While you were out getting drunk and lighting off illegal fireworks this past weekend, the RIAA was hard at work sending Google millions of requests to stop indexing URLs that serve up copyrighted content illegally. Hypebot reports that over the last six weeks alone, the RIAA requested 5 million takedowns, a huge increase over the 20 million takedown requests that were issued in the entire year prior.
So what’s with the uptick in requests? Like any good pirate operation, popular torrent sites now inadvertently spawn tons of similarly offending URLs where people can download the illegal content. No longer can the RIAA just get a place like The Pirate Bay to pull a piece of uploaded content, because as soon as it’s out there, an innumerable number of proxy sites have replicated the original posting. It’s basically the hydra effect, and the RIAA is no doubt wasting a huge amount of money, time, and resources trying to combat something that shows no sign of slowing down.
So why do they continue down this path? Are they trying to singlehandedly employ the glut of recent law school grads? Do they really think that the person who downloaded the new T-Swift album (and never listened to it, btw) was at any point going to be converted into a paying customer? Will there ever not be a shiny new torrent site for people to switch to? If they thought long and hard about it, perhaps they’d realize what a futile effort the take down requests are, and instead encourage the wide proliferation of media that otherwise wouldn’t have nearly the impact on the larger general public. They could then work on converting all those semi-interested downloaders into paying customers through concerts, merch purchases, apps, endorsement deals, etc. Clearly there are an endless number of new revenue streams in the digital age that labels can leverage in the absence of quality music (just ask Jay-Z), so please give the cease and desist a rest.