Mulve, too good to be true?
Reading early comments and reviews about it will make you think: this seems too good to be true.
Mulve.com promises free, super-fast and great quality mp3 files, without the often lenghty waiting times of p2p systems like eMule or BitTorrent.
With the advantage of not being forced to share anything, not being based on peer-to-peer technology and (so it seems) not involving any responsibility for users (which remain anonymous and – not re-sharing the downloaded files from their side – do not become “liable” in any filesharing activity as it happens in other systems).
It seems the typical “Columbus egg”… the “celestial jukebox” dreamed by many users (okay, there’s already Spotify but not for everyone; plus Mulve is free) and also the ultimate nemesis for old school record labels; that, and the death of copyright.
Are we sure it is really like that?
Mulve states to have 10 million tracks available, and maybe this is true. it looks like heaven for users: just a small-sized download, no dubious spyware (even if some commercial banners are displayed), no kind of registration is required. Apart from the small program, the .zip file contains only a text file suggesting to make a donation. Right now Mulve needs 500 dollars to go on. As we type, they have already quickly secured about half of that.
You get the Beatles and the Stones but also exotic recordings like Italian pornstar Cicciolina performing a cover of “Russians” by Sting, half in English and half in Italian. But you may not find “everything”. There are relatively known names that might still be absent.
There’s the bonus of being able to read the bitrate and on average getting less junk (and no trojans or viruses) than most p2p systems. But there are also moments in which the sotware will be acting up and displaying “No results” even for most popular names. Luckily, you just need to shut down and restart the program, and results will be back.
In Mulve, which self-defines as a “music discovery program” you will not find movies, images, or software but just music. Provided that you can download the client. Because yes, Mulve.com has some issues. It will be probably too much success and too quickly. Oh well. There’s also an inevitable Facebook page.
The service states it will remain free and will be ad-supported; it even has some advertisers, already. Speed? Super-fast. In the range of hundreds of Kb per second, so in half a minute you will get any music track. Such a speed in normal p2p systems is unthinkable for many things.. In eMule it is maybe valid for the most popular recent music. In BitTorrent & co., maybe, for the most successful porn movies. Not having seeds or filesharing, the system is democratic: everything will be downloaded at the same, high speed (in p2p a rare track will probably only exist in one or two copies).
Will it be real glory? We have some doubts. No Mac or Linux versions at the moment. The legality remains uncertain, and some actions could still be taken. Mulve cannot be easily tracked: the domain name has been registered through a proxy (Protected Domain Service in Denver, Colorado; their site seems anyway dead). So we cannot know with a simple “whois” search who could be the site owner and his location. But authorities with a special mandate could verify the above and block the .com site and client distribution.
But the problem is that by then, the client will be already elsewhere. Duplicated on sites and traditional peer-to-peer systems (it is already happening). Renamed, modified, redistributed. And if servers are really in Russia as some suggest (and as the cyrillic characters in some of the filenames displayed in search results seem to confirm) things get more complicated. In In that country, record labels lost the batlle with sites such as Allofmp3.com years ago. “Loopholes” in the Russian law allow a sort of legalized piracy, with collective licenses released by a couple of entities that should in turn pay artists and producers (but in the end don’t). Mulve might reply on them, thus entering a vicious circle.
To record labels now well over their given deadline we can only advice to take all their back catalogue out of their drawers and put it online at accessible prices, not over the typical 99 US cents per track (but also not to exaggerate in the other direction: users will think they are being ripped off and they will stop paying at all: we are referring particularly to certain special offers seen in iTunes, which honestly seem an offence to those who previously paid full price for those albums…). if nothing goes wrong, Mulve will be another passing fad. After all, for example, file names are manipulated and not always exact, sometimes the nasty cyrillic characters appear; file quality is not always the same. In other words, if the US market – which is where the real match is being played – had a Spotify at hand, many people wouldn’t have areason to go onto Mulve for unauthorized copies.
A little bet: in a while, at Mulve‘s place they will run out of money and advertisers and the system will not be able to stay up. If it will survive, it will just mean that on the other side someone is not doing enough to let people understand that there are decent, legal and affordable alternatives.