IFPI Announces Agreement With PayPal to Cut Off Pirate Sites

After over a half of a year of pressure on these companies from major multinational companies, the IFPI has said a few days ago that PayPal has agreed with the IFPI. The question remains, is it too little too late for this effort to have any impact?

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

In retrospect, this could be seen a mile away. Last year, rights holders pushed companies like Mastercard to cut off payments to pirate websites. As far back as 2010, many sites that felt that they could be the target of what some might consider corporate sponsored censorship could easily have made preparations by now to make sure that their methods of payments have been altered to evade detection. If the writing wasn’t on the wall by that alone, there was also the report last year that PayPal cutoff payments to Wikileaks. So, it could be easily seen as far back as 2010 that PayPal would stop payments to customers as others demand it.

Now, the long-time coming announcement has come. In an IFPI press release, PayPal has agreed to cut off websites that the industry says infringes on copyright.

Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide says: “We knew that when illegal online music services could no longer take payment from credit cards they would try to work around the restriction. That is why we and the City of London Police approached PayPal and I am delighted to say they responded instantly and positively.

“The work the City of London Police is undertaking is at the cutting edge of tackling online copyright infringement, a serious problem that is eroding the ability of record companies to invest in a diverse range of artists with serious consequences for jobs, tax revenues and consumer choice.”

The problem is that many sites that might be a target have already taken steps to avoid detection if they do use PayPal methods. Some sites have told its users to do things like merely put in the payments, “Here’s my club membership fees” while some of these sites use PayPal accounts that simply show no sign of it being connected to any site that might be a target. Other sites have opted to simply stop using PayPal altogether and simply use other methods like Flatr and Bitcoin to name two examples.

So, really, anyone who is in the know most likely saw something like this coming and planned accordingly. This would really affect the unprepared if the targets are accurate in the first place. In fact, this is great news for competitors of PayPal because it means more reasons to move away from PayPal to them in the first place. The only entity I see losing out in a deal like this is PayPal.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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