Don't get me wrong, this isn't a defense of piracy which takes content without creating any financial support for its continued creation, but it is the story of how pirates exploiting the possibilities of a technology that the city on the golden hill was determined to ignore, forced Hollywood to open up its movie and TV content to the public, in exchange for advertising dollars.

While the movie and music industries might detest file sharing in its old and new incarnations, even they would be forced to admit that without Napster there would have been no iTunes, and without Bit Torrent, there would probably be no Hulu. The Hollywood and RIAAwood response to the internet was to use it as a promotional platform, rather than as a distribution platform. Napster was the first wake up call warning the "woods" that the internet was a game changer not just in promoting content, but in making content available.

When Univeral contemplated making a deal with Napster, the potential was there for the creation of a better and more profitable iTunes, before it even existed. Instead the big corporations did what big corporations always do when faced with the unknown, they sued. And in suing they won the battle, and lost the war. iTunes was their surrender to the inevitability of the internet, of the unthinkable, exchanging CD's packed with junk, for individual song sales set at 99 cents a piece. But iTunes would not have existed without Napster and Kazaa and Limewire and the growing recognition that the music industry could not prevent the use of the internet for distributing music, so it might as well make money off it.

Apple played Martin Luther King to Napster's Malcolm X. When the RIAA embraced online music sales, it ended the segregation of content and the internet.

It took Hollywood longer to take the hint, mainly because the average song comes in at under 5 megabytes, while the average movie comes in at over 500 megabytes. But Bit Torrent, the widespread adoption of Broadband, combined with the growth of video sharing sites such as YouTube put the same question to Hollywood. And when studios and networks saw their content appearing as Torrents the next day, the jig was up. Hulu like iTunes, would not exist without Bit Torrent.

None of this is meant to argue that piracy is legal or moral. It's not. Piracy is what happens when you create a gap between service and demand. There was a demand for online distribution of video and music content that the pirates filled. Had the appropriate industries stepped up to the plate, it would only be a minor problem. But they didn't, and so sites like Pirate Bay flourish. At the same time the rise of iTunes has caused a drop in the expansion of piracy. Hulu and sites like it, will end up having the same effect.

Consumers and studios have a common interest. Consumers want to watch TV and movies over the internet. Studios and networks want new financial models that are profitable. Together they can make it work. It's only when studios and networks refuse to get on board with providing services, that piracy thrives.