This article was published on May 8, 2008

Has Pownce gone Napster?

Has Pownce gone Napster?
David Petherick
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David Petherick

Scotsman David Petherick is a director & co-founder of several companies, and provides social media strategy & visibility services. Scotsman David Petherick is a director & co-founder of several companies, and provides social media strategy & visibility services. David became known as ‘The Digital Biographer’ after a 2007 BBC radio interview, speaks Russian, wears the Kilt, and is a co-author for the books 'Age of Conversation 2.0, & 3.0'.

Pownce, the “Send stuff to your friends” application and web service, announced some new features late yesterday, and most of the world has woken up to these today.

The official blog announcement from Pownce is brief, and says little more than “Tonight we launched the new feature of sharing files to the public… In addition, we’re happy to announce that we’ve increased the base file size limit for all Powncers from 10MB to 100MB!”


So you can share files not just with your fans and friends, but with everyone – and you can upload 100Mb of files – room enough for a few videos and audio files, and Pro members have a tidy 250Mb of space. Nice. And I think Pownce have simplified the thrust of their offering by saying “we let you share stuff with your friends”.


But where does this place Pownce as a service? It certainly adds differentiation from Twitter, if you consider it to be a micro-blogging tool. It also has a mobile client that works well. And the geeks tell me the API to allow them to hook Pownce into their applications and web sites is really sweet. So all good news. But it could also mean that it’s about to become a new file-share dumping site — because you can now share anything with the world at large. And there, precisely, is where there is a little problem – potentially a big one.

When we look at the news today, we see that the defunct TorrentSpy’s parent company just got hit with a $110m legal judgement with bells on – and this comes long after the site was shut down. The Motion Picture Association of America is making sure its victims are well and truly dead by shooting them again, and suing them after they are dead. The MPAA has been awarded statutory damages of $30,000 “per infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(c), for each of the 3,699 infringements shown, for a total judgment in the amount of $110,970,000…”. Ouch.

So, do you think that someone, somewhere, sometime, soon, is going to add something to Pownce that they do not have the right to add? Uhuh. And that some who has rights or an interest in that content might take action to have it removed and to stop such infringements being repeated? Uhuh, I do. Nobody’s really going to be interested in the terms and conditions of use of Pownce in that context, and I’m sure Pownce won’t have the resources to act as ‘file police’. But after all, to quote Pownce “You can send just about anything: music, photos, messages, links, events, and more. You can do it all on our web site, or install our lightweight desktop software that lets you get out of the browser.” Make that “share just about anything”, and the genie is out of the bottle.

In an ideal world, it’s a great addition to a fine service from some great people. But it’s not an ideal world, and I do suspect that this may be a little timebomb… tick tick tick tick tick tick tick.