How to Stop Illegal Music Downloading


Consumers began finding it difficult to download music without authorization when a U.S. Court of Appeals in 2001 ruled against a popular peer-to-peer network that was hosting unlicensed music files (A&M Records Inc. v. Napster Inc.). The Napster case brought awareness to music bootlegging and how it affected the recording industry's bottom line. As of 2007, sales of legitimate digital music downloads had not made a dent in a 20 percent decrease in the sale of CDs. Musicians struggling to sell their music on CD and through legal download sites such as iTunes and must guard against unlicensed distribution of their music.

  • Watermark your CDs. Watermarking either makes it impossible for consumers to make copies of your CD or allows illegal copies to be tracked through code embedded in the audio tracks. Serialized CDs can point to the original purchaser, trace where the CD has been copied and track illegal uploading.

  • Insert promo drops on advance copies of your CDs released to music journalists and record stores. Many music files are leaked to P2P networks by journalists and store employees. Inserting promo drops of audio that say something like "This is a promotional copy" makes music files undesirable to pirates.

  • Upload spoof files to P2P networks such as Limewire. Dummy files frustrate pirates when they download a file only to find that it contains nothing but a repetitive loop or silence. Be aware that some P2P networks allow users to rate files, thereby pushing spoofed files to the end of a search list.

  • Educate your audience. Many people, especially younger music lovers, don't consider illegal downloading to be theft because they have no tangible item. It's up to you to inform your fans that illegal downloading affects not only your bottom line but that of other musicians.


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