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    Undoubtedly the largest repository of music ever built and also, in my opinion, the most decent, professional, kind and just generally well-run entity to come out the pirate/torrent scene.

    For those who do not know.

    It was illegal, but minus all the illegal ‘fat’, it was extremely well organized, there was a really great community, there was a lot of music that was hard to find, and it was a great place to find new artists around artists you knew. There will never be a community like this again, unfortunately.

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      Well you see community-operated sites like what.cd need to be shutdown because they interfere with the distribution of content from creators to consumers by lawful publishers.

      Sites like this steal the lifeblood from the distribution and studio industry and if allowed to proliferate peer-to-peer file sharing would prevent any content from being preserved or transferred to consumers.

      Plain as day.

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        if allowed to proliferate peer-to-peer file sharing would prevent any content from being preserved or transferred to consumers.

        I would actually think the opposite is true - file sharing is the single most reliable way to ensure works are preserved and transferred to consumers. The biggest threats to preservation and distribution seem to be systems that seek to ensure you only have access to files you paid for, with often unexpected results.

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          My facetiousness may have been too subtle. :)

          You hit it right on the head.

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      Aye, it’s a shame it was shut down. Haven’t seen a nexus for discovering and enjoying new and obscure artists like it for years. Although I’m sad to see it go, I’m excited to see what site shall take it’s place. Especially secure in the fact that a large amount of the original content released on the site is saved and planned to be reuploaded elsewhere.

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        in particular, I hope that what rises from these ashes is truly distributed and decentralised!

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          Soulseek has about the same amount of music as What.cd (and more) but there’s no quality control. You may be able to find album X but not album X in FLAC.

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          Perhaps it would make sense to at least mention the Gazelle softwares…


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            Somehow it seems appropriate that What.CD used Gentoo :)

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            Wow, I can’t believe this. This is actually pretty shocking! What.cd has been a “constant” in my life—it’s always been there even if I didn’t log into it. I spent a lot of time in high school on the site and I remember asking my mom to drive me to the library to get CDs to rip and upload.

            Sad day for music lovers. I wish I’d known so I could’ve burned my ratio yesterday. Now the only alternatives to streaming music are Soulseek and rutracker.

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              Thinking out loud here – It seems to me that any filesharing network that contains a central point of failure will eventually fail at that centralized point. For modern torrent networks, that means the tracker.

              The tracker’s kind of just a nice-to-have, though. Trackerless torrents, implemented in terms of distributed hash tables, have existed for years. You can’t do nice stuff like ratio enforcement but they work. However, whether public (e.g., The Pirate Bay) or private (e.g., What.cd), the search index is still centralized and therefore vulnerable to takedowns involving a small number of legal warrants against a small number of high-value targets, i.e., the site operators.

              IPFS is pretty new, but in essence it uses DHTs provides a distributed, immutable web. Since “sites” on this network are not homed in any one place, but rather shared redundantly across many users, they are much more difficult to attack, since a large number of warrants against relatively low-value targets must be obtained to affect the network overall.

              I have no idea what a filesharing network using IPFS and DHT torrents might look like, and I have not used IPFS at all yet, but I feel like these might be the building blocks to whatever comes next.

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                Just as a side argument: what.cd wasn’t just the tracker and the index site. It had also the curated collages, as well as many deep discussions about music.

                On the other hand, I’ll take freedom to quote someone else…

                Yeah, you can find most music on the internet in some form, but What.CD was the pinnacle in high quality lossless rips, and in categorizing and evaluating all the remasters and revisions of any given release. Sure it’s trivial to find Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion II online… but can you find a perfect log/cue FLAC rip of the 1997 MFSL Gold CD? Neil Young’s Harvest is easy to find - the 1984 West German “Target” CD, not so much. The Clash’s discography is widely available, but good luck finding the 1988 “25 8P” Japanese CDs. How about a FLAC rip of the Japanese Promotional vinyl release of The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads? Modest Mouse’s The Lonesome Crowded West Studio Sessions straight from the soundboard - in FLAC. The Japanese CDs of Air - Talkie Walkie, Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill, Arcade Fire - Funeral, LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening, Muse - Black Holes and Revelations, Oasis - Definitely Maybe, Sonic Youth - Murray Street, The White Stripes - Elephant - all in FLAC with perfect logs, all with region exclusive bonus tracks.

                That kind of thing is what we lost. Not just a source for the rare stuff, but a place that catalogued them all and where you could have discussions evaluating which releases were truly superior and which were simple cash-grabs, divorced from real-world price or rarity.

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                  I was a member since OiNK disappeared; I get that the value of what.cd went above and beyond just a search index. But my point is that any future solution to the problem what.cd solved is going to have to either figure out decentralization, or commit to a life on the run.

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                    Fair enough, you’re right.

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                It’s been about ten years, but I had an idea for a site called “listen to my CDs”. I’d upload a CD, and then allow a visitor (one, singular) to listen to it, streaming data in real time, but no faster. Surely I’m allowed to do that?

                I thought it would be a really good test case for copyright law, but never quite got around to it. Never decided to give it up, maybe it’ll still work.

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                  the aereo case seems relevant.

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                    Indeed. By the way, Scalia (RIP) dissented in Aereo:

                    We came within one vote of declaring the VCR contraband 30 years ago… The dissent in that case was driven in part by the plaintiffs’ prediction that VCR technology would wreak all manner of havoc in the television and movie industries. … We are in no position to judge the validity of those self‐interested claims or to foresee the path of future technological development.

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                      surprisingly enough, I was in favour of the aereo ruling. I absolutely believe rebroadcasting should not be illegal, but if it is, the sophistry of having one microantenna per customer to make it technically okay is a clear case of evading the law