FILE SHARING WARS

Paul Boutin has an interesting piece in Slate about the RIAA’s rather strange offer whereby those who have downloaded music can turn themselves in in exchange for a promise of maybe getting some kind of amnesty. In a related post on his website, Boutin notes,

Only 261 people were sued today, of an estimated 22 million-plus Americans who were on Kazaa alone the start of this year. You do the odds of being hit. By contrast, several lawyers warned me that signing and sending in the Clean Slate affidavit could set you up for one of three more likely outcomes: (a) an RIAA lawsuit already in the works against you, (b) criminal rather than civil charges down the road if you break the agreement, (c) a lawsuit by someone who successfully subpoenas the RIAA for your affidavit – remember that some of the country’s largest telecom companies fought unsuccessfully to avoid giving out their customers’ names to the RIAA. Who’s to say the RIAA can protect its list from another litigant?

In the Slate piece, he notes that, as with Napster, the heavy-handed tactics of the industry is just causing adaptation:

To those determined to make an end-run around the music biz’s lack of attractive online offerings (Apple’s iTunes Music Store is still the best of a weak lot), the lawsuits just mean it’s time to abandon KaZaA by moving their game of keep-away to the next playground. KaZaA rose to prominence only after Napster was shut down. Now that RIAA lawyers have proved they can subpoena the names of KaZaA users from their ISPs, expect a mass migration to anonymous, encrypted P2P networks designed specifically to fix the known vulnerabilities in KaZaA. Earth Station 5 is the most outrageous example. It uses a mesh of proxy servers, encrypted data, and other identity-hiding tricks to keep copyright owners from tracking who’s downloading what. To top it all off, the company—which recently issued a press release declaring itself “at war” with the entertainment industry—is headquartered in Palestine.

Hmm. Maybe file swappers will be the next target in the War on Terror?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.