At heart people want to communicate and they want to share. Despite the fact that long lasting collaboration may often experience major pitfalls, people want to work together.
File sharing and peer-to-peer systems have come under much fire since Napster first gave legitimacy to the file sharing world. Below you can see my discussion of the Grokster Case.
But running in parallel with these law suits is innovation. We started with trading mix tapes on cassettes in the 80s, then trading CDs, then file sharing, and now ... casting. Podcasting is quickly replacing file sharing as we've known it over the last few years and even more recent is Skypecasting. And it is fascinating.
Skype is a free peer to peer voice over IP system. Short form: phone on your computer. You can use it to call and chat with anyone over their normal land line or cell phone. Or you can talk to them directly through your computer to theirs. Computer to Computer calls are completely free.
Skypecasting uses this infrastructure to do podcasting-like music or audio broadcasts. And it sheds light on the Grokster case. MGM is suing Grokster (Universal couldn't because they are owned by Sony who fought the entertainment industry over the VCR ... tangled webs, eh?) because they claim Grokster's primary use is to steal music. The Betamax was shown to have lots of other uses besides stealing movies, so it was okay.
The great thing about Skypecasting is that there is no doubt that Skype's primary use is for telephone calls. Users created a secondary casting system completely independent of the Skype company.
Why this is so interesting is that it shows that when people want to cooperate (for whatever purpose) they will find a way to do so. Cooperation, at its source, is a human good. The entertainment industry should recognize that there is good will at the heart of this movement and harness it ... rather than fighting it and alienating their audience.