As you may have heard recently, Limewire has been ordered to finally shut its digital doors. Yesterday, a federal judge granted the shutdown request from the RIAA after a ruling in their favor several months ago. All searches, uploads and downloads through the client were ordered to stop. It was, no doubt, quite a shock to users when they fired up their client and were greeted with the this message:
Legal Notice: This is an official notice that Limewire is under a court-ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software. Downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorization is illegal.
So now the RIAA goes along its merry way without anymore worries, right? Right?! Not exactly. In reality, the Limewire shutdown is a blip on the file-sharing radar. Truth be told, the RIAA probably spent more on legal costs to pull this off than they lost from the users of the software. And what do they have to show for it besides one program to point to as an example? Not much, it would seem.
First, there were numerous articles popping up online today touting the alternatives to Limewire. And of course there’s no shortage of those alternatives. Then there’s Usenet which is almost untraceable. And of course bittorrent which is now discovering better ways to hide users with tools like Anomos and Peerblock. If anything, the RIAA may have made things harder on themselves by forcing pirates into more obscure places and making them harder to catch and sue. What a kick in the butt if this shutdown makes the RIAA’s life the one that just became more difficult.
Second, there seems to be a study or survey popping up every few weeks that shows such things as “file sharers buy more music”. I’m actually inclined to believe that too. And not only because countless surveys have shown it, but because in a strange way it seems logical. If you like an artist you feel as if you should support them. They deserve to make a living off of their work, because, after all, if they can’t, then they will look for a 9-5 job and you won’t hear them again. A lot of P2P users seems to be looking to discover new music that they can then support. Obviously there will always be exceptions. A percentage will always just be thieves.
So, the RIAA got their big example with Limewire. They started down this course way back in the 90’s with Napster, so we can see how well it is working for them. They have succeeded only in alienating themselves from their customer base and probably forcing more people into piracy than would otherwise have been there. And with each “example” they also further the technology used to thwart them. Business models can either move ahead with the times or they can die – kicking and screaming in this case.