The wild west days of file sharing are over.
With the demise of Megaupload this year, a domino effect has been seen through file sharing websites. Some sites closed, and the biggest sites like Rapidshare have seriously limited public downloads of files they host, so those thousands of Blogspot sites sharing pirated albums are now full of dead links.
There was a time when the ‘share anything for free’ model on the internet seemed partly understandable. The music industry had not caught up with technology, and made purchased music more difficult to obtain than pirated files.
For the most part, that has now changed. It’s easy to buy high quality music files with no awkward DRM protection, and there are some fantastic online stores like Bleep and Boomkat. Sites like Bandcamp also allow artists to sell directly to fans, cutting out the often criticized ‘industry’.
Artists need to make a living, so we should pay for music. It’s great that it’s now so easy to pay for music.
Megaupload, and sites like it, added insult to the injury of piracy by charging for ‘premium accounts’. It’s hard to see how this was not profiting from piracy. Those people who fervently believe in file sharing freedom can hardly support such sites.
Movie and TV piracy is still huge on torrent sites, and it will be fascinating to see if those industries can respond intelligently: make your movies available worldwide with the minimum of fuss, and people will pirate less. Most importantly, paid services must not be worse than the pirate copies, as is often the case now.
At the end of 2012, it looks like order is coming to file sharing. While the pop-up laden file sharing sites are on the way out, there are some great ways to share privately, like Dropbox. This is a good thing, and should help to make the internet a safer place.