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November 10, 2005

File sharing, part two

Steve Rosenbush

I took a shot at the music industry the other day, as Grokster shut down its file sharing service. I suggested that the music industry, emboldened by its victory, would now try and force people to buy a minimum amount of music each other. TechTrader has taken me to task for being a snark, (guilty as charged) and argues that even if the entertainment industry is arrogant and shortsighted when it comes to file-sharing, that's no excuse for people to break the law. (The full comment is below.
It's a reasonable point. But what about the rights of the consumer? When people bought a vinyl record 25 years ago, they owned it. No one (seriously) suggested that high-school kids didn't have the right to make a cassette copy of record and give it to a friend. Does the rise of the Internet diminish the rights of people to own the music they owner of user? If so, the individual becomes increasingly at risk in the digital age, as rights and liberties of other sorts come under attack. In the past, the government has been reluctant to bring the Freedom of Information Act into the digital age. And no wonder. Instead of distributing documents over a period of weeks and months, the Internet makes information immediately available, and in massive amounts. The government, like the recording industry, wants the individual to bear the brunt of power shifts in the digital age.
For years, consumers have been encouraged to go out and buy faster Internet connections and powerful PCs with multimedia connections. File-sharing was a logical application of that technology. Most consumers have a hard time seeing file-sharing as theft because they simply used the technology for its natural purpose, creating and sharing rich media. The problem is that the consumer and the technology got away ahead of the entertainment industry and its outdated business models. File sharers have little in common with shop lifters who pilfer CDs from stores. They're more like people who wake up to find a big box of CDs in front of their doorstep with a note that says "don't touch."

05:10 PM


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The high speed internet connections to facilitate high speed file transfer of rich media content that is filled with deep intellectual property rights. Which are then legally transferred on the underlying enabling corporate Internet networks (servers, router, ISP networks). That is the legal and natural result of the same corporations desire, to gain profit from entering this Internet market.

Don't be surprised, if you can' find a corporate friend, to illegally move this stuff over their totally controlled networks. They do not want to be held legally responsible for illegally moving intellectual property, and destroying legitimate corporate profit of rich media content providers.

Let them have the legal Web 1.0, and create your own content on Web 2.0.

And with illegal music sales, making more profit world wide than legal music sales, that bag of cd's and dvd's on your door step you find, someone got that on the street downtown.

Posted by: Mike Reardon at November 11, 2005 03:11 AM

Record companies can't grasp the fact that file sharing won't go away. So Grokster shutdown, there will other filesharing programs. Much of what they put out is garbage, I refuse to pay $10 for one 1 hit song. Before all the filesharing hurah, they use to sell singles for about $3 dollars a disc. Why apply this model to a download service without middlemen such as Apple?

Posted by: Jim at November 11, 2005 07:01 AM

File-sharing is not a logical extension of a computer with internet capability.

The act of file sharing in and of itself is stealing. I don't have any love lost for the music companies who try to keep their prices artifically inflated.

It's wrong for media companies to specifically squash new techonologies because of pirate use. If I wanted, I can steal electric, satellite service, internet, and various other things (I don't however). Almost everything in our society has a legal/illegal use and stopping the legal uses because of a possible illegal use is just not going to work.

For all purposes, the music labels have won a few battles but lost the larger war. We are now at a crossroads for the TV companies. Hopefully they will have better luck in seizing the vast opportunities that are presented.

Posted by: Wes at November 11, 2005 11:05 AM

"File-sharing is not a logical extension of a computer with internet capability."

This is how the Internet was created. It was multiple computers networked together for purposes of sharing information for the Dept of Defense.

"The act of file sharing in and of itself is stealing."

I make a home movie and share it, you download it.This is not stealing.

Apparently there are many people who are very misinformed about the internet.

Posted by: Mike at November 12, 2005 02:43 PM

I'm of a generation that grew up with it being completely normal to make a copy of a cd/tape and give it to your friend, or to loan friends cds/tapes so they could copy them theirselves. I'm sure the record/movie companies knew about people doing this, you just never heard so much as a peep from them about it. As technology accelerated, it was made possible *and easier* to do this sharing online, and then came the birth of P2P. For a long time you STILL didn't hear anything from the record/movie companies. Then, out of nowhere, they started making a fuss about Napster... the ideal was that it was ok to share, but it was not ok to use a centralized network to do it. So people stopped using centralized networks... and then they had a problem with that, too. Now they seem to have problems with people making backups of their media, or even so much as making a mix cd from music they own.

What's even worse, now these people are labeled as "pirates", evil crooks that steal and plunder and destroy... when it's quite the opposite. These people are simply doing what they've been doing their entire lives... what has been considered harmless and normal up until now, just because technology has advanced far enough to make this easier to do. So they have made it possible to buy music online... but with a catch. This music has drm... this music is not really yours, but just licensed, just like the cds you buy now. The only reason I can think of for them doing this is the money they've lost. But look around... they didn't start loosing money until the economy started going downhill, until the price of everything started to rise while people's paychecks didn't grow along with it. P2P isn't to blame for this... the crappy economy is. So these companies are basically trying to squeeze water from a rock... it just isn't going to happen.

Several years ago, I was actually able to buy much more media than I am now, even though I made less money. So here you have it... living proof. :P

These companies are facist and selfish a-holes... which is why I've went on an outright revolt against them. I refuse to buy any of their merchandise... for a long time now I've relied strictly on independent *and truly free* media. I can't help but wonder how many people are doing the same. Their profits keep dropping... they keep on saying it's due to increasing P2P activity... but I wonder if it isn't more so due to the fact more and more people are beginning to hate them so much they're decreasing the amount of money they're willing to pay for their merchandise. I honestly don't see how the use of P2P is on the rise... I saw more people utilizing it during Napster's major reign *and, I might add, when the economy was booming* than I do now. Most people I know now can barely afford a computer much less the broadband required to have a major effect on their media purchases. And most of the people I know that CAN afford it don't bother with P2P. Not to mention that as of late the productions of these companies has been absolute and utter crap. Kanye West is a GREAT example of what I'm talking about. I don't even listen to the radio any more because of crappy music like this.

Posted by: vixenk at November 12, 2005 09:28 PM

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