Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Ethical issues surrounding Gnutella

Author:Jacob Levy
Posted:4/12/2000; 10:35:57 AM
Topic:Ethical issues surrounding Gnutella
Msg #:16122 (In response to 16098)
Prev/Next:16121 / 16123

Pirates will always find a way to steal your stuff. Even web apps can be stolen. It's just a matter of being easy or hard to do that differentiates the current situation from previous cases like VCRs and such. In the case of VCRs the economies of scale prevented mass piracy. MP3 and such is vastly different though.

Interesting idea you have there, making media a web app: how would you make music a secure web app that wouldn't be worth the effort to steal? I mean, with the cat so far out of the bag already that you can see its tail-tip (;-), how does it matter that you have a secure way of distributing your content if fair use mandates that users be able to record for later use?

In a world with infinite bandwidth, I can imagine a way for you to purchase the right to listen to some music, then have a server send you as many copies of the music as you want as long as you (a) provide your proof of purchase and (b) can't record the bits. If you can't record, or if its a hack attack to record (legislated?) then most people won't do it. And fair use is satisfied by being able to go to the server as many times as you want to listen. And, most importantly, you'd get some cost-of-distribution back into the model, because bandwidth is not really infinite. So you'd really be paying for something tangible.

As others have said already, it's way too late to fix this for music. The MP3 format would have to be outlawed in order to get back to a situation where the record companies have a protected stream of revenue, using this server model above. Please note that I'm not advocating that, I'm just trying to examine the situation they're in from their POV (;-).

Video is still too bandwidth intensive to become a pirating target. However, watch out for that to happen too, sooner rather than later.

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