cyberspacial musings
bits about the real and virtual worlds

29 Jan

P2P Companies Declare Filtering Impossible

Well, duh. I wonder how long it took to figure that out. New.COM reports in this article that a report filed with Congress indicates that filtering out copyrighted or illegal content is technologically infeasible in a decentralized network. This isn’t rocket science here. The decentralized peer networks were designed specifically to avoid these copyright issues by not centralizing anything. To filter, the peers would have to communicate with a central server that maintained a database of prohibited content and, of course, none of the peer companies want to do that. Centralizing anything would make them liable for the content running on their “networks”, a decidedly bad idea.

Of course the RIAA points out AudibleMagic as a solution for this problem, but it’s not really. AudibleMagic sits at the ISP level and scans packets that fly by, essentially doing the same sort of content filtering that child protection software does to discover prohibited material. If the ISPs or certain enterprises want to get involved in this sort of filtering, so be it.

But in reality, AudibleMagic’s technology will work for, oh, about 10 minutes. I sure hope no one really invested much money in this company. How long do you figure until the peer networks start using SSL or other forms of TLS connections instead of unprotected ones? That’s the next logical step and then AudibleMagic is out of business. It’s trivial to set up arbitrarily encrypted connections between two end points. The encryption doesn’t even have to be that strong, just strong enough to make sure that companies like AudibleMagic don’t work.

If you really want “funny”, how about supporting connections on port 443? That’s the standard SSL port. Sure, probably a few people run web servers on the same box that they run Kazaa, but most don’t. Supporting port 443 for connections, with a fallback to the regular port will really foul up the works. Sure snooping sounds great until you’re snooping on ports that are also used for banking connections and credit card numbers and the like.

The only sane thing to do here is to end it. Canada has implemented a compulsory license with a tax on MP3 players (considering them recordable media). It’s time for the US to do the same.

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