p2pnet news view | P2P:- Here’s an email from Morg, a correspondent in the UK who’s been posting every now and then for the past three or four years.
“Hello again, Jon,” he says. “It has been quite some time since we were in touch, but I continue to diligently read P2PNet.
“I was struck by the problems you appear to be having with at least one of your readers and you will know I am referring to Trolls, trolling and RIAA rep.
“I suppose the parallel in my world would be people who try to sabotage one’s efforts behind one’s back while pretending to be friends. Be that as it may, toward the end you respond to a comment by Sam I Am in which you suggest a short reading list. One of the items you recommend is an interview Slyck did with you in 2005.
“It would do no harm to run it again.”
OK, Morg, here it is. Again. »»»
Interview with Jon Newton of p2pnet.net
By Thomas Mennecke – Slyck
The file-sharing world moves quickly. Those looking to keep abreast of the latest information have learned the mainstream media is hardly a knowledgeable source of P2P or file-sharing news. In order to keep tabs on the latest occurrences, the file-sharing news site p2pnet.net has become an important resource for those seeking additional information.
However, p2pnet.net is not just another copy and paste website.
Slyck: Tell us some background regarding p2pnet.net. How did you get started and what was your motivation?
Newton: I`ve been sharing music since the mid-90s when I discovered MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), soundcards and software synthesizers. (And email ) I could be an entire band AND use the Net to share MIDI files with people around the world. It meant jamming online. Very cool. So how could I NOT have heard about p2p? And how could I not want to be a small part of this online communications revolution which I could see was going to allow ordinary people take back their rights?
Slyck: How many people work on the site (back end programming and content.)?
Newton: p2pnet isn`t an entrepreneurial effort, it`s a commitment. And the staff is me. Janie Mehew wrote the original cms, but she went on to other things quite a while back. Matthew and Peter at Bytemark, my hosts, bail me out fairly frequently. However, p2pnet is soon going Drupal, with the help of Boris Mann and his crew at Bryght in Vancouver, BC. As for content, I write everything that doesn`t have someone`s by-line on it – between 10 and 20 stories a day, 24/7. I slow down on Saturday and usually post only three or four items on Sunday. I also do the graphics, excepting photos, of course. I do my best to serve up news, information and commentaries that haven`t been spun, filtered and pre-digested by self-serving entities.
Slyck: What were you doing prior to working on p2pnet.net?
Newton: I was born in London, England, and moved to Canada in 1979. I`ve been a writer/editor for most of my adult life. But my wife, Liz, and I decided we wanted to be around full-time while our daughter, Emma, grew up. She`s now eight-and-a-half. We`ve always collected old and neat stuff so I quit writing and we moved to a tiny village half-way between Toronto and Ottawa and started selling antiques so we could home-school her. I started p2pnet so I wouldn`t go crazy selling antiques. We stuck that out for about four years (never again : ) and then moved to Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia in Canada, across from Vancouver. That`s when I started doing p2pnet full-time.
Slyck: Why did you choose p2p as an avenue of choice?
Newton: One way or another, p2p technologies will be the primary backbone for communications in this century. Thousands of new people are going online every day meaning for the first time in history, `we` have a voice `they` have to listen to. Look at what`s happening in the entertainment industry, for example. They`re going blue trying to avoid the issues, but they`ll eventually be forced to acknowledge their customers as active participants rather than mindless cash-cows. Moreover, the companies and governments forget the people they`re threatening in various ways are also the ones who are conceiving, developing, servicing and administering the very systems which keep the wheels turning and the money coming in. Think about it. So world corporate community and governments really will soon have to mend their ways.
Slyck: Any other projects on the side?
Newton: Actually, Yes. And its about to come off the side-lines. Ratiatum.com in France is a kind of p2pnet. Its founder, Guillaume Champeau, and I are merging our sites under the p2pnet banner. This means there`ll soon be a French-language edition and the new p2pnet will have Ratiatum`s download network, a sort of a p2p-served download.com – a directory of software distributed via p2p nets, mostly eDonkey, but also Gnutella, G2 and FastTrack. It`s unique to Ratiatum and launched in 2003 to demonstrate how p2p can be used as a legitimate distribution tool. It currently has more than 380 freeware and shareware applications listed and there have been more than two million downloads for virtually no bandwith. We`re also seriously thinking about launching Spanish, Italian and German p2pnet sites. So if anyone`s interested, it`d be great to hear from them.
Slyck: p2pnet.net has become well known for its original news content. Do you see news regarding p2p and file-sharing becoming less obscure and more mainstream in the years to come? For example, do you see p2p and file-sharing niche publishing becoming as prominent as other niche publishing sites (such as sports or political publishing)?
Newton: A kind of an independent parallel communications portal has already developed. And it`s becoming mainstream. People tend to think of the music/movie file sharing thing as separate from `important` world events. However, sooner or later, what`s happening with in this arena will also happen in other areas, and let`s not forget the studios and media outlets the entertainment industry owns, which is most of them, have tremendous influence over what people think and do around the world. The establishment print and electronic media depend almost wholly on corporate advertising and the goodwill of governments and their many and various agencies to survive, which means the news and information they carry is often very badly skewed. In the parallel universe, blogs and sites such as p2pnet carry the news and I think eventually, there`ll be a huge Blog-cum-Web Page Directory. It`ll have information categories people will use to find out what`s happening, where to find services and products, and so on. And it won`t be another kind of search engine.
Slyck: As an original author of p2pnet.net, describe a typical day as a writer. For example, how do you collect news, how much time do you dedicate, etc?
Newton: I`m in the Pacific time zone and I usually get up at between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning. Shower, coffee, check email, answer it. Usually an hour or so. Then scour the web. p2pnet is a news source for both Google and Yahoo, among others, so I try to pick out topics which`ll get a mention. This drives new people to p2pnet who may not otherwise be aware of some of the issues I try to point up. Once I`ve posted these kinds of bread-and-butter items, I get down to the stuff that`s really what p2pnet is all about, and that`s usually centred on what`s happening in the world of file sharing and digital media. Of course, I`m also making and receiving phone calls and answering emails while I do this. I`m usually finished by about two or three in the afternoon. I post my newsletter, which is just headlines and urls, at around 4:00 pm. And that`s a typical day.
Slyck: As a citizen of Canada, your perspective of p2p/file-sharing and copyright industry interaction is undoubtedly different than an American`s. Please share some of this insight.
Newton: As you know, at the moment we don`t have the same problems Americans face – ie, there`s no RIAA and MPAA screaming around, suing everyone in sight. Not that they haven`t tried. But their efforts so far have resulted in a series of ignominious defeats. There is, however, the CRIA, the Canadian Recording Industry Association (of America), a 100% RIAA clone that`s doing its best to convince Canadians that they, too, owe allegiance to the Corporate Entertainment Industry. Which of course they don`t. Will Canada continue to be the Land of the Free? Yep. At the end of the day, we`ll still be an independent country, in spite of Washington`s on-going efforts to turn us into another US state.
Slyck: Tell us how you feel about the online copyright wars and do you see any end in sight?
Newton: The wars are all in the mind of the entertainment industry. P2p is here to stay and without wishing to be corny, the people have spoken, and loudly. When the various corporate interests finally admit they`re operating in the digital 21st century and not the physical 1970s, things will settle down. As Cherry Lane Digital ceo Jim Griffin said recently, the labels, “cling to their pursuit of this notion of control and calling those who do not comply thieves, and in doing so they leave billions on the table that should be divided fairly amongst creators and rights holders.” The companies won`t be able to leave those billions floating around for ever. Their contracted artists and shareholders won`t let them. So Yes, there`s an end in sight and when it arrives, we`ll have the labels and cartels saying how they`ve been solidly behind p2p since day One.
Slyck: The Recording Industry of Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) have both coordinated a worldwide effort to thwart file-sharing. The RIAA has maintained this effort for almost two years, while the MPAA has just begun. How would you gauge the success of these efforts, and what effect has it had on the proliferation of P2P and file-sharing?
Newton: Success? Absolutely minimal. Effect on proliferation of p2p and file-sharing? Absolutely minimal. A significant number of US and Canadian academic studies, including the recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report, have proved this over and again. And this reality is underscored by statistics from p2p research company Big Champagne. Its data show file sharing continues to rise, and fairly dramatically.
Slyck: Due to the weakness of the movie industry`s DVD encryption scheme dubbed “CSS” (Content Scrambling System), DVD movies in one format or another have proliferated across the Internet. Macrovision yesterday announced their next generation solution called “RipGuard DVD.” From your experience, do you believe this will offer a viable solution to the movie industry?
Newton: “Digital files cannot be made uncopyable any more than water can be made not wet,” Bruce Schneier says, and as I`ve suggested elsewhere, DRM firms are like 21st century snake-oil salesmen with the entertainment industry as their marks. If you can see it or hear it, you can copy it. End of story. But as long as enough people THINK apps such as RipGuard DVD work, they work, and this has zilch to do with their efficacy. It hinges on the gullibility of the public, and the deviousness of the entertainment industry.
Slyck: As a follow up, what do you believe would be a viable solution to stem the growth of piracy?
Newton: Record label and movie studio investors should organize a Shareholders Alliance, appoint someone to run it – isn`t ex-HP boss Carly Fiorina looking for a job? – and instruct him or her to disband the RIAA and MPAA and fire the senior company executives. Their collective credibility is far too sullied to be of any further practical use, and they`ve already amply demonstrated they have no clue about how to run businesses in the digital 21st century. The Alliance should then name a very small group to brainstorm how p2p can be made to work for them. This group could perhaps include people such as Griffin, the EFF`s Fred von Lohmann, a representative of the members of P2P United, MUTE`s Jason Rohrer, and ex-RIAA boss Hilary Rosen. Once this group has come up with recommendations, some of the people who were fired could be re-hired to implement them.
Slyck: What should the MPAA and RIAA do to curb piracy`s prominence?
Newton: Given that the MPAA and RIAA are no more than the blunt weapons of the entertainment industry cartels, the first thing they should do is: stop trying to sue their customers into buying. It`ll take a while, but they`ll eventually begin to recover some of the goodwill they`ve squandered. The cartels should then immediately open their entire catalogues to the people they`ve more or less designated as their principal sales fronts, with iTunes and Napster II to the fore. This content should be licensed to distributors (including the current p2p operators) at reasonable prices so people can buy tracks at between 10 and 25 cents per download. The organized criminals – the `pirates` – depend largely on physical product to ply their illicit trades. They`ll find it a hell of a lot harder to operate when music and movie lovers are buying fairly priced music and movies from adequately stocked download sites. The RIAA and MPAA should also stop spending ridiculous amounts of money publicizing the very thing they`re trying to quell. P2p and the digital media represent tremendous opportunities, not death knells.
Slyck: What would be your ideal solution to balancing the needs of the MPAA/RIAA and that of the average P2P and file-sharing participant (consumer)?
Newton: See above, and let`s remember consumers are customers again, and they`re in a spanking new economic territory which has never existed before. They, and not the corporations, have the power of control. It`s called freedom of choice. New technologies always threaten the old, established ones whose owners do everything they can to maintain the status quo. Eventually, though, they cave in, and go with the flow and peace reigns (until it happens all over again ; )
Slyck: Some say the MPAA/RIAA and hard core P2P/file-sharers are so polarized in their positions that it is impossible to ever bring about compromise. In addition, the online copyright wars will probably continue until one, or both, simply dies out. Is this grim perspective a possible reality?
Newton: This is the beginning, not the end. And there is no war. What`s taken as strife is just the process of radical change happening. Compromise isn`t necessary.
Slyck: It has been argued both the copyright industry and file-traders have already won; the copyright is making money and has initiated their own online distribution model while file-traders have a new tool and tons of files to choose from. Will the future simply be a wary coexistence?
Newton: The entertainment industry currently sells most of its inventory to offline consumers. However, more and more people are logging on every day and eventually, the balance will shift and anything that can be digitized WILL be digitized and sold online, not as physical product. Quite a few of the existing overheads, such as the money tied up in storage, print costs, enforcement, PR campaigns, etc, will consequently be drastically lowered or cut altogether. This, in turn, will mean more and more people will be buying more and more reasonably priced product via the Net. And they`ll be talking about what`s good and what`s bad in their blogs, in emails, over the VoIP networks, and so on. There`ll be no way for manufacturers to escape the results of releasing shabby product, as they`re able to do until now. We `consumers,` as we`re still contemptuously known, will be sharing information and completely by-passing the old marketing and sales religions. Also, like any other corporate entity, the MPAA and RIAA owners ultimately have to answer to their shareholders. The apparent success they`re enjoying by suing the ordinary men, women and children who share music online, serves nicely to obscure the reality that they`re making little headway against the organized criminals – and nor will they as long as they deal with physical product in a digital world. The `pirates` are far more advanced than both the entertainment industry and the national police and enforcement units that cynically act for them. And that`s the way it`ll stay until the labels, studios and software makers smarten up.
Slyck: What are your thoughts on iTunes, Napster, etc. Do you feel they are the answer to piracy or are they inadequate?
Newton: They`re part of the scene. iTunes is now so well established as a vehicle for iPod that it`ll always be around, and it`ll probably become a major music store generating profits once the Big Music cartel licenses its product at reasonable prices. Napster is dead, and Napster II is dying. The remaining music stores have no significance, but other corporate music sites will inevitably come into being to sell entertainment industry product in competition with each other.
Slyck: Any chance of seeing user forums making their way on to p2pnet.net?
Newton: They`re already there, except they`re called Readers` Writes and as someone posted in one of them, it`s nice to be able to join in without having to register. But as I said earlier, we`re switching to Drupal as the cms sometime in the near future and that`ll bring with it p2pnet blogs and other possibilities which don`t exist for us at the moment. Also, Ratiatum has a forum with close to 20,000 registered users, so we`ll probably add p2pnet Readers` Writes to that – amalgamate the two.
Slyck: Any other thoughts ideas? Would you like to say anything to the readers of Slyck.com?
Newton: Well, there are a lot more of Us than Them. So think only once about buying, or using, any kind of `product` from companies that are bent on suing you, your mothers and fathers, your brothers, your kid sisters, your grandparents, your uncles and aunts, the people next door, into buying their movies, music or software. There are plenty of superior independent movies, music and apps online. Do without, if you have to â. AND SUPPORT P2P UNITE !!! http://p2punite.net/
Los Angeles Times – , September , 2008
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