Gov should change law on illegal downloads: IFPI

The Irish Government should consider legislation that forces the disconnection of persistent illegal music downloaders, the chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has said.

Frances Moore praised Eircom for the “tremendous leadership” it had shown in the area and encouraged others to follow. If that did not happen, she said the Government may need to step in to resolve the issue.

“What is clear is that we need to get this situation under control and one ISP is not enough to do that,” said Ms Moore in a conference call following the release of the IFPI’s annual report. “We will need the other ISPs to either do their part voluntarily or have the Government impose legislation.”

Eircom is the only ISP in Ireland that has agreed to undertake a “graduated response” to users believed to be downloading content illegally. This sees customers getting a warning upon detection of suspect activity and eventually ends in disconnection if further warnings are ignored.

However, attempts by music rights group the Irish Recorded Music Association (Irma) to make other ISPs adhere to the same process have failed. Following a defeat in a case against UPC, the industry body said it would pressure the Government to change the law.

The IFPI report shows digital music sales continuing to increase, with the category now accounting for 29 per cent of record companies’ global revenues. Overall revenues have continued to decline, down 31 per cent since 2004. However, the report falls short of comparing overall unit sales, making it difficult to see how much of that decline is due to lower prices as opposed to falling sales.

Putting the piracy issue in more economic than moral terms, the report claims a 17 per cent drop in employed musicians in the US since 1999. It also claims 1.2 million jobs will be lost across Europe by 2015 due to piracy.

More optimistically, the IFPI champions the growth in new revenue models for the industry, specifically the expansion of streaming services like Spotify and We7.

“We are forging new models that aim to make digital music both consumer-friendly and commercially viable for creators,” said Ms Moore in her introduction to the report.

She said 2010 was the year they “broke the seal” on subscription services and ISP deals, and specifically cites Eircom as an example of that.

Article originally published in The Irish Times on the 21st January 2011.

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