P2P scam sites have become a bit of a fixture in the file-sharing landscape. Some notable rebranded applications such as Kazaa Gold became nearly as well known as the official client. The exception however, was many of these rebranded applications charged at a minimum $20.00 for the scammer’s product, which included outrageous and deceptive guarantees.
The price indicated above is typically the minimum price P2P scammers charge their unsuspecting customers. Many have attested to paying a great deal more, only to receive readily free P2P software such as Ares, WinMX, Kazaa, iMesh, or BearShare. Considering so many people are misled to these scam sites, opportunistic scammers take their gimmick to the next level.
In addition to selling already free software for a substantial price, P2P scam operators include outrageous advertising in an attempt to solidify the deal. Many P2P scam operators don’t actually sell any software at all; rather they sell information on how to use readily available software. Such was the case with Mp3DownloadCity.com, who charged $24.95 for this “information.”
September 2005 saw the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) file a civil lawsuit against Mp3DownloadCity.com administrator Chashier Myricks. The FTC charged the site marketed a “product” in such a manner that was deceptive. Mp3DownloadCity.com does not offer any torrent files, eDonkey2000 links, or repackaged P2P software. What it does provide is information on how to configure P2P/file-sharing software and avoid the legal arm of the RIAA or MPAA.
Like most other P2P scam sites, MusicDownloadCity.com makes incredibly outrageous claims that dupe trusting individuals. According to the FTC, Mp3DownloadCity.com made the following claims:
• AND BEST OF ALL PEOPLE ARE NOT GETTING SUED FOR USING OUR SOFTWARE. YES! IT IS 100% LEGAL;
• Why Are We The #1 Free MP3 Music Download Site?
• Download and Watch DVDs and Movies Still in Theaters; and
• Rest assured that File-Sharing is 100% legal.
• 250% Faster Than Any Other Download Site!
While most P2P veterans know the above statements are false, many newcomers do not. Nearly 18,000 file-traders in the United States have been targeted by the music industry, with between 500-800 new litigants every month. Many file-traders recognize avoiding entertainment industry lawsuits is a progressive avenue of adaptation, not a stagnant piece of information that can be purchased for 25 bucks.
The days of deceptive advertising, at least for MusicDownloadCity.com, are over. In a settlement announced
by the FTC, Mp3DownloadCity.com’s owner will bar “misrepresentations about P2P file-sharing products or services, requires that the operator disclose the civil and criminal liability risks of downloading copyrighted material without the owner’s permission, and requires that the operator refund more than $15,000 to the customers he duped into buying memberships.”
The original Mp3DownloadCity.com domain now redirects to “FindAnyMusic.com.” Despite the redirect, most of the ridiculous claims have been removed. A disclaimer also footnotes the page with the following:
“Share Responsibly: Using P2P programs to download and distribute copyrighted music, movies, and games without permission is illegal and can subject you to lawsuits, fines and even criminal prosecution. Purchasing a membership in MP3downloadcity.com is not a grant of permission from any copyright holder to download…”