MOVIE REVIEW | Downloaded (2013)

Dlownloaded 1

“One of the great moments in human history.”

I have a theory when it comes to technology. The bad guys are always one step ahead of the good guys. Ever since the concept of downloading music, movies and TV shows came along, governments and corporations have been shutting down the illegal channels used to pirate music, movies and TV shows. But the thing is, by the time these channels get shut down, the bad guys have already invented a new one. It’s been a cycle that has run its course again and again and again in the last 15 or so years. But the case that kicked it all off, is still the most famous and the most fascinating. And that’s the story of Downloaded.

In the late 90s, Shawn Fanning dropped out of college to pursue an idea. The revolution of the mp3 meant that decent sounding audio was now available as relatively small file sizes. Instead of tapes, records or CDs that contained maybe a dozen songs, it was now possible to have thousands of songs just a mouse click away. It also meant you could share those songs with other people over the internet. But the sharing process was convoluted and a pain in the ass. Fanning’s solution was Napster, the peer to peer program that made illegally copying music easier and more widespread than ever.

Teaming up with the more business savvy Sean Parker, Fanning was barley 20 and in charge of a multi-million dollar company that was changing the world in a major way. And once the record companies got wind of Napster and how much of their music was being shared, Parker and Fanning became infamous. Vilified by record labels and musicians, championed by their own generation who felt like they were entitled to all of this content, Napster, Parker and Fanning changed the entertainment industry forever.

With an impressive amount of footage from the time, and seemingly limitless access to all the major players today, Downloaded does a great job in letting the story play out organically, while also benefitting from the hindsight of today. Shawn and Shaun seem so oblivious and pure back in the day, genuinely excited about what they think is a good thing for music fans and music producers. And they both seem surprisingly well adjusted now as billionaires in their 30s today.
Shawn & Shaun
When Henry Rollins says the digital developments of the last decade or so are possibly the biggest things to have ever happened to the music industry, he’s not being hyperbolic. Director Alex Winter does such a great job of bringing this story to life, that Rollin’s comment seems perfectly justified. Without Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, there’s no such thing as iTunes. And bigger than just the music industry, once iTunes made the concept of downloading content financially viable, all of a sudden things like Netflix seemed possible. Which, fittingly enough, is where I saw Downloaded.

Directed By – Alex Winter
Written By – Alex Winter

Other Opinions Are Available. What did these people have to say about Downloaded?
The Guardian
The New York Times
Film Buff Online

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