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WiFi Hotspots Elude RIAA Dragnet 400

mblase writes "A CNET News article discusses a problem the RIAA is having with its copyright enforcement strategy: public wireless hot spots. Normally, the RIAA notifies the ISP when a user is found to be violating their copyrights, but in this case, the ISP is powerless to do anything. Key quote: '...unless the administrator keeps detailed logs of everybody's account use - which is not required by law - she may well not know who was swapping files.' I wonder how long it will be before those detailed logs ARE required by law?"
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WiFi Hotspots Elude RIAA Dragnet

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  • by I Want GNU! ( 556631 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:29PM (#6458185) Homepage
    I'm sure Senator Hollings will pass a bill that bans WiFi access, in order to solve this problem of cataclysmic proportions.
  • Dynamic IP's Extra (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ken@WearableTech ( 107340 ) * <kenNO@SPAMkenwilliamsjr.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:30PM (#6458191) Homepage Journal
    This gives rise to a solution to these and similar lawsuits. Whether or not the ISP's have a choice in turning over the customer information when they have the IP address subpoenaed it does generate a loss because they will have staff or outside lawyers look into it on every case. If this continues and expands then it may be cost prohibitive to the point that the ISP's just stop logging. I think larger ISP's might do this to avoid billable hours and small ISP's will do it as a feature.

    Will people be happy to get rid of that static IP for a dynamic one?
    • by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:41PM (#6458260)
      I don't think so. The benefits of logging (detecting unauthorized or illegal use such as spam, computer vandalism, abuse, or trespass, and preventing other more heinous activity) far outweigh, for most ISPs, the minor inconvenience of dealing with a few occasional subpeonas, I would think. Hundreds or thousands of letters are sent, certainly, but not nearly as many cases of user information requests happen.

      Granted that Verizon was willing to spend quite a lot in a protracted legal battle, but I think they'd be more willing to do that then stop logging. There really is a huge incentive for ISPs to log, even if they no longer charge by the hour.

      • by cait56 ( 677299 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:16PM (#6458437) Homepage

        Exactly. The ISP needs to be able to prove that it is not the source of DoS attacks and/or spam. So ultimately for reasons totally unrelated to the RIAA they will have logs to show who was the authorized user of an IP address at any given instant.

        Don't think of ISPs protecting file-sharers, shift it to protecting distributers of child pornography. There is no way that ISPs will not be forced by explicit law and/or by the need to defend themselves to have such logs.

        In fact, I can imagine a strong legal case that providing untracable access to an IP network is an attractive nuisance that the ISP knew, or should have known, would be used in the commission of felonies. Big time liabilities lurking.

        • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yhtimsrd.> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:52PM (#6458596)
          Don't think of ISPs protecting file-sharers, shift it to protecting distributers of child pornography.

          Ah yes, the political equivalent of a ten year old bursting into tears. If all else fails, play the "but won't somebody think of the children" card.

          In fact, I can imagine a strong legal case that providing untracable access to an IP network is an attractive nuisance that the ISP knew, or should have known, would be used in the commission of felonies. Big time liabilities lurking.

          And should this same principle apply to anybody providing any form of anonymity to others ?

          • > Ah yes, the political equivalent of a ten year old bursting into tears. If all else fails, play the "but won't somebody think of the children" card.

            At least he didn't compare anyone to Hitler.

            > And should this same principle apply to anybody providing any form of anonymity to others ?

            You mean like anyone who accepts cash?

    • "Will people be happy to get rid of that static IP for a dynamic one?"

      Until they get the former IP of a troll/IRC script kiddie and are banned from lots of sites and constantly being ddos'd.
    • by VPN3000 ( 561717 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @11:51PM (#6458793)
      I used to work for a major ISP and had a security/abuse role.

      About 95% of our customers were on dynamic IP dial-up accounts. If we were contacted to locate a user who was using a specific IP at a specific time, it would take all of 3 minutes to identify the user, duration of login, newsgroups accessed, pop3 mail access, phone number they dialed in from, and any other transactions that produced a line in the radius logs.

      We are talking about a simple grep here, not a big search requiring many man hours like you guys make it seem. Sure, the logs are huge, but computers are fast these days.

      These logs would archive on a raid array and be accessible for 90-120 days. After that, it would require a tape restore to locate them. Either way, it takes no time at all. There was usually a 365 day log attached to the user's billing information that kept track of time connected, access numbers utilized, etc for billing dispute purposes (ie. "I didn't use your services for 150 hours two months ago and I want my money back" BS people would try and pull).

      Small ISPs have more trouble with this? Lord no, they have less users, thus logging requires less resources. I'd hate for my fellow geeks on here to think it actually requires a bunch of work to log properly, you should know this if you've ever been any type of admin. tsk tsk.

      ISPs have to log this sort of thing for the sake of liability. If the FBI shows up wanting information about a users and you consistantly have no information for them, eventually they will hold you responsible for your user's crimes. That's how it works here in the states.
      • by King_TJ ( 85913 )
        No, ISP's don't *have* to log all of this information "for the sake of liability". They do so because they cave in to the government's scare tactics.

        I can understand keeping track of the time users connect to the service. Like you said, that's a necessary function of billing. Tracking details such as which newsgroups a user accessed (and moreover, keeping that information for long periods of time on tape backups) is above and beyond what I'd consider "necessary".

        To make an analogy, that's like your loc
      • Yes, your post is right on. EXCEPT for the fact that this article is dealing with WiFi. Now, you may be able to tell who accessed your wifi spot if you have people sign up to get access and have information about them...but this does not exactly apply to everybody, especially the people with the tools that make breaking WiFi encryption easy enough for an AOLer. And once they're in, guess what, they don't have to be within LoS to use it. So if some guy sets himself up in an apartment nearby, gets through
  • "The law requires that you keep written records"
    'Look again, the law can't even require that a man be able to read"
    -Badly misquoted Heinlein.
  • by mkbz ( 317881 ) <mkb@@@smartass...org> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:33PM (#6458210) Homepage
    proxying port 80 and logging is a good idea for wifi -- why go to prison for your neighbor's kiddie porn habit?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Thats it. If everyone is so obsessed with kiddie porn that all they do is sit around day after day and work out how every new technological innovation can get them more kiddie porn, I'm going over to the park and joining that hermit who's living in a treehouse.

      Whats the point of technology if everyone is going to either a) pervert everything to perverted ends, from which immediately follows b) fight to stop technological advances because they have been perverted to perverted ends?

      At this rate, the winnin
    • Another logging option popular with hotspot operators is NoCatAuth [nocat.net] as it provides access controls and logging can be easily implemented.
  • by Dr Reducto ( 665121 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:33PM (#6458216) Journal
    I always thought that the true anonymous internet would come when unsecured Wi-Fi was rampant. How are they going to carnivore anyone when they aren't tied to the other end of a line? There is no way to really know who is doing what on Wi-Fi.
    • by Slowping ( 63788 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:47PM (#6458572) Homepage Journal
      you're forgetting the "analog hole" of this problem... they may not have perfect technology for tracking WiFi, but they have cameras everywhere. Once they get a big enough case, they isolate the videos around the access point, track down the range of time, and start ID'ing and tracking down the individuals in those videos.

      Not a perfect solution, but it has worked for other crimes such as kidnappings and burglaries. And physically moving around is not as easy as hopping electronic signals across the globe.
    • by femto ( 459605 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @11:44PM (#6458765) Homepage
      The *real* anonymity will come when freenet [sourceforge.net] is implemented as a network layer over WiFi equipment, displacing the IP protocol. It might even be possible to also replace the datalink layer, eliminating ethernet addresses as well.

      It will be impossible to gather IP addresses, as there will *be* no IP address. The only way of identifying a user will be to identify the chain of nodes though which the request passed. This will require extracting data from every user in the chain. A difficult task with no user keeping logs.

  • What account? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:35PM (#6458225) Journal
    The free WiFi hotspots I've used don't require accounts at all. They just serve bandwidth and you connect thru DHCP.

    Are they going to log MAC addresses? Good luck. I can use ifconfig on my Orinoco card and set the MAC. 00:00:00:00:00:00 and a prepaid debit card in a pseudonym works nicely on the AT&T Wireless hotspot in the Denver airport.

    • Re:What account? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JayPee ( 4090 )
      Indeed. How about living in a suficiently urban environment with unsecured hotspots all around you? Grab a nice directional yagi antenna with sufficient gain and log in anonymously from miles away.
    • Re:What account? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cipster ( 623378 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:40PM (#6458254)
      My question is though why go through all that trouble for a few MP3's?
      I think this is precisely what the RIAA is aming for: make it risky or inconvenient enough that people will stop using Kazaa etc...
      Most people use those services because all you have to do is double-click on a few songs, go to bed with Kazaa on and the next day you have whatever music you wanted.
      I doubt there will be a big group of people Wardriving for Tunes.
      • Re:What account? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Fizzlewhiff ( 256410 ) <jeffshannon.hotmail@com> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:54PM (#6458326) Homepage
        Is it about wardriving for tunes or is it about using WiFi hotspots with your favorite p2p app? It is the latter. Currently P2P traders can't be identified in a WiFi hotspot as was the case with Bryant Park.

        I'll agree though, wardriving looking for shared tunes is a big waste of time and gasoline for that matter.

        The thought of me getting fined or jailed for sharing would be enough for me to stop doing it as I'm 35 with a wife and kids. If I were 15 I don't think I would think twice about it. It sure didn't stop me from phreaking back then.
        • Re:What account? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Cipster ( 623378 )
          This brings to mind an interesting question. How will the RIAA deal with the bad publicity of dragging to court teenagers and branding them as criminals for sharing music?
        • Re:What account? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sleeper0 ( 319432 )
          i am sure it is a waste of time now, but it would be pretty cool if there was a simple way that people published media on wifi networks. Fast forward to the very near future and listen to songs on your wifi iPod that are being streamed by that other guy with the wifi iPod on the bus, or in the car next to you in a traffic jam, or your neighbor or that guy that works two floors above you that has the amazing collection of jimi hendrix bootlegs. The only thing really standing in the way of that would be wif
      • Re:What account? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by (H)elix1 ( 231155 )
        Most people use those services because all you have to do is double-click on a few songs, go to bed with Kazaa on and the next day you have whatever music you wanted.
        I doubt there will be a big group of people Wardriving for Tunes.

        I suspect there will be more and more willing to unplug the cat5 and leach off the wireless connections however. I've got six unique home networks around me w/o any security. PrettyKitty, TSUNAMI, homeboxen, Blaze, Ford150, and JarJar.

        PrettyKitty? JarJar??? These freaks are
        • I'd go for PrettyKitty. Maybe it's a chick and has accidentaly left some home made porn on her shared folders.
          • Nothing like says slashdot geek like, "I'd go for PrettyKitty. Maybe it's a chick and has accidentaly left some home made porn on her shared folders."

            I had to point that out rather than mod you up as funny. But it was close. Very close.
    • True a good portion of current WiFi hotspots don't require accounts - but also the amount of users swapping songs over WiFi is not that high yet.

      Should the number increase the RIAA will simply sue them for aiding copyright infringment or whatnot and boom - suddenly logging systems will exist (they may not have them now - but somehow they will make them).

      Privacy is good - when it is used correctly, but as soon as it becomes a cover for breaking the law, the courts will rule against it. Refusing to log on
    • Re:What account? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by inertia@yahoo.com ( 156602 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:23PM (#6458479) Homepage Journal
      What if someone sets up a WiFi LAN just for file trading on their block? It's an open network, but there's no ISP at all. What would the RIAA do then, if they even noticed?

      Kind of reminds me of my BBS days when you could uuencode files on and share on WWiVnet. Other than the phone company, there was no connectivity. Files could distribute over night by modem (2400 to 19200, yikes!), sometimes hopping multiple nodes, and no one would be the wiser.
      • What if someone sets up a WiFi LAN just for file trading on their block? It's an open network, but there's no ISP at all. What would the RIAA do then, if they even noticed?

        I think you're safe, I really can't see the RIAA warddriving through peoples neighborhoods anytime soon. Although, who knows, maybe one day the RIAA will have a BSA type situation, "Neighbor not mowing his lawn? Report him to Ma RIAA!"
  • by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:37PM (#6458236) Journal
    ' I wonder how long it will be before those detailed logs ARE required by law?"

    I foresee something much worse, in fact I have been worrying about it for years. As it has been reported there are those ISPs that seem to want to have their nose up your butt and watch everything you do.

    Well I foresee soon that *all* suspected criminal activity will have to be reported, oh and all those pesky logs you have around because you wanna be a hyper nosy jerk? Well you, my friend, have just just blown you plausible deniability plea. Because you are keeping all those logs, and you didn't notify the 'authorities' right away you have blown your safe harbor status cause the RIAA came to you. So guess what? You have just become an accessory after the fact. *oops*

    When I tell people this they think im overly paranoid. well you decide.
    • IANAL, but...

      If you have the logs, they are business records and can be subject to subpeona. The key is to set up a business policy which purges the logs entirely on a rapid basis, and actually follow it.

      If an RIAA lawyer asks you for information about who had what IP address at a particular time last month, and you then delete the logs, you are in a whole lot of trouble.

      But, if you only store a week's worth of logs, and regularly delete the logs after they are a week old, you can honestly say "Sorry, that information has been purged in accordance with our document retention policy." There is nothing the RIAA can do about it.

      This was what happened at Enron/Arthur Anderson. They had a document retention policy that would have saved their asses, but no one followed it. Only when they realized that they were about to be sued did they shred everything. If they were shredding all along as standard procedure, they would have been fine.

  • by doormat ( 63648 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:38PM (#6458244) Homepage Journal
    I was thinking about this in lieu of the RIAA sending subpeonas [yahoo.com] to ISPs, and why ISPs need to keep logs of what MAC address had what IP at what time. Maybe it would be enough to drop the time, or get really vauge? "Yea, three MACs have had that IP address this week, sorry, cant tell ya which one had it at that time." Not quite sure how that would affect tracking the source of hacker and/or hacking. Vauge engough to keep it out of a court of law, specific enough to combat/detect hacking.

    Of course, whats the big deal to set my computer to an empty address in the DHCP pool, and DHCP logs wont detect squat.
  • by Bob The Lizard ( 193273 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:39PM (#6458252) Homepage
    "I wonder how long it will be before those detailed logs ARE required by law?"

    An interesting point occurs to me. One of the great things about the many 'anti-hacking' laws passed around the world is that most (if not all), have little (if any), requirement for systems operators to take reasonable steps to keep their systems secure.

    So if I open up a Wi-Fi shop, and keep detailed logs, of all my paying users, but don't bother to secure the setup?????

    'Yes officer, you can have the logs of my customers. Unfortunitly it dosen't cover the several thousand p2p users, who have creaked my system, and you want..... Yes thats correct, removing the howto from the MOTD would reduce this, but I'm under no requirement to do that.' :-)
  • by inertia@yahoo.com ( 156602 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:44PM (#6458276) Homepage Journal
    About them WiFi Chalkers,
    ain't they fun to see?
    Goin' all around,
    chalkin' them AP!
    Them resourceful Chalkers,
    what a useful crowd.
    Showin' all the world,
    where the net's allowed.
    Look at all them WiFi Chalkers,
    demon drivin' through.
    AirPort, D-Link, and LinkSys,
    WEP passphrases too!
    How to be a WiFi Chalker,
    it's fun if you know how.
    Gitcha mobile WiFi kit,
    and stumble on them now.
  • WEP (Score:3, Funny)

    by quinkin ( 601839 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:46PM (#6458281)
    Ah WEP - the greatest filesharing invention of all time.

    Easy configuration? Now you don't even need to be aware that you wanted to share your files. :)


  • by Synesthesiatic ( 679680 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:48PM (#6458294) Homepage
    The RIAA has brought suit against the descendents of Guglielmo Marconi for his invention, known as radio.

    "Using a special radio receiver, a listener, or 'criminal', can listen to copywrited music for free," said Hilary Rosen, of the RIAA. "Some special units even have the ability record. All without one cent going to us, the true owners of the material."

    Rosen added that the recent use of public WiFi radio-based internet to evade prosecution for file sharing was the last straw.

    "This Marconi guy's got a lot to answer for. This 'radio' thing clearly has only ilicit uses."

    Rosen also complained that her wallet wasn't big enough for all her fifties, and her diamond pants were too tight.
  • It's quite simple... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:48PM (#6458298) Homepage
    Stop copying other people's stuff.
    Take the moral highground.

    Then, when the RIAA doesn't have a leg to stand on, push the balance of copyright law back to normal.

    Until people stop publishing and redistributing material which they have no claim to (or rights to), the people who produce that material will gang up against them. And that gang typically has bigger pocketbooks.

    They didn't care about it before now, because it's only with the rise of fast connections to the Internet that people have had enough bandwidth to make it a real problem. The losses were a blip on the radar.

    Self regulate, learn the rules, or the fairness police will come down on you. If you think it's fair to copy someone else's material willy-nilly, then I'm willing to bet that you've never produced anything of any worth.
    • by Alien Being ( 18488 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:37PM (#6458534)
      I'm all for IP laws as long as they represent the interests of the people. A decade or two of exclusive trade rights ought to be plenty of time reap the harvest of nearly any creation, but 70+ years for a cartoon mouse is ludicrous. Let's just find the decendents of the guy who invented the wheel and award them ownership of GM.

    • by antiMStroll ( 664213 ) on Thursday July 17, 2003 @08:51AM (#6460355)
      They didn't care about it before now, because it's only with the rise of fast connections to the Internet that people have had enough bandwidth to make it a real problem. The losses were a blip on the radar.

      So, so wrong. The industry fought VCRs, they fought cassettes, they fought radio. Going further back they fought sheet music. Had people taken your recommendation a hundred years ago none would exisit today and the music industry would be much worse off.

  • by rritterson ( 588983 ) * on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @09:49PM (#6458299)
    From what I know, the RIAA is planning to sue sharers, not downloaders (although often they are one and the same). The idea is, kill the supply, and the demand decreases. (Yeah, because it worked so well with illegal drugs.)

    Point is, how many people are likely to run persistant shares over a hotspot? I'd think that those who use hotspots have nothing to fear from the RIAA, yet..

    There was a previous discussion about an ISP who was encouraging customers to setup an access point and share the connection with others for a reduced rate. /. readers came to the consensus that I can be held accountable for content my neighbors download with my connection. Does this mean that the RIAA can sue coffee shops who setup their own independant hotspots? (Of course, it doesn't apply to the server businesses who have paired with T-Mobile)
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:00PM (#6458361) Homepage Journal
    As much as I have come to hate the RIAA and it's dictatorial attitude off late, I really don't think online anonymity is the thing of the future. True, we would all like to be anonymous, and protect are so called privacy: online and elsewhere, but I just don't see it happening anytime soon, or maybe ever.

    Consider anonymity in the real world. It's almost impossible to do anything really worthwhile completely anonymously. True, you may get along for a while, but sooner or later, you would need a job, a place to live, maybe a phone...the list goes on....and it's pretty much impossible to do any of these without proving your identity. You just cannot get along without remaining completely anonymous, in a fast developing world.

    Maybe in lesser developed countries, you would not need an SSN or ID, but you would need alternate means of identification nevertheless, unless ofcourse you prefer to exist illegally under multiple identities.

    With the Internet fast becoming part of our lives, and the ever broadening range of stuff that can be done online, it's but natural that some measures to establish identity come into force some time or the other.

    People may argue that in the offline world, you are able to perform certain activities anonymously...say relax in a lounge chair in front of the fireplace...but BAM....as soon as you interact with society, anonymity is gone....Poof.

    The problem with the Internet, is, that you are *always* interacting with some computer, somewhere, which does not belong to you. This is not true with the real world, if you're sitting lounging on a chair, you're interacting with the chair which belongs to you, thus ensuring anonymity. Anonymity on the Internet, on the other hand, is and will remain to be a very hard thing to achieve.

    I guess that's a long enough rant for this time of the night.

    • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:17PM (#6458448) Journal
      What you are missing is the level of anonymity.

      On the internet, I have the equivalent of a Unique Identifier tatooed on my forehead.

      In real life, if someone asks me my name, I can say "Hi, I'm Peter Smith", or perhaps say nothing at all. Online, it's incredibly easy (and regularly done) to automate the process of recording your IP address, and associating it with every action you take online... You can't refuse to give it, you can't shop somewhere else when they ask for it, you don't even get notification that they are doing it...

      It's not to say you have true anonymity in public, unless you can change your physical appearance at a whim (to some extent that is possible), but the point is that you DO have some reasonable level of anonymity.

      For instance, imagine that the FBI feels like fishing, and decides they want to know the identity of everyone who read about bombs, and politically dissenting material. For digital info, they simply have to ask for those records from each place, and correlate them. In the real world, they would need to track down everyone that was at each place, have them give a description, and then compare the descriptions. That doesn't make you anonymous, but it adds a large barrier to removing your anonymity, which, in reality, is all people really want.
    • In the spirit of poking holes in arguments for the sake of poking holes in arguments ... I don't have to show my driver's license in order to buy a compact disc (when using cash, anyway). The shopkeeper doesn't log the transaction along with my SSN. There are plenty of other ways that you remain anonymous in the offline world. Digital technology can be easily used to erode this anonymity at many levels, to the point where some machine or person somewhere becomes suspicious, determines that you are to be
  • by truthhurts1 ( 689438 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:10PM (#6458412)
    CD's and Records at ridiculous prices and conspiring with others to control prices.

    There is nothing they can do except try and shutdown ISPs'. And why is there no parallel analogies to the us postal service ? Should we shut them down if somebody is sending copyrighted stuff ?

    The next to be hit is the movie industry. The movie selection should improve when higher speeds come around which should be never with Time Warner controlling everything.

  • ...are people not smart enough to secure their systems. And the more people they bust, the more people will be enticed to secure their systems, thus causing the RIAA's overhead to rise. Frankly, the RIAA is trying to shovel back the ocean with a fork. The only question is how much money they're willing to spend trying. I myself serve almost 500 gigs of stuff (most of it anime, jpop, and the like), and if the RIAA wants to track me they can sure try. I knew the risks when I got into this, and accept them as a cost of doing business. That being said, if the RIAA breaks down the door to get the HDs I keep the stuff on, I have no problems whatsoever with activating the electromagnets sitting on top of 'em and scrambling the whole mess into indecipherable gobbledygook. I got a nice stack of back-up CDs in a safe place ;) Oh, and for those of you who use Kazaa Lite: The latest ver blocks the IP ranges that the RIAA and their minions/co-conspirators use. Who says resistance is futile? Berrik
  • Excellent (Score:3, Funny)

    by jeffkjo1 ( 663413 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:17PM (#6458445) Homepage
    So now all I have to do is setup a Wireless basestation with anonymous acces in my house and I can claim that I don't know who was downloading music from my internet connection.
    The ultimate legal shield!
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:17PM (#6458446)
    This is just plain over before it started...

    The RIAA dragnet is for uploaders because their theory is if they can scare people out of sharing, the non-sharing freeloaders will saturate the remaining uploaders so that the file-sharing network will cease to be useful.

    But the coffee shop isn't the idea place to even set up a transient P2P sever. The P2P share would only exist when the laptop user is at the bookstore, which won't be that often to begin with. Any transfer in progress when the laptop user leaves the store will get aborted. Smart coffee shop owners have ADSL behind these shares, because they're expecting browsers not servers, so the upload speed won't be that pretty anyway.

    This isn't a technology worth banning, it's not gonna be that useful to file-swappers in the first place!
    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @11:14PM (#6458661) Journal
      The RIAA dragnet is for uploaders because their theory is if they can scare people out of sharing, the non-sharing freeloaders will saturate the remaining uploaders so that the file-sharing network will cease to be useful.

      And before that, they only went after companies, on the theory that only companies had the deep pockets to produce the software that make file-sharing possible. If they could scare companies away from creating file-sharing apps, the problem would cease to exist

      Unfortunately, like their first approach, their second one will fail as well. And the RIAA WILL start going after progressively smaller fish. I'd say within a year we'll hear about their first attack on a group of particuarly heavy downloaders.

      And, in the long term, don't feel too surprised when "plausible deniability", at least in the online world, turns into "plausible guilt". Run something like Freenet, where they can't tell exactly who requested a particular file, and everyone along the chain of the request bears equal "guilt" for the download.
  • by God! Awful 2 ( 631283 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:18PM (#6458450) Journal
    Take this exact same story and substitute "file sharing" with "spamming". Would this story still be posted as a YRO?

    (Actually, probably yes, except this time it would be about your right to sue the WiFi operator who allows untraceable spam.)

  • IP Logs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Klimaxor ( 264151 ) <jdunn AT sosbbs DOT com> on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:19PM (#6458456)
    The IP Log Circle Jerk:
    1) ISP's will be required to keep logs, for legal purposes
    2) the common folk, with their (insert firewall here) logs will say "hey, if ISP logs are kept for legal purposes, why not track this sonuvabitch down who tried to .winnuke me"
    3) The Department of Justice will get involved when they hear of rumors that such and such a ISP has been tampering with their logs, thus costing us more money in them doing their shit.
    4) Some random group of people who like to complain will picket the government some more claiming "they are tracking how long i'm on the internet and what i'm doing, invasion of privacy" and that will cost us even more money as they send out the swat teams and the rubber bullets because we all know protesting in any form is pretty much ILLEGAL now.
    5) Some Congressman will present a bill to overthrow the IP log law because it's causing conflicts in society (he doesn't want them to catch onto his warez/kiddie porn ring)
    6) the law will be discontinued, we'll be right back were we started, a couple billion dollars further in the hole, with nothing more accomplished.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:21PM (#6458468) Journal
    The United States Constitution may have something to say about North Carolina's policy: the Supremacy Clause. Assuming, just for the sake of this argument, that the defendant's conduct was in fact copyright infringement, and there are no federal defenses, a State probably doesn't have the power to require, directly or indirectly, a compulsory license for which the Congress did not provide.
  • Data over VoIP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigmattana ( 646048 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:27PM (#6458493)
    This makes me wonder... Wouldn't it be possible to make some sort of data transfer network or "sub-internet" where people communicate using digital channels over internet telephony? It would be pretty hard to trace what people are doing, sharing, etc, because data packets would be coverted to a digital representation of audio being sent out. The digital "soundwaves" could be modulated to any any frequency, so they would in no way look like the digital bits they actually represent. This would probably be fairly slow, but possible.
    Any thoughts?
  • by oob ( 131174 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:29PM (#6458499)
    As other posters have pointed out, legislating HotSpot operators to force the retention of access logs is a future possibility, with the result that organisations like the RIAA can treat HotSpot operators in the same manner that they currently treat ISPs.

    A flaw in that plan however is peer to peer routing protocols, such as AODV. While still in development (ostensibly for use in wireless networks) AODV enabled devices are capable of routing to one another peer to peer, rather than the star topology currently used by most HotSpots (and wired networks.)

    Good luck to the RIAA trying to detect two people wirelessly swapping files as they walk anonymously past one another in the street.
  • by zenyu ( 248067 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:51PM (#6458586)
    I run a public WiFi hot spot and had my internet access cut off for days. The ISP support people couldn't figure out what was wrong. Finally they discovered someone had removed my business network from their routing tables because of a DMCA threat from EMI.

    I explained the WiFi hot spot and they put me back online. Then I was forced to put up sophisticated filters to prevent suspect outgoing connections while allowing most good connections through. I then set up a freenet node. I don't offer a lot of bandwidth to anonymous users, so I think someone that walked by just happened to have some p2p application running on their laptop. But a large part of the reason I offer this service is because I believe in anonymous communication especially for whistle-blowers and for people with unpopular ideas. I know someone that got physical threats and had a friend of his killed for expressing his political opinions. The FBI was absolutely no help, their tech person even threatened him when he didn't want them to take his computer to their lab as evidence after it was hacked by one of the wackos. (The FBI would do more to harm his political speech 'helping' him if they took away his computer, since much of it is via the web. He had also been told by another agent they could just image the hard drive so he didn't really trust this guy.)

    If somebody creates a law requiring logging, I'll be lining up to practice my duty as a citizen, civil disobedience of immoral laws. I hope it's not just because someone bought some crap from an RIAA label and put it on their computer. I really have no respect for the people that keep those intellectual "property" leeches in business, but I'll do it for that 13 year old girl sharing the latest boy band tripe too.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @10:51PM (#6458592) Homepage Journal
    Why violate copyright? Many musicians offer legal downloads of their music from their websites or from music hosting services. While you won't find many big-name bands offerring free downloads, you can get a wide variety of enjoyable music.

    I'm one of those indie musicians that offers free downloads of my music so more people can get to know it. Please download and enjoy:

    It's a recording of me playing my piano compositions.

    • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @11:24PM (#6458695) Homepage Journal
      I think the whole debate over music piracy will be solved if everyone just started downloading legal music. One reason for that is that the RIAA would then shortly become bankrupt, because we'll all be listening to garage bands instead of Brittney and New Kids.

      Probably the best known site for downloading MP3s is of course MP3.com [mp3.com]. See especially their genre index [mp3.com]. Click the link. You will be quite astounded at how many genres there are.

      Unfortunately the website usability of MP3.com is atrocious, and their streaming audio seems to be buggy - I can't get it to work in either Explorer or Mozilla. To get an MP3 file to download to your hard drive, you have to register, which I'm sure will result in merciless spamming. May I suggest registering with a throwaway email address from spamgourmet [spamgourmet.com]?

      The Open Directory Project has Bands and Artists [dmoz.org] and Styles [dmoz.org] indices. Not all the artists offer downloads, but the site says they list 48,000 artists and I imagine many of them offer downloads.

      Better sites for hosting MP3's than MP3.com are Epitonic.com [epitonic.com] and insound [insound.com].

      If you prefer the higher quality, patent-free Ogg Vorbis [vorbis.com] files you can find several download sites here [vorbis.com]. Ogg Vorbis players are available for many platforms - WinAmp will play them on Windows, and I understand iTunes on Mac OS X supports Ogg now. There are open source Linux ogg players and encoders, even an open source fixed-point decoders for embedded applications where the CPU doesn't have floating point hardware.

      There are also peer-to-peer applications for distributing legal music. See Furthur Network [furthurnet.com] and konspire[2b] [sourceforge.net].

      I'm sure if more people availed themselves of the wide variety of music available for free download, we will make short work of both the RIAA and ClearChannel. Our lives would also be richer for it.

  • What if they setup a minimum of three hotspots for each connection...and then triangulated them using something like this [slashdot.org] which was posted earlier today? Not that I want the RIAA to find some way to destroy this last bastion of anonymity.....but technically speaking, wouldn't it work?

  • The |337 ones, running from Starbucks to Starbucks, desperately trying to download the last 15 minutes of "Legally Blonde 2" ...all so they can save the cost of a medium pizza.

  • So rare (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mr100percent ( 57156 ) *
    Is this a real problem? I mean, most of the people they catch are those running sharing services for a relatively long time, like the people who leave the PC on 24/7. The people who connect to a WiFi for 10 minutes to grab some email aren't the ones risking getting caught. So how many people would the RIAA be really after? Extremely few that their p2p scanners would catch.

    So is this a more of a "what if" scenario?

  • by aardwolf204 ( 630780 ) on Wednesday July 16, 2003 @11:22PM (#6458691)
    If I, or I mean, my close friend, were ever "busted" but the RIAA for sharing/downloading mp3s off p2p networks, my, his best alibi would be that the songs could have been downloaded/uploaded from anyone as I am the only network administrator in the world too stupid to know how to enable WEP on my AP, and the neighbor did it. Of course a simple search of *his HD would prove otherwise.

    Oh well, looks like I'm gonna have to build that big red button on my box that will format my mp3 partition over and over and over upon pressing.

    Imagines my cat Kerberos brushing up against the button... Then again, maybe not.
  • n00bz (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lo_fye ( 303245 )
    What if i were just a n00b who knew nothing, bought a linksys 802.11b router, followed the "Quickstart Guide" (which does not enable wep), and was unknowingly sharing my connection with others. Surely the RIAA wouldn't sue my ass, would they? This is not the case for me, but it is for my parents and several colleagues...

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow