Comcast just recently won a big and groundbreaking court case where they could start blocking bit torrent on their networks. The courts basically said the FCC didn’t have any jurisdiction in the matter. This was a terrible blow to Net Neutrality in my opinion.
I will agree that most kids, teenagers, and college kids are using bit torrent to download movies and music illegally. But there are legitimate uses. Just this morning, I wanted the startup sound for Windows Millennium/2000 and found it easily on bit torrent. Searching Google for it was a quagmire of commercial crap I had to weed through and I still couldn’t find it. I gave up on Google and found it within seconds on bit torrent. Yesterday, I downloaded the latest free distribution of Linux Ubuntu for my laptop and a couple of cool Linux blogging apps. Even though I have a legitimate subscription to Streamlink, it is often easier and faster for me to download Coast to Coast AM via a torrent every morning.
The problem is that these companies will stamp out these file sharing networks and another one will pop up to take it’s place. Remember Napster? Bit torrent is the new Napster for kids. It’s like commercial whack-a-mole.
I do think iTunes is changing the online music download scene though. It’s convenient. You don’t have to have a credit card with the invention of gift cards that can be bought almost anywhere. You can preview music to see if you like it before you download. I love this feature and it has saved me from wasting my precious iTunes money. Just yesterday, I wanted some Shawn Colvin songs from the 80s and it was just a simple search and a $3 dollar download. It was easier just to pay $3 dollars for the songs I liked on iTunes than to go through the hassle of downloading the whole album off of bit torrent for free.
Movies. Now that is a whole ‘nother interesting matter. Downloading movies is a hassle and takes hours to complete. I’ve done it and you really have to want to see a movie to do it. Most movies are just not worth the time. It’s also inconvenient in the fact you have to sit in front of your desktop computer or the television in your den. I downloaded Twilight the other day from iTunes and put it on my iPod to watch. I only took a few minutes to download and then I could take it anywhere to view. I could also watch it on my laptop out on the porch free from being tethered to a static screen. It was portable, affordable, and convenient.
My point is to stop illegal downloads, these companies have got to make it easy, economical and convenient to get and use their products. Start innovating and quit litigating. Netflix and Apple have the right ideas about how to make downloading music and movies very affordable and convenient.