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Freenet Creator Debates RIAA 806

Posted by simoniker
from the free-always-controversial dept.
smd4985 writes "Over at CNET News.com, there's a good coverage of a debate between Ian Clarke of Freenet and Matt Oppenheim of the RIAA." In discussing whether it's "legal and moral to create and use Freenet", which is "a radically decentralized network of file-sharing nodes tied together with strong encryption", the RIAA's Oppenheim suggests: "Other than the fact that most infringers do not like to use Freenet because it is too clunky for them to get their quick hit of free music, it is no more of a threat than any of the popular P2P services."
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Freenet Creator Debates RIAA

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  • by Zork the Almighty (599344) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#6384484) Journal
    I think the RIAA is in over its head, again. "At the end of the day, we believe we can find infringers regardless of what network they use to try to cloak their illegal activity." HA HA HA HA HA.
    • Are there any networks where illegal activity is not exercised?

      I can not think of any right now. Is that a sign that the laws are wrong or that we are wrong? I would say that the laws are wrong, I actually enjoy pirating, it is great when you do not have anything to do. Just start a 800 Mb download and the afternoon is saved. Praise piracy!
    • by cshark (673578) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:37PM (#6384983)
      The thing I thought was funny was that the RIAA didn't dispute the statement that their business model is obsolete, and that they will be replaced like the horse and buggy. Funny that.

      I wonder if that would hold up in court.
    • by ajs (35943) <ajs@a[ ]com ['js.' in gap]> on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:49PM (#6385089) Homepage Journal
      I see your point, but I think he's right. I think it's obvious that watermarks are going to be a big part of the music distribution system soon (if they aren't already). Sure, Felton has proved that you can remove a watermark that you know about, but the RIAA's memebers aren't going to tell you about it, and they'll place a few kinds of watermarks on each song if they're smart.

      Once you rip and distribute, you create a trail, and all the RIAA needs is a few high-profile cases that take Freenet users and run them through the wash for distributing songs.

      However, the RIAA is doomed, and there's a simple reason. When we get to the juncture that it's reasonable for my DVD player, CD player, etc to be played REMOTELY by another rendering device (amplifier, TV, etc) then the RIAA is going to have to very carefully define their terms. I don't think they're going to be able to stop Joe Teen from sharing a new CD with everyone in his school. I also don't think that their business model will survive a 2-10x shrinkage when that becomes reasonable for your average non-technical teen.

      Can you imagine "hey, Joe can I borrow the new XDestroyWindow CD?" "Oh, sure Jim it's in my streaming collection, log in any time."

      Yeah, that's gonna hurt....
      • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday July 07, 2003 @04:04PM (#6385937)
        they'll place a few kinds of watermarks on each song if they're smart. Once you rip and distribute, you create a trail, and all the RIAA needs

        Excuse me, but...hypothetically (don't try this at home kids) I go to a CD store and buy the top CD for cash. Then I come home, rip it using (take your pick) direct digital rip, analogue hole, special software to bypass copy-protection, take your pick, and place the results out on all 57 or so P2P networks. You can't miss that it's out there and rapidly proliferating faster than you can trace.

        How does any watermark in existance trace that mass produced piece of silver plastic back to me?

        I didn't even mention that I cut this baby lose using the local WiFi hotspot while enjoying an extra large cup of coffee with endless free refills.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#6384485)
    freenets don't trade music, people do.
    • Freenets trade Adobe software [openp2p.com].
    • by siskbc (598067)
      ...that all sides use self-serving logic. Blame the tool or the user? Well, if you're a good democrat, you blame gunmakers in addition to users, but not file-sharing systems. On the contrary, if you're a good conservative, you blame file-sharers and the systems, but not gunmakers.

      Of course, I realize there are a bunch of libertarians around here who want their guns and file-sharing. ;)

  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#6384486)
    Some interesting comments in here...

    It seems that Mr. Oppenheim likes to contradict himself. Observe:

    He says: "By the way, the term "file swapping" is inaccurate. Nobody is swapping, people are making copies.", but later in the same paragraph says "Just as we would never agree that it is right to steal someone's clothes or furniture, it is not right to steal music." I think his second assumption is safe to make, but if he worded it in a way that was consistent with his earlier comment, would it still be as universally accepted? Sure people would protest if you stole their furniture, but would anybody see it as wrong if you copied their furniture? He's right about people breaking the law, but he should at least get his story straight.

    I also thought this was interesting:

    "Why should copyright holders, who as owners of intellectual property, have fewer rights than somebody who owns televisions or clothing and attempts to sell them? Clearly everyone would agree that the television and clothing retailers should be able to investigate and prosecute shoplifters."

    Sure, store owners should be allowed to prosecute shoplifters, but they have to catch them in the act. Nobody should be forced to produce a receipt for their stuff weeks later because the store thinks they're short an item and they have a security camera shot of you looking at it. The question really should be "Why should copyright holders have more rights than somebody who owns clothing or televisions and tries to sell them?"

    It seems that even when the RIAA is right (people really are breaking the law and infringing the rights offered to their members by copyright) their propaganda is more important to them than their real and legally defensible position.
    • by HanzoSan (251665) * on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:51PM (#6384559) Homepage Journal
      "
      "Why should copyright holders, who as owners of intellectual property, have fewer rights than somebody who owns televisions or clothing and attempts to sell them? Clearly everyone would agree that the television and clothing retailers should be able to investigate and prosecute shoplifters.""


      Why should the owner of a TV have more rights than the owner of a CD?

      Copyright owners shouldnt own the information, they should own the right to profit from it.

      Just like the TV maker doesnt own the TV once they sell it to you, they own the rights to sell that TV and profit from it.

      What I dont like is the fact that as we buy information we dont truely own it, yet when we buy physical objects we own them. This makes no sense to me, I say if we buy music we should be able to do whatever we want with it.

      • by Kenja (541830)
        But you DONT buy music. You buy a license to use it.
        • by angle_slam (623817) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:56PM (#6384610)
          No. You buy a disc that contains music. There is no license except those that come from the copyright laws.
          • by bahamat (187909) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:18PM (#6384800) Homepage
            Several years ago I bought a lot of CD's. Cranberries, Aerosmith, Queen, Alanis Morrisette, etc. Over the years the disks have gotten scratched/broken/otherwise unusable.

            Since it's the RIAA's alegation that I'm not buying music, I'm only buying a disk and acompaning license to play the music on the disk, I have paid legitimately for a licence to that music, so when the disk became unusable I retrieved my validly licensed content from the only available source, Napster.

            Blank CD's cost a quarter. If the RIAA had supplied me with an avenue to obtain a replacement copy of my damaged media I would have had no need for a file sharing service. Without them I would have had to pay for a second license (in which case one would assume that since I own two licences I could make enough copies to match the number of licenses I've obtained).

            Even Microsoft has a replacement media program. If your disks are damaged in some way and unusable you can send them to Redmond and they'll ship you another copy.
            • by angle_slam (623817) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:35PM (#6384967)
              Even Microsoft has a replacement media program. If your disks are damaged in some way and unusable you can send them to Redmond and they'll ship you another copy.

              But that's because you are buying a license when you buy software. You can read the terms of the license and decide whether or not you agree with the license. With CDs, there is no license. You buy a CD and you receive the contents of the CD. You have fair use rights to create personal copies, but are otherwise limited in your ability to distribute, perform publicly, create derivative works, and copy. The limitations are in the copyright statutes.



              • Why does the RIAA limit our ability to distribute? Because they know they wont be needed if we become the distributor.

                This isnt about Artists or Consumers, its about the RIAA protecting their business. P2P is distribution, free distribubtion. The RIAA however wants control over distribution.

                I'm not saying we should have a right to sell mp3s we didnt make, I'm saying we the people should distribute music, and musicians can profit from this in a number of ways.

                Why do we need the RIAA to buy copyrights fro
            • by SeanAhern (25764) on Monday July 07, 2003 @04:53PM (#6386362) Journal
              Technically, you have a blanket license to make home copies of music. And you're paying the artists when you do so. Check out this pdf [loyno.edu], entitled: The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992: A Digital Dead Duck, or Finally Coming Home to Roost?

              While I have not read the document in its entirety, I would like to draw your attention to a particular portion:
              In order to establish some way to compensate copyright owners for digital home copying of their recordings and musical compositions, Congress created a compulsory licensing scheme. It is compulsory because the copyright owners must permit some digital (and unlimited analog) home copying of their works. It is a license because permission to make the copies is given through the manufacturers of the blank media and recording devices. Since it would be impractical to attempt to directly license millions of individuals, the license is a blanket license that lets all individuals make copies of all musical recordings (and the recorded musical compositions) within the limits of the Act. The Supreme Court recognized the market efficiencies of blanket licenses in the music industry in Broadcast Music, Inc. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. in that case the court referred to the blanket licenses for public performance rights. The Court noted that the blanket license developed out of the practical situation in the marketplace: thousands of users, thousands of copyright owners, and millions of compositions. Most users want unplanned, rapid, and indemnified access to any and all of the repertory of the compositions and the owners want a reliable method of collecting for the use of their copyrights. Since the fees collected from the manufacturers and importers are disbursed to the rights owners and authors, those fees for the license are royalties, i.e., payments to the owners of rights for permission to use those rights, and not taxes, i.e., monetary charges imposed by the government to yield public revenue. Those opposed to the system often incorrectly referred to the payments as taxes, perhaps in an effort to frame them in a negative light.
              I have yet to find an analysis of what works are covered under this Act. However, it would appear that all works whose creators are compensated by this fund are eligible for home copying. It truly is a royalty that you pay when you buy "Audio" CD-Rs.
        • by Gleef (86) * on Monday July 07, 2003 @03:09PM (#6385299) Homepage
          Kenja asserts:

          But you DONT buy music. You buy a license to use it.

          The most recent music CD I purchased came with no license, nor did I need one. At least in the United States, first sale doctorine [12.108.175.91] says that when I purchase a copyrighted product (eg. a book, or a CD), I own the physical product, and have a right to enjoy the use of it, and resell it as I see fit. The copyright holder has no right to limit my quiet enjoyment of my purchase.

          Copyright Law restricts my right to make and distribute copies of the work, and derivative works. If I wish to do something with my CD that would be in violation of Copyright Law, then and only then I would need to obtain a license from the copyright holder.

          There is no legal basis for an implied license with a CD/Book/DVD, nor is there any need for one.

          Computer software is different, because you almost always have to copy software at least once to make use of it (from the media to the computer). It's also different, because software (both shrinkwrap and Free) is traditionally shipped with a license in some form you can see and read. So, basically, if you see a license, you (may or arguably may not, that's a different issue though) have a license; if you don't see one, you definately don't have one.

          Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. The above is not legal advice. Eat your greens.
    • by The Only Druid (587299) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:55PM (#6384594)
      Actually, it happens to many people every year that they're asked to produce receipts to account for their physical property when someone believes they may have acquired it illegally. Its called an "audit" and the IRS does it every year.

      The difference is this: its actually rather difficult to shoplift anything besides books, CDs and other small objects. Those objects - the small stuff - are priced around this "shrinkage" (just ask anyone in retail) though, because of this. You cant shoplift a car, period. So, since stores know they only have to worry about small (size wise, not cost wise) they establish security mechanisms (such as RIDs, cameras, etc.) to try and prevent that shoplifting.

      Now, if you're a copyright holder, how do you do the same thing? If I were a storeowner, I can keep an eye, literally, on all my merchandise. You cant steal from me without being in my store. But with music and other file sharing/whatever you want to call it, you can steal from the copyright holders from anywhere that has internet access. Obviously, this means the only way to prevent theft of this sort is (a) DRM(ooooh, I hear the 'boos' from the /. audience), (b) surveillence of networks (impossible, really), (c) destruction of those networks over which sharing is done (also impossible, really) or something similar. Basically, as much as I dislike DRM in principle, it seems to be the only real way to protect the copyrights.

      There's one possible alternative: make it so cheap to acquire the material legally that functionally no one steals it. The Apple Music store is a step in this direction, but the resistance its facing from Artists (such as Linkin' Park, Alanis Morissette, etc.) and Lables (for reasons ranging from protection of the 'album' as a form of presentation by artists, to simple economic protection of markets) makes this quite difficult to accept as the solution.
      • Literally? (Score:4, Funny)

        by Raul654 (453029) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:11PM (#6384743) Homepage
        If I were a storeowner, I can keep an eye, literally, on all my merchandise

        You must have some really messed up eyesight. How do you deal with all those eyes lying around?
      • As an aside, shoplifting is only one of the causes of shrinkage. And even when you factor in shoplifting, half of all shoplifting is employee theft. "Shoplifting makes store prices higher" is just a crock (with the exception of inner-city stores, where it really is a big problem).
      • by TheConfusedOne (442158) <the.confused.one@nOspam.gmail.com> on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:23PM (#6384838) Journal
        The IRS asks you to provide receipts as proof of deductions or claims that you are making to change your tax liability.

        They could care less what you are buying or if you bought it or not, they only care when you are claiming it towards your taxes.

        They can use a visual inspection of your home as an attempt to prove that you may be underdeclaring your income (say you report an income of $25,000/year but have two Ferrari's in your front driveway that are registered in your name) but they can't simply order you to produce a receipt on any old purchase that you may have made.

        DRM does NOT protect copyrights. DRM protects copy restrictions. Why? Well look at CSS as the case of DRM-light. It keeps the normal person from viewing out-of-region material or using non-approved viewers. It doesn't do a thing to stop the technically savvy copier/user.
    • Stealing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mao che minh (611166) *
      Again with the inane bickering over the words "stealing" and "theft". The word "theft" is more identifiable, more accurate in many people's minds*, and sounds worse.

      Not everyone likes to break out a dictionary and reveal every technical aspect of a word. When generalizing, it is easier to say "you are stealing music" then "you are infringing upon this record label's copyrights by downloading copied music". When most people think of stealing, they think of people taking stuff that isn't theirs. They don't

      • Re:Stealing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gulik (179693) on Monday July 07, 2003 @03:08PM (#6385297)
        When music theieves try to attack the technicality of the RIAA's rhetoric, such as trying to say that the word "stealing" isn't correct, they end up looking like a kid that got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and is trying to manipulate words and circumstance to somehow make himself look either innocent or "less guilty". This behavior reveals to judges and intelligent people just what kind of a person they are dealing with.

        The point here, and the reason it keeps getting brought up, is that this isn't some kind of hair-splitting quibble -- the word ``theft'' means something, and that something is all but completely unrelated to copyright infringement. The people who wave their hands and ignore this central and obvious fact are not, I'm sorry to inform you, the intelligent ones.
      • Re:Stealing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jnana (519059) on Monday July 07, 2003 @04:18PM (#6386057) Journal
        Just because some people are sometimes sloppy with language, it doesn't mean that we should not try to be precise. Sloppy language leads to sloppy thought, and this is exactly what the RIAA wants.

        The only reason that (illegally) 'copying' music has come to be called 'stealing' music is because of the RIAA's deliberate manipulations of language. Six years ago, everybody would have referred to it as copying, which it is, so it is not too much to ask people to use the correct verb.

        If you want to reflect that it is illegal, call it "illegal copying" (since some copying is legal (for backup), while some copying is illegal).

        It is not only nerds that care about language not being abused and sloppy thought.

  • by Raindance (680694) * <`johnsonmx' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#6384487) Homepage Journal
    If a legal structure such as copyright isn't enforceable, it might as well not be part of our legal system, and indeed will be thrown out.

    I think often people too often focus on law and morality in a vacuum and forget that, to a large degree, *might makes right* in our society. To some degree our legal system attempts to fairly distribute power in society (often with 'fairly' defined by those who already have power), but it operates under fairly tight constraints on what sort of distribution of power is enforceable. Freenet is huge for the long-term prospects of copyright laws; if Freenet survives they will be forced to radically change in the upcoming years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#6384488)
    Right here [slashdot.org] on Slashdot.
  • Shady dealings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by axlrosen (88070) * on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:43PM (#6384489) Homepage
    Clarke: Matt seems to misunderstand Judge Posner's quote. Posner was referring to those involved in the likely "shady dealings"--not the creators of the tools they are using. To use his own analogy, the manufacturers of a mask used in a bank robbery are certainly not responsible for the criminal behavior of the bank robbers. This notion was reaffirmed by Judge (Stephen) Wilson earlier this year in his ruling in the Grokster case as it pertains to P2P networks saying, "Grokster and Streamcast are not significantly different from companies that sell home video recorders or copy machines, both of which can be and are used to infringe copyrights."

    Well that's still not a perfect analogy. For example, if the company added a feature to the ski mask that made it harder to pull off, and advertised this feature for use in bank robberies, they'd probably be held liable for its use in a robbery. Or if they didn't advertise it, but did know that the new feature's overwhelming use would be in bank robberies, then they might also be liable. You could make a similar statement for VCR and copy machine manufacturers.

    I think Freenet's a really cool technical problem, and I'd get involved in it, except for these kinds of problems. Even with all its positive uses, the idea of working on what turns out to be an ideal tool for distributing kiddie-porn just gives me the willies. I personally don't feel comfortable in this gray area of providing complete anonymity. A system that had the same benefits of distributed publishing (to avoid the Slashdot effect) without the encryption, I'd be interested in contributing to.

    • Re:Shady dealings (Score:5, Informative)

      by guacamolefoo (577448) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:51PM (#6384560) Homepage Journal
      Well that's still not a perfect analogy. For example, if the company added a feature to the ski mask that made it harder to pull off, and advertised this feature for use in bank robberies, they'd probably be held liable for its use in a robbery. Or if they didn't advertise it, but did know that the new feature's overwhelming use would be in bank robberies, then they might also be liable.

      I doubt it. An anlagous case involving the Tec-9 gun (hard to get fingerprints from and some other features which were allegedly used to promote sales to questionable people) was tossed:

      CBS News - Gun Lawsuit Misses Target [cbsnews.com]

      GF.

      • Re:Shady dealings (Score:3, Informative)

        by prockcore (543967)
        I doubt it. An anlagous case involving the Tec-9 gun (hard to get fingerprints from and some other features which were allegedly used to promote sales to questionable people) was tossed:

        I remember that case. One of the things that is *rarely* mentioned in all the coverage is that selling a gun as "fingerprint resistant" is viable. Fingerprints on guns cause rust. A fingerprint resistant gun is less prone to rusting than other guns.
  • Say WHAT? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lane.exe (672783) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:45PM (#6384503) Homepage
    ...quick hit of free music

    So now people who download illegal MP3s are crack junkies?

    "Man... I'm jonesin' for my latest fix of Metallica... gimme the good stuff!"

  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:45PM (#6384504) Homepage
    ...as I use it to grab a lot of stuff. It would be a real pisser if they recognised what it could do to them and shut it down before it was (technically and mind share wise) ready to go underground.
    • They do recognize it as a threat, but they can't say "Freenet is the most dangerous P2P app out there, because it protects the user's anonymity! If everyone used it, we'd be in even bigger trouble!" because then everybody would start using it, and they really would be in bigger trouble. The RIAA shill describe Freenet as "clunky" to the average user more than once in that interview. He's simply trying to keep any average Joe's reading that article from making the switch from KaZaa.
  • by SuperDuG (134989) <be @ e c l ec.tk> on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:45PM (#6384509) Homepage Journal
    The whole point of peer-to-peer is to share files with others. Just like the whole point of a car is to drive it. Let's "roll" with this analogy for a bit:

    There are millions of driving related accidents and homicides that take place every year across the world. Bank robbers, car theives, and demolition derbies cause the cars to be used for reasons other than they were originally intended.

    My question: Where are the lawsuits against GM and other car manufacturers for providing tools of crime? Why aren't we going after the root of all evil, the car manufacturers? Why is it that we still see cars all over the planet?

    Just think about it ...

    • For that matter, isn't carpooling a crime?

      Carpooling results in less wear-and-tear on your vehicle, thus resulting in lost or delayed sales for the automotive industry. Plus, it means you use less gas, thus stealing money from Shell, Exxon, BP, etc.

      It's only when you compare copyright laws to any other type of business ad nauseam that you can see how truly fux0red the system is.
    • by angle_slam (623817) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:54PM (#6384579)
      Stupid analogy. There are many uses of cars that are legitimate. In fact, the vast majority of uses of cars are legitimate. That is not true with P2P trading. While Kazaa, et al. CAN be used for legitimate purposes, everyone knows that 90+% of material on Kazaa are not legitimate.
    • Reverse that. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HanzoSan (251665) *


      Do car companies sue you when you share your car with other people by giving people a lift? Do car companies require each person you give a ride to, to pay a license fee?

      I hate the fact that if we are going to treat information as physical property, that unlike real physical property, in which the person who buys it truely owns it, when it comes to information theres a double standard, the person who buys it actually is paying to listen to it, and its in a very strict fashion

      In my opinion no company has
    • The whole point of peer-to-peer is to share files with others. Just like the whole point of a car is to drive it. Let's "roll" with this analogy for a bit:

      There are millions of driving related accidents and homicides that take place every year across the world. Bank robbers, car theives, and demolition derbies cause the cars to be used for reasons other than they were originally intended.

      My question: Where are the lawsuits against GM and other car manufacturers for providing tools of crime? Why aren't we
  • Freenet is awesome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp&gmail,com> on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:46PM (#6384516) Homepage
    I have to say, I don't really like freenet now, but there are still some very very cool ideas in it that I think we'll see evolving into something more practical over the next few years, maybe by the guys at freenet, but maybe not. Personally I have great respect for Ian Clarke for having the guts to start in on a project this large and also for the fact that it's resulted in a product which is right now useful in its own right even if it's not as good as it could(/will?) be.
    • by MikeFM (12491)
      My main bitches against freenet are #1 it's written in Java and quite honestly it performs like shit on every system I've tried it on and #2 the freenet developers have some sort of thing against anybody having very many files shared (even if they legally own them all).

      The first problem is easy to fix just by developing other clients. I don't really see it as a problem if the dev client is written in Java.. which certainly has some benefits. The second issue is what made me lose interest in freenet. They t
  • by dobedobedew (663137) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:47PM (#6384520)
    So freenet is an ethical dilemma? Next thing you know, we won't have our right of free speech!

    Oh wait, nevermind....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:50PM (#6384554)
    "Just as we would never agree that it is right to steal someone's clothes or furniture, it is not right to steal music.""

    It was impossible to steal anything with Napster. It is impossible to steal anything with Kazaa and Freenet. You'd think he'd know the definitions of words better.
  • by Surak (18578) * <(moc.skcolbliam) (ta) (karus)> on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:50PM (#6384556) Homepage Journal
    Other than the fact that most infringers do not like to use Freenet because it is too clunky for them to get their quick hit of free music, it is no more of a threat than any of the popular P2P services.

    Really, Mr. Oppenheim? I don't think you understand exactly *how well* Freenet preserves anonymity. It is *impossible* to tell where any given file is coming from over Freenet, due to the fact that data is scattered and encyrpted across the network.

    With Freenet, you *can't* go after filesharers, because you don't know who the filesharers are? What are you going to to do? Take every single freenet node to court?

    You'd most certainly lose that battle, Mr. Oppenheim. Just like the courts ruled that Kazaa could not be taken down because it has legimitate, uses, so to does this apply to Freenet.

    And if you succeed in scaring people off the gnutella and kazaa, this is just where the hard core will turn: Freenet and distributed systems like it.

    Give it up, Mr. Oppenheim. Your days of controlling music distribution are numbered.

    We, the citizens of the Internet, will prevail.

    • With Freenet, you *can't* go after filesharers, because you don't know who the filesharers are? What are you going to to do?

      There is a very simple fix that will make all P2P networks useless. Industry and government will get together and come up with a plan to cap all residential broadband upstream bitrates to the low kilobit/sec range (uncapped service might be offered for say $50/month extra; very few will buy it). Educational institutes will be pressured to do the same on student accounts. Businesses w

  • by KU_Fletch (678324) <bthomas1@noSpAM.ku.edu> on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:53PM (#6384574)
    "it (Freenet) is no more of a threat than any of the popular P2P services."

    The tone of that statement seems to imply that P2P is not a threat to the RIAA... which seems contrary to their entire defense.

    I have to say, the Freenet guy came across very well in that debate since he was able to flow between humor and fact. The RIAA really needs to hire some PR people that don't seem so angry all the time. As long as they keep up this approach to PR, the more the public is going to go against them.
  • Bye Bye Dinosaurs! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smd4985 (203677) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:54PM (#6384585) Homepage
    I think Clarke really hits the nail on the head when he says:

    "Just as the motor car replaced the horse and cart, so will the Internet replace most of the roles performed by today's recording industry."

    The whole RIAA rant is useless because the RIAA is on its way to obsolesence. They can hip and holler all they want, but in 15 years they won't even exist. Even the legal system and/or Congress won't be able to protect them for long - we live in a capitalist society, and in the end efficiency rules.
  • Good and ill (Score:3, Interesting)

    by axlrosen (88070) * on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:56PM (#6384613) Homepage
    News.com: Is it moral to create a general-purpose, anonymity-preserving tool--a file-swapping system that can be used for good (publishing political tracts) and ill (trading copyrighted music)?

    Clarke: If it is moral to make guns, knives or anything else that can be used for both good and ill, then it is certainly moral to create something which tries to guarantee a freedom that is essential to democracy.


    Doesn't it seem a little silly to divide everything in the world into exactly 3 categories: those that can only be used for good, those that can only be used for bad, and those that could be used for either? Doesn't it make sense to say that there are some things that are much more often used for good than for bad (e.g. knives), so they're fine? And some, such as guns, where the trade-off is a lot more questionable? (So in most countries they are significantly regulated.)

    Freenet may eventually contain a political treatise from the oppressed citizens of a dictatorship, but it will probably contain copyrighted songs, movies, porn, etc. by a factor of a hundred thousand to one. Supporting anonymous political speech is more good than illegal copying is bad, but by a factor of 100,000?
  • Funniest Quote: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ih8apple (607271) on Monday July 07, 2003 @01:58PM (#6384630)
    Funniest Quote:

    RIAA's Oppenheim: "How does this have anything to do with corporations? This has to do with artists and creators"

    Yeah, Right... Last time I checked, the RIAA web site [riaa.com] stated that it "is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry", not the artist community.
  • Legal and moral... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pubjames (468013) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:00PM (#6384641)
    discussing whether it's "legal [and moral] to create and use Freenet"

    Of course it should be legal to use freenet.

    There must be a distinction made between making acts illegal because they are bad and making things illegal because they can be used to do bad acts.

    Driving very fast is dangerous and can kill. That does not mean we should make cars illegal. That would be ridiculous because cars are useful and can also be used for good/useful acts. It also does not mean that cars should be technically capped so that they can't go fast. The existance of laws against the act of fast/dangerous driving should be enough.

    We get onto more morally interesting ground with this argument with guns. According to my argument, surely guns should not be banned because the existance of laws against shooting people should be enough? My argument to that would be simple - guns can't really do anything useful other than kill and main, so in the case of guns it is reasonable to ban the technology. Does that mean that it is reasonable to ban DeCSS, as that can only really usefully be used for illegal purposes?

    Damn, now I've confused myself. I'm just going to lie down for a few minutes...

    • by Steve B (42864) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:16PM (#6384780)
      guns can't really do anything useful other than kill and main

      I'd say that it's pretty damn useful to "kill and maim" someone who intends to kill or maim you, and will certainly succeed in doing so if it's a simple contest of muscles.

    • by Jerf (17166)
      guns can't really do anything useful other than kill and main, so in the case of guns it is reasonable to ban the technology.

      "kill and maim" is not the intrinsically immoral things you seem to be making them out to be. Few people would say that "killing" a deer with the intent of eating it is immoral. (Such people do exist, yes, but I think "few" is an adequate description of their numbers.) Few people would say that killing or maiming someone attacking you or your children is immoral. (Again, people who
    • My argument to that would be simple - guns can't really do anything useful other than kill and main, so in the case of guns it is reasonable to ban the technology.

      Perhaps, given the premise that killing is always illegal. But in real life, it isn't. There aren't laws against shooting people; there are laws against murder, assault, etc. If someone shoots at you (or displays a credible threat that he is going to shoot at you) without justification, then it's justified (and even legal, in most parts of th

  • by SamNmaX (613567) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:04PM (#6384672)
    I know this point comes up countless times, but just because something can send files doesn't make it illegal. If anything, Freenet is less of a threat than both FTP and HTTP for sending around MP3s/videos, as it was not particularly designed to send large files. FTP and HTTP aren't illegal, so why should Freenet be? There is no reason any file sharing system should be illegal unless it's intent is for piracy (which is why Napster got in trouble, due to the emails floating around about that fact. Why aimster got in trouble, I still don't understand and I hope they win on appeal).

    Oppenheim seems to suggest that Freenet is just as much a threat as any file sharing tool, no matter the fact that it's "clunky". I've always thought that the best the RIAA can hope for is to make this kind of music piracy clunky, as there will always be some sort of file sending service and copy protection can always be broken (audio-in to audion out). The RIAA and the music industry need to come up with realistic view of the world, before they lose all their sales to services like Kazaa.
  • by Ieshan (409693) <ieshan@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:07PM (#6384701) Homepage Journal
    Suppose I have a friend over for dinner and I'm listening to a burned copy of a CD I legally own. It's playing over the stereo in the kitchen.

    I get up and leave the room, needing to go check on the burgers on the grill. My friend is the only one listening to the music.

    Is this copyright infringement, because my friend is listening to a copied CD that I'm willingly playing for him? I've made an authorized copy and I'm playing it for a friend - that's all I've done so far.

    Suppose we take it a step farther. My friend really likes the band, and he swipes the CD while I'm not looking. I don't notice because I was too busy fiddling with the burgers, and he switches on the radio in it's place. Am I guilty of copyright infringement because my friend's taken my CD, or is he guilty of theft from me, for which I'm certainly not going to prosecute if I ever find out, or is my friend guilty of copyright infringement, taking a legal copy of a CD from me?

    I'm lost on where the copyright infringement happens in this situation. If it happens while my friend is listening to my music, virtually every CD owner everywhere is guilty of copyright. If I'm guilty when my friend takes my CD, *I* become guilty of copyright infringement for the sins of my friend; and if my friend is guilty when he takes my CD, then he's going to be the most heavily prosecuted thief in the world: when's the last time a shoplifted was prosecuted for illegal possession of a copyrighted work?

    If there's NO copyright infringement at all in this situation, then what happens if I set up my computer to transfer files, I've got legal copies on my computer, and someone else takes them without me having given explicit permission?
  • stealing bibles? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lordcorusa (591938) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:08PM (#6384709)
    The RIAA representative feels very strongly that people should not steal anything, be it songs, movies, chairs, etc...

    However, at one point in the debate, he mentions that some people distribute the Bible on Freenet and dismisses that saying, "we can all get that from the motel we most recently visited..."

    Someone correct me if I am wrong, but those Gideons Bibles found in motels are supposed to stay in the motels, right? I always thought that you were not supposed to take them. Now I know that many people do take them, but isn't that considered stealing? So didn't the RIAA representative just suggest that we should all steal Bibles from our local motels rather than get them online from Freenet?
    • Re:stealing bibles? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by be-fan (61476) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:28PM (#6384877)
      Interestingly, if the Bible was subject to the same draconian, everlasting copyright laws we have in the US, nobody would remember Christianity today!
    • So didn't the RIAA representative just suggest that we should all steal Bibles from our local motels rather than get them online from Freenet?

      Hm, that's a really good analogy.

      I'm sure if you stole a bible from a motel (personally I'd sooner lift a _book of Mormon_ from a Marriot myself :), the motel *could* choose to perse^H^H^Hprosecute you.

      Or maybe they would decide that their church is the better for it, and they will fervently pray that you study it. And come to a service and drop $ in the plate

    • Don't you know....God owns the copyright on the Bible. And if you steal it or copy it, he'll be pissed.
    • Incorrect... (Score:3, Informative)

      by ShaunDon (589695)
      Actually dude, you are wrong. I happened to be at a church one day to see a presentation by one of their representatives, and the Gideons very much encourage you to take Bibles from hotels if you're so inclined. They consider that spreading the word. Oh wait, it's probably the Word, no? In any event, while it doesn't specifically say that you're free to take them, that is the intent of the Gideons if you are so moved by the Word. ShaunDon
  • The Missed Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummel@NospaM.johnhummel.net> on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:08PM (#6384719) Homepage
    From what I've seen, Freenet is not about "trading files". Oh, that's a part of it, to be sure, and perhaps what it's built around.

    But Freenet is about freedom of information. How many times did Clarke have to repeat that? It's a way for a person in China to be able to say to someone else "Maybe it's just me, but our government is less a socialistic ideal and more a dictatorship." It's a way for a teenager to say "I think I'm pregnant, but where I live I'll be stigmatized if I have an abortion, or even look for one - what information is there for me?" It's even a way for a programmer to say "You know, I've got this idea for a cryptography system, but some people in certain businesses might sue me if I even talk about it (whether it's legal or not) - so here's a way to present the information without getting myself in trouble."

    That is what Freenet is about - not trading music, or movies, or the like. Yes, it can be used like that - the same way a car can be used to run someone over. Last time I checked, though, most people are just using their cars to get stuff Point A to Point B.

    I think the gentleman from the RIAA either didn't get the point - or didn't care (and I believe the latter). In his mind, privacy is not important - though I'd agree with Mr. Clarke. Anonymous exchange of information is important in a democracy. It allows people to speak without fear of reprisal. Without it, people would be terrified to vote for fear their enemies would hunt them down and chop off their limbs. (I had a roommate who was so irritated that Clinton the first time, he wanted to go down the street and beat up people he discovered had voted for him. I was grateful for "secret ballots" at this time.

    Eh - but that's just my take. I could be wrong.

  • by Mr. Fred Smoothie (302446) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:11PM (#6384746)
    It was interesting to see how completely both parties talked past each other here, and how their biases almost completely blinded them to the other's arguments.

    Clarke clearly does not care about illegal use of his system due to an obvious religious zeal for free and anonymous speech (which, as an American it's hard to disagree with).

    Oppenheim, on the other hand, completelely (and obviously willfully) ignores the idea that the debate is about anything other than the protection of IP rights; Corporate control of government and free speech aren't even issues worth discussing to the RIAA (gee, wonder why?).

    Still, though I'd hardly call this a debate, it's nice that someone beside the directly involved parties still cares enough about these issues to present both sides.

  • by saitoh (589746) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:11PM (#6384748) Homepage
    Matt made a nice analogy early on (well, I thought it was nice even if I dont like the outcome) of how bank robbers cant scream about privacy when their masks came off as they understood (in theory) what they were getting into, and the same goes for p2p nodes who are sharing illegal material and have been notified via the TOA from their ISP that they will be ratted out if there is a request. I dont agree with it, but its an interesting analogy.

    Now my question is, how can trading mp3s of R.Kelly and Britany Spears be considered free speach (which was the argument that Clarke used in the second question for freenet's existance)? Step aside from the mentality of "I want to get free music" and "the RIAA is full of $hit and we need to undermind them as much as possible" and consider how is this justified as free speach? If they are going to win, it has potential to be with that.

    Last but not least, if freenet has a basis to stand on free speach being protectable over mp3 copyright infrengement (not theft Matt... the US Courts dont see it as theft), then the argument *could* turn towards Phil Zimmerman and how PGP came under fire in the mid 90s which I believe was for similar reasons.

  • by dh003i (203189) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (i300hd)> on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:23PM (#6384839) Homepage Journal
    Openheimer claims that P2P can't be used for political speech?

    What about someone who types in Xenu? That sure as hell isn't available online (not without alot of hastle from clambake).

    Not sure, but I believe that P2P networks could easily be configured to allow for searching the text of documents.

    Oh yea, he claims that there is little potential for non-infringing use and that there is little non-infringing use, and most of it infringes music copyright? Bullshit. I had my entire hard-drive offering on Kazaa. Guess what the most common upload items were? Anything and everythingg rated triple-X.

    Oh yea, there happens to be these guys called Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. Beethoven -- some 200 pieces. Mozart -- some 600. Bach -- some 1,200 pieces. That's a hell of alot of very popular non-infringing music (all of which is better than the best of the modern crap that you can get now).

    Aside from that, Openheimer continued to fail to meet on the playing field. He always tried to make this interview about P2P apps like Kazaa. It was about FreeNode, not Kazaa. FreeNode is particularly designed for anonymous communication, not file-sharing...until it gets a search engine that's relatively fast, it will be poor for file-sharing.
    • by WebMasterJoe (253077) <joe&joestoner,com> on Monday July 07, 2003 @03:30PM (#6385545) Homepage Journal
      Oh yea, there happens to be these guys called Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. Beethoven -- some 200 pieces. Mozart -- some 600. Bach -- some 1,200 pieces. That's a hell of alot of very popular non-infringing music (all of which is better than the best of the modern crap that you can get now).
      Excellent point. I want to add to that a little, too - RIAA types keep telling us that if artists can't make music, then they won't create. Have you ever met a real artist who felt this way? Those artists you mentioned didn't create their art so that they could be rich - in their times, music was not a real career. They created because they were driven to create, and they were never promised huge sacks of gold coins. Yet they created hundreds of works.

      Fast forward to today, and go to an open-mic night at a jazz club. Do these people make money? No. Are they artists who love to create? Absolutely. I firmly believe that the lack of financial incentive is what keeps music good - those who are driven by their own desire to create typically create better music than a professional songwriter who spends the work week writing what he/she thinks will appeal to the largest demographic. And while the former explores and provokes, the latter strives to spit out exactly what Joe Consumer, aged 21-34, is used to listening to on his favorite ClearChannel radio station.

      I happen to be one of the musicians who is driven to create. I've spent far more than I've made, and it will probably stay that way for the rest of my life, but it hasn't stopped me yet. I made about $100 in royalties from a song recorded in 1995. My current band has mp3's freely available on our website (see the sig) and we would rather play a low-paying/free gig than not play at all. The art is the incentive, not the $0.14/album royalties that the RIAA pays its "recording artists." But the RIAA is only thinking about the executives and the Pop Star Factories that are only in it for the paychecks.
  • by djdavetrouble (442175) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:29PM (#6384886) Homepage
    I have been saying this for years now, The music industry had its wake up call years ago that people WANT digital delivery of music. They have failed and failed repeatedly to bring such a system. Finally, Apple has taken a step in the right direction. It has been shown that people will sacrifice quality for convenience (witness the unbounded success of lossy algorithms such as mp3 and ogg).

    I may be alone, but i believe that people would spend considerable money to download music. First, the price must be right. 99 cents for a song sounds pretty damn good to me. 50 cents sounds even better.

    As a lifelong music collector with over 50 crates of vinyl albums (no idea how many that is) and at least 100 gigabytes of mp3's, I can say that If such a system was in place, I would gladly pay to purchase digital music. I am not trying to cheat the system when I download music, I am trying to avoid ripping the vinyl that I have purchased. Vinyl must be ripped in real time. I could never rip my whole collection. It is just impossible.

    My parents would pay for downloaded music. My sister would pay for downloaded music. My friends would.....

    RIAA why are you wasting time going after these people. Present the world with a legitimate alternative and draw the line between criminals and law abiding downloaders.

    Piracy hasn't hurt microsoft one bit. There will always be pirates and theives. You are not trying to sell product to them. The lord knows that I would rather pay for a .flac file than download a crap ass mp3.

    Yet here we are, 5 years down the road from napster, and a computer company has taken the initiative that the music industry is frighened to death of.

    This is just further evidence that no matter how great the art form is, the BUSINESS of music SUCKS!

    In the immortal words of Q-Tip
    Industry Rule #5080 : Record company people are shady.
  • by miketang16 (585602) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:33PM (#6384939) Journal
    As for political speech, it also makes no sense. How would anyone search for political speech on a P2P network? Would you look for "democratic ideals as they pertained to the Bush tax cut"? For people that want to distribute political speech online, there are plenty of Usenet groups and chat rooms for them to use. The facts here simply do not support the theory that these networks are being used for "general purposes."

    Ah I can tell someone has never used Freenet. The majority of content in Freenet is not really searchable, it's more of a blog-based environment. Freenet won't even release a tool to search it. A 3rd party had to. I think Matt has been using a bit too much KazAa if he thinks every P2P network has a little search bar on the side, with options for Audio and Video...
  • by be-fan (61476) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:35PM (#6384962)
    Instead of focusing on the fact that 99.9% of Freenet's traffic is illegal music and porn, look at it from the other direction. Is there any other system out there that allows people to anonymously communicate with millions of people worldwide. If the answer is no, then it is unjustifiable to take away a system that has such obviously huge potential benifets for freedom of speech without providing an alternative.
  • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:42PM (#6385028) Homepage
    For those who have lost the ability to actually read an article because they have been on Slashdot too long....here is a brief summary:

    Question 1

    Freenet: Thoughtful, valid answer
    RIAA: It helps people steal music

    Question 2

    Freenet: Thoughtful, valid answer
    RIAA: It helps people steal music, won't someone please think of the poor starving artists.

    Question 3

    Freenet: Thoughtful, valid answer
    RIAA: It helps people steal music, but the term fileswapping is incorrect because they aren't swapping, they're in fact COPYING the music, and of course copying=stealing.

    Question 4

    Freenet: Thoughtful, valid answer amounting to "The RIAA's business model is fuxx0red and they will go away soon enough."
    RIAA: He's STEALING OUR POOR ARTISTS' MUSIC, QUICK, ARREST HIM!!! WHY IS NOBODY LISTENING?!?!?!?!

    Yes, I may have taken the liberty of condensing it down quite a bit......but its still dead on.

  • by jpellino (202698) on Monday July 07, 2003 @02:42PM (#6385030)
    There are holes in both sides' arguments.

    If Freenet thinks its main role is going to be making nice things happen in China, and saving pregnant teens, he's either the most naive technologist who ever stepped into the sun, or he wins the Eddie Haskell award.

    If the RIAA thinks they can find everyone, they're just as naive. They do have the law on their side on the face of it - and I would rather they find a way to pay-and-get in a modern fashion than bullying the world out of bad habits.

    The videotape/VCR analogy loses here because you have to ship tapes around and make them in real time - it is economically obnoxious to do so, so everyone has a vcr, everyone tapes off the air / time shift views and virtually nobody ships tapes around to from their homes to anyone who wants it. The rental system does what we need in that regard.

    So far, Apple's got it about as right as anyone has - we'll see if people actually will support it though - in this way the whole how-do-i-get-digital-music thing is rather like 'the prisoners' dilemma' - cooperate/gain a little and everyone gets someting - default, steal, cheat, or get greedy, and everyon gets screwed.
  • A few things eh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mindstrm (20013) on Monday July 07, 2003 @03:31PM (#6385559)
    Just a bit of a differnet look.
    The problem with this whole file sharing music p2p blah blah fiasco is that, well, the logistics surrounding "copying" were very different when copyright law was drafted. This here is a whole other situation.

    I think we can all agree, more or less on a few things.

    1) You can't just look at the act of copying anymore, to determine if something is morally correct or not. My web browser caching stuff, or my making a backup of my own stuff and putting it in a safe place, nobody with any common sense would tell me that it should be illegal, or that I'm harmful to society for doing it.

    2) I should be able to let my buddy listen to my music, regardless of whether that mechanism involves a "copy" or not.

    3) I should NOT be allowed to give away or sell copies of my music so that others don't have to purchase music, ever.

    So.. the problem is we have no way to really define what's allowed and what's not.. digital makes it so easy to move music around, that we can't just look at 'copies' or 'streaming -vs- non streaming' or whatever.. we have to look at someone's overall actions. Perhaps, like some, sorry to say, drug laws, it should depend on the amount of copyrighted material you are trafficking in. Personal use woudl be a valid defence. Perhaps we should ban IP altogether, and go for purely technical solutions. I'm for the other.. having strong laws, and open technology.

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