Today, Darragh (Asleep On A Compost Heap), Shane (The Torture Garden) and I met with representatives of Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) to discuss the terms of the proposed Limited Online Exploitation Licence (LOEL) which we were asked to pay last week and kicked off a bit of a fuss this side of the internet. None of us are ultimately opposed to paying a licence but we required clarifications all the same.
IMRO were very keen to listen to our concerns about the proposed licence especially considering two of the blogs in question were strictly non-commercial. A common interest in solving this was reached. They have agreed to address our concerns internally, to explore possible solutions and to clarify the issues raised. Namely:
- to see if there is a possibility to introduce a non-commercial licence which would cover non-commercial blogs and sites (Darragh and Shane for example).
- to see what kind of solutions can be reached in terms of online licensing in future.
- to consult concerned IMRO members on all of the issues in which this licence affects them, as currently, IMRO members assign their copyrights to the organisation to collect royalties but do not have any kind of opt-out or waiver for members with regards to promotional material.
From a blogger’s point of view:
We will be operating as normal until such issues are clarified and we will not be obtaining a licence until this happens. From my point of view as a commercial blog (albeit limited) I have taken the decision to move 99% of my MP3 hosting to Soundcloud for a couple of reasons:
- Bandwidth costs – My hosting company have been in touch and I’ve been massively oversubscribed on bandwidth for the last few months to the point where April’s bill (had they not been sound enough to waive the fee) would have cost me €1650 for the month. A ghastly sum which obviously, is beyond any €300 per year fees for licensing.
- Issues with international collection agencies – Outside of IMRO’s immediate terroritory (Ireland), there exists in every country a similar royalty collection agency which will wake up to this issue in the near future such as PRS (UK), ASCAP (U.S.), SACEM (France), SABAM (Belgium), GEMA (Germany) and JASRAC (Japan) and so on. Each of these agencies (who represent bands in their own countries) will possibly be seeking to dish out licences to music blogs and sites in future. If this was to happen then beyond the simple issue of paying a local licence, you could be asked to pay thousands of euro and no music blog will really be able to afford this.
The alternative then, is a sort of a responsibility shift. Using sites such as Soundcloud, Fairtilizer, MUZU, Youtube and so on to shift the onus on obtaining a licence on those companies. It’s a sucky situation which highlights how utterly ill-fitting the proposed licences in each countries are and how they apply to the world wide web. Until a worldwide licence is available and implemented (which is most likely years off), it appears bloggers have no real choice but to use these services over vulnerable self-hosted files.
A huge big thanks to Simon McGarr of McGarr Solicitors who offered to come along to the meeting and offer legal advice to us bloggers. Simon specialises in IP and internet law and represents Digital Rights Ireland so massive thanks to him for legally looking after our interests.
To the bands, artists, composers and songwriters who are members of IMRO, as I stressed before (and Jim has also battered home), the responsibility to change the laws and licences that govern how your music is used online is ultimately up to you. If you are not happy that you need IMRO’s permission to upload tracks and give blogs and sites MP3s for promotional purposes (and technically, you would have to pay this licence too), then this is your issue with your representative body IMRO, who represent you to the wider community. As we proved in the last seven days, it is possible to have your voice heard. IMRO are reasonable people whose ultimate goal is to protect the copyright of your work and have their members’ interests at heart. Talk to them. See what can be done. You might actually get somewhere.
Darragh’s followup post.