Record labels are not always acting honestly when it comes to file-sharing. In public they often condemn BitTorrent sites and file-hosting services, but behind the scenes they sometimes use the same tools to promote their artists. This has become painfully obvious in the ongoing court case between EMI and MP3tunes where evidence was provided that the record label posted tracks on the ‘piracy haven’ RapidShare.
It is no secret that BitTorrent and other file-sharing sites and networks are used as a marketing tool by the entertainment industry.
TV-industry insiders have admitted to uploading shows to BitTorrent in advance to generate buzz, and bands do the same even though they have a hard time admitting it.
Aside from using file-sharing sites to bring attention to new material, they are also used by the music industry to make critical business decisions. As we’ve shown in the past from leaked information, record labels use ‘illicit’ download statistics to determine what singles to put out next.
Although file-sharing networks are clearly seen as a valuable marketing tool, the entertainment industry prefers not to admit this in public and especially not in courts, where they have to convince judges how evil these sites are and that piracy is in fact killing their industry. This can sometimes lead to embarrassing situations of which we have a brand new example today.
In the ongoing battle of RIAA record label EMI against music search engine MP3tunes, a recent court filing reveals that EMI was actively marketing their music on RapidShare. Interesting, yes, but also quite embarrassing since EMI was labelling RapidShare as a known ‘Piracy Haven’ in the same case.
“In defense of the Sideload.com music search engine, MP3tunes told the court that EMI promoted bands by distributing free MP3s online. EMI told the Judge our position was ‘pure fantasy’ claiming that EMI never distributes free MP3 songs online,” Michael Robertson of MP3tunes told TorrentFreak.
“Thanks to our users we quickly amassed a list of more than 1400 such fantasy EMI songs that were available online and in depositions they finally admitted they put free songs online so they would spread ‘virally’,” Robertson added.
Faced with this new evidence EMI decided to change its position and argue that MP3tunes’ website Sideload was linking to ‘suspect’ places such as RapidShare. However, this was not a particularly strong argument as the defending party had evidence that EMI was using the file-hosting service to market tracks from their own artists, including their best selling act Coldplay.
“They say we link to RapidShare which they called a known haven of piracy. However we uncovered internal emails where EMI themselves put songs on RapidShare and sent emails to others instructing them to download them from RapidShare. With EMI spreading files far and wide, their experts grudgingly admit that it’s impossible to tell which links are authorized and which are not,” Robertson said.
Claimed evidence that EMI used Rapidshare to promote tracks
The text above is taken from page 9 of a recent court filing. Unfortunately all the juicy details about EMI’s use of RapidShare are “filed under seal” since the record label claims they are corporate secrets and as such can’t be made available to the public.
In the sealed document, MP3tunes’ lawyer refers to an EMI employee placing music on RapidShare and sending emails to bloggers and marketers telling them to get the song from the file-hoster, TorrentFreak was told. This is of course a painful revelation for EMI as they themselves claim that RapidShare is a piracy haven, blaming MP3tunes for linking to it.
EMI is maintaining a double standard when it comes to file-sharing sites, to say the least. It seems that they themselves can use the service to promote their artists, but as soon as others make this information accessible they try to shut them down in court – a repeat of the same file-sharing hypocrisy we’ve seen in the past.