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P2P File Swapping on the Rise Again? 319

Posted by michael
from the depends-who's-counting dept.
asdf 101 writes "News.com reports today that 'After six months of declines, peer-to-peer usage recently climbed 14 percent.' Their bottomline: 'The decline came as the RIAA launched more than 300 lawsuits against file swappers. The reversal cast doubts on the music industry's claims that its lawsuits are working to deter people from illegally downloading music files.' I guess wake_up_and_smell_the_coffee time just gets that much more imminent for all the hacks at RIAA." There's also an AP story, and you might want to review this story from just a few weeks ago that has different conclusions.
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P2P File Swapping on the Rise Again?

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  • What?! You mean (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:17PM (#8010555)
    College students who went home to dial-up stopped swapping music over Christmas?! This is shocking!
    • Re:What?! You mean (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thogard (43403) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @09:34PM (#8010964) Homepage
      Its like the old "Its September again" on usenet. I'm guessing that as soon as classes start up again and many more students get back with their new MP3 players, the games will start again.
    • Re:What?! You mean (Score:5, Informative)

      by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @09:47PM (#8011009)
      Despite the fact that apparently five moderators were duped into calling this insightful, if anyone had bothered to read the story (or all the similar stories over the last week -- slashdot is becoming a slow and poorly edited version of google news) they would note that music swapping increased during the final months of the year, not decreased, and it has been hypothesized that this has to do with increased interest in music as Christmas approaches.

      We now return you to your regular uninformed slashdot comments.
    • Re:What?! You mean (Score:4, Informative)

      by ElGnomo (612336) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @10:04PM (#8011069)
      *ahem* Article's first sentence: The NPD Group, an independent market research firm, reported on Friday that peer-to-peer usage was up 14 percent in November 2003 from September.
    • Re:What?! You mean (Score:5, Interesting)

      by toddestan (632714) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @11:17PM (#8011445)
      Actually, as a college student who's college decides to block all the major file sharing services, being able to go home to a nice DSL connection meant time to catch up on some things that needed to be downloaded. All legal, of course.
    • Article summary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bonch (38532)
      "Wake up and smell the coffee time for the hacks at RIAA."

      Wake up and smell the coffee for what? The realization that people are going to illegally pirate your product no matter how much you pursue them legally?

      When they were trying to shut down p2p programs, all the Slashdotters went on and on about how they should be going after individual users. Then when they started doing that, suddenly the RIAA is the bad guy again.

      When does pirating become so widespread that nobody can make any money anymore? A
      • Re:Article summary (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Grym (725290) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @04:28AM (#8012422)
        I hate posts like this, because all you doomsdayers seem to think that music never existed before copyrights and the RIAA.

        If what you're saying comes true, then YES many people are going to lose money, but I don't think it'll be the (genuinely good) artists. Instead, I'm willing to bet that they'll be paid like they were for thousands of years in the past--as performers. Besides, in all honesty, doesn't that make more sense than them attempting to be the sole "owners" of an intangible object that can be copied and distributed for little to no cost?

        I for one, won't miss the RIAA one bit, either way. They ARE the bad guy. They cheat nearly every artist that you've ever heard of. They piss money away on circumventing the laws via payolla. And then as if to add insult to injury, the money they do give the artists usually comes in the form of loans. Take TLC, for instance, here was a band making millions of dollars in profit (not gross) and the artists, after all of their record company's swindling, were making about 20,000 per year individually.

        As for your last statement, I love PC games. I, in fact, almost exclusively play PC games, but you're right, I haven't bought a PC game in awhile. Reason being: MOST of the games out right now suck. Apart from Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne, I haven't played a PC game that isn't generic or bug-ridden for awhile. Just give it some time, though. I GAURANTEE you 2004 will be the year PC games make a huge return. Again, it's not because of a lack of piracy, but there's a bunch of GREAT games coming out. To name a few: World of Warcraft, Doom III, Unreal Tournament 2004, Half-life 2, Counterstrike: Condition Zero. These are games that are going to pwn, and I plan on owning every one. (And this is after not buying a PC game for about 6 months.)

        These issues have less to do with piracy like the RIAA and failing gaming companies would have you believe. In a world where nobody takes responsibility, this can be expected. I mean, it's easier to believe that your product isn't selling because of theft than it is to say it sucked. And the former certainly sounds better to stockholders and the media.

        Piracy is an excuse. Unfortunately, some people (like the parent poster) have fallen for it.

        -Grym
  • by MP3Chuck (652277) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:18PM (#8010558) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, from Day 1 of those lawsuits it was different stories every week. P2P use declining ... no wait, it's on the rise. Then it's declining, and CD sales are increasing, now it's rising again.

    I'd like to know, though, which P2P networks they're watching... (my apologies if it says so in the article, this is /. after all).
    • by MoonFog (586818) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:27PM (#8010615)
      Seriously, from Day 1 of those lawsuits it was different stories every week. P2P use declining

      It doesn't say exactly which networks are monitored, just:
      NPD uses two tools to monitor peer-to-peer activity. MusicWatch Digital is a tool that continuously examines PCs of roughly 40,000 participating individuals, recording which sites they have gone to and what they have downloaded on their hard drives. The ongoing survey has been compiling and analyzing data on a monthly basis since April 2003. The second tool, called MusicLab, is a traditional paper survey mailed to 5,000 individuals asking them to report their usage and Web surfing. The results represent the U.S. population.

      There are bound to be variations, and yes, it definately does depend on who you ask. This is perhaps as "neutral" as they come though.
      • by Ralph Yarro (704772) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:35PM (#8010678) Homepage
        And from this they learned that immediately after RIAA started some highly publicised lawsuits, people who were aware that their activities were being actively (voluntarily) monitored cut down on their use of P2P software, and perhaps even more stunningly, people asked in paper surveys whether or not they were doing anything they could be sued for were less likely to say "yes".

        I guess the fact that the numbers are going up again is mildly interesting, but I don't see that you can draw many conclusions the earllier drop in recorded p2p use. "Not telling" is at least as likely as "not doing". Promises of anonymity or not, it's human nature.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          So basically if we were to move to another filesharing network like DC++ or Bittorrent every time we found out our old one was RIAA-infested, we'd be safe? I don't think they'd be able to really get every single network, and as long as one is safe we can use it for good. My personal choice is soulseek or DC++.
    • by Mod Me God (686647) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:37PM (#8010697)
      Don't worry, I RTFA and they didn't mention any. But 2 points:

      1. This is not seasonally adjusted. OK, reliable seasonal adjustment is not easy in usch a small data set, but comparing November to Septemer is a misnomer. In November college students have got they computer systems set up and want some entertainment but September they're just starting out and havn't got their computers set up (and the whole April-September season they're working or on holiday). How about some quantitive statistics so YoY% growth can discount seasonality.

      2. I have noticed a serious decline (this is a personal observation, not any scientific analysis) in my turnover in several key P2P networks recently. Since Kazaa acted against KazzaLite clients and servers on the Kazaa network seem to have significantly fallen (thoug the population stats in the client browser show similar numbers as before), I suspect Kazaa implemted an update on the protocol, but don't have any details. On eDonkey it is increasingly hard to et a connection, let alone a decent DL rate, but ULs are saturated. On WinMX there has been a decline in availibility of most files. I would like to know the cause of these changes (it can't all be a updated implementation on Kazaa and a contagion effect on other protocols can it?!).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:18PM (#8010560)
    I buy all my CDs now. It's the ehtical thing to do.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:27PM (#8010617) Homepage
      I do too. I buy all CD's USED. cince buying used CD's gives ZERO profit to the RIAA and pisses them off to no end.

      the only new Cd's I buy have been from IUMA artist and other indie bands I have found online and at their concerts.

      do I download music on a p2p netowrk? hell yeah. but then I buy that used CD to get a better copy of the recording.

      I suggest that EVERYONE buy used cd's only whenever possible. it will help a small business in your area, plus it will smack the RIAA in a way that royally pains them but they can do nothing about.
      • by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:58PM (#8010810)
        Since by buying the used CD you raise it's value in the market, and make it more likely someone will buy the CD new (either because it doesn't cost much more new or they can't readily find the CD used since it's in demand). If you really want to stop helping them go here [magnetbox.com] and use it to stop buying music that supports them all together. I'm too weak though, several of my favorite bands have record contracts with the RIAA.
      • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @09:01PM (#8010825) Journal
        > I do too. I buy all CD's (sic) USED. cince (sic) buying used CD's (sic) gives ZERO profit to the RIAA and pisses them off to no end.

        The fact that you and others buy used CDs creates a secondary market upon which primary CD buyers can rely upon to exist. Therefore, they're more likely to buy CDs in the first place and later on as they use the money from selling their CDs to used CD shops. The net result is increase sales. Hypothetically, used CD sales are a net loss as the total times the CD is sold decreases the net profit per sale. Hypothetically, also, CD makers make more as the used CD sales allow for CD makers to have a higher initial markup as the cutting-edge buyers pay a premium price and even buy a lot more CDs than they'll keep, selling most to used CD shops.

        The sad part about this is the latter occurs with the real cost of production (excluding markup, which amounts to the price) is cheaper than used CD prices, and pirating CDs is even cheaper. The whole point of the used market, I always thought, was about selling objects that are in worse condition for a cheaper price than retail. But with intellectual property, you're selling a right to the work which is independent of the media it is pressed into, so why are used copyrighted works cheaper (realizing that most people wouldn't want to buy a used CD that doesn't play properly)?
        • People don't think about the resale value when buying CDs. An existing second-hand market has no effect on sales of new CDs, other than to eliminate a purchase whenever someone buys a used CD.
      • A hobby of mine:

        RecordStoreReview.com [recordstorereview.com]

        Most have pictures and reviews so you know where to go at a glance.
      • by kfg (145172) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @10:20PM (#8011136)
        And as I pointed out elsewhen, buying used CDs leaves you in possession of a piece of personal property, roughly worth what you payed for it.

        You have reduced your liquidity, but actually retained net value, thus, in a sense, obtained the music for "free."

        And as a piece of property you retain all legal property rights, such as resale (see above), to use wherever and in whatever playback device you wish, the right to loan, the right to make backups for personal use, The right to use as a frickin' frisbee or wall covering if you want.

        Yes, I buy used books too. Lots and lots and lots of used books. Dirt cheap at library sales. Sometimes very expensive used books, because they're out of print and the publisher refuses to sell me a copy anyway.

        What happens when your favorite download site withdraws part of the library? I've got stuff from mp3.com. Stuff that I think is outrageously good.

        I'd give you a link, but. . .

        Protect your right to consider your own property your own property. Buy used CDs and books.

        You might even be doing your part to protect the intellectual property itself.

        KFG
  • by Travoltus (110240) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:19PM (#8010568) Journal
    I've been getting my music via second hand stores or I've been getting free (not bootlegged, but totally freely given) music from places like http://www.modarchive.com.

    I'll keep going until the companies that support the RIAA are bankrupted or they relent with their assault on fair use rights.
    • by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . com> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:52PM (#8010780) Homepage Journal
      I use P2P services even now. I downloaded Fedora 1.0 at a rate of about 2-4x that I was getting from an FTP server. When you're sucking down a trio of 600+ MB isos, that's a big savings!

      Why do we assume that P2P networks are only being used by college students who want porn and music... could there perhaps be professionals in the industry out there too?
      • You're comment made me get off my ass and post an email that Bill Evans (Slashdot - Ask a Music Producer) sent me awhile back.

        I'll say no more, but there is a link to the mini-interview in my sig (or Journal).

    • Flashback ... Amiga 1200 and deathjester mods ...

      Mod files were incredible 10 years ago and are still pretty good today. I'm a little surprised that it never really caught on (which is too bad). I guess marketing does matter. Imagine one of those cheapo 64M USB flash drive / mp3 players (~$50USD) that could play mods. Since they're a lot of them around that are 100k or less that's a lot of music. Plus they transfer so much better than mp3s over a slow connection.

      The parent posting was enough for me star

      • Since they're a lot of them around that are 100k or less that's a lot of music. Plus they transfer so much better than mp3s over a slow connection.

        Meh. Why not just record over one of those talking greeting cards with 3.8 seconds of your favorite music, and take that with you? So much more compact, and less expensive too... sure it's not the best sound and it doesn't hold much, but it's better than waiting to transfer those enormous mp3 files, right?
    • Yes. I was just about to post something about mods. They sound wonderful, they're small, and you can even modify them! It's like the Open Source of Music. So much fun... go and download some and play around with them in something like cheesetracker (anyone know of GNOME/Gtk-2 trackers?).
  • by mhesseltine (541806) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:20PM (#8010574) Homepage Journal

    What the RIAA doesn't seem to realize is that, people are able to block certain IP addresses in many of the client programs. Thus, when the RIAA goes online looking for traffic, they see fewer clients.

    The other thing they don't seem to realize is that, there's more to "illegal file sharing" than Kazaa. It could be that people have cut down on their Kazaa use and have gone to other P2P programs.

    • What the RIAA doesn't seem to realize is that, people are able to block certain IP addresses in many of the client programs.

      Yes, but this only works because their computer is BROADCASTING AN IP ADDRESS!
    • by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @10:44PM (#8011285) Journal
      I doubt

      1) a sizable amount of P2P users even know that there is addons to block IP's.

      2) those blockers work. RIAA just need to sit on a public network used by thousands of others and they'll either need to block an entire general network not solely intended for RIAA usage, or they'll simply miss to block RIAA's activities
  • Let's all go buy a bunch of CD's, and share the files vi P2P. That'll REALLY screw with the statistics. . .;)
  • reversal doesn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fishbert42 (588754) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:23PM (#8010595)
    The reversal cast doubts on the music industry's claims that its lawsuits are working to deter people from illegally downloading music files.

    I think the legal reversal pertaining to Verizon having to hand over its members' information to the RIAA could explain such a rise. People are more likely to fileshare if they think the RIAA is less likely to be knocking on their door tomorrow. If anything, the lawsuits seemed to be "working" before that Verizon ruling.
    • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:46PM (#8010754) Homepage Journal
      I suspect one of the reasons for any possible reversal is that as the press about the lawsuits dies down so does peoples conciousness about it.

      Scare tactics only work when you are scaring people. That's why the law suits won't work in the long term. You'd not only need new lawsuits all the time but you'd need the press to continue to be bothered to write about them. Otherwise for 99% of people they effectively aren't happening and there's nothing to worry about.
  • by (1337) God (653941) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:23PM (#8010596)

    Statistics are dangerous in the hands of people who may have a certain agenda to push. For example, saying that filesharing goes up 14% could simply imply that more new computer and/or Internet users have signed online to find previews of their favorite music artists' songs. Also, it's very possible that the way these companies conduct these studies of the popularity of file sharing could simply have changed a bit. If one month they're monitoring seven different filesharing networks for their statistics, and they suddenly add an eighth to the mix, the numbers are obviously going to increase.

    We need to stop worrying about these silly RIAA lawsuits and about the ethics of filesharing and simply realize that the current music distribution model is horrible. The CD/album is not popular anymore; artists are fueled by hit singles much more so than hit albums. Things like Apple's iPod/iTunes service, while expensive, are a good first step to delivering media content the way people wish to receive it.

    Stop letting the media tell you what to do. If you want to use peer to peer software, use it. There's nothing wrong with sharing songs with friends/associates in my opinion, and it only helps to spread the word about music artists and make them and their merchandise more popular. Sharing file is as natural an act as sexual intercourse between a man and woman/man and a man/woman and a woman, so the days of prosecuting it are definitely numbered, and it'll be as laughable in 20 years time as the article 2 nodes down on the Slashdot front page about VCR taping regulations.

    Have fun with life and be responsible, but at the same time don't worry about the evil bit devil at the other end of your cable connection reading your data that flows to and fro your machine. There will soon be better options, and hopefully moves like HP licensing Apple iTunes technology, as well as other things, will make the online movies/music environment better than ever.
  • by Meowing (241289) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:24PM (#8010602) Homepage
    ....except that stuff like this can't really be measured too accurately?
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:25PM (#8010605) Homepage Journal
    Is it time to get the DMCA repealed? Do you think the RIAA has gone [slashdot.org] too [suedbytheriaa.com] far [laweekly.com]? Do you think it's wrong that Disney can get a law passed to keep Steamboat Willie from passing into the public domain - a law that makes it impossible for anyone to expect a newly copyrighted work pass into the public domain during their lifetime?

    How about making copyright reform a central issue in the upcoming election?

    Very likely most politicians don't know if the DMCA is fit to eat, feel Disney and the RIAA are important campaign contributors whose requests should be given priority, and music downloaders are simple thieves who deserve every bit of punishment they get.

    You can change that. But it's going to take some work. There are enough people sharing music in America - more people than voted for George Bush - that if you get off your collective asses and get politically active, you can get laws passed to get the RIAA off your back.

    In Change the Law [goingware.com], I explain that copyright is not a Constitutional right, like free speech. Instead copyright is allowed (but not required) to serve a useful purpose, a purpose which I feel has long since outlived its usefulness.

    I suggest steps you can take to bring about copyright reform, ranging from speaking out [goingware.com] to practicing civil disobedience [goingware.com].

    One thing I'd like you all to do today is to write your elected representatives [goingware.com] to ask their opinion of the current state of copyright law given its widespread abuse by organizations like the RIAA and MPAA, and to urge them to work towards copyright reform. Let them know your vote will depend on a positive response.

    When you're done writing that letter, write to the other candidates for each office in the upcoming elections, to ask them the same question.

    Sixty million American peer-to-peer file traders have the potential to raise a lot of Hell with the politicians. I want every candidate to be peppered with questions about copyright reform at every campaign stop and in every press interview. I want the repeal of the DMCA to be discussed in the Presidential debates.

    People marched in protest when Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested. Dmitry is free now - but the law under which he was jailed is still on the books.

    If you agree with me that something needs to be done about copyright, I need your help [goingware.com].

    Thank you for your attention.

  • by chia_monkey (593501) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:25PM (#8010607) Journal
    "The NPD Group, an independent market research firm, reported on Friday that peer-to-peer usage was up 14 percent in November 2003 from September. This upturn comes after six straight months of declines in digital file sharing. Usage dropped dramatically starting in April 2003..."

    The first thing from the article that caught my eye was the timing. So the usage declined right around the time all the college students started exams and then went home. Then it picked up again in September...just in time for school to start again.

    Next...just what is "usage"? It doesn't specify mp3s, video, documents...nothing. It just says usage. Yet the RIAA will assume it's all mp3s and go nuts again.

    There will never be a way to truly determine why usage drops and rises. The RIAA likes to say "it's because we're educating the public", news sources like to say "it's because everyone is afraid of the RIAA's lawsuits", music download companies (ie, iTunes, Napster, etc) like to say "it's because of our services and people would rather get legitimate copies". Nobody knows. This battle will rage for years, we'll see different theories on why it rises and drops, and people will continue to download their files whenever and however they want.
    • And in all this.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)
      ...one factor is always pushing for a rise. Bandwidth. The companies can squabble all they want about reasons here, and reasons there. But if it was a song yesterday, an album today, then it'll be a jukebox tomorrow within the same timespan.

      That's the one factor they can't stop. Napster was the pain treshold.. since then, they've done a lot of stuff to make it harder - but in the end, it just keeps getting easier... it's like fighting the tide.

      Kjella
    • "it's because everyone is afraid of the RIAA's lawsuits"

      Possibly... but perhaps the result of that fear was a decreased willingness to admit P2P usage to the survey organization rather than any actual change in usage... and then as it was widely reported the the lawsuits primarilly were targetting people sharing large collections, the statistics became less skewed (more accurate)

      Patterns of behavior (such as downloading music) are much more resistant to change than the level of honesty on a survey when face

  • Legal File Sharing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JLDohm (741501)
    Could it be that file sharing as a whole has been growing, but that people have been moving from p2p applications to pay-for-music services?
  • by AmVidia HQ (572086) <{moc.em} {ta} {gnufg}> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:30PM (#8010638) Homepage
    That's a rough average of how many are online at a time, the last time I checked. That would be 10 or 100s of millions of Kazaa users. And there are many other P2P systems other that Kazaa.

    Can RIAA sue them all? There is strength in numbers. People would not take them seriously, if the chance of getting caught is next to nothing (if you don't share your entire HD worth of britney sphere =b)
  • by ghettoboy22 (723339) * <scott.a.johnson@gmail.com> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:30PM (#8010640) Homepage
    I realize the RIAA is aware of the other ways people illegally swap music, but I don't think the press does. P2P is only one aspect.... usenet anyone? IRC? DC? BitTorrent?... I could go on. (Remember those great ratio FTP dump sites before Napster?? yeah those were _GrEaT_ :P ). The "war" being played in the media seems (IMHO) to say "If the RIAA can kill P2P, pirating will be dead". Whatever.

    As a side note, I haven't touched anything but iTMS in almost a year (come April). Why would you want to pirate when there are great *legal* alternatives available?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:31PM (#8010648)
    I needed to re-install Win XP, and when I did I left Kazaa lite off.

    I now bittorrent most stuff, and use Aquisition (OS X) for the most part.

    According to everything I see, filesharing on the Mac is pretty much under the radar, which is fine by me.

    Of course, I have a giant FTP server that serves everything I've ever downloaded, ratio free. I only give the addy/name/password to people I know, and that keeps leeches away, as well as the xxAAs. I freely share it all with people who need something. Why not? I know what I'm doing is against the law, but frankly everyone you know does something against the law everyday, whether they know it or not.

    This is just my bit of civil disobediece. I'm posting this anon so I don't have a pile of emails asking for access.

  • by damacer (713360) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:31PM (#8010649)
    I think when the RIAA first started to file lawsuits many many people got scared and either stopped filesharing or at least took steps to limit their risk of being sued (e.g. turning of file sharing programs when they're not being used).

    I think people are still taking steps to limit their own personal risk (in the article this is reflected by It's important to keep in mind that file sharing is occurring less frequently than before the RIAA began its legal efforts to stem the tide of P2P). However, looking at people I know, I think a significant number of them who completely stopped filesharing when the RIAA started to file lawsuits are starting to do so again. My theory on this is that they've noticed that all of the people they know who still use p2p have not gotten sued, so they've concluded that some p2p usage is probably safe. This empirical result makes sense given the large number of p2p users, and the proportionaly limited number of lawsuits the RIAA has been able to file. Note that, this doesn't mean that p2p services are necessarily safe, it just means that for the majority of the population it appears that they are less dangerous then they might have thought they were a few months ago.
  • Underground (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In my corner of the world all this RIAA stuff has
    just pushed things further underground. Small networks consisting of trusted ssh users and sneaker net via usb2.0 external drives is the most common way of moving media around here and no one has to worry about RIAA and friends seeing what's going on.
  • by ttldkns (737309) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:35PM (#8010680) Homepage
    You should never rely on statistics if you cant see the evidence. For all we know they could count this on how many people download off a server they set up. They could even run kazaa and look at the blurb in the status bar at how many users are online and how much theyre sharing and monitor it over time. With no way to know dont take this too seriously, and its rediculous that big companies will use trashy figures to promote their products. it just doesnt seem to matter these days companies dont care as long as they can dupe their customers into buying their product. Bottom line, dont even trust a %.

    70 % of people i spoke to agree to this post with 100% of them being imagined.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:36PM (#8010692)
    I own more than 1,500 CDs. Up until recently, I owned an additional 400 cassettes, but they degraded so much over time that I eventually had to pitch them after several unsuccessful attempts to record them as MP3s. I have purchased, on average, three to four CDs, every week for the past several years.

    Prior to this year, I had very little experience with file sharing. I always thought it took too long, required too much effort and I didn't want to worry about poor rips at low bitrates. I thought both sides have their collective heads up their collective asses. Traders whining about copyright law vs theft and the music industry doing everything they can to destroy themselves. I don't know what's more annoying, people saying that they steal because music is overpriced, or label executives saying that traders will put low-level employees out of business. Show me that trailer with the stuntman again and I'll barf! Plus, I liked to point out that just about every complete album I downloaded I ended up purchasing. It seemed like P2P was a non-issue and both sides were idiots.

    Then I got sick over the holidays and ended up hanging out in bed. After my third straight day of Bond movies on Spike, I decided to see how long it would take to download Pitchfork's [pitchforkmedia.com] Top 50 Singles of 2003 on a P2P network. By the end of the night I had the complete list, and suddenly the challenge was "How long would it take to download their top 50 ALBUMS of the year.

    In the last two weeks I've downloaded nearly 50 CDs (Only six of them were on Pitchfork's list). Many have been out of print albums, but many more have been straight-up recent commercial releases. The quality is awesome and modern software enables you to queue up a long list of files and forget about it.

    I now see what the RIAA has been so afraid of. Just a few weeks ago I was spending $50 a week on CDs. Now I drive by a record store and think "What sort of chump pays for music?" I don't download because music is expensive -- I download because it's too freakin' EASY. If one of their strongest customers is so easily turned, what's up with the casual consumer. The media companies are screwed.
    • I own a new/used record/CD store and I see the whole gamut of people that come in. This parent poster is what I call the regular, in that they like music and they want to have a lot of it around. They're usually knowledgeable and moderately wealthy and they like the ritual of buying new stuff and enjoying it. When these people are switching to downloading I'm telling you that they are the LAST to do so. Basically, after they're gone, the whole recorded music industry is gone. You just can't make any mo
      • by Lochin Rabbar (577821) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @11:09PM (#8011409)

        I can remember a time when a town of ten thousand souls would have at least one, and usually two, independent record shops. They were usually run by music enthusiasts, and what they didn't have they would get. If you ordered a record and found you didn't like it, no problem, it just got returned to the distributor. Of course all this changed a couple of decades ago when the distibutors decided that they didn't like taking returns back.

        Now small independents only exists in towns of at least twenty thousand, and they almost all rely on the sale of used records/CD's to remain viable. I'd love to support my local store, but there isn't one, unless you count the local superstore with its limited selection.

        I'm afraid the dark days have been with us for years. The smallest stores have been disappearing for years. Now your size of store is now the smallest and likely to go next. I wish that were not the case, but it is. Unfortunately the music business is dominated by philistines who know how to extract cash from culture, but know not how to nourish culture.

    • Up until recently, I owned an additional 400 cassettes, but they degraded so much over time that I eventually had to pitch them after several unsuccessful attempts to record them as MP3s.

      Funnily enough I'm in the middle of transferring around couple of hundred cassettes to CD, it's a long process. The ones that I'm transferring are mostly rare Celtic works and they are almost all in very good condition. The reason for that is that these tapes were usually of much higher quality than those put out by th

    • Yet still.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kwil (53679)
      ..how much time have you spent listening to bad quality copies, or copies that end up being cut short? Perhaps not a ton, but some I'm sure.

      So your music experience could be even *easier* yet. What if, instead of it taking to the end of the night to find and download Pitchfork's Top 50 Singles of 2003, it only took you a couple of hours, and you knew before-hand that everything you downloaded would be great quality and fully complete. Would you consider paying for that?

      Now, on top of that, what if, once y
  • by aSiTiC (519647) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:37PM (#8010695) Homepage
    ..does not mean decline in total music file sharing. People are moving to downloading complete ALBUMS via eDonkey/eMule. Users don't want to deal with many, many rips of the same song (many of which are faked) on KaZaA.

    As a quick check visit top 100 lists such as Pitchfork top 50 of 2003 [pitchforkmedia.com], which contains sub-pop music flavors. Now search for the albums on edonkey networks with clients or FileDonkey [filedonkey.com]. It's amazing to see so many RARs and ZIPs.

    Less fakes, more helpful comments, better hashing, etc... at least for time being.

  • Am I being watched? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by i love pineapples (742841) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:37PM (#8010696) Homepage
    On a slightly related note, I have noticed getting a hit or to from http://www.riaa.com in my referrer logs. Should I be scared?
  • by twitter (104583) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:38PM (#8010706) Homepage Journal
    With all the advertising those goons at the RIAA have given the concept, there are few people who have not heard about file sharing. When you tell people that a 12 year old girl in the housing projects can have thousands of songs on her PC, people understand that there's nothing out there that they can't find free of charge. Do they expect people not to go try it out after all that publicity?

    They have also critically damaged people's sympathy to them. If 100 year copyrights were not bad enough, threatening 12 year olds and grandparents was. Few people have any sympathy for publishers who are making money off dead artists, artists they hardly pay and stuff they could have recorded off the radio 40 years ago. Everyone knows that music recorded in 1902 paid for itself by 1903 and the big publishers are nothing but greedy control freaks.

    The continued rise of file sharing spells the end of the 5 big dumb music publishers. Music is being libreated from it's comercial clutches and all sorts of wonderful acts will flourish and profit without those goons in the way. People basking in a variety of music and cultural service the comercial world never delivered will not put RIAA chains back on. They will understand they were right and when the money goes from the RIAA, so too goes their propaganda and fewer and fewer people will be mislead. Good riddance.

  • by speeDDemon (nw) (643987) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:39PM (#8010713) Homepage
    As im sure alot of /.'s are aware their is a program out there called Bittorrent [bitconjurer.org].

    My preferred client is Bittorrent++ [sourceforge.net].

    Now, if you like to download stuff in an environment that kinda reminds me of the ol audiogalaxy days I strongly recommend you try out Suprnova.org [suprnova.org]. Obviosly this is still subjective to riaa 'snooping' as the clients dont appear to support ip range banning, but since they are Open source, anyone can be free to implement any sort of riaa spoofing/protection.

    • Azureus [sourceforge.net] has an IP filter, which I believe allows you to import PeerGuardian's [peerguardian.net] block list. You can't completely trust any block list of course, I can be working for RIAA for all you know.

      Frankly, Bittorrent++'s GUI is too slow for my taste, and I don't think it's based on the latest BT protocol. These are BT clients I recommend:

      • Azureus [sourceforge.net] (the best in general)
      • BitComet [bitcomet.com] (limit to 1 port, for minimal internet browsing slowdown. But that prob. is why it doesn't have to fastest download performance, although y
      • You can't completely trust any block list of course, I can be working for RIAA for all you know.

        Yeah, or RIAA can work on public networks...

        Also, how do the writers of these block lists even know that they're blocking the RIAA hosts used to scan file sharers?

        Those IP range blockers always seemed like a stab in the dark to me, only offering a false feeling of security.
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug@geekaz3.1415926on.com minus pi> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:40PM (#8010726) Homepage
    Keep in mind that the litigation campaign and stopping P2P activity are not ends in themselves. The real measure of success of anything record companies do is sales figures. Money is, after all, the only language they understand.

    I couldn't find any year-end figures, but here's a look at the RIAA's own sales figures (pdf) [svenrox.com] for the first half of 2003. Notice that CD sales were down 14% from the previous year. Apparently the wave of lawsuits launched in April had no immediate effect on CD sales. However, look at the sales of CD singles. Up 162% ! ! !
    Unless I'm crazy, the fact that music sales in album form are down and in singles form are up might indicate that people want to decide which songs they pay for, instead of being forced to buy a few good songs along with a lot of filler.

    People have been trying to tell the record industry this for quite a while. With hard evidence in the form of actual money, do you think they still have no clue why their profits in recent years have declined? It's because of their own outdated marketing rather than "piracy."

    According to this article in the Register [theregister.co.uk] music sales overall for 2003 fell only 0.8% below 2002. They credit a big rise in music videos on DVD, but the RIAA will no doubt be singing the praises of their legal crusade. Reminds me of Caligula ordering his army to fight back the incoming tide.
  • by Ilex (261136) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:45PM (#8010746)
    The Riaa could easily say the recent court ruling preventing them from easily forcing ISP's to hand over customers details are behind the recent rise.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:50PM (#8010773) Homepage
    Why don't these RIAA/MPAA lawsuits increase traffic on P2P networks?

    Now the theory is that they announce these things and people get scared that if they use a P2P they'll get sued right?

    Well when are the more likely to find people to sue? When they haven't done it for a while, or the day after they file a suit and are busy with legal stuff? I'm thinking that the time immediatly after the suits are announce would be the SAFEST time to use a P2P service.

  • Escapology 101 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:59PM (#8010814)
    Evidently, a decrease in numbers of people hosting large volumes of files has taken place.. however the P2P networls are all still running well.

    I suspect people have taken to downloading files, keeping them a few days or weeks on their shared volumes and then deleting... many people have always done this, when you get a file you help a few more people get it, then delete the shared copy to reduce the likelihood of legal action against yourself

    in other words P2P has become more distributed.. more multiply redundant. Less legally actionable.

    RIAA, and your counterparts here in Europe. We're the people who you have to thank if you wake up in the morning: everything in your comfy leather-lined world relies on IT support.

    Don't screw with us. You'll lose.
  • by meehawl (73285) <meehawl.spamNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @09:00PM (#8010822) Homepage Journal
    The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
  • Students... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OneFix (18661) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @09:02PM (#8010829)
    I think I suggested it when they announced it in December, but it's obvious that college students probably make up the majority of P2P downloaders...and since most schools now offer 24/7 broadband access from dormitories, it would only go to reason that they make up a majority of the uploaders...

    The RIAA was trying to spin the end of semester as a win for their cause...but as soon as they released the info, I'm sure they realized the error of their ways...it was only going to last for about a month...

    So, why are all schools not blocking P2P??? Because, when you start blocking ports you start to take responsibility for what your users are doing (block KaZaA because it's "bad" and you have to block gnutella too)...most schools are simply throtling the most popular P2P ports...which isn't keeping students from downloading...
  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Saturday January 17, 2004 @09:12PM (#8010875) Journal
    As Obi-Wan might say, you can't win, but there are alternatives to downloading.

    Your local public library has CDs that you can borrow, usually for a week or so, absolutely free.

    Some of the more sophisticated libraries allow you to search and request titles online, so that a CD that's at a library twenty miles away, or currently checked out by someone else, will be sent to your nearest library as soon as it is available. Some libraries will send an email to let you know that your titles have arrived.

    Library CDs are often pretty beat up, and many are missing the original booklets or jewel cases, but they will still play in a good player. You can even do your library a favor and use some of that CD repair glop on them so future borrowers can enjoy them as well (assuming that stuff actually works).

    Now, I don't advocate that anyone go to their library's website, request a lot of titles that they want online, go pick them up, take them to their office with several networked PCs on a Saturday afternoon, rip the CDs to AAC, burn them onto a couple of blank CD-RWs, take them home, pop them into iTunes, and then transfer them all to an iPod. I couldn't support that. Especially since it's free.

    Now that I've let that cat out of the bag, we can expect to see the RIAA confiscating CDs from public libraries across the country, as well as obtaining Patriot Act subpoenas demanding to know the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of every library patron who has ever borrowed a CD. Since librarians have about as much political clout as homeless people (actually a little less), Congress and the media will look the other way.

    Or am I being exceptionally paranoid?
    • Most urban areas have used CD stores with fairly decent selections.

      I go there first and then buy used on the internet.

      I can afford full price, but I take pleasure in not giving money to the RIAA for no other reason then the way they have behaved.

      Steve

  • I mean, even if the RIAA is bad, stealing from it isn't good. *ducks* If the RIAA makes a lot, and the artists make a few pennies per cd, your still stealing a few pennies from the artist. Because your copying its not as bad as stealing a physical object which costs more to make, but it still isn't right IMO. Back when Peer-to-Peer started (back with napster and such), it made sense. You could only get full cd's with one or two good songs, and the music wasn't great. It still isn't, but we have iTunes
  • Assumptions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ic3p1ck (597610) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @09:42PM (#8010984)
    I love the way that they assume that 14% increase in P2P usage == 14% increase in music sharing.

    P2P != music sharing.

    Its used for many other things as well, like, eh, movie sharing and ISOs etc..
  • by Anonymous Coward
    in the GNU sense of the word.

    Downloading MP3s from RIAA bands is like using cracked software. Somebody needs to step up and do for music what RMS did for software.
  • by geekee (591277) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @09:57PM (#8011044)
    Nobody mentioned whether or not there was a correlation between increased numbers of broadband users and increased illegal mp3 downloads. Downloading songs in general is more appealing with more bandwidth.
  • Ticker (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @10:07PM (#8011081) Homepage
    Sometimes, I wish I had something like a stock ticker for the major P2P networks. It could be a little window that showed me the network, how many users, how much data is being shared, and how many files. It would then let me compare and chart over time.

    This would be fun, and I could have it right next to my S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq tickers.

  • RIAA New ad campaing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by linuxislandsucks (461335) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @10:44PM (#8011284) Homepage Journal
    RIAA is using a new tactic to get their message out by spamming referral/hit lists of blogs..

    Mine is getting hit by them every few days because I speak out about the wonders of the P2P..

    yes my weblog link is in my profile..

    • RIAA is using a new tactic to get their message out by spamming referral/hit lists of blogs..

      Mine is getting hit by them every few days because I speak out about the wonders of the P2P..


      That's interesting, because I, too, have seen riaa.com in my referral logs, and the only mention I've given them is a post stating I'd think it amusing if they sued me. [spinsugar.com]

      It makes me wonder if the RIAA might be spidering sites for mentions. If so, to what purpose? If it's to gauge the public's opinion of them, they ha
  • by Tuxinatorium (463682) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @11:53PM (#8011589) Homepage
    This is self-reported usage So all the figures represent is the percentage of people who download music and are dumb enough to admit it to anyone who calls claiming to be a pollster. Of course this percentage would go down in light of the RIAA witch hunt regardless of whether there is any change, up or down, in actual file sharing.

    All statistics based on self-reported data should be taken with a large spoonful of salt!
  • by occasional user (737487) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @12:02AM (#8011620)
    First, the RIAA has done a very good job at injecting false music files, especially with hot artists. If you search "Eminem", most likely the top ten downloadable files that return are bogus. They play for five seconds, then BUZZZZ. Irritating. But I gues it's fire with fire. Second reason is that the initial flurry of downloading resulted in people downloading most of what they wanted. I used to be on P2P daily, but now it's only every couple of weeks, because my library is big enough that I could listen to it for days on end. So I believe the survey, but I think it's disingenuous to place cause/effect squarely on the lawsuits. I like to think of it as an "all-you-can-eat" buffet where the crowd has already gorged themselves. The new guys coming in the front door of the buffet will be eating, and the rest of us will be going back for seconds, but not with immediate gusto.
  • Dear RIAA... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Sunday January 18, 2004 @09:35AM (#8012948)
    ...Here's how to reduce (not stop) file sharing:

    1) Get rid of the price-fixing of CDs that occurs across the handful of music giants and their associated retailers. CDs do *NOT* cost 10-20 dollars/pounds/Euros each to produce, it's that simple. Retailers and record companies are making *huge* profits because of price-fixing.

    2) Make the quality of the output higher. Give people good artists that take the time to produce an entire album of high quality music rather than just the 1 or 2 tracks that most people want. Otherwise, give people the ability to download those tracks they want at a fair price.

    3) Stop penalising those of us that legitimately buy CDs. I will *NOT* knowingly buy a protected CD by any artist and I *WILL* return any such as faulty to the vendor that sold it me. I will *NOT* give up my right to use something I have legitimately bought in the way I want to use it and the way I have previously leant and borrowed from) people CDs, LPs, tapes, etc.

    4) Accept that part of living in a society is the sharing of thoughts and experiences. That includes sharing music, whether it's sitting in a room with a group of people listening to an album, lending somebody a CD / tape. etc. Music *ALWAYS* has been about culturally shared experiences and people will always share music as a result.

    I personally do not agree with MP3 sharing as a mechanism to build up huge music collections free of charge - that denies an artist somewhere a livelihood.

    However, sharing is a valid mechanism to overcome the hype and advertisement lies of record comapnies that try to sell CDs based purely on the way some artists look, not by the quality of the music they create. Therefore, downloading and listening to MP3s means that people can either buy the CD afterwards because they like the MP3s or delete them because they're not even worth backing up to a CD or wasting hard disk space on - at least people stop getting ripped off as a result.

    People have no qualms or guilt about MP3 sharing because the record companies currently have no regard for them in expecting them to pay over-inflated prices for frequently sub-standard product.

    When the RIAA gets it into its thick skull that this is purely and simply about *GIVING THE CUSTOMER VALUE FOR MONEY*, then MP3 sharing will reduce. There will always be pirates but this has never stopped the music and software industry in the past and is unlikely to in the future.

    This is simply about making the customer feel valued, nothing more...

Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue. - Seneca

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