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WinMX Suspends Operations 192

An anonymous reader writes "Slyck.com is reporting that it appears the WinMX network has shut down its operations in response to the RIAA's letters threating legal action. Although the WinMX network is currently down, this may only be temporary as developers seem to have relocated from Canada to Port Villa, Vanuatu."
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WinMX Suspends Operations

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  • Pertinent Links: (Score:5, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:05PM (#13616904)

    Some information about Vanuatu, as well as its capital, Port Vila (misspelled in TFA) can be found here [wikipedia.org] and here [cia.gov].

    As for why WinMX might want to relocate there, this link [vanuatugovernment.gov.vu] should shed a little light on the issue...
    • Re:Pertinent Links: (Score:5, Informative)

      by interiot ( 50685 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:08PM (#13616931) Homepage
      It should be especially hilighted that Kazaa has already moved to Vanuatu, so the island clearly has decent internet connectivity in place already.
      • Re:Pertinent Links: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Knara ( 9377 )
        I should hope so. Their Internet Free Trade Zone would be pretty silly if they didn't.
      • ...and it's a lot cheaper than hosting atSealand [wikipedia.org].
      • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:48PM (#13617661)

        "It should be especially hilighted that Kazaa has already moved to Vanuatu, so the island clearly has decent internet connectivity in place already."

        Just to be clear... that's where Sharman Networks is headquartered for tax purposes. They don't have servers there. There are probably a dozen outfits on Vanuatu that'll set up a PO box for you and forward your mail.

        Running afoul of the Berne Convention or local copyright laws was probably never a reason for Sharman's setting up in Vanuatu -- you can generally be nailed in any country in which you do business, regardless of the address printed on your articles of incorporation.

    • I loved the "rediculous" part on "http://www.vanuatugovernment.gov.vu/cyberspace.ht ml"...
    • by CDMA_Demo ( 841347 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:13PM (#13616994) Homepage

      Sure it is very interesting. But I wonder what will happen if every p2p company takes refuge in Vanuatu. The laws specifically prohibit pornography and don't even think about applying if you've got money laundering on your mind. U.S. can easily pressurize a country of the size of Republic of Vanuatu to extend their laws to prohibit sharing copyright work!
      • by abes ( 82351 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:30PM (#13617125) Homepage
        I know we have a lot of hot air coming from America, but I'm suspicious of being able to pressurize an entire country..

        Might come in useful if the tectonic plates ever get a bit slippery...

      • How? I work for many companies in dinky countries (news services and publishers -- legit businesses). They have plenty of corruption internally, but there's really no toehold that the United States has on them. If they are making money through companies arriving, they aren't going to change things. They are masters of their little corner of the world and they like it; many have just shrugged off European absentee rulers and are quite enamored with their own sovernity. You'd be surprised how little infl
      • by Anonymous Coward
        If the US of A completely cut off all its trade with Vanauatu, they wouldn't notice. We don't buy much from them, we don't sell much to them. It would be hard to hurt them in any meaningful way if they decided that the money they were making was more than they would otherwise make.

        Australia and NZ, on the other hand, are in a position to be really annoying to Vanauatu.

        ps. They don't have static electricity there (way to humid). The natives have never experienced it. When they leave the island and do ex
      • so they're a "republic" eh?

        sounds like they need to have democracy brought to them.

        oh wait...
      • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Thursday September 22, 2005 @03:34AM (#13619800) Homepage
        if every p2p company takes refuge in Vanuatu...
        extend their laws to prohibit sharing copyright work!

        First of all you are making the FALSE assumption that P2P companies are sharing copyrighted works. P2P software companies no more "share copyrighted works" than E-mail software companies "share copyrighted works". In fact e-mail software is one of the original forms of P2P software.

        Secondly, aside from the extensive body of copyright free materials, you are making a blanket assumption that sharing copyrighted works is inherently improper. There is also an extensive body of copyrighted works that are authorized for unrestricted or conditional distribution. If you want to complain about people who commit copyright infringment, well ok fine. However these companies are not commiting copyright infringment.

        P2P software - including EMAIL - can be used to send or receive anything. E-mail and FTP and webserver software are all explicitly designed to distribute files. Software authors and software publishers should not be under assault.

    • by DaveFromChicago ( 915169 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:14PM (#13617005)
      Vanuatu - the India of P2P?
    • by Animekiksazz ( 653048 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:16PM (#13617024) Journal
      What an interesting government website. "...and don't even think about applying if you've got money laundering on your mind."
    • Re:Pertinent Links: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      More specifically, the critical part appears to be that they aren't a signatory of the Berne convention:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention_for_ the_Protection_of_Literary_and_Artistic_Works [wikipedia.org]
      • That will only protect them if they're doing business only in Vanuatu -- only trying to sell ad space to Vanuatu businesses, taking steps to ensure that only Vanuatu residents can use their network, and so on. Sharman Networks, who run Kazaa, also print a Vanuatu address on their articles of incorporation, but this is for tax purposes only. As we all know, Kazaa was recently nailed in Australia, as they do business there and many of their executives live there.

    • by lelitsch ( 31136 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:35PM (#13617153)

      As for why WinMX might want to relocate there from Canada, this link [lonelyplanet.com] should also shed a little light on the issue...
      • This is really not about tax dollars and beaches. Though it sounds funny. The music industry has the most messed up payroll. Mainstream artists makes millions, and the remainder 90% are starving. I'd like to see this balanced out, and turn it into a normal industry where alot of artists make your normal 50k salary. And the great ones make 6-figures.

        RIAA is putting pressure on winmx and music buyers. Why don't they put pressure on the mainstream artists where they are banking their $$$ to make something
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:36PM (#13617163) Journal
      As for why WinMX might want to relocate there, this link should shed a little light on the issue...

      Tattoo: Bozz, bozz, ze plane, ze plane!
      Mr. Roarke: Yes, Tattoo. Let us go meet our guests.
      Tattoo: Who are zey, bozz?
      Mr. Roarke: They are wanted criminals and nihilists. They have come here to set up an illicit P2P network.
      Tattoo [rubbing hands together]: Ooh, I cannot wait see what you have in store for them, bozz. And who are those people, bozz?
      Mr. Roarke: They from the Recording Industry Association of America.
      Tattoo: Why zem, bozz?
      Mr. Roarke: Let's just say, Tattoo, that I enjoy putting spiders and flies in small jars together. [arms out to guests] Welcome to Fantasy Island!

  • WOAH (Score:5, Funny)

    by Craptastic Weasel ( 770572 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:06PM (#13616917)
    talk about "change for the better"... from snowy days to sunny days... I kind of want the RIAA to send me one of those legal threats, I need a change of locale!!!
  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) * on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:07PM (#13616927) Homepage Journal
    If not, they're still under the jurisdiction. Scratch that, under the DMCA they're still liable for any 'ip violation' that their product 'enables' in countries that follow the DMCA (such as the US).
    • yep, and Joe User can still be sued for downloading the "pirated" movies/music/games/etc. no matter WHERE they got it. Just a thought, you know if they had did this with P*rn during the early days of the 'Net the things we have now would have taken a lot longer to get here. It's a fact that early adopters (and improvers) of technology have been those on the "dark side" such as P*rn and Gambling.
  • Reminiscence (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gunpowda ( 825571 )
    I remember using WinMX before discovering Kazaa. It was functional, but its one (major) defect was its hideous interface [netzwelt.de].

    Survival of the fittest, I guess!

    • Re:Reminiscence (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bobbyshade ( 906085 )
      i've been useing winmx for several years and it has worked well for my purposes. one of the key features was that it allowed you to log onto a large choice of "open nap" networks, and it was there i found what i was looking for. folks, who like myself, ripped old records and digitized then. i just cked and i am still hooked up with six open naps and have traffic up and down. to find a client for open nap ck source forge and search on open nap.
  • It's not an encrypted P2P network, the downloader is known to the source, and I thought spyware was associated with it. If anyone wants to vouch for WinMX as being spyware free please do, but I've seen it only on two systems, both infected with spyware.
  • Seriously, that's the third YRO story in a row. It's as if someone had let Michael back online and now he's sitting there, manically posting YRO stories (and laughing his hideous laughter).
  • Doubt it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:15PM (#13617021) Journal
    ...developers seem to have relocated from Canada to Port Villa, Vanuatu

    No, the address on their domain name registration has been been relocated to Vanuatu. I very much doubt that developers themselves would move to Vanuatu over a barely-operational P2P scheme. If you're going to do make a move like that, there are much nicer places in the South Pacific.

  • Run away... (Score:2, Funny)

    by GmAz ( 916505 )
    When all else fails...flee the country...or at least here, webhost.
  • Google Maps (Score:5, Informative)

    by qw0ntum ( 831414 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:23PM (#13617076) Journal
    This is where Vanuatu [google.com] is.
  • by Serveert ( 102805 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:24PM (#13617080)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu [wikipedia.org]

    The economy is based primarily on subsistence or small-scale agriculture, which provides a living for 65% of the population, and online advertising thanks to sweaty nerds downloading free mp3s with WinMX and visiting the WinMX website which provides tribalfusion popups.
  • by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:30PM (#13617123) Homepage Journal
    I used WinMX for a while, as it was much more featureful than the crappy Napster client of old and the subscribership was outstanding. I don't seem to remember any feature or message in WinMX that helped users pirate music. It's true that some people used the software to trade music, but there is absolutely no proof that the program was designed for that purpose. I don't know why they took the network down. It is a simple P2P file sharing utility and nothing more.

    Furthermore, WinMX is freeware. I presume the author made no money from it. Regardless, why is the RIAA challenging this poor guy on the grounds that he has broken another country's laws?
  • by modi123 ( 750470 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:35PM (#13617150) Homepage Journal

    Dear RIAA,

    I officially give up. This is the straw the finally broke the camel's back (it always seems to be the LAST straw that does this - hrmph). I will officially renounce my intent on pirating media, software, pr0n, and the like. I am currently burning my PC to stop enabling me to do bad things (did you guys patent the phrase "If thy eye offends, pluck it out; if they hand does wrong chop it off"?). Additionally, I will re-buy all my purchased media again - just in case some where along the line it was pirated. I can not take the pressure anymore - too many people have been hurt because of my negligence. Please oh please just call off the dogs before more people are hurt. With this latest action you have successfully reached critical mass of the "Piracy == Bad" meme, and people will understand. Thank you for your service in showing humanity where it went wrong, and that the red pill is not for us. To make it up to you, I will pay double for my CDs, send you a dozen roses every week, and mow your lawn. Please, take me back! I want to be loved again. I really didn't know I was hurting you like that baby. Sugar, you got to believe me!


    - modi

    I wish to extend a welcome to the new media overlords. May they use their infinite wisdom to safe guard freedom and the natural order of things.

  • How about some of these filesharing companies get together, buy an island, and create their own nation?

    Im sure that countries like China wouldnt care about US sanctions against this new country, so if secured near the mainland it would be easy to get supplies and keep things running smoothly.

    Not to say that filesharing is shady business, but I am surprised that this sort of thing hasnt happened already by some criminal organizations or large-scale pirating rings. Perhaps there is an obvious answer to
    • From what you describe, Taiwan would work nicely.

      Oh, wait, they're not on good terms with China.

      Never mind.
    • Assuming they actually managed to create a working government, they'd end up being the bitch of whatever major country they were off the shore of, ESPECIALLY if it was China.
    • Im sure that countries like China wouldnt care about US sanctions against this new country

      Uh, China just successfully sued their own local Google for enabling locating and faciliting the downloading of .MP3 files. I don't think China is where a P2P company should be considering going.

  • by RManning ( 544016 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @05:48PM (#13617262) Homepage

    Vanatu seems like a really nice place to live. I found this on their government's news site [vanuatugovernment.gov.vu]:

    Vanuatu has a new Government. Please revisit this site next week

  • by cryogenix ( 811497 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:01PM (#13617371)
    19 survivors will be standed on an Island for 39 days while they attempt to avoid the RIAA.... Reward challenges will give legal mp3 credits which of course can only be played on limited devices and burned once...
  • by kwandar ( 733439 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:04PM (#13617385)

    Its strange that the RIAA would bother sending a letter to a Canadian company.

    Music is quite legal (until the government changes the law) to download in Canada. It is most likely legal to have it available for download too, provided that you are not "distributing", which seems to require active promotion.

    I would think software developers would be one step further removed from that. Good luck to the RIAA pressing their case in Canada under the current law. CRIA was already stupid enough to take it to the Federal Court http://www.cippic.ca/en/projects-cases/file-sharin g-lawsuits/ [cippic.ca] and lose.

    • "Its strange that the RIAA would bother sending a letter to a Canadian company."

      Because the company does business in the US. Generally speaking, if you're soliciting business in the US (including selling ad space), you're liable to run afoul of US laws.

      It's this same principle which allowed Kazaa to be sued in Australia, even though they're headquartered in Vanuatu. While many folks are of the understanding that Kazaa located in Vanuatu to avoid violating the Berne Convention, the real reason is li

      • Your example isn't quite correct. Kazaa did have an office in Australia http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/02/06/music_ind u stry_raids_kazaas_australia/ [theregister.co.uk]. As far as I know WinMS didn't have a personel or permanent establishment or assets in the US.

        Without any nexus to the US, a good lot a USjudgement would do. It won't be enforced by Canadian courts, and there are no US assets to collect on.

        • You're correct that Sharman has an office in Australia; their address in Vanuatu is likely a PO box run by a mail forwarder.

          Let's keep in mind that it's only conjecture that the WinMX shutdown is due to threatening letters from the RIAA. While my guess is that setting up an office in a particular country is liable to make things worse, one can still be subject to another country's laws if one is, as I mentioned in the GP, doing business in that country. In the case of WinMX (perhaps in some future incar

          • Its not criminal - therefore there is no extradition.

            Its not a judgement by a Canadian court - so judgement isn't enforceable in Canada.

            If its not illegal in Canada - no judgement is issued.

  • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @06:15PM (#13617459) Homepage Journal

    ...Perhaps I can offer a little bit of background.

    I've been living and working in Vanuatu for the last two years, and have some experience in the IT sector here. So let me try and provide a little perspective.

    First, the vanuatugovernment.vu website is NOT the official government website. It was put together by some less-than-reputable individuals who took advantage of their connections with certain politicians to try to sell 'honorary consulships' to 'independant businessmen'. Basically, this is a way of making money from the sale of diplomatic passports. Among the people found to be using Vanuatu diplomatic passports are a Northern Irish 'contractor' working in Sierra Leone and a convicted member of a Chinese triad.

    Second, the information on wikipedia.org is far from complete - and in some cases, inaccurate. And yes, as another poster has mentioned, The capital is Port Vila (one 'l'), so the summary is mis-spelled.

    Third, Vanuatu has for quite a long time been associated with businesses who need a more flexible set of business rules than they might find in the US. Kazaa, for example, is incorporated in Vanuatu. As a gesture of appreciation, we now have the Kazaa Cricket field, which will be hosting international competition in the next couple of weeks.

    There are some seriously large online betting operations interested in setting up shop in Vanuatu. Without telling tales out of school, I can confirm that one operation recently received approval to install one 7m and one 4m satellite dish, giving it total bandwidth capacity of about 40 Mbps. This in a country that currently has a national total about about 4 Mbps for voice and data combined!

    Shades of Cryptonomicon, there actually is a 'bunker' here - a hardened server room with independant everything that is being used to manage data more or less along the same lines that Neal Stephenson suggested in his book.

    Vanuatu has some of the most expensive Internet services in the world. I'm composing this message on a 56k dial-up line shared with 6 others computers. Unlimited dial-up costs a paltry USD 200/month, and dedicated access typically runs about USD 1000/month when bandwidth is factored in.

    Vanuatu was once a site of significant money-laundering activity. Since 2001, the regulatory regime has been strengthened significantly. And yes, it was because the US 'pressurized' the government to act. They simply informed Vanuatu that if they didn't conform to certain minimum standards, they wouldn't be able to buy US dollars. Very persuasive.

    Vanuatu is still a major tax haven, and is increasingly of interest to Australian investors. As I write, the private yacht of the richest man in Australia (Kerry Packer) is anchored in Port Vila Bay.

    There are over 100 native languages in Vanuatu, but the language of commerce here is Bislama, a pidgin English that is really interesting to learn. Here is a quick and amusing sampler [moodindigo.ca].

    As far as WinMX is concerned, I've heard nothing about their arrival in Vanuatu, but some people are fairly secretive about the business they do here, so maybe I shouldn't be skeptical....

  • Current Title of TFA (21 Sep 6:45pm EST):
    WinMX PNP Network Mysteriously Ends Operations

    WinMX was a plug-n-pray network? Who knew?

    By the time you read this, it will probably have been corrected to 'P2P'.

    Public service astroturf warning:
    http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=16277 1&cid=13615388 [slashdot.org]
  • ... ok, intresting article, but I thought
    that WinMX was replaced by the more secure WinNY.

    Trouble is, WinNY isn't to easy to find, especially the latest version transalated from japaneese (i.e. into english menus).
  • Centralized Servers (Score:4, Informative)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @07:28PM (#13617933) Homepage Journal
    This is why you need a de-centeralized network for this sort of thing.

    Even if the *AA's didnt exist, the risk of a single failure point should scream at you.
  • I submitted this story as well several hours ago, although I don't know if it was before or after ScuttleMonkey. Mine is just marked rejected.

    From the It Would Be Nice department, it would be nice if Slashdot could say something nicer like Duplicate Submission in a case like this. After all, you don't know if it's a duplicate until another version of it goes up, then you feel ripped a bit.

  • Usenet... (Score:3, Funny)

    by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @07:39PM (#13618031)
    ...has not suspended operations.

    But *please*, don't tell anyone else...

  • I just punched "Elvis" into the search box and got 404 lines of output back almost instantly.
  • The danger to WinMX is that if they can't get their network back up and running soon they risk losing their base to other, still operating, systems. It takes a long time to build a solid base of good users, and P2P users are a fickle bunch.

    Would be funny if it was found out that this all happened because, during the confusion over at PeerGuardian, someone slipped an update into PG that blocked out all the WinMX Peer Caches, so nobody could connect.

  • by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2005 @08:32PM (#13618367)
    If I remember correctly, WinMX was merely a Windows client developed to operate using the same protocol as BeShare on BeOS.

    At the time, BeOS popularity was waning, and as web sites supporting it started shutting down, the BeShare network quickly became -the- place to get freeware and shareware applications that no longer had download mirrors available, and were unsupported by the original developer.

    If memory serves, there was quite a bit of porn on it, too, but not a lot of music -- applications, drivers, config files and BeOS demos were definitely the overwhelming offering.

    Of course, once WinMX came out and Windows people started using the network, it became overwhelmed with music trades. Still, for once, you can safely claim that this particular P2P "network" was created not to trade in pirated goods (which was frowned upon in the BeShare days) but in fact as a technical proof-of-concept that was quickly leveraged as a legal software distribution tool, much like BitTorrent is trying to be.
  • If you're going to throw up your hands and exit the P2P business due to it simply not being worth it anymore in the face of increasing legal extortion (which is a very reasonable reason to exit it), the least you might do is open source your code before the ??AA forces some consent agreement onto you forcing you to bury it forever.

    Leak it out on Freent, if nothing else.

    Btw, how does Freenet avoid the problem of needing PeerCaches?

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