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Sweet sound of music a little off key as rights body hit by slump

LICENSING revenue at the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) fell nearly 6pc last year, as fewer live concerts and falling radio advertising hit the business.

IMRO, which distributes royalties and manages the "performing copyright" of its members, said licensing revenue slipped 5.8pc to €38.1m in 2010, while €24.7m was distributed -- an increase of 1.6pc.

Chief executive Victor Finn described the results as "satisfactory given the current economic conditions".

"There were fewer major concerts in Ireland during 2010 compared to 2009, which was a record year for us, so there was some drop off.

"Emphasis was placed on controlling costs and the organisation achieved a 9pc saving on the previous year," he said.

The drop off in advertising in the independent radio sector also contributed to the decline, with fewer royalty payments as a result.

The issues surrounding illegal downloading of music remain as prominent as ever, and Mr Finn said he welcomed the review of copyright

law announced by Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton.

"In the digital area it is clear we do not have adequate legislation to protect our songwriters, authors and their publishers.

"There are plenty of vendors online where consumers can download music legally. That is not the problem. The problem is a mixture of a lack of legislation and a lack of enforcement."

The music industry can now take action against internet service providers (ISP) if they are not taking action to prevent illegal downloading on their networks.

That is a last resort, Mr Finn said, adding future copyright laws needed to include the music industry, the ISPs and the wider information and communications sector.

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