Gene Simmons: “Napster’s Founders Should Have Been Treated Like the Nazis…”

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You say that the music industry sued their fans, destroyed their goodwill, and failed to adapt.  Gene Simmons says all of that is bull$%it:  “I still think it’s a crime,” Simmons recently told MetalHammer (print only), referring to file-sharing and BitTorrent swapping.   “The sad part is that the fans are the ones who are killing the thing that they love: great music.

“For fuck’s sake, you’re not giving the next band a chance.”

The question is whether a gigantic hammer would have worked.  “Record labels should have stood together and made the Great Wall of China [around their content] and sued anybody who transgressed,” Simmons continued.  “How much have we lost through illegal downloading?  It’s certainly millions.  I don’t think it’s tens of millions, but it’s certainly millions.”

Simmons, once in training to become a Rabbi, has never changed his extremely strong anti-piracy stance, even after Metallica abandoned theirs.  That was right around the time that Napster died, and the start of a near-decade of artist silence on the issue.  “They should have bitch-slapped them,” Simmons snapped, referring to Napster’s progenitors.  “Gone down with the FBI, seized everything and put everyone in jail.”

“But then they should have done what the Allies did with the Nazis: made them work for us.”

That didn’t happen: Napster co-founder Sean Parker went on to become co-founding president of Facebook, is currently a multi-billionaire, and carries a sizable interest (and influence) in Spotify.  Shawn Fanning, perhaps the most famous Napster co-founder, has gone on to found a number of new startups, including the highly-successful Rupture.  Former Napster COO Milt Olin was recently killed by a police officer while riding his bicycle in Los Angeles.

Pictured: Nuremberg Trials, photographed by the US Army (public domain).  Additional quotes from Torrentfreak.

58 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    “Napster co-founder Sean Parker went on to become co-founding president of Facebook, is currently a multi-billionaire, and carries a sizable interest (and interest) in Spotify”

    Absolutely disgusting.

  2. GGG

    I mean, regardless of how evil you think piracy is, the industry DID fail to adapt first. Those things aren’t really connected. It took someone outside the industry 4 years to figure out/launch how to monetize digital files.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, the industry made a lot of mistakes — but the most serious is the one that Mr. Simmons points out:

      Why, why, why did the music industry allow 24/7 wholesale theft?

      Were all the execs completely stoned out ouf their minds?

      No other industry has ever been that stupid.

      • GGG

        Well, I’m sure lots of reasons, stubbornness and ignorance being the most common.

        1) They thought litigation would solve everything. I certainly don’t fault them for trying and suing, but someone should have realized at that moment that digital files were going to be harder, if not impossible, to just get rid of…which leads to

        2) They should done what the gov’t does and pay lots of money to the bad guys to switch teams. Why wasn’t there hackers/computer geniuses/tech gurus who understood these things called immediately to assess the situation and start building their own system just in case it was the future. I understand hind site is 20/20 so it’s easy for me to say that, but if some college kid could build Napster, a bunch of high paid tech guys should be able to build a better or at least legal one fast. At least have it and keep it on the side in case filesharing magically went away, then there’s no use. But since it didn’t, they could have beaten Apple to the punch and played by their own rules, not Steve Jobs’s.

        • Anonymous

          “They thought litigation would solve everything. I certainly don’t fault them for trying and suing, but someone should have realized at that moment that digital files were going to be harder, if not impossible, to just get rid of”

          Don’t get this the wrong way, I’m 100% sure you agree that we should do what we can to stop child porn as long as it doesn’t limit our freedom of speech or our privacy. And I’m sure you’ll agree that the results in that dept could be a lot worse.

          I’m also sure you’ll agree that litigation is the only way to stop mainstream theft of credit card information and similar Intellectual Property. Yes, you can buy your neighbour’s VISA info for $5, but it’s not that easy to find and the consequences are severe if you’re caught. That’s why most people don’t do it. And I may be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think you’ll ever hear anybody demand that credit card info should be streamed for free.

          So why do you think full scale litigation generally is doing OK in the digital realm, when it’s backed up by serious and consequent enforcement, while the same somehow would fail when it comes to piracy?

          A digital file is a digital file.

          Google stopped child porn support within a few days recently. They could easily do the same to piracy. Sure, they had to hire a small group of people to manually go through some of the material, but they finally shaped up and did it. Likewise, most ISPs do try to stop child porn today. And they could do the same to piracy.

          The industry’s most peculiar and almost suicidal mistake was that it began to read tech blogs. And I mean, who ever gave them that idea?

          It’s not like MacDonald’s reads vegetarian blogs and suddenly goes ‘ooh, meat is murder’.

          Business is not a popularity contest.

          It’s war.

          • wallow-T

            “So why do you think full scale litigation generally is doing OK in the digital realm, when it’s backed up by serious and consequent enforcement, while the same somehow would fail when it comes to piracy?”

            Because in the cases you cite, credit card numbers and child porn, there is not a business trying to win customers. See Metallica’s experience.

          • Anonymous

            “Because in the cases you cite, credit card numbers and child porn, there is not a business trying to win customers”

            On the contrary; thousands of fraud and child abuse businesses try to win customers.

            Child porn, credit card scams, music piracy — all of it is cyber crime. Nothing more, nothing less. And we don’t get rid of it by streaming child porn, credit card numbers or music.

          • Anonymous

            Business is not a popularity contest.

            Well not all businesses, but the art industry is a popularity contest.

          • GGG

            The problem with this comparison, and the difference in child porn and music, is that there’s not a legitimate child porn industry that tracks and reports piracy of its goods. I know nothing about the child porn racket, but I’m pretty confident it still exists and is still very large, probably larger than both of us know. Child porn is still a huge problem, it’s just not an openly consumed thing and there’s far less people involved. Same with stealing CC numbers, bank numbers, etc. Still happening. Ask Target. These things just don’t have legit industries that they are stealing directly from. And both of those are also a lot less popular than listening to music.

            So to me, you can keep spouting your platitudes about piracy being dead and easy to kill, but it clearly isn’t, or don’t you think it’d have been done by now?

        • wallow-T

          Back in the day of Napster, around 1999-2000, it was not going to be possible for the music labels to move into digital files, because something like 90% of the revenue was coming from physical retail stores, who were a strong lobby within the business. (NARM) (Tech aphorism: “If you don’t cannibalize your business, somebody else will.”)

          I have no insider knowledge, but I suspect that the music business could not start to move on digital files until it became clear, around 2002 or so, that physical retail was mortally wounded and was going down. (In my towns, college towns, the CD store wipeout was mostly completed by 2001, possibly due to filesharing penetration on college campuses.)

          In the early 2000s, the music business also put a lot of faith in quack tech solutions which were going to put an end to CD copying and ripping. (ex: Sony Rootkit, other anti-copy schemes which installed malware on computers which were tried in Europe)

          • GGG

            Right, I mean more the idea of just truly understanding what the tech was and assessing how it may affect the industry. I don’t really mean they just have had a knee-jerk reaction of starting their own iTunes by 1999. But it doesn’t seem like the industry really understood what was happening. And again, if a college kid could build that, some highly paid tech guys should have been able to build it better and/or find another way to implement what was happening.

      • wallow-T

        “Why did the music industry allow 24/7 wholesale theft?”

        What is this “allow” you speak of? The industry threw around lots of lawsuits: the suits against the first MP3 player, and the suits/settlement demands against individual P2P users, and the suits against every file sharing service the industry could reach. The industry won most of the suits and settlement demands, too.

        It’s hard to sue a social movement into oblivion, though.

        • Anonymous

          “What is this “allow” you speak of? The industry threw around lots of lawsuits […] The industry won most of the suits and settlement demands, too.”

          They sure did. And then what happened?

          They started to read… tech blogs.

          “It’s hard to sue a social movement into oblivion, though.”

          Certainly. But guess what? There never was a social movement. There never was a revolution. There never was a public outcry.

          There was a handful of… tech blogs. And they yelled, and they whined, and they screamed from the rooftops.

          The industry listened, and the tech blog punks rolled on the floors in their parents’ basements, laughing their asses off and they’ve been doing that ever since.

  3. Anonymous

    Is Arjon Publishing also defending organized crime — or is it just you?

  4. ja

    mr. simmons is correct. piracy has been and continues to be big business for the people in charge of distribution, nothing short of wholesale theft. we’re not taking fans downloading, we’re talking the enablers who created a business model around the use of others’ works for nothing in return. and as you can see from the article, those in charge have walked away scot free and enormously wealthy. i’d say this is the biggest, cleanest heist in history, and while people focus on the “moral debate” of intellectual property (whatever that means), these people continue to move further away from their crimes and laugh all the way to the bank. then they hold their crimes over your head and say, “if you don’t license to us, your stuff will just be gotten for free and you won’t be paid!” the nerve of these pinheads to rob you blind, sell your stuff to their friends and then tell you to pay their friends if you want some of it back! but did you see? they got their perfect fall guy – kim dotcom, eccentric and loud with a criminal history. the story continues and the operation only grows, branching out into legitimate businesses to cover tracks…

    • PiratesWinLOL

      It is disgusting what socialist Sweden has developed into.. It is like they take Roland Freisler and his People’s court right into main stream television. The guy should have walked right out though, instead of sitting there politely listening to these two aggressive clowns. It is not like there is anything wrong with SD anyway and they are pretty much like UKIP or DPP in my understanding.

      • Anonymous

        Ah you’re not only a thief, but also a right-wing extremist?

        Plus, of course, a popular source of priceless one-liners. 🙂 I still can’t forget the one about Beyoncés new album:

        “it is just some silly arty-farty project, which very few will care about”

        • PiratesWinLOL

          Parties such as UKIP, SD and DPP are extremist? I suppose the Republicans of the US are also extremist in you opinion.. Not that I care much about such semantics though.

          Also, my opinion was correct back then. For unknown reasons this horrible musician has a rather large number of fans, with more than 13 million people following her on twitter. Her sales of this thing only reached around 10 percent of that number and that is supposed to be a huge success? If you want to talk about proper success, you know where too look. 118.1 billion streams overall with a growth rate of 32 percent. Albums on the other hand was down no less than 7.7 percent. That is what matters, not some silly arty-farty project which very few people has cared about.

          • money talks

            Yes, most of the Republican party in the US are neo-nazis, ultra right wing nuts e.t.c.
            There is no disagreement on this, even mainstream media accept this as reality.

          • PiratesWinLOL

            Absolutely no disagreement at all! 🙂

            That being said, I believe some of the more hardcore leftist media such as BBC, CNN and the Guardian, does in fact love to insinuate such nonsens. Or something close to it at least.

          • Chris

            “Parties such as UKIP, SD and DPP are extremist?” – you scratch between the surface and most of them are yes. Only this weekend one of UKIP’s senior members said that the mass flooding in the UK have only happened because we voted to legalise gay marriage!

            “hardcore leftist media such as BBC, CNN and the Guardian” – so the BBC is hardcore left? Jesus wept mate you are an imbecile!

            The only extremist party I’ve seen recently is the Pirate Party – back mass theft, support paedophiles…

  5. go find a webmaster

    Your website is not even loading, you pathetic excuse of a human being.

    • PiratesWinLOL

      It is up. The problem is that there is an intelligence test, which you need to pass to enter it and you obviously failed.


      • cjhoffmn

        The intelligence test being that you had correct the misspelling the guy made in posting his own link to his own site?

        I don’t care where you stand on piracy, that’s just silly PiratesWinLOL.

        GS has made tons of money from his music during his real popular days and even now. It is a specious argument that arjon made…

  6. TuneHunter

    Paul, you must be exhausted with current state of the art.
    Your monolog to Francis at IFPI and now obvious violation of Godwin’s Rule shows your determination to point to all distortions killing the industry.

    Honestly, Google is the only hope!
    They have proper music infrastructure, surplus capital and still are very vibrant. We just have to prove them that there is 10x money in media monetization than in advertising. Being the biggest search engine also helps to deliver 100 billion dollar industry in less then five years from kickoff date.

    RIAA, Francis at IFPI or Francis Keeling at Universal will just continue the excitement and participation in streaming and advertising killing of the goodwill. There is no chance for fresh ideas or action from old dogs, it is worse, some are just observers and some decided to pull the music carcass in their own direction.

    Again, Google is only entity able to make bold and profitable to all start.

    • Anonymous

      “Google is only entity able to make bold and profitable to all start”

      …and all their base are belongs to them…

      • TuneHunter

        Sorry, I just don’t see anyone on the horizon. Apple? Amazon? – nope.
        Google as a leader of the band still needs partners. Market potential is so big that 50% taken by master will still make all others, including the old dogs, bigger than ever.

  7. Anonymous

    Gene Simmons is right. The pirates are exactly like the Nazis. They should be hanged by the neck until pronounced dead.

    • Anonymous

      Again, we get it — you’re thrilled by the movies we make, you love the books we write and you can’t live without the tunes we play, but you’re not smart enough to earn any money of your own so you have to steal our property, and now you’re screaming and whining that we want to hang you because we tell you the truth:

      You’re a thief, and you belong in jail.

      • Anonymous

        Was muss getan werden? Wir müssen die Piraten zu vernichten! Durch die Kraft der Kunst! Brennen Pirat! Brennen Pirat!

        • Anonymous

          Easy on the paranoia, now. 🙂 You’re just a thief, nobody’s gonna kill you.

          And yes, Mr. Simmons was right: Why not let guys like you work a couple of years in the local studio?

          • Anonymous

            I believe in the noble cause of the artist. Only art is pure and true. The pirate menace will be stopped!

          • Anonymous


            But why don’t we get you started on that studio job — what do you about… cables? 🙂

  8. Anonymous

    I’ve personally never seen a better comparison. Nazis and pirates are of the same breed.

    • Anonymous

      It’s clear that the pirate has committed a Holocaust against the artist. The question to ask is, where is our Nuremberg?

      • PiratesWinLOL

        Be quite you two and get in the shower. You really need to get cleaned up before we continue your ..ehm.. relocation to Spotify.

        Just take a deep breath and relax please.

  9. Yves Villeneuve

    I like Gene Simmons and KISS music. He is right much more often than he is wrong and he doesn’t sugar-coat anything.

  10. Musician

    If you don’t like KISS music, you can choose not to buy it. Not liking it doesn’t mean you are entitled to download it for free. You’re not making any sense.

  11. Peter

    I’m still amazed how people can justify theft by telling me its doing me good……….. Its like saying I’m gonna rape your wife because you might eventually divorce her, and she might potentially like me one day.

    If it was a oil or drug company, the government would have started a war to protect theirs partners.

    • Anonymous

      Well oil is actually important to the functioning of the global economy. And drugs cure/prevent diseases and keep people alive.

      • Yves Villeneuve

        Music can be used to treat illness as well and increase productivity in workers for instance.

      • Peter

        But art is not a vital part of humans? Specially music?
        Just imagine watching TV with no music……. Or a film/movie……. Or go into a store……. Or drive in your car.

        Ive been creating music for 40+ years…… I was middle class….. Between health & insurance costs due to a issue i was born with, its a tough road now……… WHY???? To make Google Billionares MORE BILLIONS?

        What a crappy way to treat people..When is it enough?

        I think music creators just need some protection from the internet floodgate that opened……. Not much different than having your bank account siphoned off by random new taxes to help oil companies subsidies.

        • Anonymous

          But art is not a vital part of humans? Specially music?


  12. mdti

    can’t people stop abusing the term “nazi” as soon as someone disagrees or hurts them?
    otherwise, WE are all nazis (or nobody is…. you choose).
    A bit of respect to the real victims of the true nazis would be welcome in those times of non-sense, war, agressivity and bad faith in argumenting.

  13. hippydog

    Quote “But then they should have done what the Allies did with the Nazis: made them work for us.”

    Ditto on what others said above..
    After the sh*t hit the fan Sean Fanning basically begged the music industry to allow Napster to operate legally,
    If memory serves me correctly, he was attempting to make offers even before things got really bad..
    The music industry said no, and didnt even try to come up with a better alternative..
    The irony? of the situation was; the offer by Napster consisted of higher payouts then what the industry is currently getting (when you factor in the huge losses from piracy)

  14. Mickey Mac

    When a few college kids start a site like Napster it’s piracy, but when a few billion $$$ corporations start sites like Spotify and Pandora, it’s “empowerment” (of the artists and the fans)! I guess in this world it’s okay as long as the Big Dudes make a lot of $$$!

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Ha, I messed up his metadata (just like Napster used to do). Thanks for the correction.

  15. Sam

    Simmons needs to get a grip. He’s been so irrelevant for so long, he’s had to latch on to other headlines and make extremem statements to get noticed. Napster/Nazis? Sad, really.

  16. Jimbobogie

    The problem actually developed when the first CD was released for public sale. There’s some debate as to whether it might have been “52nd Street” by Billy Joel or “Born in the USA” by Springsteen, but whatever the title was, the music industry relinquished its copyright at that minute. Don’t get me wrong-from a LEGAL standpoint, the copyright still exists, but no matter what the law says-your ability to control your property is only as effective as your ability to enforce your rights. The industry walked away and left the front door wide open-all the millions that were spent protecting master recordings were rendered worthless-why?-so they could release a new configuration (the old joke used to be “When sales are down, release a new configuration!”) Believe it or not, there were some people within the business who raised this very issue at the time-they were branded “Mr. (or Ms.) Analog”. Frankly, not even the most pessimistic of the “Analogs” could foresee the speed at which digital technology would grow. Anybody with a good laptop and bad intentions now has more power than the Chairman of the Board of any entertainment company-including Gene’s.

  17. Anonymous

    The industry movement toward digitizing began with changing to the CD format and leaving vinyl behind. Once digitzed on CD content could easily be transferred and downloaded.

  18. gailstorm

    Despite being deemed illegal in civil court, those founders walked away with tens of millions in their pocket. Not one dime went to music development or even music education. I say this knowing one of them when he was in high school too and not a bad guy or anything. Just proved shallow to the core.