July 14, 2000
European Music Stars Fight to Block Internet Piracy
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
RUSSELS, Belgium -- European music stars urged the European Union Thursday to get tougher with Internet piracy of their works, saying the future livelihood of many artists was at stake.
"It takes a lot of time, effort and money to make a record. The right to have control over our own distribution -- that's all we are asking," said Caroline Corr, member of The Corrs, a four-member sibling Irish pop group.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the global recording industry, backs the high-level, star-studded campaign against Internet music sharing through companies such as Napster Inc., whose service allows computer users to make perfect copies of digital recordings over the Internet.
The IFPI wants to see the strengthening of a proposal on new copyright rules for the 15-nation EU to ban free Internet downloads of copyrighted music.
"If somebody is stealing something, it's considered illegal," said French recording artist Jean Michel Jarre, who himself gathered some 1,400 artist signatures on a Europe-wide petition for stronger protection rights.
Napster officials have said they are doing nothing illegal by offering the service, and say that users who "sample" free music ultimately help artists by going out and buying music. U.S. record companies disagree, however, and have sued to stop companies such as Napster and MP3.com, which allows consumers to create virtual music libraries online using music they already own.
The EU executive commission first proposed to update copyright rules in 1998 to take into account the digital revolution.
Its proposals have been discussed at length in the European Parliament and by EU governments. If approved in the fall, private copying would be allowed unless individual governments specifically outlaw it. Exemptions will also be made for educational purposes and the disabled.
The IFPI has criticized that as too lax and said music rights-holders would be unable to fight illegal copying.
IFPI Chairman Jay Berman estimated surreptitious internet music copying cost the industry around $1.3 billion in lost revenue in 1999.
Music artists are not appealing only to Europe for a better deal. Similar calls for tougher copyright rules were voiced at a Congressional hearing in Washington Tuesday by U.S. groups such as Metallica.