Depending upon who you ask, pirate sites like Bit Torrent can either help or hurt your career and your music sales. There are those that feel that being pirated makes you legitimate, and even increases your sales by the fact that new fans will want to support the artist after discovery.
That idea isn't shared by any copyright manager (at least not publicly), as they only look at the bottom line of sales, royalties and commissions being hurt as a result of every pirated file.
But actually stopping the pirates is a lot tougher than it sounds. Usually a copyright holder/manager will send a take-down notice, which sometimes gets results. The RIAA (the music industry trade association) actively sued the very people that did the downloading, which wasn't very productive in the end. And some copyright managers simply made a deal with the pirates when possible, figuring that at least a little money was better than none at all.
But 2011 might be different as 5 new strategies will be tried to combat file sharing sites, according to an article in Torrent Freak.
1) Cease the Domain. This hasn't happened until now but everyone, copyright holders and pirates, feel that it's inevitable and 2011 is the year it begins.
2) Added Pressure On Webhosts. Companies that host file sharing websites have already been leaned on heavily by the Dutch government with some success. Expect other countries to follow their lead.
3) Force ISPs To Block Sites. This has been tried with limited success in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland, but usually ends up being a temporary impediment as the blocks eventually are circumvented. The idea is that someone trying to access a pirate site will give up after a few tries if it's blocked and then will never come back.
4) Cutting Off The Money. By cutting off any donations or payment processing, you hit the pirates where it hurts the most. Expect the use of blocked financial resources to increase.
5) Pressure On Advertisers. This can be used in conjunction with #4. It's easy for an advertiser to get spooked and pull out when threatened by anything except more views.
The US government in conjunction with the various trade associations and large copyright managers appear to be finally getting the tools needed to really put a hurt on pirate sites. Now we'll find out for sure if pirating actually helps or hinders sales and career visibility.
See the entire article on Torrent Freak.
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