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osOpinion: RIAA and Napster: A study in failed strategic thinking

Jul 28, 2000, 07:11 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Despain)

[ Thanks to Kelly McNeill for this link. ]

"Unfortunately for RIAA shutting down Napster is not going to change demand for the ability to digitally download music. Where before that demand was focused on Napster due to the ease of finding the right music selection (Napster had the greatest number of users, thus the greatest selection of downloads which in turn reinforced their lead in users. Ain't network effects great?) Demand will now be forced into other outlets. Since the RIAA and the music industry as a whole has not agreed on a standard for secure download, nor have they made any replacement service for Napster available, this demand will undoubtedly flow into GNUtella, which is a close cousin to Napster with some key differences. This creates some serious problems for the RIAA."

"Without a centralized server to facilitate search, Gnutella truly is one to one sharing of file. It's harder to find what you want but nonetheless, it still can be found. It really is sharing a copy with a friend. Never mind that it is a perfect digital copy of the original or so close that the listener cannot tell the difference. This sort of sharing falls under the traditional definition of "fair use" and I would hazard a guess that any court cases the RIAA brings to challenge that will fail."

"With music sharing now distributed with a true peer to peer client (which will undoubtedly improve over time as an open source product) the RIAA has lost the ability to influence the way music is delivered on the Internet. Since there is no central company in charge of GNUtella, lawsuits will be difficult, if not next to impossible to serve."

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