Is it time to rethink the war on piracy?
Trying to shut down music piracy websites is not working so perhaps it’s time for the labels to come up with some new ideas
With all due respect to the artists and labels, piracy is one of the most boring stories on the music business beat. It’s boring because the story does not change. The record industry does their best to close down pirate websites but, like a musical version of Whac-A-Mole, new sites pop up as quickly as the old ones are closed down.
This week, Google said that they were removing around 16 million URLS a month (or over half-a-million per day) from their search results in response to requests from copyright owners. The majority of these requests came from record label representative bodies like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).
Yet for all this frantic activity, you can still very easily find sites via Google where you can download the latest albums from Kanye West, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk and a host of other acts for free. Piracy hasn’t gone away just because of half-a-million DMCA takedown demands per day.
There are several reasons why piracy exists and a significant one is that many people just don’t want to pay for recorded music.
For all the campaigns about how piracy affects artists, the rise of streaming services like Spotify and heavy-handed legal eagles, this constituency are not for turning and already have the ready-made excuses – “I’ll go to see the band live”, “I’ll buy their merch when they play Ireland” etc.
Solving piracy has long proven to be the record industry’s Achilles heel and much money, time and resources has been wasted over the years. Every possible solution has failed to stop the piracy sites in their tracks. Like the much fabled war-on-drugs, the pirates and those who use these sites are still out there. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking the unthinkable and to move on?