News | MN2S | Will a free MUSO finish piracy?

For a number of years software company MUSO have led the charge against online music piracy with an invaluable product designed to identify and remove unauthorised content from the internet. Now, in what could be the death knell for piracy, they have apparently decided to make the programme available to everyone for free.

Combating the illegal distribution of music is no easy task but MUSO have made a viable business out of it. In 2013 they uncovered 65 million illegal files on behalf of their clients, half of which were taken down instantly, and the rest within an average of 4.7 hours.

Finally the music industry seems to be making progress in this crucial battle.

Accessible by MUSO design

The software used by MUSO is ingenious in its design. Easy to work for users but no doubt incredibly complex in programming terms, it operates 24/7 by trawling through all known sites (adding new sites as they are identified) to identify infringing material. Once found an alert is automatically sent to the rights holder who can make a decision as to whether or not it should be removed.

The hope is that by making it easier to protect music rights online, illegal downloading will become a thing of the past.

Steps in the right direction

But the fluid nature of online piracy makes it very difficult to stay one step ahead. More than aware of this, MUSO have chosen to focus on making illegal downloads as time consuming as possible in the hope that out of convenience people will choose to make the purchase instead.

If the software becomes widely used then the music industry has every right to feel optimistic. Eventually the balance of power will shift in favour of rights’ holders and artists will finally receive just rewards for their creative endeavours.


A couple of issues spring to mind in light of this news.

First is a general concern for MUSO as a company. It isn’t clear at this stage how they would make money from a free platform. Advertising would not sit comfortably within the software and if they solve the problem of internet piracy then how will they continue to operate? Presumably their business plan relies on the tenacity of the pirates.

Secondly, music fans will still have to make a conscious decision to purchase rather than steal. History tells us that we haven’t always covered ourselves in glory in this regard, and perhaps sales will fall anyway as people start weighing up the relative value of different releases. Also, MUSO cannot affect the use of mp3 converters to rip music from legitimate streaming sources like YouTube and SoundCloud. Admittedly audiophiles will not see this as a viable alternative but the breadth of illegal downloaders goes far beyond the care for sound quality.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, streaming still looks like the obvious alternative to purchase. After all they offer the convenience that attracted many to pirate sites in the first place. With the amount of music consumed on average by today’s listener, streaming platforms seem set to absorb consumers who want a lot of music for a very small cost, and with many of the services offering offline playback, it’s now the nearest you can get to piracy without breaking the law.

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