Swear I'm not Paul: An Open Letter to Ministers Hanifan, Ryan, Mansergh

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Friday, April 30, 2010

An Open Letter to Ministers Hanifan, Ryan, Mansergh

Dear Minister Hanifan, Minsiter Mansergh, and Minister Ryan,

Earlier this week, many Irish music bloggers were contacted by a representative of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) with regards to the payment of a "Limited Online Exploitation Licence". These online writers are being asked to pay an annual licence fee to host legal downloads of freely available songs and mp3s.

This would not be an important issue if it were not for the fact that these songs have been provided free of charge from the artist, record company, label, or through a PR firm. Each music blogger has the full written permission to host the tracks, evidence of which can be easily provided. However, IMRO have demanded a yearly fee from these bloggers, of which the large majority make no profit whatsoever from their hobby.

It is not the price of the fee that is the problem, but merely the fact that such a fee exists. In the twenty-first century music blogs are doing as much if not more to promote indigenous Irish music than any other media source, and this blatant racketeering from IMRO would surely see the demise of a large percentage of this online community.

The bands and labels have offered their music in good faith, in hope that such samples will lead to sales. Now IMRO wants to charge the people who make the music legally available to the public through this licence fee. The artists themselves disagree with the imposition of such a charge, as they have already waived the right to any royalties from a particular track being hosted freely online.

Ministers, I am calling on you to investigate this outrageous profiteering from IMRO, which will only serve to assist in the demise of the native music industry in this country. What IMRO are trying to do is unacceptable, and this unjust fee must not be allowed to be imposed.

Your input on this matter is needed. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Ronan Hunt-Murphy
(Music Blogger)

EDIT: Reply received from the office of Minister Martin Ryan on 12th May:

Dear Mr Hunt-Murphy

As this is a matter regarding copyright, I have forwarded your email
onto the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation who has
responsibility in this matter and will respond directly to you.

Yours sincerely,

Colm O'Conaill
Private Secretary

EDIT: Received 14 May from the Dept. of Enterprise, Trade, and Innovation

Dear Mr Hunt-Murphy

Your e-mail of 30 April addressed to Minister Hanafin, Minister Mansergh and Minister Ryan in relation to IMRO online music licences was forwarded to the Intellectual Property Unit of this Department (Enterprise, Trade and Innovation) which deals with matters arising under the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.

I should point out that, while the Department may be able to assist with general information in such matters, it is not in a position to provide advice in individual cases. If you are contemplating any action with legal consequences, it is recommended that you seek the professional advice of an appropriate legal practitioner.

As a music blogger, you will be aware that copyright in music exists in many layers. For instance, in a song, very broadly, the composer of the music owns the copyright in the music, the lyricist owns the copyright in the words, the record producer owns the copyright in the sound recording and the performer owns the rights in the performance. There may be many more different types of copyright involved particularly if art work, typographical arrangements etc are used in CD covers etc.

Each person who owns copyright in whatever aspect of the music work has legal rights. These include copying, making the work available to the public, reproduction, rental and lending, distribution etc. Because copyright is a property right, it is transmissible either wholly or in part, by assignment, by testamentary disposition or by operation of law, as personal or moveable property.

We understand that IMRO/MCPSI license rights (making available/ public performance and reproduction) that have been assigned to them by composers, among others. The contractual terms of these assignments would be a private matter between the two parties. Thus, it could happen that a composer, lyricist, publisher, etc., may no longer retain their right to allow their own tracks to be downloaded to a site – if they had already transferred this right to another party.

The legal rights arising from copyright in a work are exclusive rights. However, there are some exceptions. These are set out in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 in Chapter 6. One such exception (Section 51) allows that Fair Dealing with a work for the purposes of criticism or review of that or another work or of a performance of a work shall not infringe any copyright in the work where the criticism or review is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement. Legal advice should be sought in relation to such exceptions.

I trust the above general information is of use.

Yours sincerely

Florence Kelly
Intellectual Property Unit
Dept Enterprise, Trade and Innovation


Ronan said...

This email was also sent to the email addresses of the ministers in question. The main post will be updated if/when there is a reply.

TMRC said...

Well done Ronan, can you publish the email address and maybe we can get everyone who is concerned about this issue to email the ministers.

Ronan said...

Dail emails:
mary.hanafin@oireachtas.ie, martin.mansergh@oireachtas.ie, eamon.ryan@oireachtas.ie,

Dept. of Arts, Sports, Tourism:
maryhanifan@dast.gov.ie, martin.mansergh@dast.gov.ie,

Dept. of Communications: