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in Filmmaking
on Dec 30, 2004

“Adam and Eve” files, darknets, curries, topsites — no, I’m not referring to some kinky download website but rather the topics discussed in Wired Magazine’s essential January cover story by Jeff Howe referred to in the post below, which has just been posted online. It’s a look at how pirated material winds up on the web and for those who imagine it’s via teenagers sharing files with their friends, think again. The pirate internet distribution system is as rigidly controlled and hierarchical as the studio system except it boasts an entirely different group of players competing not for dollars but for prestige and “credits,” sort of cyber-chits that can be used to rack up free downloads and tradeable digital media.

It’s a breathlessly written piece. Here’s a section in which a teen races to be the first to “seed” a pre-release audio CD by A Perfect Circle”

Finally Kevin checks a site telling him that a rip of Thirteenth Step has just been uploaded to a secure FTP site — a week before it hits the stores. He curses under his breath. More than two minutes have elapsed since the file first appeared. The race is on, and Kevin is already at the back of the pack. He opens FlashFXP– a program that allows him to directly transfer files — and begins copying the CD to as many sites as he can. Then he sits back to watch the race. Everything now depends on the whimsy of Internet traffic and the speed of the server farms whose bandwidth he is pirating.

With his quick, eager intelligence and, more important, a high degree of focus, Kevin spends hours at a stretch performing the minute tasks of copying and transferring files, usually to networks in the middle levels of the pyramid. It’s through grunts like him that a song proliferates from 10,000 copies to 1 million. The night A Perfect Circle’s CD was posted, Kevin stayed up late spreading the file around the Net. The curries competing against him must have gotten stuck behind some double-wide trailer of a packet, because Kevin’s credits poured in.”

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