Napster Was Only the Beginning

A spectre is haunting the corporate world — the spectre of organized world-wide file-sharing. MP3, to name the most common synonym for the becoming-distributor of millions of former customers, has clearly shown that the flows of digital data are much more driven by people and formats than they are determined by legislation, ownership or the new global rules of the corporate-political. Napster has reverse-engineered the ideology of a whole industry, and it has finally proven its total, complete and absolute obsolescence. The transnational companies that are now trying to break it up have started a war they will never be able to stop. There are going to be thousands of napsters. is not even zero-point-five of them.

We are not the dot in dot-com, neither are we the minus in e-book. The future of online publishing sits right next to your computer: it's a $50 scanner and a $50 printer, both connected to the Internet. We are the & in copy & paste, and plain ascii is still the format of our choice. It shouldn't require a plug-in to read a book on the net, nor should it require a credit card. The text industry is a paper tiger. Along with the mass erosion of their proprietary rights goes the vanishing of their digital watermarks. Packed today, cracked tomorrow. Whatever electronic gadgets they will come up with — they are all going to be dead media on their very release day. Forget about your new Kafka DVD. I already got it via SMS.

This is not Project Gutenberg. It is neither about constituting a canonical body of historical texts (by authors so classical that they've all been watching the grass from below for almost a century of posthumous copyright), nor is it about HTMLifying freely available books into unreadable sub-chapterized hyper-chunks. Texts relate to texts by other means than a href. Just go to your local bookstore and find out yourself. The net is not a rhizome, and a digital library should not be an interactive nirvana. The conceptual poverty of today's post-academic, post-corporate public online services — and we haven't seen dot-museum yet — is not and has never been a desirable alternative to a future that will be controlled by the super-pervasive data-streams of the upcoming military-entertainment complex. There are still other options. Nostalgia is slavery. Stay home, read a book.

Information does not want to be free. In fact it is absolutely free of will, a constant flow of signs of lives which are permanently being turned into commodities and transformed into commercial content. is not part of the information business. They say there was a time when content was king, but we have seen his head rolling. Our week beats their year. Ever since we have been moving from content to discontent, collecting scripts and viruses, writing programs and bots, dealing with textz as warez, as executables — something that is able to change your life. This is not promotional material. facing the unified principles of information — the combined horror of global communication and so-called guerilla marketing — there is no more need for media theory or cultural studies. The resistance against corporate culture can itself no longer remain in the cultural domain. You make a mistake if you see what we do as merely apolitical.

We are studying the coils of the serpent, watching the walk of the penguin, mapping the moves of our wired enemies. Intellectual, digital and biological property — cornerstones of the new regimes of control — are the direct result of organized corporate piracy. They are not only replacing such obsolete notions as freedom, democracy, human rights and technological progress. All these new forms of ownership are, in the first place, attempts to expropriate people's work, data and bodies — just as the they begin to acquire, for the first time in history, the technical means to organize them in a radically different way. Today's global media and communication conglomerates are mafias, and we shouldn't count on what's left of the national governments when it comes to fighting back. "Humanity won't be happy until the last copyright holder is hung by the guts of the last patent lawyer." Napster was only the beginning. The Nineties of the net are over. Let's move on.