Indie Label Century Media Is Now Suing Thousands of File-Swapping Fans…

We’ve seen something similar in Hollywood, particularly when indie studio Voltage Pictures doggedly pursued downloaders of The Hurt Locker.  In music, ‘suing fans,’ whether you agree with the practice or not, has largely been the game of the majors.

But maybe that’s changing.  According to details emerging Tuesday, indie metal label Century Media is now chasing roughly 7,500 file-traders in court proceedings.  The targets are those swapping recent albums from Century artists Iced Earth and Lacuna Coil.  In mass, ‘John Doe’ lawsuits filed in New Jersey with only IP address identifiers (for now), 4,327 people were targeted for sharing Iced Earth’s Dystopia, while 3,136 were targeted for trading Lacuna Coil’s Dark Adrenaline.

In comments to NorthJersey.com, label representative Jay McDaniel offered this.

“What many people don’t understand is that it’s the distribution that’s the evil influence. It does the real damage and harm, not just to the client but to the culture industry, and to creative endeavours in general.”

“This kills the little producer and it has an extremely destructive effect on the entertainment industry. Record sales don’t drive the music business any more – touring does. So illegal sharing of music on the internet has killed an entire industry.”

One question is whether the bands themselves agree with these actions, especially given the potentially destructive impact on fan relationships.  For the band All Shall Perish, a similar series of lawsuits from label Nuclear Blast turned into an absolute nightmare.  After months of battling complaints, the band finally got its label to call the dogs off.  But not without creating serious problems with alienated fans, who naturally blamed the band.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether suing file-swappers is helping the situation at all.  Or, if file-sharing is any worse than streaming on platforms like Spotify.  On that point, Century was actually a longtime, outspoken critic of Spotify, and yanked its entire catalog in 2011 after witnessing paltry per-stream payouts.  “Physical sales are dropping drastically in all countries where Spotify is active,” the label offered in a statement last year.  “Artists are depending on their income from selling music and it is our job to support them to do so.”

Yet one year later, Century was back on Spotify, probably based on demands from its member artists (and their fans).

15 Responses

  1. Visitor

    Note to self: never buy any of their releases, promote any of their artists, book any of their roster

    Dumb greedy fuck, that’s piracy who made them more popular and touring.

    • Visitor

      I don’t agree with their actions, however your response is just as childish as their response to piracy. You’re actually hurting the artists more than the label itself with that attitude. Please rethink your way of handling things or get out of the biz. Two wrongs are two wrongs.

  2. Adam

    I’m ambivelant to the idea of lawsuits. I wonder how many of these downloaders listened to the album more than once, or at all.

    My point being: What’s the percentage of illegal downloaders who hoard music, and don’t even listen to it?

    • lots

      You gotta believe many are hoarding or consuming very casually. Most Ipods store 10x more songs than people listen to. The ancillary problem is dreaming that ending piracy will materially increase sales. Yeah, and when every car has anti-theft, cars sales will double because the car thieves will give up and buy cars.

  3. atPlayvol2

    This label needs to tone down on the testosterone.

    Spotify = same thing as file sharing.

  4. Bald Headed John

    What a waste of time and money. Wouldn’t the time and resources be better spent finding a solution to the problem.

    Or even (i am embarrased to say this) lobby congress to write laws that hurt the companies that host and profit from the illegal transactions and not the individual file swappers?

    If, as Century Media says, illegal sharing has killed an entire industry, then what purpose could this lawsuit possibly serve?

    I guess the decision in this lawsuit can be their tombstone.

  5. HansH

    If file-sharing is any worse than streaming on platforms like Spotify?

    Come on, get real!

    • Visitor

      News for you:

      Spotify pays artists. Pirates steal.

      If you don’t think Spotify pay enough – and I certainly don’t – then don’t use them, eod.

      Pirates gives you no such choice.

  6. bigeoppa

    I just spoke at the Moshito South African Music Conference and the idea of “PIRACY VIA FILE SHARING” was one of the most contested sessions. My personal opinion is that blaming the fan for wanting your music free is like cutting off your foot because your toes smell.

    You need the fan to attend your shows, buy your merchandise and spread the word about your band. Like it or not free downloading, streaming and (who knows what next) are here to stay and there is an entire generation utilizing it.

    It seems to be a given that companies want as large a distribution network as they can get, why blame free distribution on your inability to develop meaningful sales from the fan base

    • Visitor

      Ah, the usual “sell t-shirts” bullshit from people who have never owned a t-shirt business in their lives.

      Go on, I challenge you. Try to sell 10 t-shirts a month.

      10 shirts for $10 each = $100 a month

      Looking forward to your results after six months

  7. @mercerarts

    Good for metal label Century Media, for suing file stealing “fans”.

  8. Visitor

    Wow, I wasn’t aware that this is a pro piracy site.

    Get this:

    Pirates are not fans!

    Pirates are parasites!

    Suing them is not only a good thing. It’s The New Business Model: An easy, legal, affordable and highly entertaining way of getting our money back.

    So just do it!

    Sue the suckers! Don’t be afraid of the creeps. They’re not fans. Fans love you and your work and the last thing they want is to stop you from making music.

  9. Artist

    I don’t care if you have to build 100x more jails. Put every last pirate in jail and throw away the key.