Shifting the Paradigm

Originally published by So’lano Music Group.

Limewire has been declared illegal and shut down.

So now what? Will this be a game-changer? Will people look at this legislation and suddenly realize that illegal downloading is wrong? Will other peer-to-peer services shut down preemptively to avoid being the target of the next lawsuit?


Limewire is but one service in a massive pool of available services. Some are well-known and user-friendly, while others are more obscure and don’t rely on an interface that will appeal to casual downloaders. As long as the former is available there will continue to be large-scale illegal downloading. As long as the latter exists, there will be some form and amount of it.

In the battle against illegal downloading, the war will not be won if it is fought through legislation; shutting down one site will only increase the popularity of the alternatives. The only way to end it — or at least reduce it to levels that are essentially negligible in their economic impact — is to convince users that what they are doing ought not be done. Making it inconvenient will only make them cleverer in their approach. Making it socially taboo, re-establishing the parallel between digital theft and physical theft, is the only thing that will have a truly meaningful impact on piracy.

The problem is this: it is easy to tell people that something is illegal. It is a great deal more difficult to convince them that it is wrong. It is nigh on impossible to convince them that it is wrong enough to stop if it is also incredibly convenient.

Rulings like this prompt downloaders to scoff in dismay and producers to pump their fists in victory, but celebration over legislation is premature. Just ask anyone who popped the cork when Napster went legit.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Leave a Reply