If you’re in the U.S., and have ever used Grokster, KaZaa or another file sharing program to download mp3 files, expect a call. The RIAA are out to get you, and they don’t care whether you’re a granny. According to Associated Press, one 50 year-old grandfather in California was shocked to learn this week that the RIAA had subpoenaed his ISP to provide his name and address for downloading songs from the internet. But the man was not the downloader – it was a member of his family.
The RIAA has served subpoenas to Internet service providers, which will ultimately end in lawsuits. TechTV has published a number of the P2P user names filed with the US District Court in Washington, DC, mainly Kazaa users. In the end this list could be massive, raising the possibility of a backlash and a half.
My tupennies’ worth? I think the RIAA should have been more circumspect. My understanding is that the vast majority of mp3 files out there are from a small number of uploaders, and if they can be closed down, the file-sharing world will be less appealing. Get rid of them and you may have little more than an informal ‘tasting net’ where folk can check out music without having to pay for it first (a little like the old cassette days). Or am I being hopelessly romantic?
Apparently not to be outdone by Grokster’s new version, fellow file sharers StreamCast Networks, Inc., have announced a new, free, version of Morpheus, 3.2, free of spyware and laden “with new features, making file-sharing faster, safer and more secure”.
This version is more than 50% smaller in file size from Morpheus 3.1, and offers superior global search capabilities, can use your own default media player, reduces traffice by up to half etc etc. It also helps users avoid the snooping of the folks at the RIAA: ”users of the new Morpheus 3.2 software can link directly to third party websites that publish “blacklists” of IP addresses, believed by its contributors, to be among those that are used to snoop into the privacy of users. If a user chooses to click on any of these blacklisted IPs, those IP ranges will be blocked from the users computer”. It also makes using proxy servers easier, preserving your anonymity.
This in response to my posting about file sharing program Grokster offering an ad-free version, in which I asked:
I don’t want to get into the ethics and legality of MP3 swapping, but it strikes me that if folk are exchanging music for free online, they’re not likely to be the kind of folk to want to shell out $20 for software. And if they are, they can hardly plead poverty for their piracy, can they?
Lynn Dimick writes:
How many people are pleading poverty for piracy? It has been my experience that many people are upset with the music industry and their heavy handed price fixing methods. Right or wrong they feel justified in sharing music because they have been ripped off in the past. Also, is it really that different than recording songs off the radio like we used to do as kids?
I agree with you about people being upset, but I’m not so sure about the recording off the radio bit. Digital versions don’t have DJs interrupting before the end of the song, and they’re perfect copies, and can be copied perfectly and distributed easily. I can give you my whole music collection on a CD or two. That makes it a different ballgame…
If you haven’t heard of it before, it sounds like something painful that happens to a guy in his mid 40s, or a vital piece of plumbing under the sink, but Grokster is actually a file-sharing program, and it’s going pro. From its haven in the West Indies, the company has released a $20 version “in response to a growing user demand and willingness to pay for a version of the software that is void of annoying pop-up ads and the cluster of optional software programs that accompany all of the major P2P software clients on the market today.” (In English that means the free version that everyone uses now comes with lots of pesky ads and snooping software to annoy you while you download pirated music illegally.)
Grokster last April won a suit brought against it by the RIAA and the MPAAand has, it says, “since secured its position as one of the world’s most popular software programs and has established a brand name known around the globe, boasting users in every country on earth.” I don’t want to get into the ethics and legality of MP3 swapping, but it strikes me that if folk are exchanging music for free online, they’re not likely to be the kind of folk to want to shell out $20 for software. And if they are, they can hardly plead poverty for their piracy, can they? Or am I missing something?