TuneSecure – “Let’s Drive Music Piracy Underground, Make It Hard To Download.”

image from technoccult.net It's still good to know that some tech-companies still have their thinking caps on.

The solution to music piracy is to make it hard for the average person to download.

This revolutionary idea comes by way of the Australian tech startup TuneSecure.

We've heard this one before.

They figure that file-sharing is all about convenience and if the practice was driven underground, the average person wouldn't bother with it. Too much work.

Rather than doing something like – I don't know – letting Google sell digital music in their search, the record industry just needs to keep flooding the network with fake files and making it so painful to download music that people give up. Gosh, parents and kids alike will surrender to the wishes of the major labels and start buying music from iTunes if it's easier than downloading it illegally. These people won't like – I don't know – learn how to rip MP3s from YouTube videos or capture songs from Pandora streams. They'll just mindlessly go back to buying music.


Labels don't need to update their product strategy and create products that are actually relevant to the young and the digital. No, if we make it hard to download songs, these people will learn to love and pay for digital music. Hell, they might even start a CD collection. Music doesn't need to enter the cloud; it doesn't need to be an experience; nor must it be repositioned in the minds of fans. None of it.

Paid music services are a joke. Spotify is wishful thinking. And on and on.

Luckily, one music industry veteran spotted the holes in this logic and added a touch of history. "I'm old enough to remember what it was like with pirate radio in the sixties when all these stations were broadcasting from boats," Stuart Coupe told News.com.au. "They'd get one boat and close it down — (the pirates) would go to find another boat. It's not complicated." People will find another way to do it.

What TuneSecure forgets is that, “Human beings are complex creatures who are going to do whatever it takes to make themselves as well off as possible,” writer Charles Wheelan explains in his book Naked Economics.  “Sometimes it is easy to predict how that will unfold; sometimes it is enormously complex.” This is what economists call the law of unintended consequences. Steven Levitt, author of the book Freakonomics, explains, “Even when you have someone clever designing the rules, the incentives, with thousands or millions of people with something at stake – scheming on the other side – they almost always figure a way around whatever system you set up.”  Levitt continues, “The most powerful idea of [this law] is that anyone who thinks they can set up a set of rules, thinks they are smarter than the market, in some sense, usually loses.” Music piracy can't be driven underground. At first, the average person might be detered. They may give up. But someone else will come along and figure out an even easier way to do it.

It's not complicated.

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  1. Perhaps and perhaps not. What people seem to forget when they compare the analog world and the digital one, is that in the digital world everything is controlled and is therefore controllable. Governments do it all the time and can shut you down in a nanosecond. Hybrid compression technology could evade detection for a while, (when did you last use a FLAC file?) but it is a matter of time.
    There is too much money being made for the ISP and hardware manufacturers in selling bandwidth and gizmos to eliminate a key driver which is piracy.
    The technology existed back in Napster days, it exists today and it is has no leaks. The assumption that pirates are more clever than full time specialists is also a real joke. We glorify these guys, but they are hacks compared to the specialists working on the inside.
    Piracy can end quickly but it is not about to. Bittorents are no longer in China. That took about a minute.

  2. A teacher from a privileged university in China told me that every time the government does something to block youtube or facebook, her students knew the way around it the next week. The only reason it sticks is that it’s not worth a trip to Chinese prison or losing internet access for 2 months to watch Youtube. A little drastic for the west don’t you think? If you support action that severe because the (major) labels are losing money, then you have no business being involved with art or technology.
    Also, evidence clearly shows that these moneyless nerdy culture-lovers, or “hacks” as you call them, are always steps ahead of the RIAA, their millions of dollars, and teams of lawyers.

  3. Excellent article, I really think you nailed it with all these points. The lack of ROI for recorded music is a serious problem, and I don’t really know of one solution to get artists the income they deserve to be getting. I do know that the answer is not to dwell on illegal downloads, because as people try to fight it innovations that make it even easier come more frequently. The answer is to look around, look forward, then look within and get creative. Lady Gaga isn’t complaining and neither is Madlib.

  4. The RIAA were egotistic imbeciles and there were plenty of legal options to change the ways we now take for granted. Nothing was done at all. I know I was there and I also fought for the last three years to try and protect net neutrality. Not having business to be in this business? Really? fuck you.
    The bittorrent sites are not back up in China, I was not talking about censorship jut the ability to shut down what is clearly illegal.

  5. Lady Gaga has a multimillion dollar company behind her. In the past, most major labels would only really make money off a small percent of their artists. So what have they done? They’ve cut out the percent that wasn’t making them money and focused on that small percent that does make them money.
    In the end I think that whats becoming reality is that we’re all going to have less acts that are making a fortune from their music and just making enough like the common joe on the street. That’s still not bad, to be making a living off of your passion. With music sales continually tanking year after year, the real money lies in the touring and merchandising. There’s still money in licensing, too. It’s all about branding. Obviously, this is all harder than it looks when you’re just starting out in the biz and you’re trying to make a name for yourself and don’t have the connections or the dough to invest in your product.
    Free album download at http://www.facebook.com

  6. Great Article. It’s the old story of no matter how high you hide the cookie jar, the kids will always find a way to get at it. Simply trying to make illegal downloading more difficult for consumers is not the answer to eliminating it. Tech-companies need to work on a combined approach to illegal downloading by educating consumers and making the idea of purchasing music more attractive while working to eliminate the ability to illegally download music.

  7. “We glorify these guys, but they are hacks compared to the specialists working on the inside.”
    Right and I know that’s true because I can access anything I want to download, right now. It’s all good, though: you’re right. We’re all going to live in China in another 10 years, I’m enjoying the downtime before the hammer falls here in the West.

  8. Kyle Bylin. What an expert.
    Why don’t you run a business that succeeds in this new ‘digital age’ Kyle? You seem to have all the answers.
    I’m bored of self opinionated web journalists. Too many experts.

  9. Haven’t we had this ‘shut it down’ debate since the beginning of time? We had Prohibition and that led to ‘pirating’ of booze. The way to deal with that evil was to make bootleggers the producers and open it for sale. in some enlightened countries, (unfortunately, not USA) the ‘junkie’ problem is no longer being fought along the lines of ‘stop heroin’ but safe injection rooms, education and harm reduction. So really, until the big music industry gets intent on restructuring its models and entering a new age, they will complain. Here is a recent article from the Melbourne (Australia) Age newspaper

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