Round Up: Instant education



Today's Media Guardian reports that Ministry of Sound is relaunching its Web site in a bid to offer more than 100,000 tracks for sale individually and by monthly subscription.
The paper reports that the clubbing empire is planning to offer downloads from artists such as Christina Aguilera and Eminem as a major part of its business. Until now Ministry's interests have included its nightclub in south London, a range of clothing and a record label. But after being been hit hard by the downturn in the dance music market, it's hoping downloads will become a lucrative part of its business.
'Ministry of Sound is in a unique position because it is a successful brand and a music destination. None of our competitors can offer this,' explained Mark Rodol, who took over from founder James Palumbo as chief executive last month. 'We've successfully built a very strong position as one of the top legal music download sites.'
Ministry claimed more than 50,000 tracks had been downloaded through its existing service over the past 12 months and said it hoped to boost that figure significantly over the next year: 'With the redevelopment of the site we intend to ensure we're the biggest online destination for legal music downloads and streaming.'

Meanwhile, reports that in a new 'educational' tactic, the recording industry is planning to send instant messages to those offering music tracks through peer-to-peer services, warning them that they're likely to be breaking the law.
The recording industry is turning file-swappers' own tools against them with a new campaign that will send warnings to people who are offering copyrighted materials online, enthuses the site. Tapping into the chat functions built into software programs such as Kazaa and Grokster, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has started sending automatic messages to people who are providing copyrighted songs online, warning them that they're breaking the law.
According to Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, the campaign dubbed 'Music United', is geared to be educational, rather than a component of the industry's long-running anti-piracy enforcement activities.
'We're going to be sending messages to the very people who are offering music, in real time, as they do it,' said Sherman. 'The hope is that, this way, we'll be reaching the people who need to know that they're not anonymous, that there are risks of legal consequences if they continue, and also that there are risks to privacy and security.'
It can be argued that the campaign, follows earlier industry education efforts that have enlisted high-profile artists for TV commercials and print advertisements portraying file swapping as theft, and as harmful to musicians.
But Sherman explained why contacting file swappers directly, through their own medium, may have more effect: 'It's different when you get a message that pops up on your screen that says, 'We know who you are, and we know what you're doing'.'