Thursday, 27 March 2008

Hostile tactics

P2P is a major technology component of the AUS, and a wonderful distribution system that promises to liberate many artists from the shadow of big business. These days the threat of being locked out of distribution, the leverage big business uses to threaten artists into accepting draconian contracts, is all be null and void with the net.

Yet P2P, a perfectly legal software, is under attack from the powers that be. Right now Discordia Ltd (Roman goddess of strife) a shell company for iMesh Inc. is in the process of a hostile takeover of Shareaza. Discordia seems to be one of a group who are systematically attacking and taking over P2P software developers. This is particularly unpleasant as many of these software developers, including Shareaza, are open source and do not have the resources to fight back.

Discordia's takeover started with the usual charges of helping pirates, exploiting weakness in the law to wrestle the domain name from the then rightful owner in a French court. It seems the court failed to realise (it wasn't rejected out of hand as a frivolous law suit) that Shareaza is simply a file sharing software and is not more liable for the content shared than Microsoft is for the emails sent using their Outlook software. It makes me wonder what's next - suing the mail service for delivering letters with illegal content and demand all mail be examined by a group o copyright holders? Perhaps all our letters in the future will pop though out letter box 're-seal' and stamped with a filter pass mark. This example sounds ridiculous now, but that is exactly what is happening right now. The big media companies are getting away with it because P2P is not seen as mainstream like the mail service or in a similar light - it should be. As such the law is slow to catch up.

The reason the law suit won is because the holder of the domain was an individual and lacked the funds to fight back, and the law is stacked against him. Now Discordia have put in an application to trademark 'Shareaza'! This will complete the takeover of the Shareaza brand.

Picking on open source community like this is, in my view, is simply school yard bulling; using resources and power to 'land grab'. Remember; Shareaza is open source community project and totally legal.

The tragic thing is; that P2P is perfectly legal and has many uses that are of great benefit to our community and society. One example of a legal use of P2P software is Project Gutenberg which distributes public domain books via P2P. The beauty of P2P is that all public works, our whole history, could be made available to the public this way. As the books are hosted on the student's hard drive (in their P2P share folder) all downloads by other students will not cost the project any money in bandwidth. The project only has to host a 'magnet link' (a hyperlink that initiates a P2P download, and ensures the correct file is downloaded). A magnet link is something most people have never heard off.

The cheapness of P2P distribution makes it attractive to all non-profit and charities who wish to distribute materials via the web.

If all P2P is completely taken over by the likes of the RIAA etc. then they will introduce 'filtering' and filter out all illegal content - which is fine and the AUS does not have a problem with one little bit. The problem is they can also filter any content they wish, and they could filter out artists using P2P to distribute their wares to circumvent big business control (like Trent Reznor/ NIN and Year Zero). In the end the big media companies with gain full control of P2P and will start to deny artists access.

Any new P2P software developed without filtering, or 'unofficial filtering', will simply be taken over and added to the big media system.

The end of the artist freedom revolution is already here. Nipped in the bud. Big Media had a problem for a while, but they reverted to type and realised that the only way to stop artist freedom and new talent from daring to refuse to sign contracts is to take over the P2P system and deny the very real alternative option.

It has nothing to do with pirates, P2P is free advertising and government studies have shown P2Per's buy the most legal media. It the same as people recording off the radio back in the day. It's all to do with control of distribution and therefore control of the artists.

If you think big media companies are doing a good job of providing art to our community then you do not have to do anything. If you disagree, maybe you would like to help out?

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Verizon and P2P

I just read and interesting bit of news about Version breaking from the big media ratpack and jumping onto the P2P bandwagon. They are putting forward and way to boost P2P file sharing through intelligent network management.

On the face of it, it seems that Verizon may have figured that dumping the big media companies of yesteryear and promoting independent produces of tomorrow could pay off for them in the long run (in the same way selling shovels and tools to gold miners during the gold rush days!). Maybe - just maybe - this massive 'alternate' business of the net is starting to think outside the traditional box. Though I have my doubts, but enlightened self interest and greed do on occasion work out in the customers favour (though very rare - but look at the net! Proof that 'new' really can win out)

It will be interesting how they figure out legal file shares, I think magnet link technology could provide a decent anchor to the system.

However, it could all the a way to localise and track file sharing (not a problem for us legal P2Pers) or it could be used to control traffic via some form of 'registration' to prove legality and thereby sneak back in the censorship under the guise of doing us a all favour. Time will tell.