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Opportunities of Resistance: Irish Traditional Music and the Irish Music Rights Organisation 1995–2000

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Abstract:

In this paper the author outlines a series of encounters of resistance and conflict relating to the political and economic expansion of the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) during the years 1995–2000, with particular emphasis on the domain of Irish traditional music. Expansion across the Irish jurisdiction was the most significant aspect of the activities of the Irish Music Rights Organisation during the period 1995–2000, resulting in a series of controversies during the second half of the 1990s as people resisted that expansion, and an eruption of suspicion, if not paranoia, about IMRO's operations. Representatives of IMRO encountered fierce resistance as certain groups refused to comply with the purported need for IMRO licenses—in particular, primary schools, publicans, and, the main focus of this article, supporters of “Irish traditional music.” By the year 2000, however, what had been one of the most notorious organizations in the country had become one of the most accepted, in a complete and almost miraculous turnaround. This paper seeks to explain this unexpected turn of events. The author uses manifestations of resistance to IMRO's expansion to provide diagnostic opportunities with which to identify the process and practices of what he outlines as “enclosure”, that is, an expansionary social dynamic involving accelerative commodification of everyday life, emerging from dominant dispositional tendencies to “eliminate” uncertainty. Through this analysis, the author argues that conflictive moments of personal encounter in the contexts of “music and copyright” can serve as valuable diagnostic tools whereby the political consequences of legal doctrine can be made visible.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2012.709665

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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