According to Prefix and Gizmodo, some record labels are paying students to spy on other students who pirate music. EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner are reportedly pumping money into an anti-piracy group, proMedia, in this only purpose, using students to denounce their peers doing the bad and illegal thing: stealing music online!
According to some sources, the company employs 35 students (this seems really impressive!) who are then supposed to browse forums, blogs and file hosting sites to find people pirating music. They are also supposed to track down students who use P2P networks and BitTorrents, and what is supposed to happen if they catch them? Caught 'thieves' will have to pay thousands of dollars per offense to record labels.
This is so wrong for so many reasons, first, encouraging denunciation of your own peers, reminds me about the worst stories of traitors during war world II. And the worst in this story is that we are talking about the biggest labels doing such a thing, the ones which are already robbing their artists anyway! I just wonder how much these students are paid and how pleasant their future social life will be…
I know someone who runs an independent label and he thinks all music will eventually become free, there’s nothing you can do about the current tendency! Let’s face it, most young people download their music without paying through peer-to-peer networks or torrents (The Pirate Bay is the 71st most visited website in the world!), illegal downloading is on the rise, and Google makes it just too easy! It is just today’s reality and that’s why services like Spotify appeared, as an attempt from labels to recover some money (but as we know artists are paid pennies by Spotify!)
If this mercenary tactic is the only response that big labels can try, they are doomed! A very large number of illegal P2P servers are hosted outside the US and America laws do not apply there, they are not ready to be shut down and illegal downloading will continue. But his last move shows how much big labels are desperate, and if they have to hunt people one by one like this, well good luck!