It's the news you've all been waiting for . . . Napster is to launch in Ireland! Wait. What? Napster still exists? Holy Metallica! Did Lars Ulrich solve nothing? Did he not crush the spotty teenage upstart Shawn Fanning's music downloading service waaay back in 1999? And then identikit services proliferated, iTunes happened and then we all moved on to streaming music on Spotify and Deezer and everything was good forever and ever?
It's been a long and winding road for Napster. In late 2011, after being passed around like a puppy nobody wanted for years, Napster was bought by US-based service Rhapsody and now, in June 2013, 14 years after it first appeared on our screens, Napster is officially and legally available in Ireland.
Oh great. Just what we always wanted. Napster's offering is as identikit as all the others: 20 million tracks available on all your devices, offline mode, playlists, radio stations, €9.95 a month without ads.
"Launching Napster in Ireland offers real music fans a better way to discover new music," said Thorsten Schliesche, Napster's Senior Vice President – offering not a single compelling reason why any Irish person would choose Napster over its counterparts.
On a related note, ever since the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) successfully applied pressure on Eircom to block access to The Pirate Bay, IRMA has been pursuing the same outcome on other ISPs.
The IRMA case versus the ISPs UPC, Vodafone, Digiweb, O2 and Three is hanging around like a bad smell, prompting UPC to issue this statement. "Our position is that ISPs should not, on a voluntary basis, decide what can or should be consumed by users," it said.
It's hard to believe we're still stuck at this juncture. Blocking one site, or IRMA's proposed 260 others, won't solve anything. The blocks can easily be circumnavigated and there are other sites to use if someone wants to download (or stream) music or movies. At least Napster is actually a more useful solution than blocking websites.