File Sharing News

| Posted in , , , | Posted on Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recently alot has been going on in the realm of file sharing. Its always a hot topic but lately it seems to have stolen the spotlight.

On April 17, 2009 four leaders of thepiratebay.org (currently one of the largest torrent sites out there) were sentenced to one year in prison and a $3,620,000 fine each (original news article here)
This verdict has been met with a great deal of hostility by most Internet consumers (even those who do not pirate material) and has even been slammed by content providers. Torrent Freak reports that "Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol...criticized the sentences received by the crew of The Pirate Bay, branding them as “way over the top”. The band’s frontman also says if you’re a file-sharer and you know how to get music for free, “f**king go for it.”

Since then, Charles Nesson, a Harvard Law Professor, has announced that he will be representing Joel Tenenbaum, an accused file sharer, in court and plans to prove that file sharing is "fair use". This defense is far more simplistic than what usually ends up in the courtroom, but in many ways it represents the opinions of people online. I remember a digg article once about a man being caught for selling software he had pirated, and nearly all of the comments expressed happiness that he was being brought to justice. Many commenter's said that even though they themselves used P2P networks to download material, they would never use it for profit. Rather than claim that Mr. Tenenbaum did not steal the material, Mr. Nesson is claiming that he did not necessarily steal it since he did not seek to profit from the material.

On top of that, PC Magazine writer
John C. Dvorak brought my attention to another Ars Technica article regarding a study done by the Norwegian School of Management. The study claims to have proven that "illegal music connoisseurs are significantly more likely to purchase music than the average, non-P2P-loving user". So, if true file sharing does not rob the record industry of profits but stimulates profits. Of course, the RIAA are not convinced and it will be interesting to see if this study will inspire others like it.

So its been a very interesting time. On one hand, the legal side of things has gone very badly with the pirate bay (and through them, for file sharing in general) and on the other hand the defense for file sharing seems to have gotten much stronger than it has been in the past.

I'm not sure which side I would like to be victorious. I am not sure how "legalizing" file sharing would affect the entire media industry. Certainly such an extreme ruling would change the entire landscape of things. At the same time, the equally extreme extermination of file sharing does not seem to be the answer. Perhaps the balance is perfect right where it is, perhaps perfection is in the struggle.
Then again, I do not know for sure and I am exited to see how all of this turns out.



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