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  • Thane Tierney

Record company. It was originally established in the United States in 1979 by music entrepreneur Miles Copland as an outgrowth of his Faulty Products/Illegal Records company in the United Kingdom. After having negotiated a contract for the rock band the Police with A&M Records, Copland and A&M reached a distribution and production deal for the International Record Syndicate (a/k/a I.R.S.), for which he named 21-year-old Jay Boberg to oversee American operations. I.R.S. not only reissued Illegal releases originally distributed in the United Kingdom, but also became the umbrella group for a host of labels, including Industrial Records, Spy Records, Deptford Fun City Records, No Speak, the independent label Rough Trade, and others, as well as issuing records under the I.R.S. banner. Notable artists included the Buzzcocks, the Cramps, Oingo Boingo, Renaissance, Wall of Voodoo, the Go-Go’s, and R.E.M.

In 1985 I.R.S. switched its distribution to MCA Records for new releases, remaining there until 1990, at which point new releases were distributed through CEMA (EMI’s then-distributor, now EMI Music Distribution, or EMD). The label was purchased outright by EMI in 1992, and ceased operations in July of 1996 after EMI rebuffed an offer from Copland to repurchase the label.


  • C. Campion: Walking on the Moon: the Untold Story of the Police and the Rise of New Wave Rock (Hoboken, NJ, and Mississauga, ON, 2010), 107