Since here in the UK we will no doubt have an oversupply of analysis of the Make Britain Digital Report over the coming days and weeks, TMV thought it would be a good idea to instead to have Wayne Rosso provide some insight into recent ‘Blubster” P2P case in Spain, where in fact at one point Wayne was President of Blubster.
The Spanish government has been under a great deal of international pressure to fight copyright infringement, especially in light of the wholesale piracy of CDs throughout the country. And Promusicae, the Spanish equivalent of the BPI and the RIAA, has been absolutely powerless in fighting it, until recently.
When they decided to take up the fight, it wasn’t directed at the physical piracy that has really done the most damage, but with a little innocent software developer with MS sitting alone in his grandmother’s dark little apartment in a working-class section of Madrid. A little late to the fight, I would say. And to pick on this pathetic kid, Pablo Soto, who was just playing around in his bedroom, disabled and alone with no friends, developed some software he named Blubster, didn’t really inspire much sympathy for their cause.
I have attorney friends in Spain who are divided on this case. Some say Pablo may have a case under Spanish law. Others are convinced that the government will finally side with the record labels as a matter of politics. Frankly I don’t think that Blubster has a chance.
In light of the Grokster decision, I just don’t think that any court in the world will sanction a Blubster, Limewire or any other well-known p2p program that is widely used for piracy. And believe me when I tell you that each and every p2p developer knows that his program is designed to infringe copyrights.
So why am I so smart? Because I was president of both Grokster AND Blubster and I know that Pablo Soto is no innocent little kid with MS. He plays on his ailment for sympathy and uses it to manipulate others whenever it behooves him. He doesn’t pay his bills. He knows exactly what he is doing. He’s paranoid. He’s very lazy and thinks of himself as the “Spanish Sean Fanning”.
As far as Blubster goes, of course he designed the software to facilitate piracy. He is not a freedom fighter. He cares about the money. He always felt that he, and p2p, could never be stopped. I told him otherwise, but he would not listen.
And of course, I’m not that much better. I care about the money too. But I wanted to make money WITH the record companies, in spite of their best efforts at self-destruction. And Pablo had that opportunity as well, but fucked it up.
Here’s what happened. I joined Blubster in late summer of 2004 and the next spring I was meeting with Andy Lack in his office at Sony Music in New York. He had seen the Snocap technology demonstrated and believed that it would work. He asked me if I would agree to work with him and turn Blubster into a licensed p2p environment. I was ecstatic and naturally said “yes”.
A couple of weeks later, we met again, this time with the Sony CTO, Phil Wiser, Andy and Pablo, on a speakerphone from Madrid. Everyone was very happy and we all agreed to move forward. Phil and I flew to Madrid where we met with Pablo in a suite at the Ritz Hotel. Once again, everything went swimmingly and we all agreed to keep going.
But a couple of weeks later there was a problem. Pablo got cocky. It was all going to his head. He had the attitude that Sony needed him and that he didn’t need Sony. I couldn’t believe my ears. This, in my mind, was sheer lunacy.
Here we were, on the brink of a huge breakthrough with one of the largest music companies in the world, and Pablo is getting full of himself. I mean, who would you rather be in business with? Sony or Gator? It was a chance to be the first p2p company to become truly legitimate, a goal I had been trying to achieve on behalf of Grokster for years.
It was at this point where I said finito. I wasn’t about to disappoint Andy, who I considered to be a friend, to continue down an ultimately fruitless path that the p2p business was in my eyes. The model, besides being just wrong, could never sustain itself. It was impossible.
I was in the business to make it legitimate and create a new model, not to be forever hounded as a pirate. Trust me when I tell you that it is not fun. So, I felt compelled to leave Blubster under protest and decided to start a new p2p company specifically to work with Andy and help him bring his vision to reality.The trial went forward and the media Spanish media portrayed Pablo as an innocent martyr with a severe disability. The record labels never bothered to contact me to give evidence in the Blubster trial. I would have told the truth. So maybe Pablo is right in his thinking that they can’t stop him. We’ll know for sure soon enough.