In the grand tradition of self-defeating ideas like DRM, lawsuits against music fans and anachronistic pricing models comes the latest idea from the music biz: collecting royalties from music blogs. The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) has approached 3 music blogs, including Nialler9, to request the annual payment of hundreds of pounds to cover performance royalties. There's a good write up over at the Guardian.
In a way this should come as no surprise as here in the states ASCAP and BMI have gone as far as asking that iTunes and other music stores pay performance royalties for the 30 second preview clips consumers play to entice them to purchase a full track. If you can ask for performance royalties for that than in theory anything is open game.
Nialler9 is a great example of a blog with an international readership that promotes an otherwise largely undocumented local music scene. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if sites like this shutter, musicians from Ireland will get less exposure and be much worse off.
Like many mp3 blogs, Nialler9 posts mp3s with permission from copyright holders looking to promote gigs and full album downloads. But according to a Q&A between IMRO and nialler9 this doesn't matter:
Nialler9: If tracks are provided to bloggers with permission and are cleared for promo from bands, labels are these covered by this or are these outside the licence?
IMRO: According to IMRO, if an artist, composer or publisher has registered
with IMRO (or PRS in the UK / ASCAP in the US), then the MCPSI-IMRO
(LOEL) licence must be obtained. Furthermore, if a composer, artist or
publisher has done this, then they do not have the right to give full permission to allow their own track to be downloaded on a site.
But the silliest part of the exchange comes later:
Nialler9: Is it because Nialler9.com is hosted in Ireland or does it matter if a server is registered here or not?
IMRO: It doesn’t matter. If the site is made available in Ireland then a licence is required.
Will Pitchfork now need to pay up or stop posting mp3s by all Irish bands that signed up with IMRO? Or is IMRO proposing that Ireland erect the equivalent of the great firewall of China to keep all the music blogs out?
Somewhere out there Christopher Weingarten is cracking a Guinness.