One year after launching, PRS for Music's Anti-Piracy System (MAPS) is striking a blow for artists and rights holders.
In the past 12 months, the U.K. collection society claims to have located 5 million infringing URLS and removed over 80 percent of reported links, as well as sending over 136,000 take down notices to websites linking to or hosting PRS for Music repertoire illegally.
PRS' Member Anti-Piracy System, which enables users to track and request take downs of unlicensed material and was developed in association with the Publishers Association, has also forced 220 illegal websites to close and seen more than 275,000 live links de-listed from Google's search pages.
According to the latest data from the U.K.'s Intellectual Property Office (IPO), an estimated 78 million music tracks were accessed illegally online in just the United Kingdom over a three month period (dating from March to May 2016). That number was, however, down from the corresponding period in 2015 when IPO reported 96 million tracks being illegally accessed online.
"We are proud to be able to tackle piracy on such scale, as well as empower our members to take action to protect their own repertoire," said PRS for Music anti-piracy unit manager Sharan Ghuman in a statement.
Simon Bourn, PRS head of litigation, enforcement and anti-piracy, added that "as a licensing body" the organization's "first approach is always to take steps to work with new digital platforms, to find a mechanism to license rather than enforce." He went on to say that as the digital landscape evolves, "it is our mission to ensure that those who mandate us with their rights are always paid fairly for the use of their work, today and in the future."
In December, a joint investigation between PRS for Music and City of London's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) resulted in the conviction and sentencing of Wayne Evans for illegally uploading the U.K.'s Top 40 singles to various torrent sites and distributing tracks through his own website. The 39 year-old was sentenced to 12 months.
Since beginning its own takedown program in 2011, British labels trade body BPI has sent 450 million notices to Google and Microsoft's Bing, with over 82 million URLs sent to Google last year alone.