Thursday 7 March 2013

Napster, Kazaa, Limewire and Pirates Bay

I have never been shy about file sharing ever since I learned that it could be done. I guess the first kind of “sharing” that I did was when I would sit listening to the radio on my boom box at Christmas time and press record when ever a song I liked would come on. It was in this way that I made my first mix tape and although most of the songs missed a little of the beginning and I would often have the DJ come on at the end of the song, I was more or less pleased with the result. Radio to tape had its disadvantages however when the stations weren’t playing all holiday music. It was hard to guess when the radio would play a song you wanted.
I then went on to record tape to tape, but it was a tedious process and you needed the music to record the music, and if you had the music, then why bother recording the music. I just had to wait for a few years until computers and the internet caught up with my morality.  

There were ways of sharing before Napster, but those methods weren’t very good and to tell the truth, I am not so into music that I will really go out of my way to get it. Napster worked very well however and I used it to get some songs I didn’t have and to put together a Christmas album of hip-hop and gangster rap for the Venturers and my kids. I called it “YO-YO-YO” and it had such classic songs as “Merry Muthafukin Xmas”, “Santa Claus is Smoking Reefer”, “Santa Claus is a Big Fat Bitch” and a lovely rap version of “Jingle Bells”. I don’t think it was a huge hit, but I still listen to the songs sometimes when iTunes is set to random.
Napster was sued and more or less put out of business and I tried Kazaa for a while, but I started to worry that the digital music police would track me down and put me in jail. It wasn’t worth the worry and most of the music written since the 70’s just wasn’t worth being married to a guy named “Bubba”. Limewire worked for a while, but I was still a little nervous about getting caught. It was about this time that iTunes became available and made it really easy to copy music to your computer and then burn it onto a perfect mix CD. You just had to get a copy of the CD you wanted and put it in the computer. Easy…peasy, and there was no way you would have to meet Bubba.
About a year or two later, I started hearing noises about being able to copy movies and TV shows by simply downloading them, making use of a site called “Pirates Bay”. Interesting, but I watch too much TV now and movies I can get from the library. However, you can get digital books and programs from the good folks at “Pirates Bay” which made me sit up and take notice. Of course, they were taken to court and told to stop doing what they were doing. Shit!

Those clever kids found a way around the law and using Pirates Bay is safer than ever to use. Still illegal of course, but as I mentioned I am a little flexible when it comes to these things. Everything was working just fine until it wasn’t working fine anymore. It took a little searching, but I found that Google won’t allow you to download from Pirates Bay if they are your home page. There is a way around it, there always is, you just need to have a different home page available on your computer.
What gets me about this is that now I wonder what else the big computer giants have decided we shouldn’t have available to us?  Could there be some other wonderful sites that we can’t even access? You hear about China stopping certain information from getting on their internet, and I have no illusions about whether or not our government would “sanitize” the information that we have access to.

I’ll worry about that some other time, but for now we can get music, video and programs with just a little knowledge and a couple of free programs downloaded from the internet. I just realized that Google probably stopped “Youtube to MP3”. I guess it’s time to switch to another home page.

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