What Technology Can We Use to Protect Our Music From Piracy?

Releasing new music is one of the most amazing feelings in the world after putting in tons of work for months and sometimes years for a single song or an entire album to come out in the best way possible. It would be unfortunate for someone else to claim your music as their own and sell your work for their own profit.

It’s important to build different forms of protection around your music releases to avoid any complications in the future. Here’s where it gets a little tricky, we’re unlikely to see a 100% foolproof method to stop this from happening any time soon but it is now easily traceable, so the perpetrators are easier to catch. There are some methods that make it very clear who has stolen your music and from what source it was shared.

Remember that there are media websites and some streaming services that do their hardest to prevent your music and hard work from being stolen, including these two solutions:

Website Blocking

Sometimes the easiest way to stop piracy for ISP’s is to work with music or audio owners to block entire websites allowing illegal sharing of music but just as with any solution, there are problems that can arise:

  • Cooperation of the ISP is required but some of them will act slowly if they agree to at all.
  • Detecting which sites are hosting the illegal music

Methods of website blocking can include:

  • Blocking the DNS (Domain Name Server)
  • Blocking the Uniform Resource Locator (website url)
  • Blocking the Internet Protocol Address (IPA)

You can use the audio watermarking technique to solve the two issues with website blocking (more on this later in the article) while helps with the following:

  • Watermarks allow you to block the exact individual who is sharing your music. You can go directly to the site or the person responsible and may not need the ISP
  • Watermarks allow you to detect the exact source of the illegal music and provide your ISP with all the proof they need to block a website

Audio Watermarking

This is a newer addition that is changing the way artists are able to protect their music. It’s like a gift to all aspiring artists.

Often called “forensic watermarking” or “music watermarking,” this process involves almost silent data digitally being encoded into the audio (or video) signal which is different for each place you distribute your music – you will be able to identify exactly who shared or ripped off your music.

Each piece of music, audio, or video content is given a “digital tattoo” uniquely identifying all of your information. This will reveal the source who illegally shared your music in the event of piracy. This doesn’t immediately stop piracy and illegal sharing since it’s difficult to do all on its own but it does identify the illegal redistribution source to help crackdown or defer the process.

This method can be very successful, depending on the technology or company used. Companies such as Intrasonics, use high quality, inaudible audio watermark which survives compression of the audio, as well as the sharing method of your music. This keeps your music trackable even with this type of tampering. You can see how audio watermarking works here.

Is there a foolproof way to stop music theft?

All of these methods aren’t completely foolproof in stopping audio theft. The most foolproof solution is combining each method with a combined effort that focuses on two things:

  1. Monitoring and tracking pirate activity
  2. Quick response to piracy when it is detected

Unfortunately, the issue with piracy is the same as cybercrime as a whole. It doesn’t matter how advanced and effective the anti-piracy technology you use is, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the end of illegal sharing or use of music or any other media.

As long as people want to watch videos or listen to music without paying for it (or for free using the proper channels), then we’ll always be chasing our tail with piracy as we have for years now. The best you can do is keep an eye on your music and where and how it is being shared so you can take fast action. These pieces of technology are there to do that!

New Yorker sharing some of her favorite music. Thanks for checking it out!

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