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#463454 - 04/12/01 06:20 PM Does P2P Really Hamper the "Evil Corporate Empire"?
UncommonCon Offline
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Registered: 05/23/00
Posts: 119
Loc: Dallas, TX USA
Okay, the SPLASH said: "Unfortunately, Groth makes the same error of omission, failing to address how the now-ubiquitous technology of peer-to-peer sharing of digital files has undermined corporate hegemony. Any debate about the future control of the Internet must cover P2P, who's overwhelming consumer acceptance was demonstrated by 50 million registered users on Napster alone. While the recording industry was working hard to stop Napster in American courts, hundreds of other P2P sites set up off-shore and file exchanging of copyrighted material continues to grow. Simply put, in 2001, P2P has clearly demonstrated that the existing technology of the internet undermines corporate control of information."

Of course, since Napster has already or is in the process of selling out to the corporate empire (Bartles-something) it does not seem to have actually worked. How long were they free? A year, two? Anybody have any REAL numbers on how much Napster actually cost the music industry?

Let's see, as far as I know, Gnutella is not doing much. And, while there may be some off-shore sites up, they don't seem to be having any significant impact.

Here's the real deal. The ONLY reason that the internet is still even remotely "free" is because the big corporations have not decided that it is worth their while to make an issue of it. Of ALL the media types, except for movies & TV, the internet would be the MOST easy to control. Let's say that the big corporations finally get tired of the nonsense that the internet is causing them. All they need to do is go out and buy up a bunch of ISPs and put in controls that only allow access to approved sites. Hell, they don't even have to tell anyone how they have changed the programs. Once they decide to start putting their foot down, IF they decide to put their foot down, you will see independent internet become as rare as pirate radio or independent TV.

And, I'm sure there are other ways for them to take over the internet, but that seems like the simplest to me.

Of course, they may decide that it would be too cost-prohibitive to mess with it. And, they may find that the internet is not really doing enough damage to the corporate culture to make any difference. So, it may be a moot point. But, if they do decide to do something about it, make no mistake that they could.

In any case, my point is this. There seems to be a lot of complacency about the internet always being "free". I think this is just so foolish. There is NOTHING about the internet that makes it intrinsically more immune to big business control than any other media type.

Anyway, just my $.015,


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James Echols
james@uncommoncon.com
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James Echols
james@uncommoncon.com
Festival Producer - UncommonCon, www.uncommoncon.com
Business Coach - Uncommon Solutions
ride the revolution

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#463455 - 04/12/01 08:33 PM Re: Does P2P Really Hamper the "Evil Corporate Empire"?
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
Quote:
All they need to do is go out and buy up a bunch of ISPs and put in controls that only allow access to approved sites.
At which point, new ISPs spring up, and everyone switches to the ones that aren't censoring. And meanwhile, the college students (who have been at the forefront of music copying and movie copying) are still getting real Internet access, because the college is their ISP. Yeah, they could try to turn the system into AOL-pre-Web access, but there was a reason AOL had to give that up.

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#463456 - 04/12/01 08:46 PM Re: Does P2P Really Hamper the "Evil Corporate Empire"?
Rick Veitch Administrator Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 3531
Loc: Vermont, USA
James,
Thanks for starting this thread. With all the other fireworks on the board, I was worried no one would notice Gary's piece on Scott.

First off, I'm not taking sides on the P2P debate and its ramifications for intellectual property ownership (I own a lot of my own stuff). By bringing P2P up in the context of the SPLASH piece I was criticizing Gary for neglecting to address it in his TCJ piece on Scott. I don't believe anyone trying to envision a digital future can neglect accounting for P2P.

Second, I'm not one of those wide eyed Internet libertarians who demand the net must be free (I run a commercial web site, remember). But I do try to keep up with technological advances and sociological events tied to the Net, and P2P appears to me to have the most potential to overturn everything corporate society is built on.

While it is true that the corporations might figure out some way to make P2P imposible, but I believe this will be a desperate stop-gap sort of measure. Once the genie is out of the bottle (to coin a cliche) the technology itself will define what happens. And the technology as it now stands allows for the free and ubiquitous distribution of digital files *EVEN AS THE LAW RULES AGAINST SUCH BEHAVIOR*.

I believe the correct questions to be asking are:1) Is it feasible to police hundreds of millions of computer users worldwide to ensure they do not utilize this technology 2) If it isn't feasible what does that mean for for the future of ownership of information.

At this point, Napster is a red herring. While the courts and the recording industry have stopped Napster, hundreds of other P2P sites have sprouted up outside the jurisdiction of the US justice system and kids are still getting their music for free. The same dynamic will be applied to film, comics, literature, and everything else that is distributed digitally.

Can it be stopped? Should it be stopped? Or should we be imaginaing a future where information is free?

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#463457 - 04/13/01 02:26 PM Re: Does P2P Really Hamper the "Evil Corporate Empire"?
Jeff Zugale Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/98
Posts: 1806
Loc: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Once again, I invite all to read John Perry Barlow's (from the Electronic Frontier Foundation) article regarding just this subject:
http://www.wired.com:80/wired/archive/8.10/download.html

Nat and I have gone back and forth about this for a long time. As he implies above, the nature of the Net at this time DOES in fact make it extremely difficult even for big business to control what goes on here. While you're right, James, that the big corps can use their massive financial power to buy up ISPs, the truth is that anyone can start an ISP, providing they have the hardware and staff and can afford the requisite "big pipe" high-speed connection to the Internet.

For instance, some of the largest porn sites have actually become their own ISPs, setting up their entire web operation internally and buying their bandwidth directly from the backbone providers, like WorldCom, Sprint, AT&T, Qwest, etc. On a much smaller scale, I will be setting up my personal business site (currently at www.starshipwright.com ) on my own server in my house, thus becoming my own ISP. I don't get a lot of hits, so I don't need massive bandwidth. So, as long as you can buy the pipe, you can be the ISP.

Also as Rick mentions, the Internet is global -- an IP address can be anywhere on the planet -- and big corps cannot impose their will everywhere. Someone running a Napster derivative server in a place like Guyana can't be forced to shut down by the RIAA unless the government of Guyana cares what they have to say. In parallel, there are hundreds of websites run and served from outside the US where Americans go to engage in gambling -- sportsbook and casino games -- that is entirely illegal here. While efforts are being made to stop this, they are not having much success. The problem is analogous to the copyright enforcement issue.

I, too, believe that the genie is out of the bottle for the most part, and I think the bottle will be shattered eventually, regardless of (or perhaps because of) efforts to stuff it back in. What I hope is that it will destroy the ability of large corporations to force creators to turn over their copyrights in order to have the big corporation market and publish their works, as is the case now -- which I and many others consider to be institutionalized extortion. When you sell your work and it becomes a work-for-hire, it gives them total control over it and an excuse to find ways to not pay you for it. It's not the benign, beneficial arrangement it should be... for the most part it's abused by the greedy corps IMHO and in my direct experience.

However, that then that pushes the responsibility for defending our copyrights back onto us, which could make our lives more difficult. However, I will accept that burden in order to break the cycle of big corporations offering one "near-instant fame and fortune" in exchange for taking one's work away and making the creator, the person who came up with the idea that's generating the money, a "hired employee."

You can read more of my and Nat's opinions in the Creating Comics forum under "Giving It Away" (archived) and "Giving It Away Part 2."

Maybe the Net can't totally undermine corporate hegemony, but at least it gives us all a place to get our stuff out where the world can see it WITHOUT selling our souls.

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Jeff Zugale
Pagan City Comics
www.pagancity.com
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