A Tale of Two Pirates? Daniel Ek (uTorrent) and Kim Dotcom (Megaupload)

Perhaps it is ironic that Kim Dotcom is the arch nemesis of the record industry while Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is celebrated as the former Co-Founder and CEO of uTorrent. uTorrent is described as “the world’s most popular BitTorrent client with more than 100 million downloads” on Mr. Ek’s Wikipedia page.

This week the embattled Dotcom is said to have given up his stake (and shares) in his much ballyhooed digital music company Baboom.

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In the screen shot below from the TechCrunch, “CrunchBase” we see the BitTorrent cast of characters we’ve gotten to know so well sharing duties at uTorrent.  Here we have Bram Cohen, Matt Mason and of course former uTorrent Co-Founder and CEO Daniel Ek (still prominently displayed).

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In many ways both Ek and Dotcom represent the same devaluation and destruction of the arts by building personal fortunes as the result of monetizing the work of creators, without paying those creators for their work.

The cost of music is not in the distribution of music, the cost of music is in the creation of music.

Megaupload and uTorrent have monetized the mass scale distribution of infringing works for profit. In other words, infringement as a business model where the cost of goods goes unpaid and creators are uncompensated. uTorrent is self described as “a free-of-charge, ad-supported, closed source BitTorrent Client.” Megaupload and uTorrent have both relied heavily on advertising for revenue.

Mr. Ek like his previous cohorts Bram Cohen and Matt Mason would like to say that BitTorrent is not a piracy platform, however multiple independent studies have repeatedly concluded that 99% or more of the files being distributed via BitTorrent are in fact, infringing.

All of this of course points to the fact that Megaupload and BitTorrent have hidden behind  the DMCA, which has failed at it’s intent to protect artists. It could be argued that uTorrent and Megaupload have participated in business models enabling one of the largest transfers of wealth in history from individual creators to Silicon Valley companies and operatives.

Daniel Ek is reported to have a net personal wealth valued at $400 Million Dollars. Kim Dotcom’s fortune has been recently estimated to be $200 Million Dollars.

“The main reason music streaming services are winning over millions of consumers is the fact that they require no payment unless the user desires to pay.” – Music Streaming vs. Music Piracy | Medium.Com

Right now there is little functional difference to most musicians between music streaming and music piracy. This realization should not come as a surprise to musicians when they learn that the CEO of the largest and most used on demand streaming company was both the Co-Founder and CEO of uTorrent, “the world’s most popular BitTorrent client with more than 100 million downloads.”

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If Spotify wants musicians to take it seriously, perhaps it’s time for a CEO musicians can respect. The record industry might also want to reconsider who it chooses as friend and foe as well. More on that later…

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