such. They are targetting what they call 'serial file-sharers' - the people who -upload- music to others. This is, seems to me, the central plank of their argument. The people who make the music available are the 'bigger criminals' than those who downlaod it. At the press conference, they compared it to drug dealing!

But on your point, its definatley true for people I know. I've got 300+ plus CDs and the last albums I bought were Pony Club (a great Irish band who I would NEVER have heard of without the Internet) and Bloc Party (ditto, except they're not Irish). I've even gone to see Bloc Party twice.

Another example is Kaiser Cheifs, another mate did me a copy of their album, and while its not all that great - last month they played in the Ambassador in Dublin, it was €14 so I went. I'd never have gone without the copy, and would never have bought the album on the strength of it. I also bought a T-shirt inside, because I know they get money from those sales. So the Kaiser Cheifs made money out of me that they would not have made if I didn't get the copy in the first place! Not to mention the amount of money the Ambo (which I assume is part of the 'Music Industry') made on the drinks I bought.

In researching the orginal article, I came across a really novel idea that I forgot to inculde in the piece. That is - if you download an album and like it, send the band some money. Even if it's only a fiver, its still more than they'd make off a 'legal' copy - you are supporting the -artist- and the criminals in the record industry get nothing. (Not necessarily a strategy for the independent labels, but certainly one for circumventing the big four).

I found the Courtney Love article very interesting too, thanks to whoever made this a feature and put that there. I'd recommend everyone reads it - and I'm not particularly a fan of Ms. Love.

Another article, this time about Wilco's success following being dropped by their label can be read here:

http://gnn.tv/headlines/2082/Exploring_the_Right_to_Share_Mix_and_Burn

author by redjadepublication date Thu Apr 14, 2005 17:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This Saturday in Dublin at the IFI...

Proposal for a EFF Ireland
http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=69374

author by Auntie IRMApublication date Fri Apr 15, 2005 01:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Given yesterday's (Wed) shockingly bad, pro-record industry article in Daily Ireland, I was pleasantly surprised to see their editorial had a more rational tone.

=======================================

Robbers policing internet piracy?

Editorial from Daily Ireland

Right across Europe, record companies this week launched a new offensive against file-sharing — where one music fan shares a track or an album with another on the Internet. They promise legal action against those they catch.

In Ireland, the campaign is being led by the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA), which says the practice usually breaks copyright law, is responsible for a drop in record sales of 19 per cent, and is “effectively stealing the livelihood of the creators of music". These are sound arguments, to a point.

Many music fans, however, feel the same record companies have been over-charging them for decades. CDs cost far more here than elsewhere, and the record companies do all in their power to prevent Irish consumers from buying perfectly legal recordings from cheaper markets, such as Hong Kong, by mail.

A particularly cynical arrangements exists in the world of DVDs, where people buying movies or music videos abroad find the globe has been carved into “regions" to help maximise profits.
Technology has been used to ensure that DVDs from, say North America or Australia, simply do not work in European players.

Indeed, in the past, every new technology was greeted by the industry as a heaven-sent opportunity to gouge their customers.
When cassettes arrived, record companies re-released their catalogues, and charged full price. When CDs emerged, music lovers again had to pay dearly for recordings they often had already bought on vinyl or cassette.

In many cases, the musicians themselves received little or nothing extra -- but for the record companies each change heralded a bonanza.
So many fans, and some musicians, may see a delicious irony in the record companies now finding themselves, for once, on the receiving end of technological change.

All of this, however, is likely to prove a sideshow. With new ways to share files being invented every week, and more and more families getting broadband at home, there is little the record and movie industries can do to turn back the clock.
Instead of the current “bata fada" approach, they should figure out a way to make music and films even easier to download and far cheaper than they are now. Surely, that would make more sense in the long run, and enrich more than the lawyers who yesterday issued a blizzard of writs across the world on behalf of the music giants, than the present approach.

Were they to offer better and more transparent prices to Irish people for their wares, they might find the vast majority would happily pay up.

====================================

author by Auntie IRMApublication date Fri Apr 15, 2005 01:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Didn't realise the url was -that- long.

Here's a tiny one, thanks to whatever Ed fixes ;-)

http://tinyurl.com/6xstw

author by Phuq Heddpublication date Sat Apr 16, 2005 22:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Unfortunately it's in GarageBand (proprietary format). Still it's a good step.

Related Link: http://www.nin.com/current/index.html
author by examinerpublication date Sun Apr 17, 2005 18:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Then check out the following artists/sites

http://www.zearle.com/
Zearle makes revolutionary socialist hip hop, by a member of the US workers' International League (co-thinkers of the Socialist Appeal group in the UK)

http://www.ironsheik.biz/
The Iron Sheik, Palestinian-American activist hip hop. Top class stuff, be sure and check out the Neo-Con Luv Song and Conversations with Edward Said. Theres an interview with him at
http://www.radio4all.net/index.php?op=program-info&program_id=12004&nav=&

http://sonofnun.net/
Son of Nun - More Palestinian-American hip hop, this with an openly socialist slant.

http://www.euphrates.ca/
Euphrates - Canadian-Iraqi hip hop out of Montreal, no mp3s on the site, but there is a flash player. I love this group. Interview with one of the Mcs at
http://www.radio4all.net/index.php?op=program-info&program_id=11333&nav=&

http://www.thephilistines.com/
The Philistines - "Arab-American hip hop for the masses".

http://www.dam3rap.com/
Da Arabian MC's (DAM) - Hip hop from a crew of Israeli-Arabs. These guys are great. Also check out their other site Arab Rap [ http://www.arabrap.net ], which has a load of free mp3s too. Piece about DAM and the controversy in the Israeli hip hop scene at
http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,1434554,00.html

Also, be sure and check out Hard Knock Radio weekdays on Pacifica's KPFA [ http://www.kpfa.org ] http://www.hardknockradio.com/

author by Auntie-IRMApublication date Fri Apr 22, 2005 18:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Looks like its a free hand to IRMA. Can't read the article because it's subscriber only.

"Coming Down On The Loaders
22 Apr 2005

The dramatic announcement last week that the Irish Record Music Assocation was planning to sue 17 individuals the association has identified as "serial file-sharers" sent shock waves through the industry. IRMA chief executive Dick Doyle explains the background to to the move. Report by Tanya Sweeney."

Anyone happen to have a subscription? Will they post the full article?

Related Link: http://www.hotpress.com/politics/frontlines/2794737.html
author by Auntie-IRMApublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 22:38author address Chillin' with the A-Team in the LA Undergroundauthor phone Report this post to the editors

The good news is, or at least appears to be, that if you ain't on Kazaa or Gnutella then you are not one of the Magnificent 17.

The bad news is, if you are, then there's a chance you're fucked...

Perhaps the most important bit for use fretful filesharers - here we find out specifically which networks have been targetted - 15 on Kazaa and 2 on Gnutella
Perhaps the most important bit for use fretful filesharers - here we find out specifically which networks have been targetted - 15 on Kazaa and 2 on Gnutella

part 1
part 1

part 2
part 2

part 3
part 3

part 4
part 4

author by Auntie-IRMApublication date Sat Apr 23, 2005 22:42author address In the back of a truck with Kit and Nightrider.author phone Report this post to the editors

The final two parts of the article (I had to break it up becasue of the filesize.image width limits here)...

Also, thanks to the Indymedia media team for putting my article in Print Flare. Nice one!

part 5
part 5

part 6
part 6

author by eeekkkkkpublication date Sun Feb 26, 2006 15:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=499

the same powerful argument in terms of a more general political economy

author by primrosebluepublication date Wed Nov 15, 2006 15:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

who died and made you king of taste culture?
do you seriously think theses bands you don't like give a care
what you think while they're checking the accounts?
all you're doing on here is whining.
you just want something for free
what you said is the way the industry is set up
if you don't like it, go someplace else or change it
people, stop whining because you have to shell out
some money to buy a CD

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