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>Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000 14:49:30 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Adam Rifkin -4K
>To: FoRK [at] XeNT [dot] com
>Subject: Happy one-month anniversary, Gnutella.
>A friend forwarded me this link which reminds me that we’re at the
>one-month anniversary of the launch of Gnutella:
>It’s unfortunate that the zdnet article chooses to linger on the kiddie
>porn aspect of gnutella use rather than how stupid the protocol really
>is (“Star ping” a friend called it). Let us never forget in the
>protocol game that simple = quick adoption, especially when the
>applications that use the protocol have pronounced network effects.
> > Gnutella ignites porn, pirate worries
> >
> > The program’s near-perfect anonymity strikes at the very heart of the
> > Internet’s most troubling issues.
> >
> > By Bob Sullivan, MSNBC
> > April 13, 2000 5:16 AM PT
> >
> > It could undermine the influence of every search engine and every Web
> > portal. it’s the biggest thorn yet in the side of record companies
> > worried about the spread of pirated music on the Net. And it’s the
> > easiest way yet to trade pornography, even illegal child porn, over the
> > Internet. For a piece of software that lived for less than 24 hours on
> > its home page, Gnutella has created quite a stir.
> >
> > It’s the stuff of classic Internet lore. A team of programmers from
> > inside America Online (NYSE: AOL) released Gnutella on a Web page March
> > 14. The program is at its core a simple way of trading files, including
> > pirated copyrighted material, without requiring participants to connect
> > with any central computer. This means that, unlike its music-swap-meet
> > cousin Napster, it’s virtually impossible to stop.
> >
> > That was too much for America Online to bear, and barely 24 hours after
> > the site was posted, it was removed. Gnutella, the company said, was an
> > unauthorized project, created by programmers — led by Winamp creator
> > Justin Frankel — who came to AOL when the company acquired Nullsoft in
> > June of last year. It disavowed the project and stopped development.
> > But the genie was out of the bottle. Nathan Moinvaziri was one of a few
> > hundred Net users who had downloaded the program. He set up a Web site,
> > posted the software, and soon it had been reverse engineered. “I saw
> > something there that no one else had done,” he said. “It caught my eye.”
> >
> > And it has captured the imagination of programmers around the Internet.
> > Now, dozens of developers are continuing the Gnutella project in a
> > Linux-like collaborative effort. At the same time, the program’s
> > near-perfect anonymity strikes at the very heart of the Internet’s most
> > troubling issues.
> >
> > Will this encourage child porn?
> >
> > Gnutella users can either connect to the larger “Gnutella” Net or create
> > their own virtual private networks. And those networks can form
> > spontaneously and disappear without a trace. That makes them the perfect
> > place for anonymous, untraceable file transfers. Pedophiles have already
> > discovered this, according to a private investigator who calls himself
> > “RedOne.”
> >
> > “Sure, pedophilia is traded in other ways, but it’s just a matter of
> > time before people are caught … (Gnutella) is a place where it could
> > flourish. It can’t be stopped,” the source said.
> >
> > During one recent 15-minute session, the former pornography investigator
> > said he found 140 instances of child porn. These private Gnutella
> > networks are announced in obscure newsgroups or shared quietly among
> > small groups, the source said. “I’m seeing people running two sessions,
> > one for their public stuff and another for their ‘good’ stuff.” Other
> > rooms are being created to swap stolen credit-card numbers and pirated
> > software, he said.
> >
> > Even on the main Gnutella Net, it’s obvious many users aren’t there just
> > to hear music. One feature of the program is that users can watch
> > searches scour the network in real time. Searches for terms like
> > “groupsex,” “porn movies,” even “young naked,” “pre teen” and “teen sex”
> > are almost as common as searches for pirated music.
> >
> > “You can see what people are searching for,” said Ian Hall-Beyer,
> > founder of the definitive Gnutella Web site, “But I
> > don’t know if they’re actually finding it.” The anonymity Gnutella
> > provides may unfortunately promote such behavior, but the good outweighs
> > the bad, he said: “The whole decentralized aspect of it … There’s no
> > censorship at all.
> >
> > “If you get a bunch of people who want to share information about
> > overturning the Chinese government, they can do that, and there’s
> > nothing the government can do about it.”
> >
> > Perfect anonymity is a key strength of Gnutella over Napster because no
> > government agency can watch what you search for, and no marketing
> > department can log your hits and target ads at you.
> >
> > “When you send a query to the Gnutella Net, there is not much in it that
> > can link that query to you,” brags Moinvaziri on his Web site.
> > Gnutella developers acknowledge that anonymity has a dark side, meaning
> > the software can be used to trade illegal pornography, but say that’s an
> > inevitable consequence of an uncensored medium.
> >
> > “Child porn is out there, and people do want to exchange it,” said Gene
> > Kan, a Gnutella developer who also helps run He
> > says he hasn’t seen any child porn activity, but if it’s happening, he’s
> > not surprised. He claims that half of all Web searches in any format
> > involve pornography.
> >
> > “It’s really unfortunate. But the Net is just a reflection of reality.
> > To us it’s all just information, whether it’s child porn or fiscal
> > reports.”
> >
> > More pirated music?
> >
> > But Gnutella’s main attraction is still free music, and there’s plenty
> > of it. At midday Wednesday, over 140,000 files of all kinds were there
> > for the taking, shared by over 1,000 users. A search for “Beatles”
> > uncovered 331 songs there for the taking within a few seconds. It’s
> > those kind of search results that landed Napster’s programmers in court.
> > Record companies fear revenues from music sales will be devastated by
> > the easy availability of free music.
> >
> > The Recording Industry Association of America sued Napster in early
> > December, seeking up to $100,000 in damages for each copyright-protected
> > song exchanged using the software. If the trade group wins heavy
> > damages, it could put Napster, with its 18 employees in San Mateo,
> > Calif., out of business.
> >
> > Napster’s lawyers have in turn employed the “Xerox defense” — much like
> > Xerox isn’t liable for illegal photocopying done with Xerox copies,
> > lawyers for the software firm are arguing individual lawbreakers, and
> > not programmers, should be held liable. Further, when Napster is
> > notified of specific users who are trading copyrighted material, it
> > boots them off the system.
> >
> > Gnutella doesn’t even have that option, since there is no “system” to
> > boot people off of. As long as there are two users with Gnutella
> > software, there will be a Gnutella network. To stop it, record companies
> > will have to prosecute individual Net users.
> >
> > “Napster has a centralized point where it can be shut down or blocked,”
> > Hall-Beyer said. According to his Web site, the Gnutella program is
> > designed to withstand a nuclear war or a frontal attack from record
> > company lawyers: “It’s very fault tolerant.”
> >
> > In fact, says Kan, the fault is with the music industry, which was
> > simply caught off-guard by the rise of digital music.
> >
> > “Today, the record companies are saying MP3s are the biggest evil.
> > Tomorrow theyUre going to say they’re the greatest thing when they
> > figure them out,” he said.
> >
> > “This really is the format of the future.”
> >
> > A search engine revolution
> >
> > Gnutella has created a stir in part because of its Jimmy Dean-like
> > premature death, and because of the cachet that any free music program
> > can provide. But to developers, the program’s real impact will be much
> > more subtle and long-term.
> >
> > Gnutella is a new kind of network architecture that enables real-time
> > searches of vast libraries. That stands in stark contrast to Web
> > crawlers used by search sites like Excite, Lycos and AltaVista. At those
> > sites, automated computers called “bots” search the Web one site at a
> > time, indexing the information at each location. It can take weeks or
> > months for a site to crawl the entire Web and add new Web sites.
> > Gnutella’s peer-to-peer network, compared by one developer to a game of
> > telephone, allows real-time searching of computers connected to the
> > Internet. It also means virtually no dead links.
> >
> > “This is really going to replace those stupid Web bots,” Kan said.
> > “There’s going to be some technology that does real-time searching — we
> > hope it’s this. Their solution is obviously antiquated.”
>Adam [at] 4K-Associates [dot] com
>.sig double play!
>Gnutella can withstand a band of hungry lawyers. How many realtime
>search technologies can claim that? Not Napster, that’s for sure. Just
>to emphasize how revolutionary this is: hungry lawyers are probably more
>destructive than nuclear weapons. There are a few things that will
>prevent Gnutella from being stopped by lawyers, FBI, etc. First,
>Gnutella is nothing but a protocol. It’s just freely-accessible
>information. There is no company to sue. No one entity is really
>responsible for Gnutella. Second, Gnutella is not there to promote the
>piracy of music. It’s mainly for sharing recipes and naked pictures of
>your girlfriend. The important thing is that Gnutella will be here
>tomorrow. It’s reliable, it’s sharing terabytes of data, and it is
>absolutely unstoppable.
> — The Gnutella FAQ,
>Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive.
>Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.
> — Morpheus, The Matrix