I sure hope the record industry has got two separate teams of staffers working on the p2p file-sharing thing, because if it’s just one group doing everything then they’re going to be suffering from whiplash and/or split personality disorder. According to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, the industry has started seeding file-swapping networks with marketing pitches disguised as popular music files. Why? Because “they are the active music audience,” says one exec.
But aren’t these the same music fans that the industry has been busy suing the crap out of for years? Er, yes. But apparently they’ve also realized that those file-swappers are also their biggest fans, and opinion leaders. So even as they’re trying to get them to stop trading files, they want to take advantage of that trading wherever they can. Says the WSJ story:
By inserting promotional material into the decoy files, and then planting those files prominently on file-sharing sites, record labels and other marketers can turn what is now an antipiracy tool into an advertising medium.
The story quotes one industry insider as saying that the Grokster ruling helped pave the way for this kind of move. “Before the ruling, record labels worried that they might undercut their legal arguments if they used peer-to-peer sites for their own purposes, says the WSJ.
Reaction to the move has been, well… mixed. P2PNet calls it a “A scabby and deeply cynical practise employed by spammers hired by the Big Four Organized Music cartel.” James Robertson calls it a “blinding attack of the obvious.”