In the wake of Napster

The recording industry (RIAA) made a huge effort to disembowel Napster. Indeed, Napster is essentially kaput.

Why then are so many services becoming available that, for all intents and purposes, are either Napster clones or serve the same purpose as Napster. Aren’t the operators/developers of those sites afraid of making an investment only to have their efforts potentially wasted should they be taken to court in the same way that Napster was (let alone get fined or sued)? Alternatively, if they’re not going to be challenged by the RIAA et al, and are going to be allowed to continue functioning, then why did the RIAA expend so much energy destroying Napster?

[sub]This may have been covered in another thread. I did a search but couldn’t find anything. If I’ve missed a SDMB thread on this topic, mea culpa, but please post the relevant link.[/sub]

A lot of the new ones, like the Gnutella clones, don’t have central servers, so there’s really no one to sue, and nothing to shut down. That answers part of your question.

Yes, I know that’s true of Gnutella but that’s definitely not the case with many others (I won’t list their names lest I violate the Board’s policy).

Don’t know exactly which ones you’re referring to, but I know some of the Napster model services only allow trading of songs that are permitted by the artists/labels.
A few also have agreements with labels, which goes to show that the RIAA’s whole argument about artist IP rights was a smokescreen. As with most everything, it was strictly about the $$$ (big shock)

OK, I will provide one example (and if I have erred in doing so, moderators please accept my apologies in advance). Consider Morpheus. Check out the site and you’ll see that there seem to be no restrictions whatsoever on what can be downloaded.

Napster is supposedly coming back as a fee based service shortly. Limewire and the other gnutella based clones are soaking up the huge Napster diaspora. The depth of Napster at it’s height will be difficult to duplicate for any fee paid service. At some point in the future a monthly price point and service offering will intersect that will be compelling to many people, but that will likely not be until the current desire by the major labels to control their catalogs and have individual, self-branded paid net distribution sites comes to naught.

Why did the RIAA sue Napster? Because it was an easy target and they didn’t see any way it could, oh, work to their advantage (you know, like making deals with record labels). Why not sue Gnutella? Because there’s no one, big server, so to shut it down they’d have to sue every server that uses Gnutella, a practical impossibility. In other words, they slew the dragon, only to get chewed up by a hydra. :slight_smile:

No reasonably intelligent person believed that the hoopla was about “artists’ rights”, “intellectual property”, or anything other than money, money, money. This may have been an real concern for some artists (although Napster appeared to have a positive effect on sales), but the industry is so cutthroat as it is that a file-sharing service could hardly have made a siginificant difference.

Some services are protecting themselves… I believe Aimster for example employed some kind of rudimentary encryption for their network communications… therefore in order to actually monitor network traffic, the RIAA would have to decrypt the traffic by reverse-engineering the protocol, which violates the DMCA (remember the De-CSS fuss?)… I personally find that hilarious, though I doubt the labels feel the same

The promoters of these services are hoping to ultimately make money off of a new business model (peer-to-peer or P2P), but the record industry wants to stick to its old model of selling expensive CD’s. And aside from idealistic geeks and cheapskates wanting to make free file-swapping the rule, apparently there are plenty of customers attracted by the legitimate business plan. Which is: of paying less than for a CD, as well as being able to buy the songs they want instead of all the songs the record company has put on the disk. But still paying something for the convenience.

There are risks, but there is also the hope of a reward.

As for the less legitimate practice of swapping sound files without paying, I’m guessing that’ll always be around, since you can’t really copy-protect sound.

I’m not sure if Morpheus has this issue, but the service it’s based on (KaZaA) currently limits your MP3 searches to 128 kbps or worse, which is slightly below CD quality. Apparently this is an attempt to appear more legitimate. Of course, there’s a registry hack to get around it.

The RIAA is greedy, and shortsighted. Those two characteristics seem to go hand in hand.

By forcing their hand and bringing a lawsuit against Napster, the only thing the RIAA achieved was forcing the evolution of the software exchange medium to p2p, which means it’s decentralized, open-ended, and impossible to stop.

Just like prey escaping predator, the software exchange has now evolved a step ahead.

Good show, RIAA, good show!


In Scott Rosenberg’s article “Revenge of the File-Sharing Masses” yesterday, he not only provides a list of the Napster diaspora services, he concludes with this intelligence:


I was very interested in what you said about the 128 kbps, Mr2001. That is, indeed, the limit (apparently) on Morpheus. Still, if that’s all it took to be legitimate, then shouldn’t have Napster only needed to block tracks with > 128 kbps quality to avoid getting shut down?

I doubt it. AFAIK, the vast majority of music out there is recorded at 128 kbps.
Is it possible that Morpheus put the limit in place to keep people from exchanging ridiculously large files?

I had this silly idea that napster got in trouble because it was exclusively for mp3 trading, while the others are for any kinda of file sharing. Napster was screwed because it wasmade for the sole reason of doing something illegal, while the others are not, it just happens some (alot) of people use them for that. Kind of like you can’t outlaw cars because they are used to smuggle drugs.

I would ask that anyone interested in my comments in this thread please refer to my comments here.

Thank you.


Not all MP3s are illegal. It all depends on if the copyright holder has given you permission to download it. For example, has nothing but legal MP3s. If what you said were true, Napster could use the fact that illegal files aren’t the only things being traded for it’s defense.

      • The real act of stupidity was shutting down the International Lyrics Database Server. It only had the lyrics -not the whole music file, and I used it to find many songs, of which I (and friends) later bought the CD’s. It listed songs from any company, and it was the only way of finding songs by only knowing a few of the words. - MC

*Originally posted by Mikahw *

I signed up for in the wake of the Napster mess, only to discover that most of artists there are unknown. Now, I’m all for promoting promising new artists, but the one reason why I joined was to download some oldies-but-goodies I hadn’t been able to get from Napster. I also looked at Gnutella and was promptly confuzzled trying to decipher how to use it!

As for “illegal files”, I can’t tell you how many sites are out there displaying artwork without the artist’s permission. There is one very comprehensive site (I won’t name it) in which, I learned, ALL the artwork contained from them is cribbed from the artists’ own sites. It’s also a cover site for, I’ve also been told, the webmaster’s porno site. One caveat, though: At least the webmaster has the decency to include the artists’ URLs.

I could go on and start explaining how picky the whole copyright issue is in another forum I frequent, but I’m saving it for another thread. :wink:

Why hasn’t someone just setup a similar service in Russia or China where IP laws aren’t enforced as strictly? Is it the bandwidth bottleneck or the fear that authorities would just shut them down in response to Western pressure?