India’s MegaUpload Moment: Popular Song Download Site Songs.pk to be Banned
An Indian court has ordered to block popular Bollywood song download site, Songs.pk. The site links to — and probably hosts — India based music and Bollywood music. The site attracts a lot of visitors, and has an Alexa ranking of 891 worldwide and is ranked #71 in Alexa India. The court has taken the familiar route of ordering all the ISPs to block the site.
It’s not exactly a Megaupload kind of teardown, where offices were raided and servers seized. But it is a similar crackdown nevertheless. Songs.pk’s downfall will bring a lot of cheer to the Bollywood industry, which thinks piracy is its biggest problem.
Internet piracy’s sub-prime crisis?
I see a lot of parallels between the recent pirate site teardowns and the sub-prime mortgage crisis we have seen in international financial markets three years back. The downfall of Megaupload is like the Lehman Brothers’ collapse, which was one of the highlights of the financial crisis. Lehman Brothers was the tipping point, which gave a signal that there’s something awfully wrong in the banking industry. What followed after the firm’s collapse is a string of banks failing and falling like a pack of cards.
After Megaupload went down, Pirate Bay likewise closed itself voluntarily. Book download sites like Library.nu and IFileit have also shut down, too. With Indian courts waking up to this piracy menace, Songs.pk was the obvious victim, thanks to its uber-popularity.
Will this drive the sales up?
After the million dollar ban, now comes the million dollar question. Will the bans result in improved sales for the record companies? If only it was that simple. Songs.pk makes things easy for people who have Internet access to download music. In India, there are 13 million broadband users. Some of these users serve as the music distributors to the offline world, too, making the proliferation of bootlegged content very hard to control. If the source — or one of the biggest sources — is seized, it becomes difficult to scour for new sources.
If people really want to listen to music, they better cough up for it. Right? Not really. For someone who has been used to free music, paying for it is a hard thing to do. Either they look for new channels, or they can stop listening to music at all. Or, they might become very selective with the music they listen to, as they are now paying. The last category is the most underserved. No one from Bollywood has tried the iTunes model. Not yet. That’s something they have to try very soon. And also they have to produce some great original work, in order to gain loyal customers.
The Songs.pk ban seems like a godsend for music sites like Saavn, which recently went live on Facebook to great success. As for Songs.pk, it still prevails, as some ISPs have not yet blocked the service.
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