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Music industry seeks to curb alarming sales drops

The music industry’s big four labels – EMI, Sony BMG, Universal Music, and Warner Music – decided to take Irish ISP Eircom to court today, in order to force the company to implement countermeasures against piracy.

Willie Kavanagh, Chairman of the Irish Recorded Music Association and Managing Director of EMI Ireland, blamed the action on a “dramatic and accelerating decline” in the Irish music industry’s income: 30% over the past six years, up to 2007. Kavanagh attributed a “substantial portion” of that decline to the increasing use of broadband, facilitating a sharp increase in the use of download services, like BitTorrent or LimeWire.

Sales dropped from €146m ($224m USD, not counting inflation) in 2001 to €102m ($157m USD) in 2007, said Kavanagh.

The case represents the first of its kind, with record labels taking the ISP to court instead of individual file-sharers. The big four’s High Court action attempts to compel Eircom, under the Irish Copyrights and Related Rights Act of 2000, to implement specific countermeasures to prevent its network from being exploited for piracy.

Eircom, one of the largest broadband providers in Ireland,  said last October that it was in no place to consider monitoring users, and noted that it had received no official notice of specific illegal activity; therefore, it was under no legal obligation to police traffic on its network.

Kavanagh said that Eircom was “well aware” that its network was being used for piracy, with infringers swapping the music industry’s intellectual property “on a grand scale.”

A recent study by UK-based law firm Wiggin found that piracy could drop as much as 70% if ISPs took an active role in monitoring users and threatening them with warnings; similar initiatives, seeing somewhat voluntary consideration by ISPs in the United States and elsewhere, have met with fierce resistance from customers, observers, and government authorities.

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When I read...
By stmok on 3/11/2008 2:24:54 AM , Rating: 5
...The first paragraph, I'm shaking my head. Its a bit over the top.

Its actions like this that have turned me off to music as a whole. (stopped listening, buying, or downloading altogether.)

Maybe groups like Nine Inch Nails are onto something. Cut the middle man out, and use the web as the medium of distribution and direct sales to their audience.

RE: When I read...
By jadeskye on 3/11/2008 2:45:36 AM , Rating: 2
That would bring back a little integrity to artists and would cut out the nastier organisations (the RIAA for example).

RE: When I read...
By Proteusza on 3/11/2008 6:27:32 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah, I must say, I'm hardly surprised.

The music industry has shown that it completely lacks business acumen - they fail to adapt to changing environments, and instead blame their failing business on piracy.

I've got news for the RIAA/MPAA - just because somebody pirated your music, doesnt mean they would have bought it if piracy was not an option. Shock! Horror! it cant be true, surely?

but it is. Human beings are opportunists. If something is free, they take it. If something isnt free, they leave it alone. That does NOT mean they would mind paying for it. The RIAA offers nothing in the way of value for money, so I'm not surprised that their business is failing.

Although, perhaps this is falling on deaf ears. I heard there was a study that said most corporate execs were sociopathic. Perhaps the thought just never occurred to them that piracy is not the reason their business is failing - its a symptom. Perhaps they never even considered that these kind of actions further alienate potential customers and hurt their business even more.

In such a case, we need not worry. In due time, the music industry will kill itself, and we can go back to giving independant artists the support and recognition they deserve.

RE: When I read...
By stmok on 3/11/2008 8:49:35 AM , Rating: 5

I also heard that folks from the RIAA had no idea of how to handle technology. No one on their management had any idea about the Internet. So they've remained totally ignorant of it until its too late.

I think this is the era, (The Information Age), where a single piece of technology can utterly change the way you do business.

If you don't adapt, (or in this case, live in self denial), you'll suffer and die out.

These draconian measures we've been seeing in the last few years have been the RIAA's stance that it wants to keep its business model as it is, and to hell with anyone else.

I guess nobody told them it doesn't quite work that way!

RE: When I read...
By FITCamaro on 3/11/08, Rating: -1
RE: When I read...
By Proteusza on 3/11/2008 10:57:05 AM , Rating: 2

My point is that the record companies like to tell us that they lost a large portion of revenue. #1, they dont have a clue how much they lost - look at the case of Jammie Thomas, in which under oath, the record company exec said they didnt actually know how much they lost due to piracy. #2, the amount they lost is almost certainly far less than they claim. There was a statement by a game developer recently, I cant remember who, that said that by implementing DRM, they worked out that for every 1000 piracy cases, they gained 1 sale. I would guess that for the record industry, that ratio would be even lower.

I never said piracy was justified. Please be aware that piracy is not stealing in the literal sense - stealing means that someone is deprived of something. With piracy, its not always the case, so its not as clear cut as that.

Anyway, let me say again, I dont agree with piracy. It is not physical theft, although it is copyright theft and therefore wrong. Note that there is a difference in downloading a song and stealing a physical CD - with stealing a CD, the store and the record company are affected, both lost a sale. With piracy, the record company lost a possible sale, not a confirmed one.

RE: When I read...
By 1078feba on 3/11/2008 11:01:13 AM , Rating: 3
You're missing his point.

He's arguing that even if piracy dropped precipitously due ISPs being legally required to monitor traffic, that drop would not specifically correlate to a rise in record companies profits, much less a slow down in their current 4 year slump.

RE: When I read...
By RogueLegend on 3/11/2008 11:16:36 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, I feel soooo bad for a rapper who raps about killing niggas, stealing car stereos, slapping their hos, AND THEN want to have the RIAA use the legal system to bring THEM justice.

Or the punk group who sings about drugs, theiving from store owners during riots (by the way, "April 26th, 1992"- great song!), and setting fire to random objects that wants money from people who copy songs.

Most of the music groups and labels are made up of these artists (Death Row Records, anyone?) who at some point (and more than likely continue to) break the law, and I'm supposed to take this "don't steal my music" bit, seriously? The pirates who are stealing so much music are just partaking in at least one of the activities that made many of these artists famous. It's not all artists, I know that, but come on, Dre and Metallica are huge names that started this whole movement of suing random people and companies.

And on top of that, they've been suing the wrong people as well as using what used to be illegal evidence gathering methods.

Sorry, if I'm not convinced. Stealing is obviously not wrong to these people otherwise they probably wouldn't be taking pride in the activity, amongst others.

The music industry needs to bring value back to music. Next time they sue someone and whine about declining sales, I'd like to see them present numbers on how much music was actually produced that year, what the average number of songs per album was, and how many hits were produced. Then do me the favor of comparing that to previous years- you might just find a trend.

RE: When I read...
By eye smite on 3/11/2008 4:02:09 PM , Rating: 4
My question is are they losing sales due to piracy or because what they're producting now days just isn't worth buying? I would lean towards the latter.

Big brother...
By jadeskye on 3/11/2008 1:57:19 AM , Rating: 2
To what extent exactly can ISPs 'monitor' us?

how do they know the difference between a chart music track we didn't pay for and an independant track produced by your friend?

and if they can tell that difference, isn't it a breech of your privacy?

All this talk of ISPs monitoring us makes me a little nervous of late, not because i'm a pirate, but just the idea of someone watching my IMs to my girlfriend or having the potential to see my schoolpictures i thought was largely down to fiction.

now it seems that it's quite real and nobody really seems too bothered by it.

RE: Big brother...
By gramboh on 3/11/2008 4:04:39 AM , Rating: 2
They probably want to force the ISPs to throttle P2P protocols using traffic shaping hardware/software. I don't think they are asking for packet sniffing level monitoring since that would be a privacy violation without a subpoena. The problem for the industry is, it's a hard (impossible) legal argument since there are legit uses to P2P, and it's not possible to prove their losses are due to piracy.

RE: Big brother...
By oab on 3/11/2008 9:02:53 AM , Rating: 3
Doesn't matter if P2P has legitimate uses, because according to to the MAFIAA P2P has no legitimate use and only exists for pirates of the digital seas to sail away with all their revenue.

RE: Big brother...
By SavagePotato on 3/11/2008 9:46:26 AM , Rating: 2
There is more than just bittorrent to consider. Just heavy handedly throttling or blocking peer to peer traffic will affect some game services. I don't know of any other examples off hand, but World of Warcraft uses a peer to peer system for updates. Thus making it in fact quite a large peer to peer network.

It would be downright criminal to allow a greedy organization like these companies to try to kill off a very legitimate and useful technology.

RE: Big brother...
By jadeskye on 3/11/2008 10:31:16 AM , Rating: 2
a lot of companies that offer freeware offer their downloads via p2p too because it saves them costs on servers and allows you to have that software for free.

the uses in p2p (such as in wow as you described) are quite unlimited.

RE: Big brother...
By P4blo on 3/11/2008 11:20:39 AM , Rating: 2
I heard that although you can encrypt the torrent traffic there is still a way that a determined ISP can detect Torrents from a small part of the communications. I dont know the technical details but apparently the various BitTorrent platform devs are working on a new version that runs FULLY encrypted.

How are ISP's going to know what's torrent traffic? The war will just continue... ISP's shouldn't be the battle ground though. We all know that. The digital age is here and the RIAA et al refuse to get their out-dated heads out their craggy asses!

Someone else commented on needing to lose the (annoyingly litigious) middle man in the recording industry. They rip us all off, ensure the vast majority of the profits dont go to the artist, cram stupid music videos down our throats for pathetic manufacturered artists that have no talent but look good. They effectively contribute in stifling the musical voices of so many. And why? So we can have a shiny jewel CD case, album inlay and some repetitive crap looping on MTV??

Just charge me £5 per album that goes straight into the pockets of the artists and send me a download link please. Preferrably from the artists own website.

Why stop there
By tastyratz on 3/11/2008 9:57:53 AM , Rating: 5
You have the right idea music industry I applaud you, it just appears to me you have forgotten to sue a few people.
Your going to sue the isp, why stop there?

Sue Cisco and other router and networking providers, they make machines that carry your opiate traffic.

Sue Hp/IBM/ and other blade server companies. They make the servers companies use to control sort and move traffic appropriately- you can save lives one p2p packet at a time.

Sue quest and other major backbones - how dare they sell bandwidth to smaller isp's when all they do is wrong you!

Sue cable manufacturers - surely that cat5 cable leading to my pc should have the integrated antip2p dongle inline. Why don't they respect you enough to do that?

Sue the national grid and all other forms of utilities. If these pirates were cut from society and had no forms of power, water, or phone they couldn't corrupt society into hurting your bottom line. Whoever said ripping songs is a victimless crime was wrong! The RIAA and similar need that money to put food on their very small non lavish tables.

Wait no I think I had that backwards, every time I rip an mp3 an angel gets its wings.

RE: Why stop there
By FITCamaro on 3/11/2008 10:24:03 AM , Rating: 2
It's funny how rants by the criminally insane can make so much sense.

Joking on the insane part but you have a point.

RE: Why stop there
By tastyratz on 3/11/2008 12:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
another thing if you think about it too.
These people sell bandwith.
Ultimately Have you ever found an article where the music industry has a press release along the lines of:
"Hi, were the music industry. We realize that all this piracy is ultimately... well... not your problem. We decided that instead of forcing our burden on you were going to do the right thing. If you would please let us we would like to purchase our own servers, fund our own software filtering development, pay your services for the costs of implementation and supplement your income by paying rent for the servers we install at your location. We will meet Service and privacy SLA's as to not negatively congest your network, and we will even feed your dog while your away"

I still don't think they should be filtering and monitoring all of our traffic as an invasion of privacy, but its even more amusing for them to think we "owe" them anything without true contributions.

Isp side: People downloading music? really? they pay their bills... not our problem.

As far as I am aware the music and movie industry sends take down notices to ISP's and the ISP complies by passing them on.

I vote we ban flea markets, I heard on the news someone sold something stolen there once and we don't want that.

RE: Why stop there
By sporr on 3/11/2008 6:02:56 PM , Rating: 2
I vote we ban flea markets, I heard on the news someone sold something stolen there once and we don't want that.

Haha, best analogy yet.

Every ISP in the world?
By probedb on 3/11/2008 5:55:23 AM , Rating: 2
So are they going to sue every ISP on the planet?

What about all the networks the traffic has to go through to even get to a particular ISPs network. Surely they need to be sued at the same time?

Or are they just money grabbing bastards who can't adapt to a changing world?

RE: Every ISP in the world?
By Neamhtearanntacht on 3/11/2008 11:01:41 AM , Rating: 2
If they set a legal precedent in Ireland then every ISP will have to follow suit in Ireland, then they can carry forward to other countries (western). Aren't they going to have to prove that ones actions in the web are public and be allowed to monitor your actions? Why are they targeting Ireland?, why not China or any other country? (Are we a soft legal target) Is there a lawyer in the house? Bare in mind governments are loosing a lot of TAX by people stealing inferior digital copies.

RE: Every ISP in the world?
By hcahwk19 on 3/11/2008 11:27:18 AM , Rating: 2
Fortunately for us, any legal precedent not set in a US Court is not binding on a US court. It is merely considered a persuasive authority, but one that has very little persuasion over US courts. Any US judge that used a case ruling from Ireland in order to render a judgment against a US party, would have his ruling overturned in a heartbeat, as the Constitution and Laws of the United States are the supreme law of the land. No other legal precedent, outside of the old English common law (where our case law is derived historically), has any legally binding authority at all. The Supreme Court and Congress would have to make the decision to address this issue to make foreign law binding. And luckily, the oh so wonderful Justice O'Connor of the Supreme Court is gone. She was the only justice to look to foreign law for part of a decision (look to the ruling on death penalty for minors tried as adults from a couple of years ago), and was widely rebuked for doing so. For a court, even the Supreme Court, to use this Irish case as precedent, would most likely lead to action by Congress to reverse it.

RE: Every ISP in the world?
By DASQ on 3/11/2008 11:14:23 AM , Rating: 2
They're starting in a relatively small region. Ireland. If it goes well, they'll start hitting larger and larger ISP's in larger and busier countries.

Lawyers at the heart of the problem as usual
By Amiga500 on 3/11/2008 6:15:53 AM , Rating: 1
A recent study by UK-based law firm Wiggin

They obviously don't have a clue what they are talking about.

If the ISPs had to police their lines, costs of providing broadband would become that high no-one would bother to get it! (and eircoms prices are already a rip-off)

Hopefully big Bertie will tell these assholes where to stick their court order.

RE: Lawyers at the heart of the problem as usual
By IM shaggy on 3/11/2008 9:55:07 AM , Rating: 2
Lawyers are the problem. You can be sure the music industry lawyers get paid quite handsomely and if they aren't working they don't get paid. Also I feel they are using this as a stepping stone of sorts. If the laws in Ireland favor a win in this situation for them and they do win they will use that win to go on to the next ISP and so on.

RE: Lawyers at the heart of the problem as usual
By hcahwk19 on 3/11/2008 11:30:05 AM , Rating: 2
It will not be binding on a US court. This is one of the main reasons (military included) why we have not joined the International Court of Justice. We do not want the laws and customs of another country to have authority over us and our citizens. The world hates us for that, but we cannot allow the world to subordinate our Constitution.

By JS on 3/11/2008 12:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
The idea is that some crimes, such as genocide, transcend the laws of individual states. The member states of the International Court of Justice also have constitutions (well, most of them do). What makes the U.S. constitution so special in this matter?

recent study
By omnicronx on 3/11/2008 12:41:41 PM , Rating: 2
A recent study by UK-based law firm Wiggin found that piracy could drop as much as 70% if ISPs took an active role in monitoring users and threatening them with warnings;
A recent study by a UK-based law firm found that if the UK government shoots everyone in the face, there will be no crime.. It's just too bad its not legal.. just like the latter..

RE: recent study
By joex444 on 3/11/2008 7:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
Nice try, but you might want to look up what latter means. Then go look up "former."

rise of the middle class musician
By Integral9 on 3/11/2008 11:37:18 AM , Rating: 2
Folks, I've said it, you've said, the news has said everybody has said it. The current RIAA distribution model has been judged, weighed and scrutinized and has been found lacking. Yes it's true that CD sales have plummeted year after year. However, digital download sales have exploded. We are not seeing piracy take down an industry, rather I believe we are seeing consumers choosing one model over another. And the losers are well, being losers about it instead of recognizing the need to change.

Currently we have basically two types of musicians, the rock stars (aristocrats) and the indi's (peasants). The internet allows the peasants who are willing to work to put out their music and develop their own fan following via myspace, facebook, etc w/out a recording industry backing them. Giving rise to a middle class musician. I believe the RIAA still has a place in the industry (probably limited to tour bookings and similar), but not in the pressing and distribution of CDs on a large scale. The plane and simple truth is that most people want to download their music, free or not, and do not want a CD except maybe as a collectable.

By falacy on 3/11/2008 2:54:37 PM , Rating: 1
This is the same thing as McDonalds suing potato farmers for growing potatos that are too filling, causing the McDonalds customers to purchase fewer fries. It doesn't make any sense - potatos are potatos, if you want to sell more french fries you'd better change your format or pricing, because Monsanto will charge all your limbs and then some to re-engineer the potato!

The ISP in question should counter sue the RIA for bandwidth charges caused by potential losses due to piracy of music that couldn't be otherwise obtained in a convient fassion. IE, people had to pirate it, because they weren't otherwise able to obtain it in digital format, which caused undue stress on the ISP's network due to the negligence of the RIA labels. As such, the ISP demands compensation based on its potential losses.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, RIA.

Personally, I won't buy a Sony product, period. I also have no interest in music in general anymore, thanks to these assholes. I simply can't justify supporting such nonsense in any manner.

2006 - 0 CD's purchased, 0 Songs Downloaded
2007 - 0 CD's purchased, 0 Songs Downloaded
2007 - personal boycott still going strong and I don't feel like I am missing out on anything, in the least.

I may buy the Nine Inch Nails album, if there's anything in the 9 free songs that I like, but I haven't felt like downloading them. I didn't download the Radiohead album, free or not, even though I used to be a fan - I simply don't give a shit about music any more (and the ipod touch commercials put me off Apple as company - music is jack shit, certainly not "my hot, hot friend". What can I say, I'm fickle; it takes exactly one annoying ad campaign to make me conciously NOT buy a company's products, ever again). Sadly, I'm starting to feel the same way about movies and TV shows too. There's only so much shit a person can put up with... About the only new "thing" I've encountered that I like is Eli Stone, but who doesn't like Jonny Lee Miller of "Hackers"?

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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