Are Napster spin offs illegal?

I think everyone here knows what file sharing is, and what the courts ruled on Napster.

My question is: What about all those other software programs such as audio galaxy, kazaa, bear share, limewire, and morpheus that allow you to get MP3s? Not to mention all sorts of games, movies, and videos. Are THEY illegal? why shut down Napster if these can still operate legally?

From my limited understanding, the sole reason it was possible to shut down Napster is because the entire peer-to-peer system ran through a few central servers, which belonged to the guys who were eventually taken to court, and you know what happened there.

Kazaa, Limewire, et al run a de-centralised peer-to-peer system, meaning that the software looks for other clients without any central point whatsoever. To use a really bad analogy, it’s like the difference between a post office and courier pigeons. So if you want to prosecute for copyright infringement, the question is (a) how do you know copywritten material is being traded, since no information goes back to the creators of the program, and (b) how do you shut it down, since there’s no actual network? It’s just a bunch of people who happen to be running the same software.

I’m sure someone will come along and sum up the situation much more succinctly than me…

Contradiction in terms. Peer-to-peer means exactly that: Everyone’s on the same level, no centralization at all.

Redundant. And the preferred term is decentralized (no hyphen).

This is exactly correct.

Freenet is a system of transferring documents and data that looks like the embryo (it is currently in version of a system that could challenge the World Wide Web.

Thanks for clearing things up, Derleth. :slight_smile:

This is why I usually stay out of GQ…

Just wondering, which exactly was Napster? Was it a peer-to-peer network, or did the information run via a central point?

And as for grammatical nitpicking, I’m Australian… forgive me. :stuck_out_tongue:

Napster is not peer-to-peer because it uses a central server to resolve addresses, so things go to the right places.

It says so here (O’Reilly Network: “What Is P2P … And What Isn’t”)

Danke. :slight_smile:

I’m having a look through the Freenet page now… this project looks fascinating.

so basically theres no way to stop kazaa and other file sharing programs?

Practically, no. Not unless the RIAA got permission to search computers without consent or warrants. And even then they would have to search millions of computers in hundreds of legal jurisidictions, some of which might not be amenable to their practices.

I don’t think it’ll happen.

napster is not shut down.

you can download anything but the top ten off napster, because the big artists are really the only ones who raise a fuss.

whoa dn where is freenet being developed, out of curiouslty?

OK but let’s say that the RIAA etc decides to go after Morpheus since they are, as far as I can tell, by far the biggest and most successful post Napster file sharing service. I don’t know exactly how Morpheus works but I do know it’s not gnutella based as the majority of other clones are.

Is Morpheus completely independent of its creator? If Music City disappeared tomorrow would all the Morpeus clients be able to connect and share as before? Can Morpheus be “blocked” by the ISPs if the RIAA complels them to do so?

And not becuase they’re used to infringe copyrights. The damn things are bandwidth pigs. Some idiot at my employer fired up Gnutella on one of his machines, and proceeded to use 1/6th of our network pipe (a T1) just transferring catalog information! He wasn’t serving any files or downloading anything (he can’t serve files because of the firewall and he wasn’t even in the office so he wasn’t downloading either), just passing around the catalog of who has what where. And that was consuming, on average, 250 kb/s of bandwidth.

There are reports in the network security community of people getting hit by what appear to be distributed denial of service attacks that actually take down machines or entire networks that turn out just to be KaZaa users trying to connect to another peer in the network. Apparently when a new peer comes online, everyone tries to hit it at once, often crashing the new peer or the network it’s on.

I don’t care if you want to run one of these evil programs, but please have the courtesy to do it on your own bandwidth.

By the way, Napster may not be finally dead. The judge in the Napster case has ordered evidentiary hearings on whether the RIAA and friends are misusing copyright in the formation of the MusicNet and PressPlay services (which many people, including the European Union, believe to be in violation of antitrust principles). If she so finds, the case against Napster may get thrown out on the equitable doctrine of unclean hands.

Is this the same as the pot filing a lawsuit that accuses the kettle of being black?

(Or did the RIAA just forget to wash its hands before coming into the courthouse? :D)

Pretty much, yes. “Unclean hands” is an equitable defense which says, basically, “Yes, maybe I did do something wrong, but they’re nasty evil people who don’t deserve anything anyway, so you should rule in my favor.”

What concerns me is that one file-sharer at least (either Aimster or Swapnut) runs on the premise that you can only download stuff you already own a licence for. That is to say, if you’ve got it on tape but would like an Mp3 copy, or whatever. However it seems to be left pretty much up to one’s own conscience what to download - or in other words, the ruling could be argued to just be a way of covering the programmers’ butts once Metallica’s lawyers start poking around. If I’ve got it right then while they may be legal they’re not strictly moral. A bit like downloading game ROMs.

For what it’s worth, I loved Napster. Loved it. Before the trouble at t’mill, I downloaded every single song ever written anywhere in the universe with my brilliant computer which is much better than yours is now or ever will be. So now I have no need of such toys. Ha. Ha. Ha. :smiley:

Sure, they’re illegal. You’re confusing the logistics with the legality. You may not be able to catch every heroin dealer in the world, but that doesn’t make what they’re doing illegal.

BTW, peer-to-peer networking is a myth. Most of the services do have big servers in order to operate and will eventually be shut down. Even gnutella is vulnerable to the right sort of lawsuit.


While I can’t cite, I can say that RIAA has filed more lawsuits against these other companies. But since they’re based overseas, it will be much more difficult to do anything about it.

What has happened, however, is that RIAA has hired groups to go after the users who post files for sharing. They get the IP number, then petition the ISP to throw them out. Here’s a story about it on Salon.