Mediaenforcer: A Possible Roadblock

Zeropaid: Why did you make Media Enforcer?

Media: I started the Media Enforcer project to try and curtail piracy. The
software itself won’t do any good, but in application it is fairly powerful.
I’m a software developer by trade, but music has been a hobby of mine for
years. My interest lies in the fact that many people in addition to the
artists – like engineers and producers – make their living off of royalties.
There are some respectful file sharing users who will actually go and buy
music they truly enjoy- but unfortunately the majority, as of this moment,
does not.

Zeropaid: What’s your take on Napster, Gnutella, etc. file sharing in general? Is it
all about piracy for you?

Media: No! It is not all about piracy. I’ve been kicking around the net for a
while, and the new file sharing technologies are very cool. Anyone who
thinks that they should be completely eliminated is dead wrong.
Unfortunately most people have opinions that sit on either side of the
fence. People seem to think either everything that goes on in file sharing
communities is good, or everything is bad. It is not that way at all. The
industry needs to look at the good: some (unfortunately, not most) people
are buying music they would have never bought before. They need to work
with these technologies and come up with a digital strategy that allows that
same effect to move to the public at large.

Zeropaid:Is your program the one used by Metallica and Dre to track Napster users?

Media: I really don’t know. But even if I did, I probably couldn’t say. Any
artist is free to use the software, some people let me know they are using
it, others I’m sure just download it without letting me know. I don’t mind
either way.

Zeropaid: This program only works for Napster, is there plans in the works for a
gnutella, cuteMX?

Media: Yes, much more has been developed than has been released. Support for three
more services is being tested. I don’t know when or how they’ll hit the
software at large- there are conceptual changes that are being made so
people don’t just use the thing as a massive search to support their piracy
instead of derail it.

Zeropaid:Have you heard of Freenet? Could you find users on their system?

Media: Yes, I know the Freenet concept well. That opens a whole new can of worms.
If you want my opinion on Freenet as a whole- it is a network that people
aren’t ready for. People have created laws to protect intellectual
property, and if something like Freenet ever took off, it would be
impossible to enforce those laws- ending with the effect of making
intellectual property completely worthless over the years. Looking at how
much our economy and lives depend on IP right now, we can’t let that happen.

Now that I probably have your blood boiling let me explain myself a little
more. Outlets for free speech must always exist, I am not some communist
saying that everyone must attach their name to everything that they do. But
if you want to say something anonymously, go to your local library, use
anonymizer, and post something to a newsgroup. More power to you. An
anonymous file sharing network will be used by the majority for IP
violations- not for free speech, and any person thinking logically knows
that.

Now, the next tough question is could I find users on Freenet. Well, yes
and no. There is at least one basic flaw I’ve found in the distribution
mechanism. I’m not going to comment on it any further because it would just
be re-engineered. So, to be brutally honest, I’ll rely on the egos of the
developer(s) to think that there is no problem and go ahead with the network
as they’ve designed it. I’m sure they think they’ve done enough research to
make it fool proof. If they go ahead as they are now- the answer is, yes,
I can have software that will track back to the origination points of files.

Even if they fix this particular error in design, it will always be easy to
track what nodes/servers are offering something. Even if they just act as a
gateway, the FAQ on Freenet is wrong. It is not legal to just be a gateway
to IP violations- Freenet seems to think as long as the stuff didn’t exist
until it was requested and the owner never knows what is going on, they are
legally cleared. That isn’t the case, at least in the states. After
discussing it with some people intimately familiar with the legal
profession, no court will ever let ignorance be an excuse. If your Freenet
hub is carrying illegal material, they’ll make you take it down – or figure
out a way to screen illegal files. Since the concept of Freenet makes it
impossible to screen illegal files, you can see what the eventual outcome
would be….

Zeropaid:How come you’re distributing this program freely and not marketing it to
record labels and artists who have their panties in a bunch over Napster?

Media: Here’s the deal. The Napster thing started to get out of hand, and there
had to be an immediate, even if relatively small, response that is available
to everyone. Napster is available to anyone, so logic dictates that the
tool to prevent its illegal use should be too. That’s not to say I’m not
interested in working with the industry- they really need some help in
figuring out how to stop piracy – and build a profitable digital business
plan that will benefit everyone.

Zeropaid: Have you gotten any death threats/hate mail from Napster users?

Media: Yes, plenty. That is the reason I keep myself in pseudo-anonymity. Flames
in the virtual world are fine, I’ve dealt with that for years. I don’t want
to deal with any crazy people that might be out there in the real world.
I’m always open to a civilized dialog with anyone, my hotmail address is
public. But flames I just delete and can’t bother to spend time reading.

Zeropaid: Is there room in the future for both the RIAA/Record Labels and file sharing
on the internet?

Media: That is a tricky question. When file sharing isn’t regulated, people will
always distribute things they don’t have the rights to. It is simple logic
that exists in each person- why pay for something when I can get it for
free? I do think there is a lot of potential for partnerships with these
technologies, either with a current company or with their own distribution
software. Whether its a subscription based system, or tracks from artists
that simply aren’t available anywhere else – there are so many options. It
will be interesting to see where things go from here.

Zeropaid: How many times has your program been downloaded?

Media: It’s hard to say since it has been mirrored around, but I know it is in the
thousands. The use of it won’t ever hit the millions like Napster- finding
pirates is much less popular than finding MP3s!