A few months back at the Pownce launch at Dennis Peron’s beautiful pot pad, I was talking with Daniel Burka, the designer of Pownce about Pownce’s file sharing features. This to me was the most interesting thing Pownce was doing. Essentially the service allows you to send a single contact, a few contacts, all your contacts, the general public, etc. any kind of file. Of course mp3s immediately come to mind and since then that’s been one of my favorite things to use Pownce for. To send mp3s to my friends. This is something that I consider fair use, but still I was skeptical about this feature in Pownce.
I asked Daniel wouldn’t this kind of file sharing be something that the RIAA might be keenly interested in stopping and his response to me was that this was just legitimate file transfers amongst friends and if your friends don’t work for the RIAA you probably wouldn’t have a heck of a lot to worry about.
Which made absolutely beautiful sense to me.
Back in the day, I mean way back in the day, my friends and I would make mix audio tapes for each other. From there a few us graduated on to trading bootleg CDs on web pages. You give me Bob Dylan’s bootleg Blood on the Tapes, Blood on the Tracks’ out takes and I give you Neil Young’s bootleg performance from Farm Aid. We exclusively stuck with stuff that was commercially unavailable as fans of the bands and the RIAA pretty much just left this sort of stuff alone.
Then of course Napster came along. And died. And thus was born KaaZaa, Limewire, Acquisition, BitTorrent, etc. etc. etc.
And now comes the next big thing which my friend Prophead recently turned me on to, Mojo. Mojo is Mac only best I can tell, but you basically turn your iTunes library over to your friends. They can listen to any of your music and even download any of your songs. Yep, crystal clear, DRM-free, high bit rate mp3 goodness. Best of all, because you set Mojo up with friends that you know (that don’t work for the RIAA) it’s something very much under the radar and best I can tell undetectable. You can get Mojo here.
Now before you call me a pirate for sharing my music with my friends, keep in mind that I’ve spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on music over the years. What’s more, I still buy tons of music. Especially when I know that most of the money will be going to those that make the music and not record companies. Some of the best music I’ve found over the years has been music I’ve purchased directly from artists. I’ve also let a number of artists use my photographs for their projects free of charge. I believe in artists, I believe in supporting artists. On the other hand, I don’t think anyone is really getting hurt if a friend of mine grabs a copy of AC/DC’s Back in Black from my hard drive.
What makes sharing with friends even easier of course is that fact that the RIAA have been so truly horrible to consumers. Suing grandmothers. Suggesting that those who legitimately rip their music to play on their iPhones are somehow thieves etc.
I’m not sure if the RIAA will end up going after Mojo and other software like it or not, but one thing I do know, in the big file sharing game of Whac-a-Mole, if they do the only thing that will happen is yet another similar service will pop up in it’s place.