Library.nu Taken Down. Debates Over File-Sharing Combust

The book download portal Library.nu, a real knowledge supply for millions of readers, has been shut down under the copyright protection shield. What follows is an extensive view on the filesharing phenomenon and the ill-will surrounding many anti-piracy attacks.

Recently we’ve stumbled upon a very interesting piece of article by Nishant Shah of the FirstPost.com. In it he explains the effect anti-piracy laws had on the frivolous organism that is the Internet, and in this particular case, on him, as an individual.

The story begins with the shut-down of Library.nu, a true “mecca”, how he puts it, for those who thrive on reading books. The website used to allow people download digital copies of books for no commercial gain, that means no ads, no nothing to make money out of, just the pleasure of offering books to those who need it.

“For scholars and learners around the world, this was the place to find books which would otherwise be unavailable in their local contexts without expending a lot of time and effort. And now it is closed with an R.I.P. sign on their website which once offered such promises of joy,” Mr. Nishant says.

He further reminds the reader about how this all started with Napster, and continued to this day with the never before seen efforts of shutting down slash blocking the world’s largest public torrent indexer – ThePirateBay.

Fact is that terms like intellectual property and copyright infringement are way too distorted by some circles, making the piracy problem more complicated than it is. An opinion shared by Nishant, who states that the act of sharing is at the very core of creating a digital network (he refers to popular websites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter – social network medias that function on interaction between people, in this case sharing things between each other, copyrighted or not).

“It is now known that the networks that we occupy are alive and need different investments of human and non-human efforts and energies to sustain them. Or in other words, just putting together of servers and platforms is not what Facebook is about. Or what is the most important thing on Pinterest is actually what you do with it,” he says.

With that said, we understand and acknowledge the fact that social networks, and networks in general, are living organisms.

“What really sustains a network is the ability of the members to act within them. Networks are not only places to occupy but also sites where people can perform different activities,” he adds.

The act of sharing covers different activities, as he accurately points out. People share information about their life, about relationships, hobbies, political views, and cultural preferences. People share books that they’ve read, videos that made them laugh or cry, music. I personally remember that in the 90’s artists used to make money from concerts, not because people didn’t buy their albums, but because music brings people together.
“The introduction of piracy as the demon to fight on the Internet has provoked many false advertisements that equate it to stealing a car, or robbing a bank,” Nishant wrote.

I find this a bit amusing, because the entertainment industry is actually building a program (more about it here) to “educate” people about what piracy means.

“However, smaller independent networks – networks that are established to realise the true potentials of openness, sharing and collaboration – and do not necessarily run up big balances for private sectors, immediately get vilified as vice houses of piracy,” he said.

And this is exactly the problem that both the MPAA and RIAA are avoiding to talk about. They never told the public that all the cash is poured into Hollywood’s pockets while independent artists are stuck into a system of bureaucracy meant only to cut their will instead of promoting intellectual property. I mean, if you wave this flag, at least stick to it, don’t use it as a front for your financial gain. But this is common knowledge, after all.

“What piracy threatens is not knowledge but the industries that seek to make their wealth out of knowledge economies. And to protect the interests of these limited few, independent file-sharing networks get targeted as promoting piracy whereas activities within corporate social networks are tolerated as benign”.

“The Pirate Party in Sweden has announced that File Sharing is a religion and is trying to make it into a practice that is sacred to all of us who thrive in these conditions of free and open knowledge. I want to join my voice to theirs, in the memory of that Promised Land – Library.nu – and the lords of free books, and ask for my right to Pirate Share in networks of my choice,” he concluded.

As much as I try to stay away from terms like “religion”, he does have a point. Sharing is a natural thing that we do, I believe since forever, and the Internet is exactly that – an open “market” for everyone. Why change it ?

We’ll try to compile a list with alternatives to the defunct Library.nu and return soon with a post on the topic.