Comparing online music piracy to whack-a-mole is a well-worn metaphor, but it’s never been so apt as today, with The Pirate Bay announcing its IPREDator VPN service, and SeeqPod revealing plans to sell its source code to any developer willing to stump up $5,000.In both cases, the spur is litigation and legislation. The Pirate Bay’s co-founders are awaiting the verdict of their trial next month, but more immediately, IPREDator is anticipating new Swedish laws allowing the authorities to demand the personal details of suspected copyright infringers.Using the new VPN theoretically means people will be far less trackable, with the bonus (if you’re The Pirate Bay) of providing a potentially lucrative new revenue stream. It looks like the IFPI will have to revise those estimates of how much The Pirate Bay is making…Meanwhile, SeeqPod has explicitly said that it wants to spawn a host of copycat sites offering similar music search engine services, in response to the lawsuits it faces from several major labels. “This just goes to show that when you sue technology – or the internet – you unleash a powerful demon technology,” said a spokesperson. “Imagine, millions of mini-SeeqPods – and the world will be a better place for it.”Two separate announcements, but they’re part of a single trend: for the technology that’s being used by consumers to access music in an unlicensed / illegal way (which word you use depends on your viewpoint) to mutate into new forms that will provide even bigger headaches for copyright owners. LimeWire’s decision to make setting up a private ‘darknet’ quick and painless also falls into this category.Major labels and industry bodies see suing The Pirate Bay and SeeqPod as entirely necessary, so are unlikely to react favourably to suggestions that stamping out these two perceived cockroaches will simply unleash an army of many more. But it’s nevertheless true. You can switch that metaphor for moles, if you want consistency, obviously.The problem right now is that music services that ARE licensed – Imeem, iLike,, Spotify, We7, MySpace Music and the rest – are struggling to make their numbers add up, in terms of advertising revenue versus licensing fees. Imeem may deny it’s shutting down or $30 million in hock to the labels, but it faces the same blunt financial equation as its rivals.So, as the unlicensed technologies mutate into potentially more troublesome forms, so the licensed services that could provide a legal alternative are being slowly squeezed to death. Sensible, eh?The real threat to artists and rights-owners isn’t startups trying to get out of paying a fair whack for use of their music. It’s the darknets and mini-SeeqPods who won’t be paying anything. If the industry takes this on board fast enough, it’ll do its chances of survival no end of good.Stuart Dredge edits the Music Ally Report, Daily Bulletin and Blog.

EarPods and phone

Tools: platforms to help you reach new audiences

Tools: Kaiber

In the year or so since its launch, AI startup Kaiber has been making waves,…

Read all Tools >>

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *