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File-Sharing Under Our Noses

By ikarus in Technology
Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 06:22:00 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Well, I just finished reading another article about the latest evolution of the Napster phenomenon, and a whole slew of related comments about the pros and cons of the coming changes. It's become apparent that people like to share files, and they like free music. Unfortunately, the legality of doing so is still a bit questionable, and whether it's Right or Wrong seems to vary from person to person. But let's pretend for a minute that we don't care about all that.

There are a number of projects out there right now that are trying to 'protect' file-sharing from the prying eyes of the law, and protect their rights to free speech and the preservation of the internet as a medium for free, and free-flowing, information. In particular, there is gnutella, the decentralized file-sharing network, and there is also The Freenet Project which creates a sea of encrypted data on a network of nodes across the internet. Both of these are interesting projects.

Then, a while back, I got to thinking about Jabber, the open-source IM system. Interestingly enough, it is also decentralized. There is no 'master' server per say, and there is also no one particular client that must be used to access the network. It's a well designed system for IM, and it's open enough to allow for expansion. So then I thought, "Hey, why doesn't someone just take the basic idea behind gnutella, and incorporate it into Jabber?"

For those of you unfamiliar with how gnutella works, here is a very simplified description. When you make a search request, your query is passed on to all of the nodes/servers you know about (perhaps just one) where it is then passed on to all the nodes that that server knows about which in turn passes the request to all the nodes it know about, and so on. There are a few things involved to keep requests from cycling infinitely such as a timeout key, and a few other things, but that is essentially how it works.

So how would this work for Jabber? Well, when you executed a search, your query would be passed on to all the people in your buddy list. Each of those people (actually their client) would check their local shared files for your request, as well as pass the request on to all of the people in their buddy list. Whoever has the file, sends you an appropriately formatted message including their IP. (of course, similar measures are implemented to keep requests from getting stuck in loops)

Why their IP? Well, you wouldn't want to send the file through the Jabber server(s) because it would cause a lot of congestion, and it would also make the people who own the servers liable. All that is really needed is the IP if an appropriate transfer protocol (http, ftp, whatever) is implemented on the clients. Jabber doesn't really become the medium through which the transfers are taking place, just a facilitator for locating files.

Since Jabber itself is more of a protocol/architecture than it is a company/service, I think it would be a lot harder (for good or bad) for it to be regulated or beat to death with litigation. It also has the advantage of a completely decentralized system, and a variety of clients on multiple platforms. To me, it seems like the ideal platform for file sharing, and to boot, it has a great messaging system already working.

I've looked around sourceforge and the internet, but have not been able to find any clients that support this type of functionality. I have also done some reading on the Jabber protocol, and have not yet found anything to prevent such a feature from being incorporated. Obviously, there would need to be a 'standard' way of formatting the request, but that seems to be a simple matter of deciding on how to format the XML and deciding on a transfer protocol, such as HTTP.

Any thoughts?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


using jabber as a file-sharing network is
o a good idea 23%
o a bad idea 35%
o over simplified 26%
o not possible 0%
o i just don't know 14%

Votes: 34
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o gnutella
o Freenet Project
o Jabber
o Also by ikarus

Display: Sort:
File-Sharing Under Our Noses | 43 comments (42 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
AIMster (4.71 / 7) (#1)
by Woundweavr on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 05:46:58 PM EST

It's called AIMster and it already exists. Check out www.aimster.com. I don't use it but have heard generally positive things about it(as far as no huge tech issues go). There are search plug-ins added now and it goes over the AOL netword(thus the AIM + (nap)ster).

AIMster (3.50 / 2) (#4)
by ucblockhead on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 05:53:18 PM EST

AIMster currently has legal problems. It may be that an open-source program is harder to shut down because there are no money men worrying about what the stockholders will think about a negative judgement.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
and offshore mirrors (none / 0) (#10)
by Delirium on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 07:26:21 PM EST

...and there's always *.ru servers willing to mirror open source projects that get sued. Harder to do that when you're a US-incorporated company trying to make a profit.

[ Parent ]
aimster lost url (none / 0) (#36)
by ignition on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 06:19:51 AM EST

aol have won the name from aimster now so they are in real deep trouble http://www.thetuckshop.com/search.php3?find=aimster&article=4767&bp=1 (the site is still up though aso I done know when this be enforced)

[ Parent ]
Question (none / 0) (#15)
by Eloquence on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 10:35:30 PM EST

I never used AIMster (never could get the hang of IM in general); does it send a search across multiple users (i.e. tell your buddies to search their buddies etc. to a given TTL) as suggested? I thought it didn't.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
I think this may have been done already... (3.25 / 4) (#2)
by slakhead on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 05:47:27 PM EST

Maybe not the exact way you described but there is a napster plugin for one of the linux jabber clients.

I cannot remember the name now but I believe it was Aimster. Anyway it isnt a bad idea but this is better.

Audiogalaxy (5.00 / 2) (#7)
by Tatarigami on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 06:28:18 PM EST

Audiogalaxy is spyware. If you've installed it, you've also installed a nasty little trojan with the filename Cd_load.exe which will report your surfing habits and continually download adverts, whether you're running the Audiogalaxy client or not.

The interesting thing is that even if you cancel the installation of the Audiogalaxy Satellite client, nine times out of ten, Cd_load will continue installing itself. It's a registry hack to get rid of it.

Removal instructions are available at http://www.cexx.org/

[ Parent ]
Questions about spyware... (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by slakhead on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 06:38:50 PM EST

Does this sort of spyware grab urls from everything or just IE?

I use opera all the time which is why I ask...

Also, there is a linux version of audiogalaxy and I doubt they spy well with that...

Looking now I cannot find that file you mentioned...I dont care though. The program works very well so I use it.

[ Parent ]
CD_Load is not on my boxen... (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by ti dave on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 08:01:25 PM EST

And I run AG Satellite on a regular basis. Try this thread here to learn how to surgically excise AG spyware.

AdAware will take care of the spyware issues, since the developers apparently want the spyware on users' systems.



"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Interesting site though... (2.00 / 2) (#17)
by ti dave on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 11:34:01 PM EST

Like the cexx.org link Dude...


"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Thievery (1.76 / 13) (#3)
by hodeestrawsa on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 05:49:13 PM EST

The music thieves look for holes in the system because they don't want to pay what they owe. Enjoy it while you can, because the holes will get plugged and you'll have to start paying what you should for your listening pleasure.

Don't for a minute think that better men aren't working hard to keep little collegiate wannabe programmers out of other people's pies.

Giving fools a clue, free of charge.

Right... (none / 0) (#11)
by weirdling on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 07:35:44 PM EST

Do you have any idea how much music I've purchased after downloading it for free from napster and MP3.com? I think the music industry needs to spend a little bit more time showing how, exactly, it looses money to Napster. Not that that modifies the legality of the situation, but if Sony, et. al., realised that things like Napster and MP3 are the future of music like radio is its past (payola, anyone?), maybe they'd *pay* these sites to list their music higher, perhaps even putting their music in high-fidelity form on large servers that Napster et. al. can search. Just a thought...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Psych 101 (2.00 / 4) (#13)
by hodeestrawsa on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 09:44:07 PM EST

We'll have to take you at your word for that. Maybe you are one of the poor saps that pays for what he's already gotten for free. Maybe you're not. It doesn't really matter what one or two people do because anyone with the slightest psychological insight will tell you that most people won't ever get around to it. They'll build up a bundle of rationalizations about why they can't right the check today. Meanwhile, the artist leaves the business, poor, broke and discouraged.

But that doesn't really matter because the law is very clear. If you copy music without permission, you are stealing. If the artist requires that you paint yourself blue before listening his/her music, then that is what you are going to have to do. If you don't like it then you can damn well not listen. The artists have the rights here, not silly little college boys with no talent and too much time on their hands. You have to either follow their rules or make your own music.

Giving fools a clue, free of charge.
[ Parent ]

Not Really (4.66 / 3) (#22)
by moshez on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 06:02:53 AM EST

According to the law, if you are copying copyrighted material without permission, you are infringing copyrights, not stealing. You are not even subjected to criminal charges until you infringe above a certain threshold. One other point, the law has nothing to do with rights -- or rather, a one-sided relationship with rights. Why "rights" may influence the law, the law certainly does not say what moral rights artists have because the law is not an authority on morality.

For example, infoanarchists believe that artists have no rights to tell a third party what to do with their copy of the music. The law agrees with infoanarchists, except for a short period of X years when the artist happens to have that monopoly.

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]

The Artist (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by DrKlip on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 12:45:38 AM EST

>Meanwhile, the artist leaves the business, poor, broke and discouraged.

And just how, excatly, does this does this differe from the current situation? Labels have been screwing artists since at least the dawn of Rock & Roll. Courtney Love describes the process in agonizing detail over at Salon.

To sum it up, labels allow artists to live high on the hog, but don't let them keep any of the revenue generated. So you essentially get wage-slavery (well, OK, usually more like fame-slavery or hooker-slavery or heroin-slavery), the artist being forced to crank out more records, usually of deteriorating quality, to sustain their "Rock & Roll Life-Style." Now, before you go on and on about how its the artist's own damn fault for getting screwed, please remember that many of the best artists aren't very rational people. They improvise, they live for the moment, they get caught up in addictions and obsessions. Their art is usually a product of that (in fact, their art is usually their primary addiction and obsession.) If your primary obsession is writing code, you're lucky because you can always get paid well for doing so. If your primary obsession is writing and performing music, you're not so lucky. Not only is the music market more fickle, but musical *inspiration* far more unpredictable (tho' we've all probably had 'coder's block' as well..)

Many of the performers out there are not *artists* in the classical sense of the word (individuals or small groups basing works off their own experiences and inspiration.) Many of them have been meticulously modeled by marketing teams and focus groups in classic "Brave New World" fashion. We can haggle over "what is art" forever, but I dare anyone to dispute that, say, Tori Amos has not more of "herself" into her work than, say, Britney Spears.

Most societies have acknowledged that, while artists are often not the most economically 'fit' individuals, they provide something unique which benefits the entire society. Thus they are often entitled certain protections to prevent them from falling into total destitution if they are no longer marketable.

While I do especially admire artists, such as Ani DiFranco, who have been successful entrepreneurs as well, I think it is a shame that those with similar artistic genius but less financial acumen are abandoned by the corporate machine after they are no longer popular enough to make a profit using the industry's remarkably inefficient business model.

Given their track record of artist-abuse, the RIAA isn't going to get much sympathy from true musicians or true music enthusiasts. They know that, and they don't care much, since the bulk of their business is, by definition, based on "mass culture." That's why, in my opinion, file-sharing will always exist somewhere "on the fringe" -- their main yuppie and dumb-teenager markets won't be affected since you'll need some technical skill to do it, and there will be some risk, but if they actually start throwing people in the slammer the backlash would be too great.

If the big-shot capitalists who run this world don't learn to lighten up, and allow ways for people to "opt out" of the system, public resentment will continue to build against them until things get really ugly. I actually think they know this, and know not to push their luck too far.

[ Parent ]
Highway Robbery (4.00 / 3) (#30)
by Rand Race on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:44:49 PM EST

The music thieves look for holes in the system because they don't want to pay what they owe.

Hence the Sony Bono Copyright act and the theft of 60 years worth of content from the American people.

Oh, you mean the customers.

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

Not relevant (none / 0) (#31)
by Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 03:37:55 PM EST

You're argument doesn't follow from the points the original poster made. Agreed, the repeated extensions to the term of the copyright amount to copyrights granted in perpetuity, but this doesn't justify copyright infringement. In fact, I'd guess that most of the illegally traded songs on Napster are all well within the copyright limits (e.g. everybody from Metallica are still alive).


Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, mhm21x16, and the Patron Saint of All Things Plastic fnord
I'm proud of my Northern Tibetian heritage!
[ Parent ]
Nor serious (none / 0) (#33)
by Rand Race on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 05:29:52 PM EST

It was meant as a silly joke not a weak argument (which it would have been).

"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

It is not Thievery (none / 0) (#42)
by tnt on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 01:49:56 AM EST

This music sharing, without paying, is NOT thievery. It is copyright infringment.

Now I'm not saying that copyright infringment is good (or bad) [I'll leave that for another argument], but it is important to call it what it is. And it is NOT thievery. And it is NOT stealing. It is copyright infringment.

     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
  Kuro5hin user #279

[ Parent ]
Two issues (4.00 / 5) (#5)
by ucblockhead on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 06:05:20 PM EST

There are two issues, legal and technical. As long as the RIAA has the upper hand, legally speaking, the technical solutions are only going to be stopgap measures. We'll be watching a game of whack-a-mole as the RIAA turns its attention to anything that becomes popular.

The only true technical solution will be one that allows two users to anonymously trade files. That is, one that allows me to give someone else a file without giving them any information as to who I am. Until such a solution arrives, anyone providing such files is, theoretically at least, exposing themselves to legal danger.

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

anonymous sharing (none / 0) (#26)
by greycat on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:34:17 AM EST

Freenet allows you to share your files anonymously. Sort of.

Actually, what it lets you do is publish a file to the Freenet network, anonymously. Nobody can tell who inserted the file, at least in theory.

The trickier part is letting people know that the file exists. Freenet has in-Freenet key indexes, which serve this role. Once you've published your file, you can submit the key (the "URI" by which the file can be retrieved from the Freenet network) to one or more of the key indexes, which have names like "snarfoo" and "freegle".

Other users can then check the key indexes to see what files exist. Snarfoo is an in-Freenet site which tracks new keys (among other features), and Freegle is a web site.

There are other in-Freenet sites (or "freesites") that have listings of files. I'll leave their discovery as an exercise for the reader.

[ Parent ]
We actually thought of this... (4.80 / 10) (#9)
by Erbo on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 06:58:22 PM EST

Some of us working on the Jabber project had the idea of developing a Jabber-based Napster-like MP3-sharing network, tentatively called "Jabster" (original eh?). However, when we looked at the legal issues that were even then beginning to swirl around Napster, the idea was tabled, and ultimately went nowhere.

This is not to say it wouldn't work...and furthermore, you could implement the "control" signaling you describe without breaking the Jabber protocol. There are well-defined "extensions" for the message and presence packets, and for Info/Query namespaces. Any of these extensions which are not understood by any specific client are ignored. In fact, there's a file transfer mechanism defined in the protocol already that uses peer-to-peer HTTP to transfer the actual file data.

Despite having been forced away from the Jabber scene due to circumstances beyond my control, I still believe in the project, and I plan on working with it again at some point, particularly in relation to my own Venice Web Communities System project...

Eric (ex-Jabber Project member, ex-Jabber.com employee #3)
Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org

So if someone made a file-sharing client... (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by eean on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 10:56:38 PM EST

The problem I have with this idea is what-if someone made a Jabber client with the ablity to search other clients like itself.

Would they be able to ues the current Jabber servers?

The fact that they wouldn't actually be transfering anything doesn't mean Lawyers can't write long scary letters to those who run the servers.

I'd be fine with this idea, as long as the servers involved would be able to chose if they want their users to provide the service. Because I like Jabber.

[ Parent ]
servers (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by ikarus on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:12:42 AM EST

from what i was able to understand from browsing through the jabber documentation, there would be no need for "special" servers.

ideally the searches wouldn't be limited to clients of the same make, but rather to al clients by using a the same schema for requests.

[ Parent ]
Right... (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by Erbo on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:37:16 PM EST

The server wouldn't need to be involved at all. The "special" client could, after it retrieves your roster from the server, send out a special "presence" message to all the users on it (that are online right now), with an extension that could only be responded to by similar clients. "Standard" Jabber clients like WinJab or Gabber would simply treat it as a standard presence message and not respond with the "handshake" that identifies the "special" client.

This could be extended to work via the Group Chat transport as well, so you could rendezvous with other users running this special client that happen to be in the same group chat room.

Theoretically, since messages pass through the server, a Jabber server could decide to block any messages with the "special" client's extensions, thus disallowing use of that type of client through its servers. But that would probably be more trouble than it's worth.

Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org
[ Parent ]

So this is bad. (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by eean on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:56:28 PM EST

This would make Jabber illegal. It could be the death of it.

Oh, you can could go on about its the server not doing anything, but whether or not its legal doesn't make any difference. You don't have to be in the right to start a costly court case.

So, if a moral person were to create a Jabber client capable of file sharing, they would insure that it would only work on servers that elected to. Granted this would mean that the server wouldn't be inocent anymore. So Jabber shouldn't be use for this purpose.

[ Parent ]
This is a really cool idea... (2.00 / 2) (#14)
by Sairon on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 10:14:53 PM EST

and as a matter of fact, I feel this is where the 'net truly is going to go. The idea of a web-browser will become the past...

we'll have apps that make the data coming over then meaningful...

these apps using XML/Semantic Web ideas over something more akin to Freenet, or Freenet itself. I think it is much more in-line with human-thought too. It'd be having your MS Word-type apps connected to freenet, grabbing XML'ed data from the semantic web for their database of words in the "dictionary" when doing a spell check...

the 'net itself would become transparent...

something like K5 would be either a .NET influenced app that is hosted on the K% server, or an app we all fire up...

it seems though that .NET runs counter to this idea, or so I have thought...

but the more I process this idea, the more they seem to run together...

to become homgenous.. it doesn't matter where the app OR the data is...

Just some random thoughts you provoked me to core dump on...


Sinister implications of the RIAA reaction (3.12 / 8) (#18)
by gbd on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:00:22 AM EST

With all of the P2P options available, you've got to believe that the RIAA and its related organizations are up in arms. They may have won the Napster battle, but it is clear that they are doomed to lose the war, regardless of how cleverly they fight it. Up until now, the RIAA reaction to P2P technologies has been purely legal; "our lawyers are better than your lawyers" and all that. But you have to wonder if things are starting to drift towards a more sinister state of affairs.

In our society, a person is allowed to take the life of another person if it can be shown that the killer is acting in his or her own self-defense. In our society, corporations are legal entities that are essentially considered (for all practical purposes) to be individuals, and are bestowed the rights and responsibilities that are given to actual human beings. It used to be that the greatest threat to freedom and human rights in the United States was the possibility of Jesus worshippers seizing control of the government, toppling the Constitution, and establishing a theocracy where non-Jesus worshippers could be imprisoned, executed, or worse.

Truthfully speaking, this is still a possibility (albeit a slim one.) But now, a new breed of threat has emerged: the profit worshipper. These are people who begin to drool uncontrollably at the very mention of money; they are free-market robots who would annoy even Ayn Rand. Many people in our government have made comments stating that the pursuit of wealth is the penultimate American pastime, that the creation of wealth is Godly, and that anything that would stand in the way of wealth creation is evil.

So I ask: in this political climate, how far away are we from the day when corporations are legally allowed to kill those individuals that they consider to be a threat? I again point out that individuals have a right to take lives in their own self-defense, and that in this country corporations are afforded the same legal status as individuals. How long is it going to take for some far-right wacko to make the connection and start the legislative wheels turning?

Although I can't be completely sure, I would say that Shawn Fanning (Napster's creator) is probably lucky to be alive. I think we can say the same for the rest of the Napster team and the individuals who have developed other P2P tools (such as the ones mentioned in this article.) They're still alive by virtue of the fact that we live in a society that has a few shreds of sanity left. But if the current money uber alles trend is allowed to continue, and if it pervades our existing capital murder laws, you might start finding P2P advocates and developers face-up in puddles of their own blood.

Is this paranoid and ridiculous? Sure, maybe.

Is it paranoid and ridiculous enough to be true?

Let's not let it get that far, hmm?

Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

And the executioners will arrive ... (none / 0) (#23)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 06:18:53 AM EST

... in UN's black helicopters.


Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]
There will be war (none / 0) (#24)
by speek on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 07:04:11 AM EST

and it will be bloody. You're paranoiad fears will almost certainly come true. It's fashionable to denounce hype and over-statements, thus the rating you've received on your post, but there will be a war over copyright sometime in the next 5 years, I predict. Right now, the RIAA/MPAA only fears losing revenue. Just wait till they actually do.

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Another more interesting implication (none / 0) (#32)
by GreenDragonWV on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 04:36:00 PM EST

The more interesting implication of a corporation being a legal person is that you should be able to "kill" a corporation in self-defense.

[ Parent ]
This already happens (none / 0) (#34)
by gbd on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 08:11:36 PM EST

The more interesting implication of a corporation being a legal person is that you should be able to "kill" a corporation in self-defense.

Corporations routinely "kill" one another in self-defense; look at some of the things that Microsoft has pulled. I'm more concerned about conservative congresscritters making it legal for corporations to murder actual human beings that they they perceive to be a threat to their bottom line; these people have made it clear that the principles of Jesus worship that they (ostensibly) espouse take a back seat to unfettered capitalism.

That day, I'm afraid, is not far in our near future.

Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]

OT... (none / 0) (#35)
by Riktov on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 11:40:19 PM EST

Sorry I gotta be grammar Nazi, but...

the pursuit of wealth is the penultimate American pastime, that the creation of wealth is Godly, and that anything that would stand in the way of wealth creation is evil.

[ Parent ]

A Novel.... (none / 0) (#37)
by Elkor on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 04:59:48 PM EST

Robert Asprin wrote a book along a similar premise titled "The Cold Cash War."

In the book companies waged war against each other using mercenaries. Eventually they get civilized and develop harnesses that, when shot, disable the persons nervous system without killing them.

Well, one bright person says "Hey, we should be able to attach each others executives, too!" The caveat being that if the executive desides not to wear his harness, or has it turned off, the sniper gets to use real bullets if the laser rifle doesn't work.

A logical extension of this would be bombing competitors stores and taking out their customers...

"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Not even close (none / 0) (#38)
by krlynch on Fri Jun 08, 2001 at 05:50:33 PM EST

You've missed some important parts of some definitions that basically annul all of your "paranoid and ridiculous" [sic] conclusions:

  • In our society, a person is allowed to take the life of another person if it can be shown that the killer is acting in his or her own self-defense.
    You can't get away with killing quite that easily. You also have to show that (and the details differ by jurisdiction) a "reasonable person" (which has a fairly clear legal definition) would believe that they or another individual were in "clear and imminent risk of severe physical harm or death", that the same "reasonable person" used the minimum level of physical force necessary to safe-guard life and limb, and that the "reasonable person" then immediately notified the appropriate authorities of the slaying and submitted to investigation. You can't just kill me because I said that I might someday think about killing you; you have to have a "reasonable" belief that I have the knife and am going to imminently stab you in the neck.
  • In our society, corporations are legal entities that are essentially considered (for all practical purposes) to be individuals
    Again, you've missed some important details. They are not considered "individuals" under the law. Corporations are "artificial persons", and as such do not have the rights of "natural persons". They are highly legally constrained in ways that "natural persons" are not; they do not, for example, have the right to defend themselves from imminent danger by killing either "natural" or "artificial persons". It would be a stretch to suggest that such a thing would ever be constitutional.

The devil is in the details as they say, and while it is interesting to consider what these issues might be like in some hypothetical post-apocalyptic world, under our Constitutional system it can't happen.

[ Parent ]

This comment will explode in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 (4.40 / 10) (#19)
by hardburn on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 01:42:53 AM EST

When Gnutella developers decided to use a broadcast searching mechanisim, it was just stupid. If they had sat down and thought about what they were doing first, they might have realized that it was completely unscalable and would bog down the network until it was totally useless.

Now you want to reimpliment this stupidity for Jabber? I'm sorry for being so harsh, but this is just dumb.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

no, this is all wrong (3.80 / 5) (#20)
by eLuddite on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:59:22 AM EST

Unfortunately, the legality of doing so is still a bit questionable,

If you're using file sharing in its euphemistic sense of copyright infringement, there's nothing questionable about it. Copyright protects an author's incentive to create work. This is why the GPL works, the so called hack being merely a formulation of this incentive as 'sharing changes to work' (something traditional licenses do not do well) instead of profiting from their expression. Please dont gainsay an artist's motives for creating his or her work; if people object to GPL violations, they should object to other forms of copyright infringement. If you have a problem with the content industry, stop consuming it. If, on the other hand, you have a problem with copyright as it stands today, cryptographically covering your tracks hardly constitutes an act of civil disobedience. If you dont invite litigation, you are merely a "thief."

But let's pretend for a minute that we don't care about all that.

No, let's pretend people act with purpose, instead. Let us further make it our purpose to invite distributive justice instead of reactionary legislation such as the DMCA.

God hates human rights.

if you want it done right (1.00 / 2) (#21)
by Error404 on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 04:08:15 AM EST

if you're complaining that you can't find it, write it, or commision someone to write it

I've had similar thoughts (none / 0) (#29)
by dutky on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 02:29:34 PM EST

but I didn't think that broadcast queries sounded like a very good idea (I'd heard about the scalability mess with Gnutella). My idea was to cache search indices locally and have new nodes broadcast their offerings when they hooked up to the network or add new items to their offerings. Since new node connections (or offering additions) would be infrequent, the broadcast mechanism wouldn't be too much of a problem for scaling (it's still a problem, but I think you can't avoid this issue in a trully distributed system).

A limited form of broadcast queries would be used in order to allow some better real-time response for offering updates: when a node wants to find something, it would check it's local cache of offerings (mappings from file name to node address:port numer), if the requested item isn't in the local cache, cache updates are requested from the nodes partners (the list of other known nodes). The cache updates would consist of dumps from the partners caches. The propagation depth of such requests would be severly limited.

As a node retreives files from other nodes on the network, the node would add each of these other nodes to it's partner list (possibly with some limit on the number of partners, or a garbage collection policy for old or outdated partner entries) and would get an initial cache update from each new partner.

A node may also choose to cache entire files from it's partners, based on some feedback mechanism from it's other partners (maybe a partner informs it's other partners whenever it retrieves a file, so everyone can keep some kind of popularity metric for files), which would then become a new offering for that node.

The best part of my idea, however, was that it could easily be piggybacked on other protocols (I was thinking of how to use HTTP as the carrier protocol, but I'm sure some of the other protocols would work just as well: DNS anyone?) which would make the parasitic protocol very difficult to block at routers and firewalls, and might help obscure the protocol traffic itself (if the P2P traffic looks like normal web page traffic, it could be fairly difficult to monitor usage of the P2P network).

Finally, I discovered that there are a fair number of DoS concerns with such a protocol. As an example, the protocol should not allow offering entries to be marked invalid by the original offering node, otherwise, malicious parties (RIAA, MPAA, etc.) could set up 'kill' nodes that would connect to the network, and systematically kill offerings by masquerading as the original offering node and invalidating the offering. There are some other interesting DoS possabilities as well, most of which can be overcome by properly limiting the node software.

Doesn't matter (none / 0) (#40)
by abo on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 09:36:43 AM EST

Sorry, it doesn't matter what technical solutions to free file sharing you come up with. The lobbyists will make sure it is stopped anyway. It can be done. This is how you do it:
  • Make all ISP put their clients behind NAT.
  • Restrict all traffic but HTTP, SMTP, POP and IMAP.
  • Make all traffic go through the ISP:s HTTP proxies and mail servers.
  • Restrict all mail larger than say 64kB.
  • Restrict everyone to at most one mail per minute.
  • Restrict all HTTP traffic to government licensed servers.
  • Only license servers that does not allow files larger than 64kB to be uploaded, and only one file per minute.
Now, only licensed servers can provide content, so you always know who to sue.
-- Köp BRUX!
yes but (none / 0) (#41)
by Skymunky on Sat Jun 09, 2001 at 03:41:21 PM EST

This could happen (but won't), but then people would go back to how we did it in the 80's. Remember BBSes? Remember how much file-trading happened on there? We don't really *need* ISPs to trade software. The Internet is just a [much more] convenient network, but not the only possible way to do connect to each other.

[ Parent ]
That is silly (none / 0) (#43)
by acronos on Fri Jun 15, 2001 at 02:07:41 AM EST

The costs of making a move like that far outweigh the gains.

1) Most current online games use other protocals and would not work under your draconian regime.
2) ICQ and chat rooms fail.
3) Internet would loose much of it's value for sharing data. Are scientists going to go back using snail mail or are they going to pay to get a license for a server to share their data. How do we upload data to that server? The headaches of this system are enormous.
4) Email has lost a substantial amount of it's utility.
5) Internet telephone will no longer work. Nor Internet faxes nor any other interactive graphical information sharing systems.
6) The internet can no longer evolve, it is locked into the technology that you have listed.

1) allow a questionable copyright law to be enforced.
2) allow all traffic to be monitored by the government.

You are a sick person if you think this is a good idea. More likely, you are of some tyrannical political belief system that thinks the social order is more important than human rights. Move to China please and leave us alone.

[ Parent ]
File-Sharing Under Our Noses | 43 comments (42 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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