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PRS for Music claims anti-piracy success

March 24, 2021

By Colin Mann

Music industry rights licensing body PRS for Music has revealed what it describes as “encouraging” figures demonstrating the continued success of its Member Anti-Piracy System (MAPS) in the battle against digital music piracy, five years on from its launch.

Since 2016, the bespoke automated notice and takedown tool, which tracks PRS for Music repertoire on unlicensed and infringing websites on behalf of the organisation’s 150,000 songwriter, composer and publisher members, has reported over 6.7 million URLs to sites linking to or hosting PRS for Music works illegally; removed 76 per cent of infringing URLs, with any non-compliant sites being directly referred to the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit’s Operation Creative; notified Google and Bing of over 424,000 live links for delisting results from search pages and been instrumental in forcing 1,346 infringing sites to cease operating completely. Some of the most infringed compilations crawled by the MAPS database include The Official Top 40 Singles Chart, Beatport Top 100 and Billboard Hot 100.

“Our provision of an anti-piracy tool to members through MAPS is a unique offering by PRS for Music that helps set us apart from other collective management and rights administration organisations,” asserts Simon Bourn, Associate General Counsel, PRS for Music. “The anti-piracy work we carry out with our members is of tremendous importance, and complements other enforcement activities which are underway across the music industry. We recognise the importance to our members of providing a means to remove unauthorised instances of repertoire, and to help prevent and educate against the theft of their work.”

“If just one legal download of an album were made for every infringement identified by MAPS over the past five years, it would have led to revenue being generated for the industry of around £13.1 million. However, we know that in fact many downloads are likely to be made via an infringing link, so the loss to the industry is in fact a multiplier of this amount. Whilst MAPS has helped us curtail these losses, it is simply unacceptable for songwriters, composers, music publishers, and all those involved in the creative process, to be suffering in this way, particularly now at a time when they are even more reliant on royalties from digital. We are pleased that MAPS has allowed us to protect the value of our members’ music. It has also led to the demise of hundreds of illegitimate services,” he concludes.

Overseen by PRS for Music’s Rights Protection Unit, MAPS utilises web-crawling technology to detect and report infringements, revolutionising the way the company tackles copyright infringement. Cutting off instances of piracy at the source, MAPS helps to ensure that legitimate, licensed services can be more easily found and that PRS for Music members receive fair remuneration for use of their repertoire online.

In the years since MAPS launched, new features have been integrated to enhance functionality, including automation of the notice sending process to boost efficiencies and provide an improved user experience for resource stretched organisations; the ability for users to generate detailed reports based on their repertoire and a refreshed interface.

“We are extremely proud of the way MAPS has evolved and the success it has achieved over the past five years,” declares Sharan Ghuman, Rights Protection Manager, PRS for Music. “The tool was built to empower our members to carry out enforcement action on their chosen repertoire and their dedicated commitment and usage of the system has been key in MAPS’ success. Working collectively, our members continue to preserve the copyright in their repertoire on a greater scale. MAPS is not only a notice and takedown tool, it has proven to be a great information source, providing valuable data in other areas of rights protection work, specifically in relation to our work with the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit.”

“Piracy is a chronic problem faced by the music industry and it’s great to be able to work with PRS for Music to maximise our anti-piracy efforts,” adds Grace Roberts, Copyright Manager – Samples and Infringements, BMG. “MAPS is an invaluable tool to us as a music publisher in the development of our anti-piracy plan. We have integrated MAPS as a way of tracking and removing illegal content and are able to tailor searches to our needs, for example by targeting key releases. MAPS is incredibly user-friendly and the Rights Protection Unit are always there to lend a helping hand.”

PRS for Music’s Rights Protection Unit continues to focus its efforts on combatting all forms of digital music piracy, including stream-ripping and app-based infringement. A study carried out by PRS for Music, published in September 2020, found that overall usage of stream-ripping services dramatically increased by 1390 per cent between 2016 and 2019, overshadowing all other illegal online music activity in the UK, signifying that is it still a major ongoing concern for the music industry. Alongside MAPS being instrumental in tackling stream-ripping download sites, further measures have been implemented by the Rights Protection Unit to tackle stream-ripping piracy, including sending take down notices to app platforms where stream-ripping apps are available and reporting stream-ripping plug-ins to web browsers.

All PRS for Music members can request access to MAPS to track the infringement of their music online.

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