I am an avid user of Peer to Peer networks, namely Emule. I am a P2P whore. I used to have a ridiculous number of downloads going at once, so much that I had to shut it off while surfing because it sucked too much bandwidth and made my browser too slow. I had access to tons of rare and weird music and movies that I'd never seen in a store before. Life was grand for a while.
So when I heard of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) took on this crusade to kill P2P networking I really wasn't too worried. I thought that there might be some legal bickering here and there but in the end everything would turn out fine, with maybe a few new rules to stick to. I couldn't have been more wrong. A little bit of history about the controversy surrounding P2P networking is in order now:
The RIAA killed Napster. They didn't just cripple it, or fine it, or do the smart thing and sign a contract to make money off it, no, they had to utterly destroy it. At the beginning Napster was the embodiment of what the internet was made for, swapping a shitload of files and getting free music that would otherwise be unavailable to you in the privacy of your own home. At the end Napster was a shadow of it's former self, a multimillion dollar company crushed beneath the heel of greedy record producers.
You'll notice that no specific record company sued Napster, instead they all conspired together to get the RIAA to do the dirty work for them. The RIAA is the union that protects all the artists that sign with the major labels. They are there in the first place because the record companies are run by a bunch of crooks that repeatedly ripped off the artists on a regular basis, and so to avoid any poking around by the Government this union was formed to make sure that a little bit of your $20 that you drop on a CD goes to the band once in a while. Just look at Aaron Neville to see how well the Record companies treat the people that make them millions. In the 70's Aaron Neville was at the top of the charts and playing sold out shows with his awesome band The Funky Meters, but at the same time he was working part time as a dock worker to support his family because the fucking record companies swindled his ass out of nearly every penny. Anyone who's ever been in a band that's gotten anywhere near to breaking big knows how much they fuck you over when you sign on the dotted line. The RIAA was created to make sure that if they're gonna anal rank you, there at least has to be some rules to it. But it seems now they've been reduced to a bunch of pansy-assed tools working for the people they were created to police. It just blows my mind.
I remember seeing Metallica on MTV talking to congress about how Napster was solely responsible for them losing $50 million in record sales. Boo-fucking-hoo. They forgot to mention that the particular album in question went multiplatinum (here's a site with a record of Metallica's sales: http://www.allmetallica.com/info/recordsales.php ) Doesn't seem to me that Metallica is suffering for money. So not everybody went out and bought your stupid album. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that your record sucked ass and your fans didn't like it when you cut off your hair, ditched the biker look, and tried to dress like Justin Timberlake instead. Maybe that particular album didn't sell well because to the average Metallica fan it looked like their favorite band sold out and turned into a bunch of pussies. I hope they all get their asses beat by people wearing their own T-shirts. I hope the next concert they play gets burned down by an angry mob of former Napster employees. Fuck Metallica.
So Napster bit the big one and the assholes with the money won yet again. Nothing new there I suppose. But in the wake of Napster sprang new P2P networks who got around the RIAA by making it so that any file could be traded, not just MP3's. Now you can get music, movies, software, free porn, hacker tools, pics of Agent Scully in a threesome with Mulder and Skinner, everything at once in the privacy of your own bedroom. So it's kind of like Napster was sacrificed like Jesus, so that the rest of the P2P networks could be forgiven. And there wasn't a damn thing the RIAA could do about it. Good. Fuck them.
But maybe not. A few years passed as the RIAA watched helplessly as fans did what they always do, that is enjoy the fruits of the artists they enjoy. During this time (1999-2003) music, software, and movie sales did not significantly go down. Movie ticket sales totaled about $9.317 billion in 2002 and fell about 5% in 2003. Why is that? Maybe because some real shitty movies came out in 2003? Honestly though 5% of $9.317 billion is not a big deal. It means that more people decided to rent the previous summer blockbuster and stay home instead of go out to the movies. These things go in cycles that are closely tied in to economic cycles on the whole. Next year it'll probably jump back up again.
What about Record sales? Despite all the bullshit they record companies keep saying about P2P file sharing destroying their sales, after half an hour on the internet I couldn't find one major record company that reported a loss in 2003. In fact most companies reported increases. Maybe this is just bullshit so they don't scare their stockholders. Maybe it's not; maybe their projected sales are down, as in they thought they would make X billion but only made Y billion. Maybe not, who gives a shit? All I know is that these assholes are still making billions upon billions of dollars and are pissed off because people like me don't want to give them money anymore. From the RIAA's very own website I saw that sales are down from $14,584,500,000 in 1999 to $12,614,210,000 in 2003. Oh no, they only made twelve TRILLION dollars last year. I don't see Geffen, Island, or Sony music going out of business any time soon.
Just a thought, it could be that sales are down because all the new music out there SUCKS ASS now?
But not anymore. Now it looks like the MPAA is getting into the act, and have just gotten the German Government to shut down Sharereactor.com, one of the servers on the EDonkey network. So since they can't get rid of P2P networks because they're decentralized, and they can't scare people with threats to sue anymore, now it looks like the powers that be are trying to shut down the servers themselves.
Why should you care about this? Because this is an attack on the internet itself! If we let these people go around and shut down servers they don't like anytime they feel like it, it will set precedent that any private entity (in this case a trade union, but this could also include a corporation, local/federal government, religious organization, etc) could conceivably force a server with content they don't like to disappear. Before you know it evangelical church groups or the local chapter of Concerned Women of America will be suing to shut down porn sites, abortion sites, etc, not by suing the site themselves but by going after whatever company that hosts the site.
This is fundamentally against what the internet stands for. The internet was created for one thing and one thing only: FREEDOM. Freedom to look at what you want, read what you want, say what you want, and download what you want. These motherfuckers want to take away that freedom and turn the internet into a gigantic beer commercial. Imagine having to pay every time you turn on your browser, then hitting an online "toll booth" in which access is restricted until you pay some more, then having to pay to download something before you even get to preview it, then paying again to access your e-mail, all of this on top of what you usually pay for your monthly rate. This is what these people are trying to do to the internet, because if they can't figure out how to make money on their content on the web, then they'll take it from ALL of the web. They will destroy the internet.
So you know what I say? Download all you want. That's the only way we can stop these assholes. We need to show them that we're not afraid to use the internet for what it was intended for. I'm not going to cower like a chickenshit scared to fucking death that some asshole in a suit is going to serve me up a summons for downloading a Dr. Demento song. I say we boycott movies and CDs all together and force them to adapt. The internet is the new technological paradigm the distribution of the media of the future is going to use whether the RIAA and MPAA like it or not. If they can't get their shit together fast enough to cash in on file sharing then too bad for them. You notice Apple with Itunes isn't complaining about file sharing. They sold over a million songs the first day they went on-line. The companies that adapt to the new technology are the ones that are going to make all the money. That's how capitalism works, you assholes. File sharing has been around nearly ten years already, get with the fucking program. Dickheads.
Fuck the MPAA. Fuck the RIAA too. Fuck all of them.
It's official: downloading is now illegal. The assholes in congress were too chickenshit to stand up to the suits in Hollywood and the record companies and folded like a card table. You can now go to jail for downloading a 50 cent song. Remember that next time you vote.
But more people are downloading files than ever before. The law has been passed but everyone is doing what they should be doing: ignoring it. Good, because it's a bullshit law. Of course now and then we're going to have to suffer the occasional crackdown, but for the most part you're safe to go back to downloading. It's safe becasue too many people are doing it. If there's 50 million P2P users out there, how many can they possibly bust? Not enough of them to make a difference. Filesharing has now become the equivalent of digital marijuana; it's against the law but everybody does it.
Fuck you MPAA. We won.