In recent years you might have been forgiven for thinking the music industry was winning the war against piracy.
High profile court cases seemed to be going against famous file-sharing sites.
In 2012 the US Justice Department managed to take down Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload site, prompting a wave of reprisal DNS (denial of service) attacks on US government websites by hacktivist group Anonymous.
Two years later The Pirate Bay was shut down in 2014 when its Stockholm premises was raided by police (but it returned a few months later).
So was the music industry making any progress in their battle with the torrent sites?
The short answer is ‘not much’.
Kanye West‘s The Life of Pablo is arguably the most anticipated album of the year, yet its release hasn’t exactly been a seamless commercial triumph.
This is partly down to Kanye’s own artistic eccentricities, changing the title repeatedly, chopping and changing the tracklist and threatening to give his label the jitters with his up-to-the-wire studio noodling.
But another issue is the fact that he’s made it exclusively available on the Tidal streaming service. A great favour to Jay Z, but that platform has been plagued by technical issues, with many paying customers reporting that they didn’t receive their downloads.
This has resulted in an inevitable migration back to the world of torrents, with TorrentFreak reporting that The Life of Pablo has already been pirated more than 500,000 times.
A look at the Top audio files on The Pirate Bay tells the story in more detail:
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has also filed nearly 20 takedown requests to Google for websites illegally hosting the material, but that hasn’t stopped the surge in illegal downloads.
It’s like the internet version of whack-a-mole: take down one link and it just reappears elsewhere.
So it looks like Kanye’s vow that his latest album “album will never never never be on Apple, and it will never be for sale” may be costing him and his label a lot of money.
Perhaps they should have accepted Martin Shkreli’s $10 million offer after all. Then again…