Irish Minister for Communications, Eamon Ryan, has announced a commitment to holding roundtable talks on the issue of illegal filesharing, involving representatives from the Government, the music industry and the internet service providers (ISPs).

Speaking at The Music Show, run by Hot Press Magazine in Dublin, he stated that the talks will begin before the end of this month with the aim of negotiating a solution to the problem of illegal filesharing, without further recourse to the courts.

IRMA, the representative body of the record companies, has already negotiated a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ arrangement with Eircom. However, so far the rest of the ISPs have refused to reach a similar agreement, insisting that they should not have to take responsibility for the illegal actions of their customers.

The Minister made his unexpected announcement when he participated in a heated panel discussion on the Communications and Music: How Can We Ensure That The Piper Is Paid? – And Other Important Matters of Public Policy at The Music Show. A host of industry heavyweights including singer songwriter Paul Brady, Sharon Corr, CEO of SEG Entertainment division Marc Marot, Warner Music Europe CEO John Reid and Victor Finn, CEO of the Irish Music Rights Organisation urged the Minister to take action immediately to tackle illegal downloading.

The Music Show, Ireland’s national Music Exhibition and Forum is run by Hot Press magazine. For more information contact Louise Zayed at Hot Press on + 353 (0)1 241 1500 or + 353 (0)86 878 7112 or email


Debate at The Music Show in Dublin sparks anger among artists and record companies

Sharon Corr has denounced the Irish government for their neglect of artists’ rights in relation to the illegal downloading of music.

Emotions ran high at an explosive debate at The Music Show in Dublin on Saturday (3rd October 2010), in which the Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD took part alongside SEG’s Marc Marot, Victor Finn (Chief Executive, IMRO), Paul Brady & Louis Walsh.

In a lively question and answer session, the Corrs’ violinist – who has just released her solo debut on Warner Music worldwide – spoke from the floor and was highly critical of what she called the Government’s “laissez faire” record on artists’ rights.

“I just recorded an album. I employed a producer, a studio, I paid the orchestra to come in, the guy who did the score,” she told the Minister. “I don’t understand why they get paid and I don’t get paid (by people who download the album). It’s a basic right to be paid for your work.”

On the Government’s inaction in relation to illegal downloading, she was clear in her condemnation. “I feel the government have a very laissez faire approach to the whole thing,” she said. “Implementation needs to happen. A Digital Economy Act needs to be brought in to Ireland. Legislation needs to be put through and implemented.”

John Reid, CEO of Warner Music Europe, also spoke from the audience. He was openly sceptical of plans unveiled by the Minister during the debate, for talks involving the ISPs, expert academics and other interested parties. Reid said that this would be a protracted and probably ineffective talking shop.

“Don’t get a bunch of guys from my old university,” said Reid, who was Ents Officer in Trinity College in the 1980s. “It’ll take a year and you’ll be out of office by then. Move now and follow your nose.”

Reid urged the Minister to roll out the three strikes rule to all ISPs. “In Sweden, the introduction of a new law was enough to make sure music sales grew in a year. Put a law in place. It doesn’t hurt the ISPs,” said the record company boss.

Under Swedish law, the ISPs must give the address of people suspected of copyright violations to the copyright holders – a move which resulted in a drop in illegal file-sharing of between 40% and 50%. Over the same period in 2009, following the introduction of the law, record sales increased by 14%, while sales online increased by 57%.

The Music Show is run by Hot Press Magazine.


Victor Finn of IMRO Speaks Out
* Speaking as a member of the panel, Victor Finn, CEO of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) called on the Minister to introduce legislation to make the ISPs responsible for illegal actions carried out on their networks. This would effectively force the ISPs to police their users and crack down on illegal filesharers.

In Ireland, only one ISP, Eircom, following protracted negotiations with the Irish Recorded Music Association, has voluntarily introduced a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule against serial downloaders. The first warning letters have been sent out to Eircom customers over the last couple of weeks, Finn stated.

“We have sought the co-operation of the ISP industry,” Finn who was part of the IMIR (Irish Music Intellectual Rights) stand at the show, stated. “Apart from Eircom, who have introduced a graduated response measure, the rest of the industry have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table.

“You have a role in encouraging ISPs to be responsible for what they carry,” he said to the Minister. “You have the power to regulate that industry. ISPs operate in Ireland by way of government licence. You have the power to implement terms and conditions in those licences that ensure those ISPs are responsible for what goes up on their networks,” Finn told the Minister.

Minister Ryan refuses to commit
But Minister Ryan refused to commit to tackling the issue through legislation, citing the high number of jobs in the computer industry. The Minster argued that if the music industry and the ISPs would co-operate, this would be much more effective.

“Let’s actually meet and have some sort of consultative space,” the Minister said, “where you can have both computing industries or ISP industries and musical industries sitting down and sharing some ideas, not just to do it through the courts, but to do it the smarter way, collaboratively.

“I would hope to have such a forum in place by the end of this month, in the hope of taking that sort of approach, rather than just a legalistic approach,” he told the audience.

Marc Marot of SEG Joins The Fray
* Marc Marot, CEO of the entertainment arm of the powerful Sports Entertainment Group (SEG), speaking at The Music Show in Dublin, said he was in favour of the UK’s Digital Rights Act and the three strikes rule, adding that without the ISPs it was impossible to protect artists.

Marot, formerly MD with Island Records, gave a damning example of the impact of illegal downloading to the conference. He explained that SEG have a successful trance act on his books with a fanbase of 14,000. The band recently shifted 4,000 copies, or £15,000 worth of its LP on the day it went on sale. On the same day, Marot and the band monitored 17,000 bit torrents going out illegally, equal to £150,000 worth of turnover.

“That band effectively wasted an entire year of endeavour, and all of that thought, energy and investment of money they made from touring. Effectively they just watched it disappear down the toilet. That’s what happens if governments don’t get involved, and they don’t use their powers to legislate. It’s easy to talk about U2, but it’s just the small bands coming up that are suffering,” he said.

Musician Paul Brady Appeals for One Strike Policy
* Folk legend Paul Brady was also highly critical of the lack of Government action in relation to illegal filesharing.
“If I hear anyone else in Government saying the arts will get us out of our present difficulties, I think I’ll scream,” Brady told Irish Communications Minister Eamon Ryan, on a panel at The Music  Show, to applause from the audience.

You seem to expect us artists to be cultural ambassadors and work for nothing. Three percent of people, in the last report, in this country think artists should be paid for their work,” Brady said. “I don’t know why we’re talking about three strikes. It is against the law. Why isn’t it one strike and you’re charged?”

The Music Show is run by Hot Press magazine. For more information contact Louise Zayed at Hot Press on (01) 241 1500 or (086) 878 7112 or email