On June 25th, the RIAA announced it would start suing individual music sharers. After a brief drop, file sharing has gone up 10% and the major file sharing networks are forming a trade association to help defend users and lobby for legal rights. The legal threats have even turned file sharing into a noble cause.
This current generation of sharing systems — decentralized and totally legal — are themselves a result of obliterating the more centralized and easily controlled Napster. Such selflessness! Rather than capitalize on downloads by offering cheap and abundant content over Napster while it was the one system everyone was using, the major media companies have been furiously driving innovation towards ever more anonymous and diffuse networking.
Gotta hand it to the RIAA. They’ve probably done more to nurture the digital transfer of free music than any other cultural force.