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eMule celebrates its 20th anniversary, a look back at an illegal downloading giant


If you were already hanging out on the Internet in the early 2000s, then chances are you knew about eMule, if not used it. It is in 2022 that the download software begins its career on the ashes of Napster. If today the Bittorent protocol has replaced it, many users still remember this very special time.

At the dawn of the 2000s, Naptser made the headlines. Previously relatively intimate, the platform became known to the whole world following a lawsuit brought by Metallica and led by a particularly – more than usual in any case – angry Lars Ulrich. In 2001, its creators finally let go and closed up shop. However, this is far from the end of peer-to-peer downloading.

Indeed, many clones will take over. Limewire of course, which caused cold sweats to many imprudent Internet users, but also and especially eMule. The small software is thus born in 2022 and differs from its ancestor on a very particular point: like its congeners, the eMule database is decentralized. In other words, it is up to the users themselves to upload and share their files.

On the same subject — Illegal downloading: justice will soon be able to block pirate sites more effectively

Just 20 years ago eMule was released

Then begins a gigantic Russian roulette that will last for years. At the time, it was not uncommon – not to say very common – to download bad files instead of the one you want to acquire. This practice gave rise to jokes that are still memorable today, such as the famous excerpt from Bill Clinton’s speech in the Monica Lewinsky era, or even the unbeatable Rick Roll.

Very often, this decentralization has allowed hackers to distribute their malware en masse, without it being possible for users to check the validity of the files online beforehand. It must be remembered that at that time, a simple song could take tens of minutes to be downloaded. Fortunately, more often than not, Internet users ended up with tracks that were mistitled or attributed to the wrong artists. Without forgetting pornographic films instead of more “recommendable” films.

Born barely a year earlier, the protocol would sign the end of eMule, Limewire and other similar software towards the end of the 2000s. by widely democratizing the practice. Vincent Valade, the creator of eMule, will be sentenced to 14 months in prison suspended in 2015.



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