As posted on @Stake's Security News :
In an interesting case of "If you want to beat them, join them", some record labels appear to be flooding the P2P networks with doctored versions of latest releases to prevent people from accessing pirated copies.
According to a recent Salon article, Interscope allegedly released bogus copies of songs from Enimem's new album to dilute the pool of real copies out in P2P space. Files look like the real thing, with the right size and realistic filenames, but repeat the same 20 seconds over and over, or alternate between song and silence.
Clearly such actions makes sense from the publishers' perspective. Not only could it help prevent piracy but it also serves as an advertisement. And, as far as the labels are concerned, the only victims are thieves anyway. Such tactics have a short window of opportunity though: once an album is in widespread distribution, one assumes that the publishers' "noise" will be drowned out by the strong "signal" of real copies spreading through P2P space.
Should this kind of information poisoning become widespread, it will be interesting to see how P2P authors react. Should a P2P web of trust be implemented? Or a moderation system? Should clients get smarter and analyze what they download in real time, rejecting files with too much repetition, noise, or white space?
And how far would labels go? Would they surreptitiously release worms (see the Kaspersky Labs link) to disable P2P networks, on the grounds that they're mainly used for theft anyway?
One thing is for certain: Fighting fire with fire is a double-edged sword in the high tech world. You rarely beat the competition, just force it to evolve.