Continuing the fight against piracy

When you’re looking something up online and come across a 404 error – page not found – it’s normally annoying. But the number is somewhat auspicious for PRS for Music’s Rights Protection Unit and its Member Anti-Piracy System, known as MAPS.

In the digital age, every stream counts towards the royalties ultimately generated. According to Sharan Ghuman, Manager of the Rights Protection Unit (formerly known as the Anti-Piracy Unit), this has made PRS for Music’s fight against piracy more critical than ever before.

She explains: ‘Stream-ripping piracy, which has grown quickly, is currently considered more harmful than any of the longer-established methods of piracy. Although we are also combatting stream-ripping piracy using a range of other measures, MAPS has been instrumental in shutting down stream-ripping download sites.’

MAPS tracks PRS for Music repertoire on unlicensed and infringing websites. When it finds something, it automatically sends a notice to sites requesting removal. At the same time, notices are sent to search engines, Google and Bing, which can delist the results for those infringements from their results.

Since launching in March 2016, MAPS has aided search engines in delisting 404,000 links to live infringing sites – a welcome number to see. It has been instrumental in forcing more than 1,109 sites to completely shut down, and in total, 76 percent – more than three quarters – of the 5.3 million links reported have been removed.

Sharan notes: ‘Using MAPS for this type of overwhelming disruption has been by far the most successful form of anti-piracy method employed by the PRS for Music Rights Protection Unit.

‘More recently, we’ve been able to grow and improve the tool to achieve automatic notice sending, which means a better user experience and a better allocation of user resource dedicated to this area of protection, a feature that isn’t offered by third party notice and takedown systems.’

With piracy at its highest during the early stages of a track’s release cycle, members can add pre-release or new content to the MAPS system to protect themselves, reviewing the repertoire regularly to make sure MAPS can detect a greater number of infringements and provide protection on more content.

‘Detailed reporting is a feature of MAPS which allows users to see exactly where their content has been illegally uploaded and shared and gives them a sense of the amount of content being pirated,’ says Sharan.

She adds: ‘We encourage users to add pre-release and new content to the system as piracy is at its highest during this early stage of a track’s release cycle. MAPS can detect infringements as soon as content has leaked, thereby reducing the harm to our members significantly.’

Members can also contact the Rights Protection Unit for any other piracy matters. Alongside MAPS, the team has multiple ways to tackle piracy, including a collaborative partnership with the City of London Police IP Crime Unit.

To join MAPS, email

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