With digital music streaming services well and truly booming as an industry earning over $1 billion dollars, combined with the fact that the price of music is now cheaper than it’s ever been, it looks like the labels and legitimate service providers are starting to take some of the shares back from the pirates that supposedly plundered them so badly.
Relying on a matter of convenience (arguably the whole basis of music piracy to begin with), streaming services like Spotify, Deezer – and the controversial Grooveshark – are making the process of finding and downloading torrents like the option that requires more effort.
Particular advances in technology have also meant that cloud-based music media, the kind now employed as standard by Amazon, Google, and Apple’s iTunes, have also made people’s ability to access their music collection that much better.
So in an adaptive form of response, SPIN now reports that the Pirate Bay, one of the world’s most-renowned providers of illegal downloadable content, is now sailing for the skies, with the news that their services will be going cloud-based.
In a cryptic post on their Facebook, the Pirate Bay writes that, after getting rid of the traditional means of being tracked by authorities, ”now we’ve gotten rid of the servers. Slowly and steadily we are getting rid of our earthly form and ascending into the next stage, the cloud.”
The move will essentially make it harder for the record labels and legal authorities to track and prove that the website is providing illegal and copyright content. As a service, it will also decrease download time and lower costs while providing the same experience for users as before.
The file-sharing site says that it will be employing two cloud hosting companies in different companies, while also maintaining hardware of its own to veil its secrecy, meaning that even if government officials can crack down on their physical machinery, the pirated contents and data is still backed up virtually through cloud-based media.
It looks set to be the start of a particular trend, with Wired reporting that Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom is now planning to use cloud-based services for his own proposed music service, Mega (formerly Megabox), which the eccentric mogul has been teasing will tackle Spotify head-on since revealing it was alive and kicking in June.
Dotcom, whose empire crumbled after the United States Government shut down the file-sharing website, leading to the arrest of four employees during a raid in Auckland, New Zealand, has proposed that Mega will use a ‘one-click, subscriber-based cloud platform that allows customers to upload, store, access, and share large files’.
Much like The Pirate Bay’s shift away from servers, the Mega service is moving the responsibility to the user, providing plausible deniability of pirated content by making it only accessible through a randomly generated encryption key provided to the user each time they want access to content.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the music content argument, according to Billboard American internet users will start seeing notifications from their Internet service providers if they attempt to trade files on peer-to-peer networks.
The Copyright Alert System is a combined effort between ISPs such as Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable that have teamed with the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the film body, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to design a tiered set of warnings to illegal file-sharers.
The new alert system ill first send simple infringement notices with ‘cease and desist’ orders accompanied by advice on alternatives, while repeat offenders will received “enhanced alerts” that can choke bandwidth as well as threatening further legal action.
It’s a policy that harkens back to New Zealand’s ‘three strike’ policy, which was recently introduced by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIAZ), that under new Internet copyright laws, fines users up to $NZ 15,000 (approx $AU 11,500) after their third violation. A policy that’s essentially halved piracy in the country.
Interestingly, these new initiatives are putting the onus on the user just as the illegal file-sharers are, shifting responsibility away from the service providers and towards the users themselves. It may follow that we will see another increase of exorbitant court cases that attack individuals, such as the RIAA’s recent court win which saw a woman fined $222,00 over the sharing of 24 songs, while US metal label Century Media attempted to fine 7,000 metal fans as a “swarm” in a combination of court cases.
Considering Australia was recently named the worst downloaders of illegal music per capita, Australian music fans need to take particular heed of the new developments. Especially given the court case from earlier in the year that saw the High Court dismissing the wishes of the combined force of the music and film industries demanding that Internet service provider, iiNet, give up their list of offending downloaders.
It would have set a dangerous legal precedent around the issue, being whether iiNet had the ability to prevent its customers from downloading and uploading copyright protected content using the BitTorrent system. Roadshow Films and other plaintiffs argued that it the ISP was to blame for allowing users access to pirated content, while attempting to use the black list to headhunt individuals.
The news arrives against the ever turbulent backdrop of music piracy events, including a recent study that showed that file-sharers were in fact helping the music industry by buying 30% more music legally than non-peer-2-peer users.
This is backed up by evidence that digital sales have been rising throughout the year and are set to keep climbing. Earlier in the month, it looked as if digital album sales in the US were set to break records whilst digital downloads had already outstripped physical sales in the UK for the first time.
Meanwhile, the artists themselves are left wondering where all the money is going if it’s not reaching their pockets (particularly indie darlings Grizzly Bear), but Rdio have made a bold new move, yesterday announcing their new ‘Artist Program’ that pays musicians and recording artists direct – not for the streaming of their music, but for how many fans they can sign up as subscribers.
While American streaming service Grooveshark, already the target of labels looking to shut them down for exploiting a legal loophole that sees them shirking licensing fees, has also introduced a direct payment scheme that will see artists paid by their social media activity, striking a precarious balance between illegal file-sharing, that can still potentially see the artist getting a cut.
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