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Cybernaut

The last days of downloading

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These are only a few of the reasons I believe that illegal downloading is at death's door.

Another is the fact that media companies are finally catching up to the technology, and it's not long before they'll come up with credible industry-wide DRM and lock systems that don't compromise your computer security. As more people download music digitally, that only makes it easier to monitor and control the situation.

The recording industry is also not backing off in the slightest when it comes to suing downloaders and file sharers, and the movie industry is getting more litigious as well.

But the biggest reason I believe that downloading is coming to an end is what's happening in the porn industry. Never underestimate what this industry can do. Porn was the reason that VHS beat Beta. Porn is one of the reasons that home computers and the web spread so far and so fast. And right now the porn industry is taking its most aggressive stand yet, with a single lawyer issuing 16,800 lawsuits against illegal downloaders using torrent sites. According to Ars Technica, the industry is hoping to completely put an end to online piracy by 2012, using a combination of tracking technology, digital rights management technology, agreements with online providers and legal actions against P2Ps, torrent sites, streaming sites and downloaders.

And if porn can lead the way in practically every technological shift in the past three decades, then you can bet that other companies making mainstream media are going to follow suit.

It's taken a decade for the entertainment industry to get to the point where they're building walls instead of easily crossed lines in the sand, but I think they are at last at a point where they can methodically shut down the illegal trade in copyrighted materials, from ebooks to music to movies to software. They have the support of software makers, hardware makers, ISPs, governments, industry associations, creative associations and a large number of artists. That doesn't prevent bands like Radiohead from tying to do something different in the future, and it still doesn't address issues of fair use - like whether you can use a clip of music for a slideshow or make copies of the music you purchased legally - but it does change the playing field once again.