One of the strengths of the Internet is the way it allows users to share information of all sorts, instantaneously, worldwide. This use of the Net has caused an uproar among the Powers That Be, because it's threatening the way the corporations make a profit. Scientology was among the first to go after the Net and charge it with "intellectual property theft" when their forbidden "secret scriptures" were broadcast wordwide on the Net. But the most recent controversy comes from the mainstream, and it's not as cut and dried an issue. The corporate music industry is squealing like a stuck pig and lashing out at Net users left and right, because people are using the Net to trade MP3 music files of their favorite songs. Entire CDs are floating around on the Net, available for anyone to download for free. This is what has the corporations in an uproar: People are able to get for free what they had to pay money for before MP3s came along! And so the music industry is saying that they are "losing" millions or even billions of dollars per year from the trading of music files online. They say that bands are unable to make money because Net users are "stealing" their music and making it available for free. There is indeed some truth to this argument, but despite the attempts to paint this as a simple issue of "stealing music," it's a lot more complicated than that. (It's always the case when you deal with the real world, despite the Conspiracy's attempt to create black-and-white issues and questions.) In spite of the hacker claim that "information wants to be free," the truth of this matter is that people want stuff for free. Because the technology is available and easy to use, people are going to continue trading MP3 files for the forseeable future…and no amount of corporate whining or lawsuits (such as the ones filed against Napster and mp3.com – both of which are now irreversibly changed or gone forever) are going to stop them. And because the corporations are insisting that we have to continue playing by "their" rules, they are ticking off a lot of people and making them all the more determined to find ways to beat "their" rules. Hence the popularity of Gnutella. This is a file-sharing program that allows you to search the Net for music files and download them directly to your PC, while avoiding clustered sites like Napster that are more likely to bring the wrath of the Conspiracy. After Napster goes down in flames, they will likely try to turn their wrath against Gnutella…but the genie is out of the bottle, and even if they do somehow manage to catch the thousands of copies (and different versions) of Gnutella that are out there right now, then something else will arise to take their place. What is the ultimate solution to this problem? The music industry (and the entertainment industry as a whole) is going to have to acknowledge the fact that the worldwide Net has changed the playing field, by giving the public direct worldwide access to the music they want, without any need for middle-men (record labels) anymore. The industry has to accept this and adapt to it…and they will, because there's a lot of money to be made when they do. But in typical Conspiracy fashion, they are resisting change and fighting it tooth and nail. The war, though, has already been won…but it will take some time before they admit it.
:See Also: Gnufrog server finder for Gnutella
The world of Internet file-swapping and sharing continues to change and evolve with each passing day. The Big Corporations are doing their best to wipe out the file-sharing networks, but the Net seems to be two steps ahead of them no matter what they try to do. After the downfall of Napster, the Gnutella network looked to be the most promising of the file-sharing networks: because Gnutella is as de-centralized as possible, it seems nearly impossible that the entire network will be wiped out. Big Business and Big Media have done their best to bring down KaZAA, Audiogalaxy, and Morpheus, but they haven't had much in stopping Gnutella. Yet. The Gnutelliums site provides links to the latest clients for the Gnutella network, in ever platform you can think of from Windows to Macintosh to Linux to Java.