20 years of File Sharing - What comes next?

Suzhou, China (8.-10.11.2019), 8.-9. November 2019

3rd Futures of Media conference

"20 Years of File Sharing - What comes next?", to be held November 8-9 2019 at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University, Suzhou, PRC.

In June 1999 the peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing website Napster opened, having been developed by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker. While there were other file sharing platforms such as Usenet and IRC, it was the first site dedicated to music sharing, at that point meaning mostly encoded as MP3. With computer power steadily increasing, and MP3 compression having been publicised as the international sound standard in 1998, for the first time music file sharing became an easy option. Napster was a quick success, with more than 80 million registered users availing themselves of it services by January 2001. Especially fast university server networks were used to share files, with much of them being utilised by Napster aficionados/as.

But legal troubled loomed, with several artists such as Metallica and Dr. Dre as well as A&M Studios and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) suing it for infringement of copyright. Napster was forced to close down 11 July 2001. It had only been the beginning. Today, P2P file sharing sites have become a staple in society’smediascape. While there have been high publicity shutdowns such as Kim Dotcom's MegaUpload (2005–2012), KAT (2008 - 2016), Demonoid (2003 - 2018), and Torrentz (2003 - 2016), many others have survived and new ones are popping up all over the world. The most famous of the survivors is ThePirateBay (2003 - present), which even spawned a political party. This history demonstrates that P2P is a global phenomenon and cannot be relegated to 'a few teenagers engaging in illegal downloading activity’. Media futures will have to contend with such websites remaining an integral part of the Internet.

*The topics for discussion*at the conference include:

  * How has device mobility changed media reception modes?
  * How can the gap between technological advancements and other areas
    of society - politics, economy, the law - be closed?
  * What role does the global availability of media play, or do recent
    successful attempts at censorship bode ill for sustainable global
    accessibility in the future?
  * How can and should media theory influence future developments?
  * How has globalization, the global South and the Asian Century
    redefined approaches to file sharing?
  * How will movements such as Digital Commons and Open Source change
    the way business, science and entertainment will develop?
  * Does code - the software and hardware that make the internet what it
    is -  threaten liberty, as Lawrence Lessig suggests?
  * What emerging business practices are likely to affect file sharing
    in the future?

The programme can be viewed on the conference website futuresofmedia.com and a live stream is available at: