Entertainment Industry Gets Politicians To Advertise File Sharing Sites

from the what-are-they-thinking? dept

Just a few weeks ago, the USTR put out its infamous Special 301 report that tries to shame countries that don’t respect US intellectual property laws, but is put together using the rather scientific method of “what countries are the entertainment and pharmaceutical industries complaining about now?” to generate the list. Around the world — and even in the US gov’t — the list is mostly seen as a joke. No one takes it seriously.

But, apparently one ridiculous list isn’t enough. The RIAA and MPAA have convinced a group of US elected officials, who have dubbed themselves the “International Anti-Piracy Caucus” to put out a list of file sharing websites that it hates… and with it, an attempt to shame the companies where those websites are hosted. The timing on this is amusing, because, of course, just last week, you would have needed to put the US on the list, as LimeWire would have likely been seen as just as widely used for unauthorized file sharing as some of those sites.

But the larger point is that this list is effectively advertising these five sites as the best place to go to get unauthorized content:

China’s Baidu, Canada’s IsoHunt, Ukraine’s Mp3fiesta, Germany’s RapidShare, Luxembourg’s RMX4U.com, and Sweden’s The Pirate Bay.

You would think that, by now, the RIAA and MPAA would have recognized that every single time they’ve targeted a particular service for file sharing, the end result is to get that site significantly more publicity, so that its userbase increases rapidly. It happened when they sued Napster. It happened when they sued Grokster. It happened when they got the police to raid The Pirate Bay. It happened when they filed the lawsuit against IsoHunt. Putting out this list basically just pointed a bunch of people at these particular services as a good place to go to get access to content. Nice work by the caucus, who is made up of Reps. Adam Schiff and Bob Goodlatte along with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Orrin Hatch.

And, of course, the RIAA put out a statement supporting this free advertising for those sites. Honestly, people keep telling me that the RIAA really knows what it’s doing, but how can they possibly think that this is a good idea?

As a parallel, reader Hephaestus points out this historical bit:

“From 1559 to 1966 the catholic church had a list of prohibited books aptly named the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. One historical note about this list is that a very large number of the books on this list had an increase in sales and reading when they were placed on the list. The International Anti-Piracy Caucus seems to have not learned the simple historical lesson, To list or expose inappropriate subject matter shines a light on it and exposes it to a larger audience. This will undoubtedly lead to more people visiting this “list of notorious sites” quite the opposite of what they seem to be aiming for.

Nice work, RIAA and MPAA. You just boosted traffic to those sites.

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Companies: mpaa, riaa

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Comments on “Entertainment Industry Gets Politicians To Advertise File Sharing Sites”

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Phillip says:

Obvious Incompetence

If the RIAA knew what it was doing, they wouldn’t be doing any of this crap, anyway. They’d be busy adapting to the market, being innovative, and creating new business models.

I honestly don’t know why it would be a surprise to anyone that they don’t learn from history either. The history of media inventions/innovations all points to them being on the side destined to fail. They’ll continue to make the same mistakes of the people before them that attempted to squash how people used new media, and eventually they’ll collapse under the weight of the impossibility of their task. When that happens, they’ll be an awesome new market without fear of retribution from draconian and ignorant organizations, and the people who can figure out how to navigate that market (and get a little lucky) will be insanely rich.

Until then, just keep doing what you’re doing and watch them fall.

UnkieReamus says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:


First, let’s go ahead and drop the obligatory Ben Franklin quote: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”.

And time you think, say, read or hear the words “Giving up some freedom”, “Sacrificing a small freedom” or any variation thereof, you really ought to be incredibly suspicious. There’s something not kosher there.

Second, I have no idea what freedom you’re suggesting is being gained here.

silly_me says:

maybe the RIAAs plan is to get as many people as possible to illegally download their stuff so that they can send out all those pre-settlement letters. See, they don’t need to go through the distribution process anymore. They just produce crap, promote it, wait for it to be downloaded illegally and then send out pre-settlement letters and/or sue. That IS the new business model.

Chapeau d'Aluminium says:

Re: Re:

I had the same tin-hatted thought. I’ll go a step further and link the incessant whinging about illegal downloading only growing awareness of it (and that it can be done) with the **AAs actually backing the play of such tracking sites for free promotion and follow-up lawsuiting.

I truly believe if they’d’ve shut their heads about piracy a decade ago it wouldn’t have become such an issue. I guess it was easier than adapting.

David T says:

The Master Strategy

If the point is to intimidate people who might try unauthorized channels but haven’t yet, taking down a site with massive users and going after that big group of people would make sense.

But it’s premised on assuming those people vising “pirate” sites are disposable, which is arguably short sighted.


Britain looking to repeal the digital wanker bill

this is why he spews his propoganda today
yep all whiney not getting hsi own way awwwww
poor bribable politician see how democracy will work out

instead of revolution you get change alright
change of politicians that can’t be bribed and do what there fellow citizens want cause they like or want to not for a lil white envelope with cash in it

thats the innovation he speaks of and how is the celebrity rehab show doing? YAH know where almost all of the popular actors and musicians are drug addicts and drunks or so fraked up its not funny. GREAT MODELS FOR THE KIDS

Anonymous Coward says:

Napster – Lost case in court

Grokster – Lost case in court

LimeWire – Lost case in court

Wherever the labels can obtain jurisdiction over defendants and the law in such a jurisdiction is generally co-extensive with US law, the labels will pursue such services and litigate to close them down.

What so many of the readers who follow this site seem to not fully appreciate is that the labels, and others having similar concerns, are not targeting torrent search engine providers en masse. They are targeting those whose “purpose in life” is directed almost exclusively to point users in the direction of where they can find unargualby infringing content and who facilitate use of such engines by interacting with users in a manner that assists such users in acquiring such content. These sites, no matter their protestations to the contrary, have been shown by competent evidence to have participated in one form or another in an active manner, and not merely as dumb pipes. Were these sites truly the latter, the above sites would quite likely still be up and running.

The Sony test articulated about 1980 borrowed the longstanding test from patent law concerning “capable of substantial non-infringing use”. The law is not foolish. When a site has the capability of meeting the Sony test, but when the factual backdrop is examined it is only too clear that actual non-infringing use is miniscule in comparison to infringing uses which such sites actually promote, facilitate, and participate, such sites are playing with fire and will almost certainly be “burned”.

To these sites I say “Concentrate on being merely a dumb pipe and you will likely find safe harbor under Sony and its progeny. Push Sony’s boundaries to its limits and you will almost certainly find yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit.”

Ryan says:

Re: Re:

That’s a good point if you’re a torrent tracking site trying to develop policy, but this discussion is about the policy decisions of the RIAA, MPAA, etc.

When they specifically call them out, they drive traffic to them. Sure, they may eventually get them shut down, but look where that’s gotten them – here. After they enticed however many people to check out the file sharing sites they read in a news article.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The facts in You Tube are markedly different from those associated with Napster, Grokster and LimeWire. However, I dare not predict the likely outcome simply because it will be based upon the evidentiary record presented to the court, and I have no insight into the totality of the record.

It is fair to say, however, that YouTube has taken an approach far more conservative that the above torrent sites such that the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA may be deemed to be satisfied.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Napster – Lost case in court

Grokster – Lost case in court

LimeWire – Lost case in court

Wherever the labels can obtain jurisdiction over defendants and the law in such a jurisdiction is generally co-extensive with US law, the labels will pursue such services and litigate to close them down.

And the end result? Each lawsuit got more people hooked on file sharing, and each loss pushed people further to other services that were more underground and more and more difficult for the RIAA/MPAA to use to their own advantage.


I’m confused why you believe this was a smart strategy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Do you have evidence to back up this assertion that these suits “got more people hooked on file sharing?”

I mean, iTunes and similar services have flourished since those rulings. It’s possible that the growth of those legit download services were helped by these suits.

Kurto (profile) says:

comparison to history

We dont have to go back to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum for historical comparison. Just look at how popular hard rock videos became in the 1980s when MTV bowed to pressure to remove supposedly “inappropriate content” from their channel.
Once it was reavealed that a video had been banned, its popularity shot up. Pretty soon, the worst thing for a rock band was to not have had their video banned from MTV!

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: comparison to history

“We dont have to go back to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum for historical comparison.”

Actually we could go back 1500 years further than the Index Librorum Prohibitorum to Rome. Where they had this sub sect of a religion that was banned. Their symbol was the letter “t” with a dead guy on it. As far as I can tell banning that sub sect worked really well … big Ole GRIN

Anonymous Coward says:

what i am trying to figure out is this: are there any active file sharers who dont know about these sites? what is the big deal? are they some sort of state secret? it isnt like tpb hasn’t been all over the news for the last couple of years. i mark this one down as another mikey attempt to poke at the **aas when there is really nothing to say.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes I’m quite certain there are a lot of active file sharers who don’t know about at least some of those sites. More to the point though, I’m sure there are plenty of NON-active file sharers who now know all about those sites thanks to the inadvertent publicity. That’s what the entire point of the article was.

Do you ever feel bad that you get paid to spew sophist gibberish on a website all day? Some people make the world a better place while they are in it. You spend your time honing idiocy to a fine art.

asd (user link) says:


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Hey Check this site http://www.way2mobile.in

Free Downloading of | Computer & Mobile | Games, Movies, Software, Songs, Videos,
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