After a lengthy educational and information campaign, the gloves are off. Irma's coming to get you. "We couldn't do anything until there was a legal alternative like iTunes," admits [Dick Doyle]. The organisation has retained a top US internet spy firm to monitor Irish traffic downloading 100 selected tracks.
"It's a mixture of chart music, rap music, Irish content such as the Corrs and U2 and also local Irish artists whose fan base will be in Ireland," confirms Doyle. Since mid-December, this unnamed US firm has been gathering information about Irish computers downloading these songs illegally.
"I'd say we'd probably get the first inkling of what's happening by the end of the first quarter," says Doyle of potential illegal download litigation against Irish people. "I'll have to take it to the [Irma] board but if they say go for it, something could certainly happen by the summer."
In the US about 7,000 people are being sued by the record industry for illegal downloading, with a further 500 or so in Europe. Just 12 individuals are facing litigation in the UK. "We were surprised the UK was so low but I can't see us going lower than that."
Doyle is clearly gung-ho about the prospect of litigation:
The worldwide lawsuits grabbed public attention when it emerged that a 12-year-old honours student girl in New York was one of those being sued by the industry. Boo hoo, says Doyle detailing the girl's offences, which included sharing over 1,000 songs. She settled the case for $2,000.
"The best thing about that 12-year-old being sued was that it became headline news in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. They [the music industry] had been trying for a year-and-a-half to get attention and couldn't even get a headline and then this happened."