Saturday September 30:
- Here's my take on Janelle
Brown. Her argumentwhich she calls the Gnutella Paradoxhangs
on the notion that file-swapping programs like Napster are not effective
until they reach critical mass, but at critical mass they are large
enough to attract the ire of the recording companies which at present
seem to have the legal muscle to shut them down.
- First a word about critical
mass. On Sept. 8, Brown estimated the Napster community at 20 million.
On Sept 29, she tagged it at 30 million. So we have considerable Napster
use inflation on the part of journalists who play fast and loose with
numbers they may know little about. A study by Media Matrix logged 4.9
million unique Napster users in July and labeled that a 345% increase.
all it takes is a couple of million users to bring down the wrath
of the music industry, then why hasn't AimsterAOL's Napster-like
file-sharing programattracted similar attention?"
- So, my first question
is: What is critical mass? If all it takes is a couple of million users
to bring down the wrath of the music industry, then why hasn't AimsterAOL's
Napster-like file-sharing programattracted similar attention?
Given AOL's subscriber base, I would expect Aimster to grow to critical
mass in no time flat. And Aimster is based on Gnutella, a Napster-like
application that is well-known to the music industry, and was actually
developed by AOL's Nullsoft subsidiary before they dumped the company
in the Time-Warner merger.
- All of this has to do
with the way the sides are lining up in the Napster War. The federal
government has filed an amicus brief supporting the shutdown of Napster,
because they are quite beholden to the entertainment industry (even
as they demonize it in the press) as one of their most effective fundraising
mechanisms. The major players in the computer industry, on the other
hand, have sided with Napster. They realize that peer-to-peer technology
is going to change the very architecture of the internet and save them
billions of dollars through the increased efficiency of not having to
rely on central servers. And they do not want anything standing in the
way of its development.
- This places the music
business squarely at odds with the industry they will have to rely on
to make downloadable music a reality. A recent challenge by SDMIthe
music industry's two-year old attempt to create a secure formatto
the hacker community to try and crack its code and win $10,000 was flatly
- Ultimately, I think
Casper was correct that the music industry is using their current legal
victories to buy time, to slow the process of developing downloadable
solutions until they can figure out how to enter and control that business
themselves. And they may well be able to pull it off. If they don't
someone else will. And the biggest victim in all this upheaval will
be not artists, not recording companies, not even consumers, but rather
the only players who do not have the means to adapt to the new worldmom
and pop record stores.