A song-swapping timeline - 1.1
Luca Lampo & Marina Serina - [epidemiC]
"There is a thing, and they call it M.P. three
And our fans can get our music for free... Yeah!"
- Bob Cesca, Metallica parody -
The technological birth and "underground" childhood of MP3.
Moving Picture Experts Group approves MPEG-1 as standard for digital storage
and retrieval of moving pictures and audio. MPEG Audio Layer III, or MP3,
stores CD quality audio clips.
MPEG 1 or 2, Layer 3, or MP3, is an audio compression standard that allows tracks from an
audio CD to be compressed into a digital file 1/10 of its original size. Once compressed,
songs can be easily stored on a hard drive for playback on any Personal Computer, with
virtually no loss in sound quality. Users can manage their music collection on their PC, home
stereo connected to the PC, or Internet radio station. The small size of MP3s allows for
hours of music to be stored rather than the one-hour limit of traditional CDs.
In California, the first musical document archive is created on a university server.
"Since November 1993, the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA) has provided music distribution
on the Internet by compressing audio with the internationally standardized MPEG Audio format.
With the Internet experiencing tremendous growth (20 million current users and an estimated
1 million users added each month) we expect the Internet Underground Music Archive to be
accessible to the majority of people with computers by the late 1990s. Our goal is to
maintain a publically accessible, fast Internet site that archives the music, artwork
and information of any musician, group or band that wishes their music to be internationally
and freely distributed..." (from official statement).
IUMA (sunsite.unc.edu, Santa Cruz, California) turned into Radio-IUMA (iuma.com),
an internet site still active today.
Foundation of "MP3 Audio Consortium" (M3C, barista.stanford.edu/m3c/).
A Mailing List used as a quorum for discussing MP3.
"...None of us really had a patent interest in illegally copying music;
we were simply blown away by the 'cool factor' of the new medium. We decided to
form an official quorum for discussion of these issues, called The MP3 Audio Consortium
(It was actually originally called 'The MPEG-3 Audio Consortium,' until Tristan
Savartier of mpeg.org pointed out to us that MPEG-3 didn't exist and that MP3 really meant
MPEG Audio Layer 3!). One of our members drew up a logo, and I set up a website and
a mailing list. Nicknamed M3C, we grew quickly." (from an interview with the founder of M3C).
Tomislav Uzelac, of Advanced Multimedia Products, creates the first player
(software) for MP3 files, the AMP MP3 Playback Engine .
Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev leave the University of Utah to finish programming Winamp,
a freeware for Windows destined to be the most popular MP3 file player. It soon becomes a
shareware, needing a donation of ten dollars used solely to cover bandwith costs incurred by
30.000 downloads each day .
Documents in MP3 format begin to circulate marginally on Internet. On university servers,
enthusiast Home Pages, "Warez Scene" sites, IRC channels, "Free Webspace" services (idrive.com,
freedrive.com), HotLine servers, but especially FTP servers, where sites such as
ftpsearch.com, palavista.com and look4mp3.com supply an excellent document
Michael Robertson buys the "MP3.com" domain from Paul Martin for one thousand dollars .
MP3.com is founded in November 1997 with 3000 songs available for free download. In the next 12
months, it becomes the first music site on the Internet with 3 million hits monthly.
Economic lobbies, the beginning of the "property/freedom conflict".
The first portable MP3 file player is launched on the market, called MPman as a
paraphrase of Sony’s Walkman .
With the author’s consent, MP3.com makes available online "Sleeping with an Angel" and "Find a
Way", two new tracks by Billy Idol, the first of 1993. Capitol Records demands and achieves
their immediate removal .
Chuck D makes unpublished tracks from Public Enemy’s new album (Bring the Noise 2000)
available for free download. His label "Def Jam", a sublabel of PolyGram forces him to remove
them and in response he breaks off his contract .
Diamond Multimedia Systems is about to launch a portable MP3 player, the "Rio PMP300", to cost
$199 with a memory capacity allowing 60 minutes of high-quality music. Listening to MP3
documents will no longer be limited to Personal Computers.
Five of the pioneers in the rapidly expanding market for downloadable music - GoodNoise,
MP3.com, MusicMatch, Xing Technology and Diamond Multimedia - announce the formation of the
MP3 Association, an industry trade group focused on the continued evolution and adoption of
the MP3 standard. The Association will focus on three primary goals: promoting MP3 technology
as the next-generation digital music format, educating consumers about MP3 and its legal use,
and opening new creative avenues for musicians and developers. The MP3 Association will be
exhibiting at the Webnoize '98 conference in Los Angeles, November 2-4.
based in Palo Alto, CA is an Internet record company
harnessing the Internet as a platform for the sale and electronic delivery of music. With
a compelling repertoire of leading-edge alternative and modern rock artists, the GoodNoise
web site offers music fans an easy and convenient way to sample and purchase today's most
based in San Diego, CA was founded by Michael Robertson in November of
1997. With more than 3,000 songs available for free download, MP3.com quickly became the 1st
music download site on the Internet with 3 million visitors monthly. Today, more than 5
million songs have been downloaded from MP3.com, where the DAM (Digital Automatic Music)
program, an online label of sorts, offers artists digital distribution and a 50% royalty.
More than 1,000 artists and 100 labels actively participate using MP3.com as a promotional
tool for their music.
based in Camas, WA was incorporated in February of 1997. The company
develops complete MP3-focused digital audio solutions, allowing people to elevate their
multimedia PCs into powerful components of their stereo systems.
|Xing Technology Corporation,
based in San Luis Obispo, CA is the leading provider
of MPEG audio and digital software. Since its founding in 1990, Xing has been the premier
innovator in emerging media standards, including MPEG-2 video, DVD, and MPEG 1 or 2, Layer
3 (MP3) digital audio.
|Diamond Multimedia Systems,
based in San Jose, CA is driving the interactive
multimedia market by providing advanced solutions for home, business and professional
desktop computer users, enabling them to create, access and experience compelling new
media content from their desktops and through the Internet. Diamond's new Rio PMP300 is
a portable, lightweight digital music player for mixing and storing up to sixty minutes
of digital quality music and up to eight hours of voice quality audio from the Internet
or a PC. The device uses MP3 compression and features a simple interface for easily
transferring and converting files on the PC.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sues Diamond Multimedia and demands
that distribution of the "Rio MP3 Player" be blocked. The RIAA accuses Diamond of violation
of the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 (AHRA)and forecasts serious economic losses for the
record companies. The preliminary sentence throws out the demand by the RIAA and the Rio
portable player continues to be distributed, selling an average 10.000 units weekly.
Diamond brings counter-charges against the RIAA for violation of antitrust regulations,
defamation and unfair competition. The final verdict, issued by the Court of California
in June 1999, awards victory to Diamond Multimedia on the basis of a previous injunction:
the case of Betamax VCR (Video Cassette Recorder), manufactured by Sony in 1984. Sony was
accused of encouraging piracy but won the case by proving that although Betamax VCR indeed
enabled copies of pirate cassettes to be made, this was neither its specific use, nor the
use for which it had been designed and manufactured. In short, it would be unfair to punish
Betamax VCR on the basis of possible use for illegal ends.
|RIAA - (riaa.org)
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) was founded
in 1952. The RIAA is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission
is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes members' creative and
financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant
national music industry in the world. RIAA© members create, manufacture and/or distribute
approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States.
In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual
property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conduct consumer
industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations
The major record groups represented by the RIAA include: Sony, EMI,
BMG, Time Warner, Warner Music, Seagram, Universal and Bertelsmann.
|Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA)
In 1992 President Bush signs the Audio Home
Recording Act. Defined by many a historic compromise, the ARHA is the first official document
to recognize the consumer’s right to use and the retailer’s right to sell, all equipment able
to record and duplicate, both in digital and analogue form.
Duplication is limited to
domestic use and as such, the ARHA allows only a first generation of copies but prohibits
serial use of the equipment for commercial purposes.
The compromise requires payment
of a modest fee which is to go to the first "person" involved in the distribution process,
the production or import company; no monetary compensation is required from the retailer or
the end user. The sum, established as a percentage, is managed in common by the "Register of
Copyrights" and by the "Librarian of Congress": two thirds of the amount will go to the Sound
Recordings Fund and one third to the Musical Works Fund.
|Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act)
is a law passed by the Clinton Administration on
28 October 1998 on the basis of suggestions by
the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
and consists of 5 articles devoted to the
"protection" of copyright in the digital age.
The first article of the DMCA deals in
particular with the technological aspects related to
copyright, defining new classes of offence:
The DMCA prohibits manufacture
and sale of equipment or services violating one of the above prohibitions but it must be stressed
that copying protected works is not expressly forbidden by the law. According to regulations on
copyright, in some cases copying may be considered a "fair use" of a protected work.
- Circumvention of Technological Protection (both for access to
and for copying of protected data).
- Infraction of Integrity of Copyright Management Information.
The question remains of Copyright Management Information (CMI). This is only a sort of electronic
watermark containing information on the work in question, the author, the copyright owner and
other similar information.
Fortunately, the CMI is strictly forbidden to contain
information on the user holding the object.
In this case also, the law provides for two possible offences:
- Falsification of the Copyright Management Information (CMI).
- Removal or alteration of the Copyright Management Information (CMI).
Hilary Rosen of the RIAA reports the discovery of "80 sites, mostly American, offering 20.000
MP3 files, 99% (per cent) unauthorized" .
The Beastie Boys make five MP3 files available on their site free of charge with the live
versions of "Intergalactic", an unpublished track. Capitol Records demand their immediate
removal and after the group threaten to break off their contract, persuade them to change
format and make them available for listening in streaming .
In New York during a press conference, the RIAA presents the project SDMI "Secure Digital
Music Initiative". The aim of the promotors of SDMI is to develop a global system for protecting
musical works reproduced in digital form. In fact, current technology enables the creation of
digital copies indistinguishable from the digital original, thus favouring manufacture and
distribution of works without authors, performers, producers and record companies being able
to receive their due royalties. The software and hardware manufacturers conforming to the
regulations proposed by the SDMI should ensure digital audio distribution conforms to
intellectual property laws.
|Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) - (sdmi.org)
The Secure Digital Music Initiative is a forum that has brought together more than 200
companies and organizations representing information technology, consumer electronics,
security technology, the worldwide recording industry and Internet service providers.
SDMI's charter is to develop open technology specifications that protect the playing,
storing, and distributing of digital music such that a new market for digital music may
emerge. The open technology specifications released by SDMI will ultimately:
- Provide consumers with convenient access to music both online and in new emerging digital
- Enable copyright protection for artists' works, and
- Promote the development of new music-related business and technologies.
The number of Internet users worldwide reaches 150 million by the beginning of 1999.
More than 50% are from the United States.
Recognition of the term "MP3" by users moves from 8 to 60% (per cent), according to a study
in the first six months of the year by the music webzine "Webnoize" .
The term "MP3" overtakes "sex" among the most requested words handled by search engines
according to enquiries by the specialist site Searchterms.com .
During a meeting in London, the RIAA adopts a strategy to put pressure on hardware and
software manufacturers. The aim is adoption of SDMI specifics for development and sale of
music on line. SDMI backers want manufacturers to build a time-bomb trigger into their
products that, when activated at a later date, would prevent users from downloading or
playing non-SDMI-compliant music.
The Company Houses invited to the meeting limit themselves
to offering partial cooperation, but not immediately: new MP3 players are expected on the market
for Christmas and blocking manufacture to wait for demand for a "time-bomb trigger" would bring
the economy in a whole chain of manufacturers to its knees.
MP3.com is floated on the stock exchange. Its shares open at 28 Dollars and close at 72 Dollars .
Chuck D. publishes his first single in MP3 format, "Swindler's Lust", and soon after that
a whole album "There's a Poison Goin' On" as a free download for the first week and then
purchasable directly from the band’s website .
The RIAA's SOUNDBYTING Campaign, which includes a kit for university and college
administrators as well as a web site, provides the core materials to serve as a framework
for discussion of music and the Internet. Its purpose is to raise awareness that reproducing
and distributing music illegally is akin to stealing, and such actions have serious ethical
and legal consequences. The RIAA hopes to clearly outline what is allowable and to provide
informative material about copyright law through its university and college materials and on
the SOUNDBYTING web site.
"...to educate universities and students about respecting the rights of musicians on the
Internet. Because uploading and downloading somebody else's music without their permission
isn't just against the law. It's a rip-off. Simple as that." (from soundbyting.com).
MP3 meets Peer-to-Peer: it’s "Music Free!"
Peer-to-Peer is a network model where each computer
connected is simultaneously able to offer and request a service with parity and in a
decentralized manner. In the case of P2P networks with "file-sharing" or "file-swapping"
functions, the computers request and send files and supply services questioning the shared
"There is a cool new tool out there called Napster that allows anyone to become a publicly
accessible FTP site - tapping in to that huge resource of personal MP3 collections that
everyone has, but have not been able to share... RIAA should be scared out of their minds
because users are not logged on permanently, so it's hard to track them down to take legal
action." (from Slashdot Daily Report 11/17/1999).
Napster is a Peer-to-Peer protocol enabling sharing of MP3 files amone
users of customer program Napster, downloadable free of charge from the site napster.com.
The search for musical documents in the directories shared by users is carried out by
a central server indexing the musical documents and adressing their transfer. The Napster
central server contains only the list of songs made available by users, the real MP3 files
reside only in the computers of individual users and are never transferred into the Napster
The company says its software aims to make finding MP3 files easier on the Net.
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Northern California, the Recording Industry
Association of America charges Napster with violating federal and state laws through
"contributory and vicarious copyright infringement", because it has created a forum that
lets online users trade unauthorized music files directly from their PCs. Judge Marilyn Patel
is expected to resume that case in the next few weeks.
At the request of the RIAA, use of Napster is banned in almost two hundred American universities.
MP3.com announces its Instant Listening Service. The new service enables listening via the
web to music chosen from a database of over 45.000 MP3 documents. The service is accessed
by registering and typing in the proof of purchase code at one of the CD-Store Partners of
MP3.com, or by putting the original CD into the player. The service enables opening of a
personalized account: "My MP3.com", allowing creation of one’s own playlist of songs chosen
from the entire database.
One week after the service opens, the RIAA sues MP3.com. The charge: Instant Listening Service
favours violation of the laws on copyright defined by the DMCA, insofar as nothing would prevent
a user from using CDs lent to access the service.
MP3.com’s defence: the Audio Tracks made available can in no way be copied onto the user’s hard
disk, the software is limited to supplying a version listenable in MP3 format. The company
explains that the basic idea is to promote the nascent music on-line market by devising new
services, new marketing strategies and creating new promotional opportunities for musicians.
In February MP3.com presents a counter-accusation stating that the RIAA, in demanding the
closure of the service and database, is attempting to take an advantage in the market for
the distribution of on-line music. In May, the preliminary sentence states that MP3.com is
guilty of violation of copyright, the Federal Judge of New York, Jed Rakoff presiding. The
company decides to interrupt supply of services declared illegal and comes to an economic
agreement with the record company EMI.
On 18 August, the trial begins at the District Court of New York. MP3.com is sentenced to
repayment of 250 million dollars to the Universal Music Group, approximately 25.000 dollars
for each CD used.
Gnullsoft is the section devoted to the development of Open Source software within Nullsoft,
the manufacturer of the popular Winamp (MP3 software player) recently purchased by America On
Gnullsoft releases the first version of a new, revolutionary Peer-to-Peer protocol:
The web page hosting the download of the program is soon closed down by the company
itself, but the public release of the Source Code enables anyone to use the Gnutella
protocol to develop other programs. Within a short time, several dozen different Gnutella
software clones are available on the Internet.
Gnutella is a Peer-to-Peer protocol with a substantial difference from
Napster: user-shared files are not searched by a central server but in a decentralized manner
by the Peer-to-Peer network itself. Gnutella was designed to connect up to the entire network
of users, establishing a link with any one of them. In short, a Gnutella client connects to
another Gnutella client who,in turn, connects to another Gnutella client, using a method
similar to word-of-mouth to perform document search.
A Gnutella client is also a
Gnutella server and this characteristic makes the protocol technically and legally
attack-proof. Gnutella does not belong to a company and any responsibility can only
be attributed to the end user: the person who shares the file.
In comparison with
the centralized search by Napster, the only disadvantage of Gnutella is the high
consumption of network resources by each user.
Apart from MP3 files, the
Gnutella protocol enables any other type of document to be shared.
The rock band Metallica sue Napster for damages, demanding $100.000 compensation
for each of their tracks indexed in the Napster archive. The band’s lawyers identify
users sharing the band’s songs and demand Napster block access for them to the service.
On website "Campchaos" (www.campchaos.com/cartoons/napsterbad/) a series of satirical
cartoons appears, produced by Bob Cesca, showing a biting caricature of Metallica in
their fight against Napster. The series of cartoons becomes very well-known on the net.
Public opinion is split: some support Metallica in defence of copyright, others support Napster.
Elton John and Paul McCartney join the anti-Napster front with a public campaign supported
by British Music Rights with the slogan "Respect the Value of Music" .
Arrival of Zeropaid.com "The File Sharing Portal", soon to become an important reference for
information and discussion involving all file-sharing enthusiasts.
At the preliminary hearing the judge of the Federal Court of San Francisco, Marylin Hall
Patel, declares Napster effectively responsible for violating regulations defending
The Federal Court confirms this decision. By 28 July, Napster
must remove from its central index all documents protected by copyright or close the
The RIAA-Napster trial is widely covered in the international media, causing an unexpected
side effect. Most people only understand the following message from the complicated
proceedings of the trial: "..There’s a thing they call -MP3-. It means: free music! You
get it on Internet in a place called Napster!".
From February to July in the USA, connections to Napster increase from one to nearly five
million, outstripping all expectations. Napster is, according to Media Metrix, the best-known
and fastest-used internet program. Surfers logging on to Napster from home in the USA represent
six per cent of PC owners equipped with an internet connection.
Legally or illegally, file-sharing becomes a collective, viral phenomenon. Large numbers of
songs and other musical contents are digitised in MP3 format from Audio CDs directly by
individual swappers. "It’s the buzz of sharing!" (Agnese, Candida TV).
This spontaneous data entry operation which is still ongoing, makes a decisive contribution
to the spread and affirmation of the MP3 audio compression format.
From now on, MP3 can be said, although controversially, to have become a "product", to all
intents and purposes.
Napster’s lawyer, David Boies, appeals to the Court of Appeal. The Court grants an extension
and establishes that Napster can continue to supply the service while awaiting the definitive
sentence, due on 18 August.
The date for the appeal hearing is set for 18 September.
During the appeal hearing, Napster’s lawyer uses the defence strategy based on the previous
"Betamax VCR" by Sony, which had saved the Diamond Rio player in 1999. In short, Napster
allows exchange via Internet of MP3 documents, but only some of these documents are protected
by Copyright, hence Napster is used legally in most cases. In other words, most users do not
use Napster to trade illegally in CDs. The service offered does not encourage copying, but
helps users and also incentivates purchase of the original audio CDs.
Judge Patel had initially sentenced Napster, having stated that the company could not use
this law since, in this case, it was not equipment but software which was being produced.
The Clinton admininstration issues an Amicus Brief with reference to section 1008 of the
Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA). Amicus Briefs are legal arguments presented by external
figures within a criminal trial, since they are in some way involved in its result.
Basically, the document excludes that section 1008 of the AHRA can protect Napster users
and excludes the company from all possible accusations of violation of Copyright.
The arguments contained in the Amicus Brief are based on the fact that the cited section
of the ARHA talks about equipment intended to produce copies, while a Personal Computer
cannot be defined a "Digital Audio Recording Device", or similar instrument.
Further, the ARHA allows and protects non-commercial domestic
copying of contents protected by Copyright,
but not their public distribution. In case of distribution, the AHRA would require payment
of a royalty that neither Napster nor its users could pay, since it is reserved for
manufacturers or importers of "Digital Musical Recording" equipment.
The Amicus Brief was issued a month before the expected final sentence in the RIAA vs.
Napster case and causes opposition among several Republican party members towards the
Democrat government and hence earns the sympathy of the record industry.
Oklahoma State University police serve a student with a search warrant, confiscating a
computer and other equipment after receiving a letter from the RIAA stating that "an
individual on campus was distributing copyrighted material." The college was able to
identify the student responsible as the RIAA had provided the IP address to the technical
services department. An Oklahoma State University spokesperson says that about 1.000 albums
worth of material had been seized.
Secure Digital Music Interactive (SDMI) is developing an antibootlegging system known as
"watermark". Basically, this means taking the musical document and inserting protection
codes which can be decrypted on with a special key, without which the song cannot be listened
to. To check the effective solidity of the system, SDMI offers a $10.000 reward for anyone
successfully cracking the "watermarks". "Here's an invitation to show off your skills, make
some money, and help shape the future of the online digital music economy.
The Secure Digital Music Initiative is a multi-industry initiative working to develop a secure
framework for the digital distribution of music. SDMI protected content will be embedded with
an inaudible, robust watermark or use other technology that is designed to prevent the
unauthorized copying, sharing, and use of digital music.
We are now in the process of testing the technologies that will allow these protections.
The proposed technologies must pass several stringent tests: they must be inaudible, robust,
and run efficiently on various platforms, including PCs. They should also be tested by you.
So here's the invitation: Attack the proposed technologies. Crack them." (from SDMI official
|The Case of Felten vs. SDMI
Edward Felten, professor of informatics at the University of Princeton, decided to
participate in the "watermark" challenge issued by SDMI. In a short time, with his assistants,
he managed to crack 4 of the 6 "watermarks, showing the weakness of the system designed by SDMI.
Felten at this point could have won $10,000 for each watermark he cracked. But the competition
rules were that all information on possible cracking of the watermarks should not become public.
Felten refused the prize: "I believe that the public, musicians and composers have the right
to know if the technology they have to purchase doesn’t work. And then, this could be a very
dangerous precedent...". He decided to present the documentation in public at the Hiding Workshop
Conference in Pittsburgh the following April.
In a letter, SDMI warned Felten that divulging
the material in question would be a violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA),
which forbids the diffusion of information which, even indirectly, might favour the violation
of intellectual property.
The Pittsburgh event was cancelled. Edward Felten and his
assistants (supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation), decided to take legal action
in the belief that this use of the DMCA violated the freedom of expression enshrined in the
First Amendment of the Constitution.
Edward Felten lost the case. The academic world supported
Felten and showed great concern about possible future conflicts between laws defending
intellectual property and freedom to do research and divulge scientific information.
Final round between Napster and the RIAA. The appeal sentence is expected for October
but the judge decides to hear the case of both parties again and the sentence is not pronounced.
Bertelsmann, one of the major record groups and represented by the RIAA in the trial against
Napster, withdraws from the case and signs an agreement with Napster.
Bertelsmann invests fresh capital in Napster and grants access to its music catalogue. The
service will no longer be free but will ensure regular payment of copyright. Napster will
supply the technology and develop a payment system financed by BeCG (Bertelsmann e-Commerce
Group: the group’s new electronic commerce sector).
Bertelsmann thus inherits the valuable Napster Community: millions of users. The two new partners
invite the other record companies to take part in their initiative.
The problematic Napster affair seems to have reached a possible solution. Many questions remain,
including: "Will the Napster Community agree to pay for a service which, until recently, was free?
Will it remain intact or dissolve spontaneously in the same way it came together?". These are the
most common questions on Napster-Swapper chatlines.
The Court modifies the sentence of July 2000 that Napster should close the filenames of the songs
protected by Copyright and shared by users must be filtered by the indexing service. In practice,
swappers will no longer be able to exchange illegal tracks because the search service cannot find
them. The filter is to come into service in March but this will not be enough. Swappers solve the
problem with ordinary encryption of filenames, eg.
"Britney Spears" becomes "Bitney Spears" or "Brritney Sppears". Aimster makes a "Pig Latin
Encoder" available to simplify the operation: "Madonna" becomes "adonnaM".
"Napster seems to have adopted the most porous filter available... It's not working, it never
will work and Napster should be ordered to implement an effective filter or to change its
filtering method.", says Hilary Rosen (president of the RIAA). Napster defends itself stating
that the RIAA did not supply the collaboration promised.
Meanwhile, a report by Wired states that Napster traffic has dropped by 60%. On 2 July, Napster
is definitively offline to restructure the company for the new payment service.
In September, Napster and the "National Music Publishers' Association" reach an agreement: Napster
will pay 26 million dollars for damage to copyright in the past and 10 million dollars for future
In May 2002, Bertelsman decides to purchase Napster for 8 million dollars. Two weeks later,
Napster files for bankruptcy.
"O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer Conferences" takes place on 14-16 February in San Francisco.
Over 90 speakers take part in the debates and include: Ray Ozzie (Groove), Ian Clark (Freenet),
Johnny Deep (AIMster), Gene Kan (Gnutella), Clay Shirky (Napster)and Lawrence Lessig (expert
After Metallica and Dr. Dre, another famous exponent of the music business joins the
anti-Napster party. Neil Young states he will not perform tracks live from his forthcoming
album to prevent them from starting to circulate on Napster: "I don’t want people being able
to listen to my music if I’ve decided otherwise" .
|Is Napster hurting record sales?
The RIAA identifies MP3-sharing as the cause of the drop in the profits of record companies.
The products most affected are CD singles, which in 2000 fall to almost 40% less than the previous year.
A statistical study commissioned by the RIAA reports that 23% of
those interviewed do not buy CDs because they practice Peer-to-Peer.
In May 2001, Jupiter Research publishes a new statistical study
on the phenomenon with a research sample of 3,319 people: it finds that 34% of habitual
MP3-swappers are buying more CDs than ever before and that only 14% have stopped all purchases.
Jupiter Research finds that sales in 2000 have dropped only for: audiotape and CD singles,
audiotape compilations, vinyl records and music videos. Sales of CDs have risen by 3%; probably
not as much as the record companies had hoped.
Others attribute the cause of the drop in sales to the exorbitant price of CDs.
Apple broadcasts adverts in the USA with the slogan "Rip, Mix, Burn", with endorsements by
Barry White, George Clinton Liz Phair, De La Soul, Lil' Kim, Ziggy Marley, Chuck Berry and
Exene Cervenka .
The musician Manu Chao states: "Napster might be a problem for musicians who can’t live off
their own music. But I don’t see why a band or artist who are already known should make a
fuss about it. We’ve got enough money to live on" .
The virus of song-swapping.
During the legal death-throes of Napster, apart from the many increasingly used and effective
Gnutella clones (Limewire, Bearshare, Gnucleus...), opennap starts life (opennap.sourceforge.net).
opennap is the Open Source version of the Napster server which, although developed wholly
independently from napster.com, uses an identical "centralized" protocol. Anyone can install
opennap and supply the service which, until a short time before, could only be obtained from
napster.com. opennap, apart from MP3, enables sharing of any type of document.
To access the opennap servers with one’s own Napster client, Napigator is used, a small software
downloadable from the site napigator.com, which supplies the updated list of the opennap servers.
The Napster-Napigator combination is immediately successful. New clients become available
subsequently using opennap directly without assistance from Napigator. WinMX proves the
most popular of all.
The RIAA sends some sixty "legal notices" to the Internet-service companies hosting opennap
Audiogalaxy starts life, a "centralized" Peer-to-Peer service devoted to music documents in
MP3 format. The search service is accessed via a web interface on the site audiogalaxy.com and
installation of a small satellite software enables a user’s songs to be shared with others. The
enormous amount of documents available ensures immediate success.
A Dutch group develops a new commercial Peer-to-Peer protocol: FastTrack. Its "decentralized"
structure is similar to Gnutella, but its system for handling metadata, (the index enabling s
hared files to be found), is more sophisticated.
Three new "twin" programs become available based on FastTrack: KaZaA, Morpheus and Grokster,
the first belongs to the owners of FastTrack and the second to the Californian MusicCity which,
already known as a major supplier of opennap service, decides to migrate to FastTrack since it is
under attack by the RIAA.
The protocol is immediately successful: In June it already has 300,000 users. Not only MP3 and
other types of document appear but also many films in DivX format.
FastTrack is a joint venture between Sharman Networks, AltNet (known as Brilliant Digital) and
Joltid (known as KaZaA BV). The registered head offices of the companies owning FastTrack are
located around the world. This complicates any possible legal action against it.
|A large directory for everyone.
FastTrack, Audiogalaxy, opennap, Gnutella and
the great variety of protocols and clients available are often used simultaneously by the same
file-swapper, who tends to group documents on their own computer in a single directory. An
"exchange area" independent of the type of P2P technology used. A huge bank of contents
digitised and available to anyone.
Some call it: "A new, spontaneous social practice,
A new culture". Others: "An illegal practice, a vice to be fought against". Different views
of a visibly rooted phenomenon.
At the meeting of the Supreme Council of the USA to approve the "Terrorist Act", the RIAA
proposes putting into the "Terrorist Act" an amendment related to electronic piracy. The
amendment is not accepted. Il Council confines itself to simplifying wiretapping on phone lines
and net monitoring.
The RIAA and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sue KaZaA, Morpheus and Grokster,
the P2P softwares using the FastTrack protocol. KaZaA is Dutch and belongs to FastTrack, Grokster
is Caribbean, Morpheus is the only North American and belongs to MusicCity.
In accordance with the joint case brought by Buma/Stemra, the Dutch organization for the defence
of copyright and by the Dutch wing of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry,
in November 2001 the Court of Amsterdam sentences KaZaA to closure on pain of a payment of 40.000
dollars for each day of digital disobedience. KaZaA has two weeks to comply with the verdict.
In December KaZaA ignores the order of the Court.
KaZaA temporarily suspends its service. It is sold to Sharman Networks, an Australian
company, but the ownership of the FastTrack protocol remains unchanged.
The Dutch Court of Appeal rewrites the sentence: KaZaA is not guilty. Responsibility
lies solely with the users, i.e the file-swappers.
Morpheus, the FastTrack client belonging to MusicCity, ceases to function and advises
that it has had an attack of Denial of Service (DoS) by an unknown party.
|Denial of Service (DoS)
Denial of Service is a class of computer attacks which
can be carried out via a computer network. The aim of a DoS is to cause disruption to a net
service. Using particular techniques, the "target service" is subjected to more requests than
it is able to supply.
Morpheus decides to abandon the proprietary protocol FastTrack for an Open Source system
based on Gnutella.
But this was not a DoS, FastTrack admits it closed Morpheus, because: "They weren’t paying
Many Colleges in the USA decide to abandon their over-repressive line against file-swapping
by their students: "Students are essentially our customers, and we need to try to make them
happy..." (Russell Taylor, Lees-McRae College).
On the basis of arrests and guilty verdicts by the Courts, the RIAA
states that piracy is strongly on the increase.
The RIAA requests opening of a fund to create a program called Computer Hacking and Intellectual
Property (CHIP) and that it become part of action by the Department of Justice in the fight
against digital crime.
At the ceremony of the Grammy Awards, considered the music business version of the Oscars,
Michael Greene, president of the Recording Academy organizing the event, focuses his opening
address on internet and attempts to rally opinion against free swapping, stating that "without
a doubt, the most insidious virus is illegal music downloading from the net (...) Its defenders
offer myriad excuses. This exchange of music files is pervasive, out of control and really
criminal". He then introduces three students, stating that in two days they downloaded 6.000
tracks and are the proof that the entire music system is at risk .
A study by market research company Ipsos-Reid, states that only 8% (per cent) of Americans
over the age of twelve downloading music from the internet have paid to get it. Further, 84%
(per cent) of the same sample (some four/fifths) state that they would not pay for music
downloaded from the net even if the technical means to exchange it free did not exist. Together
with these results, however, there are others countering the trend re: CD purchases. 81%
(per cent) of those interviewed state that their compact disc purchases have remained the
same or have gone up since they began downloading music from the net. Further, 84% (per cent)
use internet not only to download files but to listen to previews in streaming, read song
lyrics or information on tours by their favourite artists and use search engines to find bands’
sites and how to purchase their CDs. Half of them purchased a CD on the basis of information
only obtained on the net (text or sound). Finally, a third of those interviewed changed their
favourite genre since starting to download music and a slightly smaller percentage consequently
changed radio listening habits .
FastTrack registers 20 million users, from 1 to 2 million swappers connected to each other
KaZaA forms an alliance with Verizon. The aim is to create a strategy to get round the RIAA
and pay royalties directly to the artists.
The RIAA takes action against Audiogalaxy. The centralized structure of the service, similar
to Napster, makes it very vulnerable legally speaking. It is closed down within a few weeks.
MP3 swappers remember it with regret as one of the most effective services devoted to
The Representatives of the Districts of California and North Carolina, Howard Berman
and Howard Coble, present Congress in Washington with what is soon to be called "Berman's
In short, it is intended to regulate and legalize attacks such as Denial of Service and
other types against computers and data belonging to single Peer-to-Peers, if carried out by
a person or company defending their own copyright. The copyright owner can take the law into
their own hands.
The bill raises many doubts and arguments: the legal consumer of music and the swapper are
often the same person. Is a company that punishes its own customers a good model for the
The RIAA congratulates Berman on the bill.
An American company, MediaForce, begins offering a service (MediaDecoy) to companies wishing
to defend the copyright of their own works.
In July, the website of the RIAA is attacked and knocked out(DoS) by unknown hackers.
Many Internet Service Providers (ISP) state their disagreement with
"Berman's Bill" and announce that they will protect their own clients.
|High Fidelity MP3
In 2000, Texas Instruments purchase Burr-Brown, an American company
manufacturing DACs (Digital to Analog Converters) for high quality reading of Audio CDs.
The result of the collaboration between the two companies is a new generation of DSP (Digital
signal processing)chips. The excellent performance of these chips in reading MP3 formats persuade
many Hi-Fi enthusiasts of their quality.
"Imagine never buying another music CD or cassette. No hissing, no skipping, no matter what.
One of the hottest new uses for the Internet is downloading
music. MP3 files are populating the web by the hundreds of thousands. Manufacturers are building
the devices. The whole music world is changing. And this is creating tremendous growth
opportunities for the companies that get there first." (Texas Instruments. Internet audio:
These chips cost around 4 dollars each.
The problem of conflict between protecting Copyright and the phenomenon of song-swapping
begins to appear without a solution. The approaches of "digital safety" (SDMI) and repression
(legal action, changes to the law) have proved ineffective, costly and unpopular.
The RIAA decides to appeal to the sentiments of song-swappers with an anti-piracy campaign
appearing in the major national daily press: "- Who Really Cares About Illegal Downloading? -
Artists and songwriters of every style and genre speaking out against illegal copying..." (musicunited.org).
- "Piracy deprives songwriters, producers and artists
acknowledgement for sharing the gift of music." Trisha Yearwood.
"Our industry must take a very strong position against
the stealing of our writing and music or else those writings and music
will become as cheap as the garbage in the streets." Stevie Wonder.
"Artists and composers - particularly the younger ones -
will not stand a chance of creating music in the future
if their recordings are simply stolen in this way." Luciano Pavarotti.
"Turning your back on the bootleggers helps us pave the
way for the next generation of entrepreneurs." Missy Elliott.
"You might as well walk into a record store, put the cd’s in your
pocket and walk out without paying for them." Mark Knopfler.
"Would you go into a cd store and steal a cd? It's the
same thing, people going into the computers and logging on
and stealing our music." Britney Spears.
"It may seem innocent enough, but every time you illegally
download music a songwriter doesn't get paid. And, every time
you swap that music with your friends a new artist doesn't
get a chance. Respect the artists you love by not stealing
their music. You're in control. Support music, don't steal it." Dixie Chicks.
"Making an album is a team effort, so when somebody pirates
a record, that not only affects the artist, but also the
people who worked on it like co-producers, co-writers
and musicians. Say no to piracy." Shakira.
"I love music. I also love the internet. Unfortunately with
the internet has come piracy. Piracy is very bad for music.
what can you do to stop piracy? Refuse to participate,
it's as simple as that." Joshua Bell.
"We really look at it as stealing, because to us it's
black and white, either you pay for it or you don't.
And, you're not paying for it." Nelly. -
There follow the signatures of 79 other musicians and authors.
Only two months earlier, David Bowie said in an interview with the New York Times:
"I don't even know why I would want to be on a label in a few years, because
I don't think it's going to work by labels and by distribution systems in the same way,"...
"The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music
will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it.
I see absolutely no point in pretending that it's not going to happen.
I'm fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years,
and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing."...
"Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity,"...
"So it's like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of
this is ever going to happen again. You'd better be prepared for doing a lot
of touring because that's really the only unique situation that's going to be left.
It's terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn't matter if you think it's
exciting or not; it's what's going to happen."
Two years earlier, David Bowie had already declared he was in favour of MP3 and Napster. In the
same way, other artists from different genres, generations and with varying degrees of fame, had
judged song-swapping as an opening towards new possibilities of getting their own works out and
as a more direct channel of communication with their fans: John Flansburgh of They Might Be G
iants (TMBG), Chuck D of Public Enemy, Colin Greenwood of Radiohead and Princess Superstar to
name but a few.
On the site of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in January 2002, Negativland publishes
a long statement entitled: "In Support of Peer-to-Peer File Sharing".
Gnutella 2 starts life. G2 is a new beginning for the Gnutella network : an open, scalable and
flexible protocol designed to support current and future P2P technologies. Full specifications
will be available soon. Until then, preview G2 technology at shareaza.com.
 Ludovico Alessandro, Suoni Futuri Digitali, Apogeo, 2000
 Neural.it, http://www.neural.it
 Haring Bruce, Beyond the Charts, OTC Press, 2000
Copyright (C) November 2002 Luca Lampo & Marina Serina - [epidemiC]
Under GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)