Is this finally it?
February 10, 2001 3:02 AM   Subscribe

Is this finally it? Ever since I got my Cable Modem, Napster, and a CD burner I have wondered if the genie was ever going back in the bottle. It's gonna be fun to watch them try.
posted by fullerine (34 comments total)
 
One thing your comment reminds me of is the financial growth Napster has enabled. It's *the* killer app for cd-burners and fast home connections. I know many people whose sole motivation for getting DSL was napster.

Not that any of that money goes to the music companies, of course.
posted by mecran01 at 9:28 AM on February 10, 2001


How come, instead of attacking Napster and other P2P applications, record companies haven't been going after companies like Plextor and HP who make the cd-writers?

I know my Napster and Mp3s are basically useless without mine.
posted by Mark at 9:52 AM on February 10, 2001


Thats not entirely true. I sit at my computer listen to MP3's all day long. Its hard for them to place any blame on companies that make the burners because they can be used for other puposes, such as backing up files on your computer and pirating software. Whereas, Napster's sole function is widespread distribution of MP3's (besides the chat stuff).
posted by howa2396 at 10:49 AM on February 10, 2001


Actually ...the German equivalent to the RIAA-- the GEMA retroactively requires CD writer companies to pay DM 30 (~$15) for each burner sold since 1998... HP was the first company to have this law exercised upon.

So some governments actually try to go after CD writer companies, similar to the fees exercised by GEMA upon similar equipment such as VCRs and tape recorders...
posted by noom at 10:53 AM on February 10, 2001


None of this, of course, really matters anyway (he says, having just installed Gnapster and
discovered what that Napigator stuff is all about)

The availability of the Internet is going, in the long run, to reduce Law Enforcement to enforcing laws
against things that *everyone agrees* are crimes, rather than those things that *politicians* think
ought to be crimes.

And that's a Good Thing, right?
posted by baylink at 11:53 AM on February 10, 2001


Remember, you can use your existing Napster client to connect to non-Napster servers with a handy copy of Napigator. Or just download a non-Napster client and type in whatever server you want.

Fast, free, and unstoppable.
posted by waxpancake at 12:20 PM on February 10, 2001


I think it's disingenuous to state that only politicians think that the violation of copyright should be considered a crime. You simply toss aside those who copyrights are being violated, as well as those of us who are not politicians but still think copyright violation is inherently wrong.
posted by m.polo at 12:20 PM on February 10, 2001


as well as those of us who are not politicians but still think copyright violation is inherently wrong.

Copyright is an arbitrary convention adopted to favor certain parts of the content creation and distribution equation over others. In what way can it be inherently wrong to disobey such a law?

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:06 PM on February 10, 2001


On a completely unrelated note, does anyone else think the Shawn Fanning/Napster logo graphic atop the BBC story is pretty poorly put together?
posted by tomorama at 2:19 PM on February 10, 2001


Fast, free, and unstoppable.

Fast and free maybe, but hardly unstoppable. The people running all those servers on napigator are just as susceptible to court orders as Napster Inc. is.

More so, since they don't have all that VC money to spend on lawyers.
posted by alan at 2:54 PM on February 10, 2001


Maybe, alan. But the difference is that it would cost much too much for the record companies to sue individual servers. They went after Napster not because what Napster was doing was illegal, but because there was money to be had. The RIAA will not mobilize against individual servers simply because the legal wrangling would cost more than the effort is worth.
posted by rklawler at 3:20 PM on February 10, 2001


RK, don't doubt that a simple cease-and-desist to the ISP will often be sufficient. Other copyright and trademark protection cases involving much less actual "damage" are well known.
posted by dhartung at 4:12 PM on February 10, 2001


Never underestimate the record companies willingness to enforce 'their' copyrights. If they'll go after a single Springsteen tape trader they'll certainly go after file sharing networks. Like dhartung said, A few simple cease-and-desist orders to ISP's will put an end to a lot of it. Those who don't comply will have to face a phalanx of well-funded lawyers.

Legal issues aside, will the independent Napster networks be able to handle the load? If Napster Inc. is shut down, there'll be anywhere from 5 million to 60 million (love those inflated subscriber numbers) people looking for a new place to pirate songs. All those independent servers are going to fill up really quick. How many of them will be willing to invest in server farms for no profit?

Even in a best case scenario, you have a few alternate networks that have a fraction of the user base that Napster did, which make them a lot less useful.

Be sure to steal all you can before Monday!
posted by alan at 4:41 PM on February 10, 2001


Well, on the topic of cease and desist orders, I'll remind you of one of the slogans of alt.folklore.urban:

TWIAVBP.

That stands for The World Is A Very Big Place, and it's pertinent to this topic too. There are *always* going to be countries with differing opinions of the laws, and in the final analysis, *some court, somewhere* will decide that maintaining an index in realtime does *not* constitute copyright infrignement, contributory or otherwise.

It's that 'contributory' shit that bothers me. Certainly, the people pitching and catching the songs are violating the law: go ahead and bust them.

Maintaining an index is *not* a violation of *anyone's* copyright; contributory infringement is just a shibboleth invented by property rightsholder attorneys to give them a focal point to sue. I think it's horse puckey, to coin a phrase.
posted by baylink at 5:50 PM on February 10, 2001


"Contributory infringement" is horse puckey in the same way that "being an accessory" to a murder or robbery is horse puckey. I.e., not at all.
posted by kindall at 6:43 PM on February 10, 2001


Thanks to 'recent comments', I didn't feel the need to start a new thread for Jaron Lanier on 2015, after the courts outlaw Napster.
posted by baylink at 7:55 PM on February 10, 2001


I think that the willingness of the courts and technology providers to accede to the music industry's copyrights will turn upon the music industry creating an acceptable solution.

In fact, the precedent already exists: mechanical royalties in song copyrights ... a large portion of the bars, restaurants and other such establishements in the US pays a certain monthly sum to ASCAP and BMI in return for the right to operate juke boxes and play radios over PA systems. A series of (highly approximate) survey methodologies determines how to dole out the proceeds to song-writers.

A very similar system could be used, in which ISPs (as the most accessible and universal) are charged a flat monthly royalty based upon an approximate measure of their "digital media" bandwidth-to-endusers, which they can pass through to their members, either as a flat charge or on some, similar, meter of digital media downloading time. Survey methodologies similar in basic scope to the ASCAP/BMI systems would determime who receives the payments.

Every computer has an ISP of some sort, so the coverage is universal. And, the best part, is that the _suppliers_ of the media are _not_ charged: their incentive (to move as much music as possible) remains fully in place. Indeed, some music copyright owners can share back some of their revenue with the sites to incent them to promote their particular properties more highly.


posted by MattD at 8:38 PM on February 10, 2001


bars, restaurants and other such establishements ... [pay] a certain monthly sum to ASCAP and BMI in return for the right to operate juke boxes and play radios over PA systems

There's also a performance license if you have live music.
posted by kindall at 9:04 PM on February 10, 2001


Creating an OpenNap server is as easy as downloading and launching the server application.

The point is that shutting down one or more OpenNap servers is possible, but ten more will pop up in their place. It's unstoppable, as long as there's demand.
posted by waxpancake at 12:52 AM on February 11, 2001


The point is that shutting down one or more OpenNap servers is possible, but ten more will pop up in their place.

I think having, say, 10,000 OpenNap servers would be a very good thing from the RIAA's point of view. With that many servers, you splinter the user base and make the Metcalfe value of using the service exponentially lower. None of the servers achieves the critical mass of users achieved by Napster, therefore few of them become more than a minor threat to the recording industry. If one does, you sue its owner to put the fear of God into other server operators and to make sure they never achieve too much of a public profile. You use the threat of legal action to make operators change IP addresses and ISPs frequently, making it harder for users to track down a good server. If someone puts up a tracker page, you force their ISP to take it down also using legal threats. Music piracy goes underground and recedes to the nuisance level of software piracy. Yeah, it's still a thorn in your side you wish you could eliminate, but it no longer threatens to destroy your industry.

Oh yes. The RIAA is going to love OpenNap.
posted by kindall at 6:27 PM on February 11, 2001


Yeah, but those servers are located in Vanuatu and Panama and South Africa and Bulgaria and Uzbekistan and Finland and Canada and Jamaica. I don't think the RIAA's lookng forward to fighting all those fights.
posted by rodii at 7:03 PM on February 11, 2001


And creating clients that could simultaneously search multiple servers is trivial, too. Nope; this Box is definitely open.

"Contributory infringement" is horse puckey in the same way that "being an accessory" to a murder or robbery is horse puckey. I.e., not at all.

How far do you go? Are my cable company and Florida Power contributory infringers? I sure couldn't snarf without electrons. How about my landlord?

To bounce off the Lanier piece, *just how far* does the government have to try to go before they're they next ones up against the wall?
posted by baylink at 7:55 PM on February 11, 2001


Yeah, but those servers are located in Vanuatu and Panama and South Africa and Bulgaria and Uzbekistan and Finland and Canada and Jamaica. I don't think the RIAA's lookng forward to fighting all those fights.

Nobody will use those servers; they'll be too slow. Even for US servers, bandwidth will be a limiting factor for servers run off a DSL or cable line (outgoing bandwidth there is usually much, much lower than incoming). I think for an individual-run server, supporting even a thousand simultaneous users would be doing pretty good. That's an order of magnitude less than you need for things to be really interesting.

Yeah, you can have clients that support multiple servers simultaneously, if you want to have to track down the IP addresses of the various servers you're using. Only a few people will bother.

It'll go underground. People in the know will have access to free music, just like I'm sure any of us could bogart a copy of Photoshop 6 in about an hour if we wanted one, but the recording industry will have succeeded in keeping it from the general public, which is their worst fear. My mom will never be able to Napster music if the Napster network splinters; the hoops she must jump through are just too high.
posted by kindall at 10:18 PM on February 11, 2001


the hoops she must jump through are just too high

Nah, she'll just ask you.
posted by fullerine at 1:36 AM on February 12, 2001


Only a few people will bother.

I don't think that's the case. Gnutella's gotten a fair bit of publicity and popularity since Napster exploded onto the scene, especially with all the legal battles they've been waging.

Finding an IP or 20 to hook your Gnutella client up to is pretty trivial, especially since most come with a few IPs as part of the distribution. Once OpenNap clients are written (if they aren't already - I haven't used OpenNap, so I'm unsure of their sophistication) to search multiple servers, including a few IPs will resolve the issue of finding an OpenNap server.
posted by cCranium at 6:19 AM on February 12, 2001


I'm not sure why the servers will be slow. Quite a few high-bandwidth pr0n sites and gambling sites already operate from those places.
posted by rodii at 6:35 AM on February 12, 2001


Nah, she'll just ask you.

And I'll say no. That's a pretty high hoop for a mom to jump through. More than likely, though, she'll never ask me.

Gnutella has received a lot of publicity, but the problem is it sucks. Its model just doesn't scale well to large numbers of users.

And, yeah, offshore porn and gambling sites have excellent bandwidth. Of course, they pay for it because the site itself makes a profit (or is expected to). Who's going to pay money to run an offshore Napster server? It's more expensive to get bandwidth there than in the US.
posted by kindall at 9:57 AM on February 12, 2001


I brought up Gnutella not as an alternative (though it's what I use and have never not found a song [or video or text file or other media :-)] I've been looking for) but as a related example of something that you need to know IPs too hook up to.

I imagine OpenNap's still pretty rough, but I imagine that once it's the option to Napster people turn to when they can't use Napster anymore, it'll get buffed up pretty quickly as more geeks want to find their tunage.
posted by cCranium at 5:12 PM on February 12, 2001


As I have read all of the articles and posts regarding Napster two things spring to mind.

A distributed peer to peer filesystem would work if;

a) enough people donated bandwidth and storage space

b) enough people donated time and effort to keep it running.

some answers ?

a) I have an always on DSL connection and am about to buy a 40GB Hard Drive (will I keep Napster/Son of Napster running? - yeah, not much skin off my nose)

b) Hope an Sauce.
posted by fullerine at 5:33 PM on February 12, 2001


But Kindall, the offshore servers just have to serve the metadata, like Napster does. Low-low bandwidth--ever hear of Napster itself having bandwidth problems?. The actual high-bandwidth MP3s are going to come from Kenosha et al., just like always.

Agreed on Gnutella sucking. (cC, you've actually gotten something useful from it? I salute you.) But the next Gnutella or Freenet, or the next after that, *won't* suck.
posted by rodii at 8:15 PM on February 12, 2001


Doesn't matter how little bandwidth an offshore Napster connection needs. It's expensive to buy bandwidth on a submerged cable or microwave relay. I mean, we're not talking about calling up the local phone company and ordering DSL. Someone will have to pay big bucks for reliable bandwidth. If they intend to give the service away, they will buy as little bandwidth as they can get away with.

I suppose someone might actually set up an offshore Napster server just for the hell of it, or maybe someone who already runs an offshore gambling or porn operation will put one up, but it doesn't strike me as very likely either way.
posted by kindall at 9:18 PM on February 12, 2001


rodii, and others who doubt gnutella: hit gnute.org sometime when you've got some spare time, and search for stuff.

Don't actually download it from there though, that hurts the network, but it provides a decent example of what's out there. I use the LimeWire client which comes with a very good list of IPs and is rather customizable. They also care about the strength of the network, and refuse browser downloads (darn freeloaders! :-).

Napster's definitely got more music, and finding discontinued tunes (there was an example in this or another of the recent Napster threads) and unique singles is much harder on Gnutella than it is Napster, but of primary importance to me is that no one's making money off Gnutella.

Regarding Napster, there's already been rumblings in Canadian media (mostly last August, and this is from an early morning pre-coffee brain so I could be spewing random BS again) about Napster being legal in Canada. We, like Zool and other Australians, pay a sin tax on all of our media which is supposedly split up amongst copyright holders, and if a Napster.ca entity could impose country-restrictions it'd likely be mostly legal.
posted by cCranium at 5:08 AM on February 13, 2001


Doesn't matter how little bandwidth an offshore Napster connection needs. It's expensive to buy
bandwidth on a submerged cable or microwave relay. I mean, we're not talking about calling up the
local phone company and ordering DSL. Someone will have to pay big bucks for reliable bandwidth. If
they intend to give the service away, they will buy as little bandwidth as they can get away with.


It's apparent to me that kindall hasn't been keeping up with the state of intercontinental Internet backbone links these days.

The major link to the UK and Europe was *one* T-1.

In 1990. Or earlier.

Today, it's about 10Gbps of aggregate bandwidth, or some such number high enough to not be an issue, especially for, as someone noted, only the metadata. I've used Gnapster to search overseas-based networks; it wasn't all that painful for me.

Gnapster gets search results up substantially faster on the Napster network, too. Than the Windows client, I mean.
posted by baylink at 2:09 PM on February 13, 2001


Today, it's about 10Gbps of aggregate bandwidth, or some such number high enough to not be an issue, especially for, as someone noted, only the metadata.

I guess that makes it free, then?

No, bandwidth is still significantly more expensive in Europe than in the US, and hardly anyone has the sort of broadband you'd need to run a serious Napster server at their homes. Bandwidth is even more expensive in the kinds of countries that play host to Internet gambling operations, where you'd really want to set up. It's all well and good to say "it's only the metadata" but when you have 10,000 users on your machine, that's still a significant chunk of bandwdith (not to mention CPU, and that's not free either).
posted by kindall at 4:27 PM on February 13, 2001


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