Cupertino, CA - The Shazbot cafe on Allen street is a very popular
hangout for young cyber-enthusiasts. It is a normally happy place,
where young men and women, ranging in age from teens to early twenties,
gather daily, to drink coffee, play games on the 24-computer LAN,
and listen to popular music.
However, today is not a normal day. The occupants of this former
Licorice Pizza, the only active business in an otherwise empty strip
mall, are very angry today, and they're making sure that everyone
knows about it.
The object of their anger? The popular file-swapping program "Morpheus".
Morpheus, which allows users to trade music, video files, images,
and even software, was until recently one of the most popular file-swapping
services in the post-Napster era. Last week, though, that all changed
when Dutch company and service rival "Kazaa" effectively
shut down Morpheus. For one long week, users hung in limbo, the future
of their file-swapping suddenly uncertain.
"It was, like, really scary," a youth going by the handle "R0xx5aR" told
me. "I mean, back when Napster went down, me and my bros thought
that we'd have to, like, buy CDs, or something. But then we discovered
Morpheus, and it was, like, so cool."
The long week passed, however, and Morpheus was reborn. Like a Phoenix,
Morpheus came back, using the popular Gnutella network. The community
rejoiced, but their excitement was quickly muted.
A young woman dressed in Capri pants and a midriff-revealing T-shirt
reading "I like Dorks" declared, "Okay, so the thing
is, I was like totally into Napster. I must have gotten like five
hundred records from that, okay? And then, like, some greedy jerks
took it away, and I started using Morpheus, and now Morpheus is all
sucky. What am I supposed to do?" She asked, her voice rising.
"What about my rights? Am I supposed to just go to WalMart
and buy CDs? Do you have any idea how expensive that is going to
be? I mean, if I actually went out and bought this CD," she
continued, holding aloft a CD-R with the word "Weezer" and
some hearts and flowers written on it in black ink pen. "Then
I totally couldn't have afforded to get this tattoo on spring break." She
then revealed the tattoo in question: a blue mushroom, just above
"This is fuxx0red!" announced 20 year old college student
Lascar, his attention focused on an Internet game called Counter-Strike. "I
mean, we should boycott Morpheus because-- FUCKING CAMPERS! SHIT!"
The future of file-swapping is uncertain, with users shying away
from similar products like Audiogalaxy and BearShare, complaining
that they contain software called "Spyware". A man in his
late 20s, calling himself "Bootie" said, "I installed
BearShare, because I wanted to get the new Alien Ant Farm album,
you know? And while I'm getting ready to burn it, I notice that my
Internet connection is sending all sorts of information out to some
server somewhere. So I get online, and I find out that BearShare
has installed all this Spyware on my machine! I mean, I just wanted
to install BearShare to get free music, and it goes and installs
Spyware? That should be illegal!"
The general feeling here, though, was that somehow Truth and Justice
would indeed prevail, and some new file-swapping service would fill
the void left by the apparent demise of Morpheus.
"Hey, those idiots at Morpheus had a chance, and they blew
it, just like the idiots at Napster and all the other idiots," The
user known as Bootie said later, smoking a clove cigarette, "If
these guys don't get with the program, and I mean fast, they're going
to find out that we're just going to buy CDs instead of downloading
them. Then what will they do?"
That is the question on the industry's mind. The answer, however,
remains a mystery.
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