Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Music Wars:
The RIAA strikes back again
Apparently, from this article the RIAA can indeed get your IP:
File swappers hoping to share music and other works online without exposing their identity to the prying eyes of copyright enforcers face a tough choice.

Popular peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa, where the lion's share of online trading of music and other files takes place, are designed so that participants who wish to remain completely anonymous must pay a severe price in terms of convenience and usability, experts warn.


Hiding on a file-sharing system is hard for a very simple reason: peer-to-peer networks are designed for efficiency, not anonymity. They rely on a straightforward mechanism that is ruthlessly efficient at trading files. But, by broadcasting the contents of shared folders, the system leaves users vulnerable to identification and, therefore, to possible legal action.


In a ruling last week in the Aimster case, a federal appeals court went even further, suggesting that a file-swapping network that cloaks its users' activities might run afoul of copyright law, precisely because it is designed to conceal illegal acts.

"Aimster hampered its search for evidence by providing encryption," wrote Judge Richard Posner, a respected economist and jurist. "It must take responsibility for that self-inflicted wound."

Posner, who serves on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote: "A service provider that would otherwise be a contributory infringer does not obtain immunity by using encryption to shield itself from actual knowledge of the unlawful purposes for which the service is being used."


Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, says that anonymity should remain the default condition both online and offline. "It is in many different contexts in the physical world, whether it's travel or commerce," Rotenberg said. "The burden typically falls on organisations that want your personal identity to justify their reason."

Given the RIAA's history of lawsuits, Rotenberg said he fears the worst. "To the extent that anonymity appears on the RIAA radar screen -- as have P2P and other technologies that stand in the way of copyright enforcement -- you can be sure that RIAA attorneys will launch a frontal assault, regardless of the constitutional implications," Rotenberg said.
This article seems to contradict what Myself has read in other articles about anonymous P2P networks. Given the source, ZD Net, which is generally pro-establishment, Myself takes this article with their leanings in mind. It does however raise Some concern for Myself, who relies on the "the RIAA can't sue 20 million individuals" meme. They can send cease and desist notices and that, even Myself will admit is daunting. There are uses for P2P that are completely legal, which is why the software itself can't be outlawed, which is incidentally why we have CD burners. The RIAA is going to fiercely persue it's policy of stopping all P2P music swapping, and only time will tell if programmers can keep one step ahead of them. Businesses that provide anonymous IP protection, shake in fear of even having to defend themselves against potential RIAA action, and opt not to extend their products to cover P2P networking, (which is understandable if your tyring to grow your business), but Myself is fairly certain there will be lone hack out there who doesn't give a shit and will post an anonymizer (not a real word I know, but it works), maybe even make it open source, just like DVD encryption. I'm fairly certain it already exists, out there, somewhere, if not then REAL SOON NOW.

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