Travis Defends Fan from IFPI Threats

Here is a story of a blogger doing his best to help the band Travis reach its fans (at the band's request), and the IFPI subsequently steaming in thinking it knows best and getting it wrong twice over. We look at what happened and speak to Travis themselves to get their opinion on file-sharing.

Kevin runs SoMuchSilence.com, a 3-year-old indie music blog based in Phoenix, Arizona, that serves to promote indie rock and hip-hop, both nationally and locally.

Back in May, Kevin saw that the successful band, Travis, were busy completing their new album “Ode to J.Smith“. Kevin managed to acquire a copy of a track from the album, and since Fran Healy from the band had been encouraging people to share the song, he put a link to the track up on the site.

Then, in an email dated July 1st 2008, Kevin got quite a surprise. He told TorrentFreak that he received a notice from the IFPI indicating that he had posted an ‘infringing file’ and was shocked since Travis had encouraged people to share the track: “It was my first official cease and desist, so I just removed the file and was going to let it go. The IFPI also contacted my server host, who in turn sent me a notice about taking down the file.”

Apart from the fact that Healy already gave his permission for people to share the track, the IFPI still didn’t manage to get the takedown request done properly, as they completely neglected to mention Travis in the email, but referenced the band Hercules and Love Affair instead. The letter/email they claimed to have sent earlier was never received.

Kevin told us he decided to contact Travis directly, and Fran Healy himself responded in super-quick time, giving his express permission for Kevin to upload the song:

I guess until they get the correct song you can keep on posting it. You definitely have my blessing as one of the 4 holders of the copyrights to that specific recording. I actually think this is bogus. Anyways thanks for posting that on your site. It was lovely to see it out there doing the rounds. We didn’t take it to radio so you’re helping with the pollination of the nation.

After getting this positive message from Fran, the IFPI responded, back-tracking on their earlier mail. They explained that since there is such a lot of infringing content online, there will be instances where they make incorrect accusations. They further said they were unaware that the band had agreed to the sharing of this track but now that the position had been clarified, Kevin was free to upload the track.

Kevin told us he felt vindicated after the IFPI admitted, sort of, that it was wrong of them to accuse him the way they did, but it would’ve been nicer if they had apologized instead of simply redirecting the blame. Kevin also talked to us about the obvious gap between the different entities involved in the music business and the benefit of talking to the band direct: “For him [Fran Healy] to reply directly and cut out the middle man in this matter meant a lot to me. I was already a huge fan of Travis and this really cemented that bond. I posted the song to help the band and promote its music and, hopefully, encourage sales, and I think it’s clear Travis realizes that. It’s too bad others don’t.”

It’s wonderful that Travis took the time to respond to Kevin, so TorrentFreak took the opportunity to ask the band a question too: What is the position of the band in relation to both the online distribution of the song, and file-sharing in general. Here is what Fran Healy had to say:

Thanks for getting in touch. My view is very simple. But it’s implications are complex. With a view to music, the internet is like radio. The only major difference is that, at the moment, I don’t get a PRS payment everytime my song is listened to.

The problem is, the business is trying to fit old rules on a new model. Like trying to fit the square peg in the round hole. I think someone has to sit down and re-write the rules for the new model. Maybe the PRS rules with stations were put in place when radio was very small and easy to control. The Internet is giant so is hard to govern. Maybe the way ahead would be to look at the big companies like YouTube and MySpace and say, for instance, 2 million people watch a video for a song then they have also been exposed to the advertising that generates profit for YouTube. Maybe PRS could collect money attributed to this in the same way as they do with commercial radio.

I think bands should be paid for broadcast of their material because this goes directly to the band through publishing. Bands have never profited directly from the sale of their records as they are always paying off debts to do with making the record, videos, artwork and TV advertising. PRS has always been the artists friend. Bands make money from publishing, touring and merch. If the record does well, the rewards are considerable, but more often than not records do ‘alright’ and so PRS is what comes in to keep the wolves from the door.

Maybe a way to deal with the situation would be to not go for the guy streaming the content but go for the service provider. If you took away free entertainment from the menu, they’d lose 99% of their business. If I was a gambling man I’d wager Internet is taking over from TV and will probably replace it by 2040.

As far as illegal filesharing goes. There are people who will buy albums and people who will record them off friends. If you took away the Internet this would still happen so I don’t lose any sleep. Goodnight.

You can hear the song that created all the fuss on MySpace , and learn more about the band on their site. Congratulations to the band on some great music and for treating their fans with respect, and thanks to Kevin and good luck with SoMuchSilence.

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