This is a publication by the Virginia Law Review. The section focused upon for the purpose of my research paper is section C: The Kazaa era: 2001 - present. The article provides some unbiased description of the two technologies FastTrack and Gnutella. It focuses on some of the key developments in the filesharing domain after napster specifically the kazaa network. It explains how the technology descriminates between fast connections and slow connections. The article also addresses the issue how lately there appeared an effort by filesharing technology developers to write code that would reflect the copyright law. In the sense that the technology worked in such away as it is hard to place the blame on the developers. It also raises the point that the more files there being shared the better it is for the network performance and in essence for the developer. The other part of the article addresses how the music industries made every effort to stress the similarity between napster and kazaa and the other FastTrack networks. The article goes on to make reference to the Mgm v. Grokster case. Specifically it provides insight to how these technologies may have won out against the recording industries. The article quotes Judge Wilson, who presided over the Grokster case in the ninth district appeals court. The judge said essentially that if the companies were shut down, the users of the network(s) would still be able to do what they were doing.
This article is important for my research paper because it provides basis for an important analysis. For example, it was later seen that the movie industry in fact did win in the supreme court (see Mgm v. Grokster source). So although Judge Wilson ruled in favor of Grokster by saying that the technology was not similar to napster and that even if the company was shut down the users of the software would still be able to do what they were doing, it was later seen in the supreme court that Grokster actually lost. Today it is known that IsoHunt and the like are being sued and so if it is somehow possible to establish the similarity between IsoHunt and Grokster the same strategy may be applied to get IsoHunt shut down. The article also raises a few other important points such as that these networks continue to operate as long as there is more and more content being shared.
This article discusses the futility of the proposed filtering system that Napster was trying to implement. Robert Schwartz, a well versed lawyer in media copyright cases made the point that "what the well-intentioned mind can invent, the not-well-intentioned mind can destroy." In essence, even if Napster were to stop all illegal file sharing, new services would become available. There were already many alternatives to Napster: Newtella, BearShare, Gnocleus, LimeWire, Napigator, and Gnutella.
While shutting down Napster would be irrelevant because users would just switch over to another service, the recording industry didn’t consider that there may be greater evils than Napster’s service. Gnutella and its variants allow users to download all types of media in addition to music. Furthermore, this second generation of peer-to-peer technology was smarter: there were no central servers, and thus no easy target to litigate. The unexpected consequence of forcing Napster to shut down was that programmers wrote better code which would be very hard for the recording industry to stop.
Importance to Thesis:
This article helps me in supporting my second argument. The grass roots birth and growth of peer-to-peer networks indicates that it shares similar traits to the VCR. The VCR and P2P networks were both born from the market’s demand. Also, Napster and its copycats represent the inevitable evolution of technology. Thus, recording companies are repeating the movie studios mistake of fighting an evolution in technology that can’t be beat. The second repeated mistake is that recording companies litigated Napster without considering that this new technology has changed the competitive landscape. The fact that at least 5 other alternatives existed at the time indicates that the recording companies didn’t see the technology in terms of a larger strategic perspective.