In the early 1990s, I happened upon the Usenet. I noticed almost immediately that users (who were in those days largely college students) were posting sound recordings on newsgroups (e.g., alt.binaries.bootlegs, if memory serves) for download by other users. Sound familiar?
These files were converted into binary code, which looks like gibberish, but which will be easily decoded with the right software application.
Because of the length limitations of the posting rules, a sound recording of any length required multiple posts, sometimes over 100 separate postings. These postings generally were numbered for each of theft—sorry—ease of use, in a series 1/100, 2/100 and so on.
As I worked at a record company in those days, I dutifully called the RIAA and pointed out to them that there was a very short step from these usegroup postings to something broader that we really would not like at all. We didn’t know to call it “file sharing” at the time.
I was told not to worry because “we have the Net covered.”
Right. Twelve years (and who knows how many illegal files) later, they’re suing.
I couldn’t get anyone to pay attention to the problem, and so I left it alone and the rest is history.
Now comes “YouTube, Broadcast Yourself”. Try searching for “full film” in YouTube. 103,000 results today. “full movie”, 390,000, “full show” 66,000 and so on.
Now what might the implications be of these search results?
“Sabrina” (the Audrey Hepburn version) appears posted in 11 parts for your downloading convenience.
“Strangers on a Train”, posted in 10 parts.
“Vertigo”, posted in 10 parts.
“The Princess Bride”, posted in 10 parts.
“The Ring”, posted in 11 parts.
And so on, film after film after film.
One of the posters tells us “well I’m a bit of a movie geek so I’ve started to upload movies but because I don’t want to get deleted most are private.”