This is what industry groups like the Recording Industry Association of America (‘RIAA’) are afraid of: exponential and untraceable growth of underground data distribution networks. Analysis suggests that current technologies — in particular, a method of filesharing known as BitTorrent — are indeed capable of large-scale electronic duplication of copyrighted files in relative privacy. Despite last month’s dramatic takedown of leading BitTorrent site Suprnova.org, filesharing is up and content proliferates even more rapidly than before:
many diverse groups of people are embracing BitTorrent, and the number of sites hosting torrent files is growing by the day. This fragmentation makes tracking down central sites difficult, if not impossible, and also shows how easy it is to host a front-end to torrents. Projects like BlogTorrent will only drive this trend more and more mainstream… [S]earch engines like TowerSeek.org will help unite these disparate sources of information, and make things easy to find, regardless of where the files are.
It is thus an interesting side effect of the RIAA’s crusade against private acts of copyright infringement that they have transformed what was essentially a centralised, easily manipulable distribution network (Napster, Kazaa) into what are now many decentralised systems far less susceptible to monitoring or control. Monkey Methods describes the resulting situation as a ‘fragmented ecosystem of thousands of centralised servers.’
Filesharing must increasingly be looking like a hydra to the RIAA: for every litigation they instigate, every cease and desist they deliver, ten more websites and a hundred more users begin in earnest. Filesharing thus looks set to continue in spite (or even because) of their continued efforts to enforce non-digital business practices in intangible cyberspace.