Search 'should support legal downloads'
The Performing Rights Society For Music (PRS For Music) wants search engines to help persuade music fans to use legal downloading sites.
Although the illegal download of one or two songs may not seem like a serious crime, its cumulative impact on the music industry is huge, reports the BBC. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for instance, has highlighted severe employment declines in music companies while artist rosters have been significantly cut back. This has coincided with the rise of illegal music download sites.
PRS For Music wants to flag music download search results with either red or green tags to indicate to the consumer whether or not they are using a legal downloading site. The initiative is aimed at educating consumers about unlicensed music sites. PRS For Music boss Robert Ashcroft believes there is evidence suggesting that "if you help people go in the right direction, many of them will do".
Will it work?
Many are not convinced, however. Rapper Wretch 32 said that while he understands why PRS For Music is going ahead with the initiative, he believes most consumers know they are downloading music illegally and will probably continue to do so.
What's more, the problem of how to convince search engines such as Google to adopt the plans remains. But with over 1.2 billion individual tracks illegally downloaded last year alone (according to the British Phonographic Industry), the issue is certainly a pressing one.
PRS For Music was established in 1997 as a non-profit organisation that collects and pays royalties to member musicians when their music is publicly distributed. This covers both online and hard-copy recordings. Last year, PRS For Music reached a deal with YouTube, paving the way for tens of thousands of music videos to return to the platform.