Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 13:31 UK

Musician bids to beat net pirates

By Laura Maxwell
BBC Scotland reporter

Indiana Gregg
Indiana Gregg launched Kerchoonz with husband Ian Morrow

A Scots-based US musician claims to have come up with a new way of beating internet pirates.

Indiana Gregg, who is based in Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, is developing the site Kerchoonz.com with her music producer husband, Ian Morrow.

When launched next month, the site will give artists a share of advertising revenue every time a song is played or downloaded.

It is being supported with a 250,000 grant from Scottish Enterprise.

Ms Gregg and her husband said they came up with the idea for Kerchoonz.com after the launch of her album Woman at Work.

They said it had proven popular on the internet, with 250,000 illegal downloads - from which they didn't receive a penny.

Ms Gregg said: "I'm flattered that a quarter of a million people downloaded my music, but how do I survive if there's no compensation for that?

"I think it's great to have free music - art should be free, especially for people who can't afford it - but I'm of the opinion that musicians can't survive on thin air either, so what do you do?"

Anyone plays it, you get paid. Anyone downloads it, you get paid. That's it, simple
Ian Morrow
Music producer
The couple contacted all the file sharing websites through which the album was being illegally downloaded, asking them to remove the links.

Each of them did so, except one, which refused and published their e-mail address.

Within hours Ms Gregg said she was bombarded with hate mail from illegal downloaders.

"They wrote a lot of harassing e-mails. There were a couple of hundred that were pretty aggressive, we hope you die, that sort of thing," she said.

Mr Morrow, who has produced artists like Wet Wet Wet and Seal, said Kerchoonz.com would offer every up-and-coming musician a chance to earn some cash.

He said: "If you're a musician you'll upload your music to the site. Anyone plays it, you get paid. Anyone downloads it, you get paid. That's it, simple. Everything's free for the user."

'Big undertaking'

The issue of illegal downloads has dogged artists and recording companies since the internet began.

According to statistics from the British Music Recording Industry, one in 20 downloads are illegal.

Even though Kerchoonz.com is being supported with public cash, it is notoriously difficult to make music sites pay.

Internet and technology journalist Gary Marshall said it would have to attract a massive audience if it hoped to take on existing websites - legal or otherwise.

Indiana Gregg
Indiana Gregg said her album was illegally downloaded 250,000 times
"They're up against very, very big, huge traffic websites," he said.

"MySpace and Facebook have 200 million users between them. They have got the audience and the content to bring the audience to the website, and it's going to be a very big undertaking to be able to compete on the same level with that."

The site comes as Britain's six largest internet Service Providers (ISPs) begin their campaign to crack down on illegal downloaders.

Last month the Westminster Government reached an agreement with the ISPs which will see them write to the worst offenders, warning them they may face legal action.

For some, like the British Phonographic Industry, this does not go far enough. It would like to see a system where those who persistently break the law would have their internet connections removed.

Indiana Gregg and Ian Morrow are simply hoping their site could form part of the solution.

Mr Morrow said: "You can't beat free. If you give people things for free, and give them the chance to get things legally and safely, it'll help film makers, comedians, gamers and software people."


SEE ALSO
Net firms in music pirates deal
24 Jul 08 |  Technology
Q&A: Music and file-sharing
24 Jul 08 |  Technology
ISPs could face piracy sanctions
22 Feb 08 |  Technology

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