BT Junkie Shuts Down, Cites Megaupload, Pirate Bay Legal Action
BTjunkie has voluntarily shut down, becoming the latest file-sharing site to shutter in the wake of the US Department of Justice's arrest of Megaupload's founder and leadership. This comes two weeks after file-hosting sites FileSonic and FileServe disabled file-sharing capabilities and restricted downloading to files uploaded to one's own account.
The BTjunkie website has the following farewell: "This is the end of the line my friends. The decision does not come easy, but we've decided to voluntarily shut down. We've been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it's time to move on. It's been an experience of a lifetime, we wish you all the best!"
The site's founder confirmed to TorrentFreak that legal actions against sites such as Megaupload and the Pirate Bay were behind the decision to pull the plug.
Content owners shouldn't celebrate too much from this one incident. There is no shortage of alternative file-sharing sites for displaced BTjunkie users. If history is any guide some of that traffic will go elsewhere.
But a little crowing wouldn't be out of order. SOPA may have come to an unfortunate demise but the high-profile arrests in the Megaupload case have clearly sent a message. And music companies should feel better about the state of the legal marketplace. In the past consumers did not have as many legal alternatives to choose from. Between all the download stores, subscription services and Internet radio services available today, it's getting a lot more difficult for consumers to argue they had no option but to download illegally. Legal options won't be seen as perfect by all consumers, but they've gotten better (DRM-free downloads at iTunes, vast improvements in subscription services) and they're plentiful. ( TorrentFreak)
SOPA's Death Yields More Questions On Internet Law
SOPA died a quick death from a wave of public opposition but the postmortem continues. The New York Times had two good pieces on piracy over the weekend. Both peered through the bluster and sought a deeper appreciation of the issues. That two such articles would be printed in the Times on successive days speaks to a desire within the country to find workable solutions to this obvious yet difficult issue.
Writing about the anti-SOPA movement's victory over proposed legislation - it was only in the markup phase and not yet out of committee - former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller brings up a good point: "Does this smackdown mean that any attempt to police the Web for thievery is similarly doomed?" That is to say, if better legislation were proposed, would influential entities like Wikipedia, Google and Craigslist oppose it too?
Keller calls the OPEN Act, drafted by Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa, "a start." He encourages the music and film industries to work with "the saner members of the tech industry" to make OPEN better. And Keller warns of the "simplistic sloganeering" of critics who tend to paint any Internet regulation as an affront to individual freedom.
Eduardo Porter's piece in the Times' Sunday Review Opinion Pages was the more analytical of the two. Porter, a member of the Times' editorial board, offered graphs and numbers to help show the music, film and book industries' plight. Traffic to P2P and file-hosting sites continues to soar, according to the sharply rising lines representing data shared by the RIAA, MPAA and Digital Entertainment Group (an entertainment industry-funded non-profit). CD revenues are down, theater ticket sales are down. Porter did not offer charts or numbers to show the increases in digital revenues, but the story should be familiar to all by now: digital gains are not offsetting physical losses.
Porter is a thoughtful business writer with an ability to cut through the crap. He sees SOPA - and the need for a better proposal from lawmakers - as a recognition that creative industries deserve just as much protection as other property owners. Internet enthusiasts can argue disruption is evitable and often beneficial, but Porter isn't buying into the idea that entertainment industry can simply innovate their way out of this mess. "Stopping piracy is about protecting creativity - and the many occupations it supports (think pop band or sound mixer). If we value what creative industries produce as much as we say we do, Congress will have to find a way to protect it without limiting speech."
Google+ Growing Well, Still Lagging Behind Facebook, Others
Google+ seems to be growing nicely as a social network but lags behind Facebook in pretty much every important category - including developer interest. But with the new Google+ Developers page, Google has started courting developers whose applications would enhance the Google+ experience and improve adoption and time spent at the service.
The problem with Google+ isn't the pace of its growth. As Business Insider pointed out last week, Google+ reached 100 million users in less than a year, impressive growth even for a global giant. The problem is Google+ users aren't spending much time at Google+. As I pointed out last month, comScore figures show the average Google+ user spent just 5.1 minutes at the site in December. That means Google+ lagged far behind Facebook (394 minutes), Tumblr (141.7 minutes) and newcomer Pinterest (88.3) in minutes per visitor. ( Google+ Platform Blog)