A few weeks ago while waiting to go into the Seanad to watch a debate (yes I have been know to attend in person) I noted some faces I recognised at the reception office at the main gate to Leinster House. I recognised Willie Kavanagh from EMI who is chairperson of IRMA and a number of colleagues. (Willie looks very like Fair City’s Detective Deegan) I noted that one of them had legal documents in his hand with the letterhead of Michael McDowell SC facing outwards. Given it was a matter of days after the High Court ruling where EMI Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music, Warner Music and WEA lost versus UPC Communications it was clear that the group were on their way into the Dail to meet some TD’s and get the law changed because they had failed in the courts. In a nutshell the music companies wanted to get UPC to block downloads that customer may be attempting – and the court ruled that it could not make UPC do this.
I’m not an expert in the matter of downloads and illegality but on what I have seen and read in recent years my opinion is that there are an awful lot of statistics made up and bandied around and rubbish spun on the matter by super groups and their gurus. The message is the end of the world is nigh! Apple are making billions out of Itunes, and recording artists are getting their cut, illegal downloads are a fraction of this and indeed those who share music are more likely to buy music then those who don’t. The implications of blocking the transmission of information go beyond music downloads, there are issues of free speech etc. which are not being heard or debated by our politicians.
A few days after this spotting the lobbyists at work I saw more evidence of their efforts in a comment raised in the Seanad by Senator Paschal Mooney. Senator Mooney who is known to be a friend of the music world was correcting himself on figures he was bandying around a few days earlier. Justin Mason had pointed out that the maths didn’t work on the number of illegal downloads of an Aslan album and Senator Mooney corrected the record.
There are lots of friends of the music industry in both houses, top of the list being leader of the Seanad, Donie Cassidy – so it was not long before a full debate on the issue of protecting intellectual property and copyright (sounds really important when it’s said like that) was organised in the Seanad. This took place yesterday and you can watch it back by clicking on this link to a video file. You can read the debate here
This debate is nearly all one way traffic with the music industry camped out inside Leinster House, music users who don’t agree have no lobbyists. Senator Brendan Ryan read the email sent to him by one constituent into the record to bring the other view, not that he really agreed with it but he did it anyway.
Some of the human rights, anti-spin and common sense issues raised in critiquing the IRMA campaign in recent years are to be found on Digital Rights Ireland’s site.
I would appreciate it if anyone who watches or reads yesterday’s debate could leave their comments or links to their own posts below – we could point some politicians to read them?