Five easy steps to plug online music leaks

Sun Dec 7, 2008 1:57am EST
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By Antony Bruno

DENVER (Billboard) - When an album leaks online before it arrives in stores, it can be a real punch in the gut.

Recent new releases from rock bands Guns N' Roses, Metallica and AC/DC all found their way onto peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing networks before they reached the stores, proving that even the most closely guarded projects are vulnerable.

But it's not the end of the world. After angrily beating your head against the wall, there are several measures you can implement to mitigate the damage. Here are five recommendations not intended for artists or managers who deliberately leak their own material.


Leaks infuriate managers and artists, because they usually occur after an album has been delivered to the label. The culprit is often someone in the production chain who's gone rogue or a talent rep trusting the wrong person with an advance copy. So the label needs to take every step possible to determine where the leak occurred and take action against who is responsible. "You can't unring the bell," says Mike McGuire, an analyst at research firm Gartner Inc. "But if it is an internal leak, then somebody needs to be punished."


Once the leak has sprung, it's almost impossible to stop it from spreading. But targeting the top online sources of leaked material can pay dividends by at least stemming the flow long enough for the release to be distributed through legitimate channels. Make sure you've updated the audio fingerprinting of partners who use them to filter out unwanted content. Contact the MP3 bloggers with whom you have relationships. And send takedown notices or cease-and-desist letters when necessary. "The strategy is one of containment," says Eric Garland, CEO of consulting firm BigChampagne. "Chase everybody everywhere with your legal eagles and have the Internet scrubbed clean. It's got to be a coordinated, rapid response."


<p>Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich performs in Phoenix, Arizona October 21, 2008. REUTERS/Gelu Sulugiuc</p>