July 13, 2000

You know all this Napster nonsense in the news? It's kind of obvious that the news people aren't clued in. No matter how much the RIAA or Napster think this case is important, it isn't. There are already 10s of tools for sharing music on the Internet, and none of them have the centralized control that Napster had. For example, there are now Napster clone servers that will do what the Napster servers did. I haven't heard of any of them being sued by RIAA yet. And with applications like Gnutella, which doesn't work off a centralized server, you have a complete network of music pirates without any central way of shutting down their network. Even if the company named Napster is forced to shut its doors, the mere idea of it was enough to spark an overrun of pirated music over the Internet.

There are important issues, though, such as whether or not Internet radio stations are paying for the music they are broadcasting. I don't know if the judge or anyone else in the case will bring this point out, though. Another point: Napster may be found guilty of aiding and abbetting a felon, but I don't see how they can be held responsible for piracy. They didn't take the position of editor on their servers, and were merely a conduit for pirates. The aiding and abbetting though is more of a proof of intent. I think that should be fairly easy for the prosecution if he decides to go for that clause.

The really interesting thing to come of this of course IS Gnutella's network, since this tools allows so much to be done on the Internet that wasn't done very well before. Gnutella is a complete sharing tool that uses a distributed network over the Internet. Practically invulnerable to shutdown, this little network tool is what the Internet was originally meant to be, IMHO.

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