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Fighting Piracy on its Own “Terms”

Sun Tzu once wrote something to the effect that “if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss; if you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or lose; if you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.”

I’m not sure that DMCA Force is really ‘at war’ with pirates – although sometimes we do feel like setting their stupid little beards on fire and finding better homes for their pet parrots. Regardless, Sun Tzu’s old adage applies well to the cheap trainers uk dilemma you face when confronting the online piracy of your intellectual property: If you don’t familiarize yourself with the nature of the pirates and their marketing techniques, then your efforts to fight them are likely to be in vain.

In researching the online piracy of music on behalf of DMCA Force clients, we’ve learned a great deal about how pirates work, including how they target common search phrases in order to draw in as many music-seekers as they can. In some cases, the pirates even engage in subterfuge that can lead consumers into unwittingly enriching the pirates through what appears to be a lawful purchase of files, but is really illicit distribution of copyrighted materials.

Take the keyword “mp3,” for example. Many web surfers seek out digital copies of their favorite tracks by searching for the name of the song in question plus the term “mp3” – e.g., “Whistle MP3” or “Lights MP3.” (I’d add “Wonder Wall + mp3” to the list of examples, but I don’t want to date myself….)

Depending on the song and the query, the results returned by such a search are likely to be comprised largely of sites that are infringing on the copyright related to that song. Some of these infringing sites will go so far as to try to appear legitimate, masquerading as duly licensed distributors of the track, so consumers are unaware that the site has pirated the song they are about to purchase. While I’m sure a lot of surfers don’t really care if they add a few doubloons to the collective pirate booty pile from time to time, I believe most people prefer to obtain their entertainment from a legitimate source, given that option.

Even when it’s blatantly obvious that the sites appearing in the search results are pirate sites, when such sites dominate the search responses, it is very easy for consumers to slip into thinking “well, it’s just so easy to get it for free, and it’s all over the place, so why the heck not?” It’s not so much that these consumers condone piracy, it’s just that they start to feel like suckers when they become aware of just how many of their fellow consumers have decided to go ahead and ride the free content gravy train.http://www.stockxsale.co.uk

The best way for rights-holders to combat this problem is a two-prong approach involving both direct anti-piracy action and attempting to beat the pirates their own search engine game. A concerted effort to target links to infringing sites with DMCA take-down notices, paired with keyword improvements and other search engine optimization (“SEO”) measures will result in directing more consumers to legitimate sites, and make life more difficult for would-be pirates seeking to profit off of illegally distributing music and other content.

Ultimately, piracy cannot be eliminated, but it can be mitigated. One way to mitigate it is by reducing its visibility through search engines, which is where most average folks stumble across pirate sites to begin with. Sure, savvier users with more experience (and fewer scruples) typically go directly to the pirate sites without relying on a search engine to find them, but a successful campaign to push piracy back into the substantially smaller corner it occupied in the pre-Internet era would mean more consumers reaching legitimate sources for music and other forms of entertainment, and fewer new ‘recruits’ to man the digital equivalent Davy Jones’ Flying Dutchman.

Got questions about protecting your digital assets from copyright infringement?