The company is offering its services to labels in order to prevent their music being illegally downloaded.
For a long time now, imprints have attempted to prevent piracy by going after the file transfer services or ISPs, but RipBlock have a different way of dealing with online piracy. Their methods are simple: sweep the internet for traces of their clients' releases being illegally hosted, before informing the relevant file hosting companies of the copyright breach. DJs and journalists who are leaking new material to their friends before it ends up online should also watch out, as RipBlock are collecting a "Known File Sharer Database," which are made available to clients so that they can cross reference the offenders' details with information from their promo pool or even online retailers.
Subscribers to the service can choose two ways to use it: new releases are subject to a daily scan over a two week period at a cost of £50, or labels can choose to have their full back catalogue scanned at a cost of £2 per file removal. RipBlock already have a series of major clients signed up to the project, including Cocoon, Rekids, BPitch Control and Border Community. We spoke to RipBlock founder Carl Wicker via e-mail to ask him a few questions about the company and current pirating activities.
How and when did RipBlock first start?
I used to manage 10 labels for an independent publishing company based here in Brighton, UK, where it was my responsibility to take care of our own file sharing problems. The scale of the problem soon became clear, but I realised that with continued scanning, files can be removed. However, it's a massively time-consuming job that most independent labels can't do. I started Ripblock as a service to the company I was already working for last summer, and before long, the director recommended us to other labels. And it grew from there.
Do you think that the majority of online music piracy now comes from downloads hosted on legal sites like Rapidshare and Megaupload?
They're a part of the problem but they're certainly not the entire problem. It's a chain effect. There are several major causes - file sharing community fora and blogs (which are a big problem because they aren't technically breaking laws), torrents and P2P applications. Rapidshare, Megaupload and others are generally responsible companies who take piracy seriously and will remove content when requested.
Have previous clients seen an increase in sales whilst using the service, or is it still too early to tell?
We're not told our clients' sales figures. But it appears to be working. Our clients are happy. We've scanned a number of releases that have ended up at number one on Beatport - but whether that's a positive reflection on us or not, who knows!
Do you think that there will ever be a way to prevent torrented piracy?
In many cases, torrent links can be removed from torrent sites. Some torrent sites are especially keen now to appear 'legit', and will therefore co-operate. It's not 100% effective - some torrent sites refuse. Whether recent events with Pirate Bay will change their attitude remains to be seen.
Do you think that a subscription style service is the answer to the problems currently faced by the industry?
It's not the answer, but it's a start. I just got tired of constantly encountering the attitude of "the problem is too vast to tackle," and decided to do something about it. If we can help a label make sure that its hot new release isn't available by doing a simple Google search two weeks before it's released, then I think we're doing something right.