by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Response Time & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & R & lt;/span & eady for a thought experiment? It's kinda out there. It's going to require you to regard as factual some pretty obviously false statements. I promise, though, the payoff will be worth it.
OK. Assume file sharers were actively trying to make money by stealing and selling music they had no hand in creating instead of hearing, loving and sharing their new favorite cuts with friends. Assume that someone, somewhere -- in a court of law, or in an ethics classroom, or out of some weathered page of the Torah -- found a convincing argument that sharing is stealing. Assume that, in the face of this threat, the non-file-sharing public rose up in disgust at these leeches and in support of their beloved record labels. Assume the record labels had a public mandate to stop file sharing.
Assume they're the good guys.
They still wouldn't win. The game's too fast and they're too slow. The fight ain't fair. Not even when evened up a little.
Last October, authorities from Britain and the Netherlands halted operations of oink.cd, the world's best BitTorrent music site. They got everything. Servers, user IDs, lists of uploaded albums (many of them leaked). "The future is bleak for these ne'er-do-wells," the cops assured all who would listen. It took well-nigh a year, but that mountain of evidence has finally led to arrests! Of six people. Out of millions of users.
Well, but when they've taken these half-dozen scofflaws into custody and sat them down under the harsh light of the interrogation room, they surely got confessions, right? Names of accomplices?
No, passwords actually. See, authorities hit a sticky patch, not being able to access the user records, it seems, because they can't figure out the passwords. So they've had to ask the suspects to hand them over. Seriously.
Meanwhile, Oink's creator, Alan Ellis, has had the date of his first court appearance pushed back for the third time, from Dec. 21 to February to May and now to July 1, because authorities haven't yet been able to find a law the guy actually broke.
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & A & lt;/span & s always, these are not arguments for the righteousness of file sharing. They're simply observations about the state of things. This fight is less than unwinnable. It's long lost.