Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Napster, the Movie

Thank you, Techmeme, for pointing out that one of the films debuting at South by Southwest in a couple months is “Downloaded,” a documentary on Napster. Here’s the trailer:

Based on that clip, at least, this looks like a pretty straightforward retelling of the tale, made with the cooperation of co-founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker (recall that the two of them did a whole lot of press last spring before they launched Airtime).

But even if the movie turns out be a down-the-middle documentary, it’s probably still worth watching. In 2013, it may be hard to recall just how revolutionary Napster was, how badly it decimated the music industry, and how deeply its ethos has saturated the Web, even though the service/business itself is long gone.

Bonus points: Archival footage of Parker with frosted hair, new MOG/Project Daisy CEO Ian Rogers with long hair, and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich explaining his lawsuit against Parker and company at a news conference. (Last month Ulrich and Parker announced that they had become business partners.)

Extra bonus point: The movie is directed by Alex Winter, better known to many of us as “the guy who was not Keanu Reeves in ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.’”


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald