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Decoy Files on P2P Sites Become Ad Vehicles 200

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "Some record labels hire outside companies to plant fake files on peer-to-peer sites. Now, labels are turning these decoy files into vehicles for marketing to music pirates by inserting promotional material into the files, such as an eight-minute clip from a Jay-Z concert, the Wall Street Journal reports." From the article: "'The concept here is making the peer-to-peer networks work for us,' says Jay-Z's attorney, Michael Guido. 'While peer-to-peer users are stealing the intellectual property, they are also the active music audience,' and 'this technology allows us to market back to them.'"
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Decoy Files on P2P Sites Become Ad Vehicles

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  • So, like a lot of things on Slashdot, I was interested in this hip new technology. I hopped on eDonkey and downloaded a bunch of Jay-Z until I found the golden ticket.

    It was great, it said I had won a free boat! So I went to the URL in the file (http://www.riaa.com/tricks/freeboat/warrantapplic ation.html) and there it was, a registration form for a free boat!

    I start filling this out, you know, understandable things like name, address, average household income, what mp3s was I downloading when I won, where they are on my hard drive, which attorney would be representing me if a court case broke out--you know, the usual.

    But once I hit submit, I got some law-talking guy spamming my e-mail address non-stop! Trying to sell me some product I'm not even interested in ... something called an "Average Out of Court Settlement." Yeah, like I'm going to pay you $22,000 for that! As if! I think they want you to pay that if you want a free boat. I'm not stupid though--I know how this scam works--they give you a free boat but after taxes and registration, it's not even close to free anymore.

    People on the internet are so stupid sometimes.
    • something called an "Average Out of Court Settlement." Yeah, like I'm going to pay you $22,000 for that!

      Advance fee fraud at work :) Just like the nigerian 419 scam...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by IcyNeko ( 891749 )
      I think the key thing to this whole article is that this time it's Jay-Z that's whining. Honestly, I think Jay-Z sings one step shy of "City Pound during Cat Mating Season", but that's just me. Jay-Z with the Punjabi boys was the most horrific waste of time ever made. Why hasn't anyone executed Jay-Z for being an enemy of the state? Anyway, Hooray for RIAA/Whiny-talentless-hacks's software teams for finding a way to further thin out the minefield of retarded p2p users.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by rtyall ( 960518 )
        I'm all for these people replacing MP3 files of Jay-Z's music with other adverts, I believe that would do the world a service and be a step towards eliminating his music completely.
        But for them to be replacing good music with videos of Jay-Z, tsk, a pox on them I say.
        I guess it's all a moot topic though if you use emule, whenever I try and grab "XXX Hot horny Jenna Brianna Crystal Bukkake Cum Lesbo Splat Fest" it rarely is what I think it is (normally an iso of windows, damn and blast).
    • Mystery box (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @03:25PM (#16491621)
      A boat's a boat, but the mystery box could be anything. It could even be a boat! You know how much we wanted one of those!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phagstrom ( 451510 )
      Let's sue them for providing you with mislabeled material with the sole intend to defraud. Also entrapment and racketeering (pay us, or bad stuff will happen to you).

      Yeah, Yeah, bogus lawsuite clearly, but still better than the average riaa lawsuit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Let's sue them for providing you with mislabeled material with the sole intend to defraud...Yeah, bogus lawsuite clearly, but still better than the average riaa lawsuit.

        Yeah, that doesn't hold up.

        But one thing that's interesting as far as the usual RIAA/MPAA lawsuits is that these "official" decoys are legitimizing the defense that you didn't know what you were getting, and therefore didn't know you were downloading copyrighted files. If the RIAA can easily fool people with decoys, perhaps they (or anyone r

      • Umm. You realize previous poster was joking right? //I knew he was joking, yet still couldn't resist trying the URL... No.. I'm not obsessive compulsive.. Never.. :)
  • by ben there... ( 946946 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:53PM (#16491043) Journal
    'While peer-to-peer users are stealing the intellectual property, they are also the active music audience,'

    So they admit that filesharers are the active music audience.

    They're one step away from admitting filesharers buy more music.
    • by twostar ( 675002 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:56PM (#16491091) Journal
      but the RIAA is going to claim they buy more music because of the ads they're decoying out now.
      • by dodongo ( 412749 )

        but the RIAA is going to claim they buy more music because of the ads they're decoying out now.

        Not that bullshit statistics have ever stopped a recording association of America, but they'd have to actually show that the increase in music purchases were driven by the decoy ads *and also* that those tunes / artists / albums / tours that didn't have decoy ads didn't benefit in the same way from the P2P network.

        Really, they can only show the efficacy of these ads if there's only a specific, targeted sales uptic

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by miyako ( 632510 )
          This would be trivial for the RIAA to do. They largely control what music is going to be popular at a given time anyway, since they basically control what MTV, the radio stations, etc. play- and people tend to buy things that they are conditioned to like through repeated playing.
          All the RIAA would have to do would be to put out ads for an artist, then heavily advertise that artist to the exclusion of others for a month or so, and bam, they have statistics to prove that the song or artist that was advertis
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dodongo ( 412749 )
            Perhaps I should've been more clear. I was trying to get at the fact that it is in no way advantageous to RIAA to have P2P appear to be a useful mechanism in any way, even if they could show that one song is more popular on account of their P2P ads. That's what grandparent was trying to assert, but it is simply not in RIAA's interests to have P2P be seen as anything other than a hepatitis-C infested black market.

            Whether or not it would be trivial for them to rig some fancy statistics is beyond the point -
      • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @05:06PM (#16493037) Journal
        And pretty soon, RIAA will start suing p2p indexing sites for caving and shutting down the index servers, claiming it cost RIAA advertising revenue.
    • by krell ( 896769 )
      "So they admit that filesharers are the active music audience."

      ....and they admit that their audience is their enemy, oh foe of mine.
    • Notice that the guy's name is Guido?

      That's a nice [job|house|whatever] you have there, Mr FileSharer. It would be a pity if something would happen to it should you not buy some of our music.

      But then I'm one to joke. I'm one of the ones the RIAA really hates. I buy music, but I generally buy it used.
      • by krell ( 896769 )
        "That's a nice [job|house|whatever] you have there, Mr FileSharer. It would be a pity if something would happen to it should you not buy some of our music."

        And then your mom notices that, despite all your efforts, someone has cracked your crystal .OGG file.
    • I know, the disconnect is ridiculous:

      "Damn kids, downloading all these music videos."
      "We can hire a company to seed decoy files."
      "I have a better idea, instead of wasting that file with garbage, we could always put some ads in it."
      "Like what?"
      "Hmmm, how about music videos of our artists!"
      "Outstanding! Here, have another line of coke..."
      • Good point. They're giving the filesharers (almost) exactly what they wanted, for free, with their blessing. All while suing others for the same thing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The_Rook ( 136658 )
        wow, what a concept! promote ceedee sales by giving away low fidelity versions of the same songs on p2p networks! what'll these music biz people think of next!
        • thing is most people consider 128K stereo MP3 (or for a lot of pop even 64K mono) to be good enough and 320K stereo mp3 to be indistinguishable from CD.

          There are people with high end systems and well trained ears who can tell the difference between the higher bitrate MP3 files and CDs but i do not belive they represent the majority of listners.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      They're one step away from admitting filesharers buy more music.

      I rarely buy any music and I'm a huge filesharer but I also don't pirate any music. I listen to music that is free to distribute. There are plenty of bands out there to listen to that are free and open about their live stuff.

      Live music not only showcases how the music *really* is (not overprocessed and mass marketed) but depending on the recording (mixed AUD/SBD and full blown AUD) gives you a sense of crowd response.

      Support those bands and n
    • Yeah - weird isn't it? It's almost like... allowing people to download music for free... leads to more music sales!

      How strange - how "downloading free copyrighted music" doesn't lead to more music sales... but apparently "allowing people to download free copyrighted music" makes them buy more music from you.

      Of course, we all know the central issue is one of consent - clearly when people download free copyrighted music that I don't want them to, that hurts my business, even if it leads to more sales. Howev
  • What happens if... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:53PM (#16491051) Homepage Journal
    I go onto a p2p site and download this advert for the concert but mistakenly get the whole thing?

    Will I be arrested and thrown in jail?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, it's a trap.

      But on a serious note, this will not work, because when someone goes on their favorite P2P, looking for a full lenght Jay-Z concert, the search results will have some options. Here we have a file that is 8min long, and another that is 1 hour long (or if there is no "length" category, they will see one is 10mb and one is 700mb) and come to the realization that "hmmm...I was searching for a full lenght concert. Most concerts are more than 8 minutes long, better go with the 1 hour file."
    • by patrixmyth ( 167599 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @03:10PM (#16491377)
      I could be wrong, and if I am someone will point it out (along with corrections to my grammar, punctuation and font size), but downloading copyrighted material isn't a violation. The violation is sharing the material without permission. Now, I suppose the MPAA might argue that the DMCA forbids circumventing DRM by using P2P, but they would be SOL because now you can claim you were intending to download the MP3 from JZ, but hey IANAL, I just like acronyms (a lot).
  • by rbf2000 ( 862211 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:54PM (#16491061) Homepage
    It's about time the record labels caught on somewhat. Just because you give something out for free doesn't mean you're not going to make money off of it. I'm sure Google's business model with youtube will involve this type of thing somehow - giving content to people for free without them realizing they're watching ads.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
      The real fear of RIAA is P2P publishing and independent artists who just want to use the medium as advertising to get people to their concerts where they can make money. This kills the publishing cartel and that is what they are really fighting against. How can $30 for an album by some lame over hyped and over marketed hack compete againts free by an music artist they believes in their music.
  • This is just giving them ideas what to pirate next.
  • Legal blunder? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SeanBaker ( 13440 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:56PM (#16491097)
    Though it makes sense from a marketing perspective, this seems to compromise their position legally. If they really don't want people downloading the P2P files, then why are they spending so much money to talk directly to them OVER P2P? Could leave a defense much like the First Commenter said - just walk into court and claim you were downloading all of that illegal music because you wanted to see the ads you heard about on the Internet.
    • Though it makes sense from a marketing perspective, this seems to compromise their position legally. If they really don't want people downloading the P2P files, then why are they spending so much money to talk directly to them OVER P2P?

      How? What position? It's their IP, they can choose how they want to distribute *their* stuff. If they say "Yes, you can distribute this 7 minutes excerpt with ads in it over P2P" then thats their choice. If they says "You can't distribute things we didn't put on there" that
      • by krell ( 896769 )
        " If they says "You can't distribute things we didn't put on there" that's their choice as well."

        The last thing to occur to them is to actually SELL the stuff, I guess.
    • This doesnt work as a defence for sharing.

      I dont think RIAA has ever sued anybody for downloading, only sharing.

  • Huh? (Score:2, Informative)

    There's marketing and advertising on teh internets?

    In other news, the Sun rises in the East.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by griffjon ( 14945 )
      such as an eight-minute clip from a Jay-Z concert, the Wall Street Journal reports."

      I'm sorry, but I don't see how Wall Street Journal reports, no matter how much emotion one put into their reading, or what background music there might be, could possibly be appealing to the pirate market. ;)
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:56PM (#16491115) Journal
    "Michael Guido --'While peer-to-peer users are stealing the intellectual property, they are also the active music audience"

    Wrong-o, Guido the Killer Pimp. Nothing has ever been stolen via p2p. The words you are looking for is "users are violating the copyright of...".
    • "Michael Guido --'While peer-to-peer users are stealing the intellectual property, they are also the active music audience"

      Krell: Wrong-o, Guido the Killer Pimp. Nothing has ever been stolen via p2p. The words you are looking for is "users are violating the copyright of...".


      Also, in countries other than the U.S., they're not even "stealing", if by "stealing" he is implying that people are downloading illegally. For instance, here in Canada it's not illegal to download music for free via P2P. When you're t
      • by booch ( 4157 )
        Stealing means taking something away from someone, so that the original owner no longer has the item. That's the difference between stealing property and "stealing" "intellectual property" -- the owner still has complete access to their "intellectual property", even if it's been "stolen".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dausha ( 546002 )
          "the owner still has complete access to [his] 'intellectual property', even if it's been 'stolen'."

          Actually, you're all right and yet partly wrong. Property, even intellectual property, is a right to do many things with the property--including the right to deny others access (a.k.a. right of exclusivity). While the IP owner still has access, by making an unauthorized copy you are still taking (and therefore stealing) one of his rights. More importantly, by making his IP available to others, you are denying
          • by dwandy ( 907337 )
            ugh ... while I loathe to get into your examples/analogies, they completely miss the point.

            If you had a wife, and I slept with her, have I violated your rights? You still have complete access to her---but not the same exclusive access you had. While wives are not property, marriage implies the same sort of exclusivity as IP law has.

            Ignoring the shear awfulness of the implications (which you do deny, but nonetheless you have made!) I do *not* in fact have "complete access" for while you are sleeping with m

            • by Dausha ( 546002 )
              Your comments to my analogy proves my point---because I have impeded your right in some way, I have denied complete access. In both cases, you still remain in "possession," but your rights are nonetheless violated. When you hold an illegal copy of my work, then I do not have "complete access" to my work. (Analogzing the wife shows a non-physical right of exclusion, whereas the car shows the property right.

              Use of a shovel to defend your property is "self-help," which could also be used to defend one's intell
          • "by making an unauthorized copy you are still taking (and therefore stealing) one of his rights"

            Again, just because it is wrong or a violation does not make it theft. Also, this does not meet the definition of "Taking".

            "If you had a wife, and I slept with her, have I violated your rights?..."

            This is actually an appropriate analogy. Like the situation with copyright violation, this has nothing to do with the issue of theft.
      • Okay, so what they're doing is more like slipping ads into the packaging of stolen goods, but they're still making a profit in the long run or they wouldn't be doing it in the first place.
        No these goods aren't stolen, they are meerly "sold" where one would expect to find stolen goods.
  • Monetized = legit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Potor ( 658520 ) <farker1@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:57PM (#16491117) Journal
    If they claim this audience can be monetized, how can they consider it to be non-legit?
  • by searchr ( 564109 ) <searchr@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:59PM (#16491163)
    "But judge, the only way I could get the exclusive pre-release video of [hyper-hyped band/singer-songwriter/pretty face] was to steal random music from a P2P service. I didn't want to, I obey the law and have never stolen anything in my life. But [record label] would only hide the must-have exclusive video in fake song files. I didn't know which songs they were, or which ones were fake or real. So I had to download several thousand of them to finally find the video."

    Case dismissed.
  • If the ads have little effect, would that go someway toward proving file sharing does not affect music purchases to the degree the RIAA claim it does?
  • Idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Digital Vomit ( 891734 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @03:06PM (#16491285) Homepage Journal
    Jay-Z's attorney, Michael Guido. 'While peer-to-peer users are stealing the intellectual property...

    I would have second thoughts about hiring any lawyer that can't distinguish between two entirely different sets of laws. I'd half expect Mr. Guido to charge jaywalkers with attempted murder based on his statements here.

    • by krell ( 896769 )
      "I would have second thoughts about hiring any lawyer that can't distinguish between two entirely different sets of laws [stealing and intellectual]. I'd half expect Mr. Guido to charge jaywalkers with attempted murder based on his statements here."

      Maybe this same attorney went to court in another case and testified about how an arson suspect raped a house. I'd better be careful or he might catch up to me and embezzle me dead.
    • I would have second thoughts about hiring any lawyer that can't distinguish between two entirely different sets of laws

      Right. Because the most likely explanation here is that no RIAA or music industry lawyer knows what they're talking about and you are smarter than all of them.

      Or, no, wait--could it be that their statements are made deliberately? That perhaps they are pushing people to believe something that makes their case look better?

      Nah. You know those lawyers--completely off the cuff morons, n

  • So let me get this straight, they know people on P2P sites downloading music are potential purchasers, and that anything they hear from P2P they may buy. Yet their solution is instead of letting them download the music they are looking for and listen to it, possibly purchase it, they hijack the file with something that may be wholly unrelated? How is that targetted marketing? If someone is searching for favorite band X and they get instead an advertisement clip for band Y, how does that make them more likel
  • holy crap (Score:3, Funny)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @03:08PM (#16491345) Homepage
    they are also the active music audience

    Stand back, the music industry may have just grown a brain cell.

    • by krell ( 896769 )
      "Stand back, the music industry may have just grown a brain cell."

      No worry. That's nothing my ol' pal Jim Beam can't take care of in a hurry.
  • Try before you buy. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fayn ( 1003629 )
    I tend to buy a CD AFTER I download the songs to listen to.
    If I like the songs, I go out and support the artist.
    I really don't see why the RIAA is bitching about how delaying the sale of the material for a few days is crippling the music industry as a whole. p2p file sharing is the best free advertising you could possibly have, why else do startup bands release their music on the 'net?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tadrith ( 557354 )
      I think that their real fear is what I've noticed happening to me.

      I try before I buy, too. I'm just not going to pay 13.99 for a CD with only a single song I like, and good luck finding the single. However, since I began trying before buying, I noticed something... a large majority of the music I listen to does not fall under the RIAA, at least not directly. Oh, I'm sure they all own overseas labels and such, but even so, most of the music I like does not originate in the US. Some of it doesn't even fall un
      • I think what scares them more is the fact that they don't want you to try-berfore-you-buy and they don't want you reading reviews of new albums - because then you end up becoming more intelligent and discerning over your music.

        I've got no idea who Jay-Z is but if it's stuff you like then good luck to you. But in my case, I listen to a lot of classic rock and blues music, here in the UK it's the stuff that doesn't get much radio airplay - for quite a few years, I was buying new CDs purely by guesswork and

  • "'The concept here is making the peer-to-peer networks work for us,' says Jay-Z's attorney, Michael Guido. 'While peer-to-peer users are stealing the intellectual property, they are also the active music audience,' and 'this technology allows us to market back to them.'"

    Oh .. I thought the goal of this was to get people to stop using P2P networks by forcing them to listen to 8 mins of JAY-Z.
    1 min is about all the torture I can take. I guess its back to the record store for me !
  • by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @03:16PM (#16491481) Homepage
    Sure, they'll sue the services into oblivion (nevermind the users right now), but until they are out of business, they'll happily try to make income off the network. Wasn't one of the main themes of the lawsuits that these companies were supposedly making money from copyright infringement? And now big media is doing the same thing? WTF?!?

    I hope this backfires. If the media companies can make a legitimate try at making money from P2P networks, then why not the companies they're taking to court?

  • by EmperorKagato ( 689705 ) * <sakamura@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @03:19PM (#16491539) Homepage Journal
    It's about time the Industry starts playing the game.

    Although this is a very cruel approach to advertising, it gives them the advantage to not only strike back at the community yet be able to advertise for their clients / artists as well.

    Now you must stop the lawsuits and expect penalties that come from falsifying files.
  • I wonder about the status of that 8-minute Jay-Z clip they're giving you. IANAL, but since you obviously didn't click "yes" on any of the record label's copyright or terms-of-use screens to get onto the P2P network, and since there's no way for them to make you view their copyright notice before you get your hands on the file, and since they are willfully giving it away for free themselves, do they own that clip anymore? Would the fact that they are deliberately giving out these clips negate any claim on
    • IANAL, but since you obviously didn't click "yes" on any of the record label's copyright or terms-of-use screens to get onto the P2P network, and since there's no way for them to make you view their copyright notice before you get your hands on the file, and since they are willfully giving it away for free themselves, do they own that clip anymore? Would the fact that they are deliberately giving out these clips negate any claim on enforcing the copyright of that material?

      Yes, they do still own it; and no

  • Sites? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vliktor ( 910475 )
    Why do these people still call P2P networks 'sites'? They're goddamn networks, for crying out loud.
  • Delicious! (Score:2, Troll)

    by Phoenix666 ( 184391 )
    Another entry in the Have-Your-Cake-And-Eat-It-Too Hall of Fame. They want to sue music fans for sharing files, yet they also want to market to them. They want them to stop sharing files, but they want them to share files so they will see their ads.

    The RIAA has truly entered the Escherian phase of their downfall, where they have begun to swallow their own tails.
  • Companies have become openly hostile towards their target customers lately that it's not funny. They may as well plaster disclaimers about wanting your money without having to give you a product or services all over their goods. Record companies want to simulatenously label you theives and sue you while tricking you into downloading their advertising advertising through the p2p they insist is only for theives. Games companies want to install copy protection that destroys hardware, force you to activate if y
  • by chriss ( 26574 ) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @04:18PM (#16492417) Homepage

    This is what everybody told the music industry for years: Don't try to fight down P2P, understand that these are your customers and give them an incentive to buy something from you instead of trying to force it down their throats. Now, after maybe six or seven years, the message got through.

    Just imagine what would have happened if one of the major labels would have done this right from the beginning and what this would have done for their market share compared to the other ones who prefer to sue kids and grannies.

  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @04:19PM (#16492423) Homepage
    I always thought a perfect use of the p2p networks was to place low-bitrate files (128kb/s mp3's) with bumpers around announcing the artist. They could talk over them like a DJ. The point is that they get the songs out there as an advertisement to either buy the CD or download a CD quality file. They could do like they used to do and have an album version and a radio version (shorter), except that it would be a p2p version.

    Get it on social networks, p2p networks, it would be the same as listening to the radio. It would build artist loyalty, it would get the record companies out of the payola business, it would let them more easily turn a profit on marginal acts because you can narrowcast this stuff. If I can think that stuff up, imagine what somebody who really had a stake in it could do.

    But I'm convinced they're so worried about next quarter's profits that they can't build for the future. Oh well. Maybe someboy will be adventurous enough to try it.
  • Aren't these decoys going to clog all of the Internet tubes?
  • because it makes too much sense. Instead of seeding junk advertisements, seed DEMOS. Lets say I want a copy of Love Shack on my ipod. I hit edonkey or whatever and download LoveShack.MP3. Surprise though, after 20 seconds of listening to it the music fades to the background and an announcer comes up.

    Want a copy of Love Shack to put on your iPod? Just go to (pick a music store URL).com and enter coupon code 49152128 to purchase this track for only 75 cents.

    Announcer voice goes out, and you hear another
  • such as an eight-minute clip from a Jay-Z concert, the Wall Street Journal reports

    Excuse my ignorance, but if Jay-Z knocked on my door and said "Hi, I'm Jay-Z", I would respond "Who?" and not bat an eyelid.

    So why can't they throw in an eight-minute clip from a Uriah Heep concert, or Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" occasionally, just to keep we miserable old gits happy occasionally?

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