Some of you may remember receiving the message below from me 4 years ago about how the record labels could protect property rights to music in cyberspace by using decoy files.

For anyone looking to defend property rights and make money at the same time, here’s an interesting business model I discovered: 

The Tabloids, an Oakland-based rock band… recently launched, urging people to sabotage Napster by mislabeling songs posted to the site. Music entrepreneurs and Internet saboteurs have already started circulating fake versions of popular songs on Napster. also calls for releasing songs into Napster that have anti-piracy speeches inserted randomly into the music. For instance, you may be listening to Eminem when suddenly Charlton Heston begins reading a public interest message opposing song theft…  “We’re looking at the big picture here. Intellectual property is intellectual freedom,” says Michael Robinson, the band’s leader, a freelance writer and a marketing consultant. “The U.S. Constitution and the Internet are on a collision course. We don’t want our rights ripped off,” he adds. The Tabloids seek government regulation of technologies like Napster’s.  (From Digital Music Weekly,

You could probably get this funded as an Internet business model. Get permission from bands to use their songs, and thirty seconds in start mixing in voiceovers of interviews with the band, etc. Then create all kinds of bogus music servers and spam the hell out of Napster, Gnutella, etc. with the fake mp3s. (Actually, I hear the Nettwerk label just did this with the new Barenaked Ladies single.) 

The band gets advertising and fights theft, you make a little money selling the ads, and the Net gets clogged with so much music spam that it gets difficult and costly to find intact pirated tracks. If Napster raises technical barriers, you have a financial incentive to overcome them. And the pirates can’t very well call on the law to protect them, can they? 

Personally, I find something deliciously satisfying in the image of some young thug, smugly expecting to marinate his brain in the latest Eminem tirade he’s swiped off the net, getting an earful of Charlton Heston. [Spamming for Freedom, July 4, 2004]

A report in the paper today indicates it’s finally catching on:

The music industry may finally be winning its game of music piracy whack-a-mole, thanks to the use of increasingly effective technological hammers….And while the RIAA has been smacking downloaders with lawsuits, individual record labels have contracted technological mercenaries to make using the peer-to-peer networks where people go to illegally download music more difficult.

“The whole idea is to increase the frustration and take away the fun quotient of these networks,” said an executive from one company that provides such services, Marc Morgenstern. His company, Overpeer, protects 70,000 music, video, and software titles from piracy by flooding the most popular networks — Kazaa, Grokster, and eDonkey, among others — with thousands of garbage data files bearing the titles of popular songs. The decoys appear at the top of user searches for the title. On searches for the most popular songs, fake files sometimes constitute 95% of the results. [“Music Industry Foils Pirates By Seeding Networks With Fake Files“, NYSun]

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