uTorrent for Mac beta ships as file-sharing debate grows

 A Mac version of popular BitTorrent client, uTorrent, has sneaked online – but it’s only a pre-release alpha, the developers have rushed to explain. In development since 2006 the software isn’t release-ready – many of its features don’t yet work, but application has been made available in order to prove that a Mac version is in development.

The news comes as AC/DC are widely reported to be moving to eschew iTunes, arguing that they want to sell their music as complete album bundles, rather than allowing music fans to cherry-pick tracks. While this is being reported as a shot across the bows for iTunes, similar moves to remove songs from UK artist Estelle from the US store saw that artist’s album chart position plummet, as her music was no longer available from America’s biggest music retailer.

AC/DC’s move won’t prevent file-sharing, however, and – as noted in this report – is likely to simply boost file-sharing traffic. "We live in a track world.  You can either admit it, or get run over by the future.  AC/DC’s album will be available track by track.  And that’s how it will be listened to.  The only difference is, they’re not going to get paid!" observes fiery music industry critic, Bob Lefsetz.

The debate concerning file-sharing continues, with a slow realisation hitting most non-millionaire artists now that suing individual file-sharers may actually be bad for business. UK singer Billy Bragg this week slammed the RIAA for litigating against music fans, saying, "You know who the pirates are? The pirates are our fans, when you sue our fans, you drive our fans away."

Meanwhile, RIAA anti-file-sharing scare tactics took a setback this week when Judge Michael Davis recanted a $222.000 fine against Jammie Thomas for sharing just 24 tracks. The judge argued that key elements of the RIAA case was based on false premise, and also said the fine per song when levied against ordinary music consumers is far too high, arguing for a much lower ceiling. Regardless of the continuing legal actions of the major labels, now victims of their own size and unable to display the innovation on a budget required for true success in the digital age (cf. Radiohead) will musicians and music fans ever find a way to close the gap?

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