Interesting bit of radio from NPR on EVERYONE'S FAVORITE SUBJECT: RIAA vs file sharers:
- LAURA SYDELL reporting:
The Recording Industry of America, the industry's trade group, announced it would go after individual file swappers on a Wednesday. On the following Monday, OptiSoft, maker of a file sharing software called Blubster, announced new privacy features that promised to hide the identities of users. But this isn't about helping people steal music, says the Madrid, Spain-based Pablo Soto, developer of Blubster.
Mr. PABLO SOTO (OptiSoft): I'm not helping anyone doing any crime. I'm helping them to keep their rights.
SYDELL: After the RIAA's latest salvo, privacy rights suddenly had new appeal. Blubster downloads doubled the day after it announced the new security feature, according to Download.com, which offers the program.
Mr. CARY SHERMAN (RIAA): I really think that you can run but you can't hide.
SYDELL: Cary Sherman, the president of the RIAA, says no program is going to stop the association from tracking down and suing people doing unauthorized music file sharing.
Mr. SHERMAN: This is one of those situations where activity on a public network is ultimately detectable, and people should not think--just because somebody tells them, 'We're going to protect you,' they really shouldn't believe that because it's just not true.
(Soundbite of door closing)
SYDELL: But the RIAA is going to be fighting a cyberguerrilla war against some pretty savvy soldiers. Here in the computer science building at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, students like Jason--not his real name--are ready for the challenge. And it isn't about music, he says.
"JASON": People like us, who are working on computers, hate to see really neat programs be destroyed. So something like a peer-to-peer system, which has very nice properties from a technical point of view--to see someone come in and throw that away is like throwing away a nice work of art.
SYDELL: Michael, another computer science student, says that a government that can stop songs from being shared can stop political messages, too.
MICHAEL: There's no real difference between like a copyrighted song and something like the Constitution of the United States--Right?--if they can be declared arbitrarily illegal.
SYDELL: The challenge for people like Jason and Michael is to develop a program that makes it possible to openly share music files without giving access to snoopy RIAA agents. Princeton University computer science Professor Edward Felten says it's already been done. The program Freenet was developed to be used by people in China and other repressive nations so they could safely trade information. Felten explains how it works.