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"Freenet implements free speech, nothing more."
February 26th 2001, 10:45 CET by Jason "loonyboi" Bergman

...as mentioned on the <a href="http://freenet.sourceforge.net/index.php?page=faq#sec1.5">Freenet FAQ page</a>. But how far does "free speech" go? "Freenet scares me", says Jason Bergman -- read his editorial on Freenet, P2P and the opening of Pandora's Box.

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Although I've never been a big fan of peer-to-peer systems, and to be honest, I think most of the claims that it is even remotely "revolutionary" technology are misguided, I find it difficult to go anywhere without having a conversation about <a href="http://www.napster.com">Napster</a>. I have used Napster, and I've found it to be very good at what it does. My personal tastes in music aren't exactly the ones you're most likely to find on Napster (I've never done a search for it, but somehow I doubt "Con onor muore" will bring up as many files as "Backstreet Boys") but I have found uses for it, and I admit that it is a useful program for those rare times when you find yourself wanting to hear "The Safety Dance" and don't really want to go spend $15+ for a CD you'll never listen to just to hear it once. Or maybe that's just me.

Regardless, with Napster on the verge of being shut down, or at least dramatically changed forever, the big question isn't so much what will happen to the "community" of digital music fans (if there is such a thing), but rather what will happen to the over 50 million active users that have gotten used to being able to download and exchange music for free. A number that large means that wherever they go, it's going to have an enormous impact on the web.

The first name everyone brings up is <a href="http://gnutella.wego.com">Gnutella</a>, but reports have surfaced that not only is this not suited to such a large influx of active users, but its technology (which doesn't utilize a central server, as Napster does) could potentially generate more traffic than the Internet backbone can handle. There are other options, such as CuteMX and countless others that I've never seen, but my thoughts turn to <a href="http://freenet.sourceforge.net">Freenet</a>.

Freenet scares me. It always has, and as it creeps farther along it scares me even more. The philosophy behind Freenet is to create a peer-to-peer system that has no centralized server, but also is 100% encrypted. That means that not only would it be impossible to locate those that are downloading Metallica MP3s, but anything else as well.

And it's the "anything else" which is both Freenet's best and most disturbing feature. Unlike Napster, which limits itself to MP3s, Freenet can handle anything. And because it's encrypted, it would allow for such things as the exchange of sensitive documents, and even a way for those in oppressive societies to get their views out without reprisal.

But most people won't have such altruistic goals in mind, as such a system is also an easy way to exchange pirated software in a way that can never be traced. Warez theoretically could run rampant on Freenet, and there wouldn't be a thing anyone could do about it.

And that's not even the worst of it.

Such a system would be the ideal exchange for those looking to distribute or find child pornography, as it is untraceable and completely encrypted. I don't think there's anyone that would defend child pornography, but the developers of Freenet genuinely seem to believe that their system won't be used for illegal purposes. As a safeguard, Freenet currently isn't searchable, and the only way to exchange something is by giving another person a "key" so that they know how to reach your files. But that may not be an adequate solution in the long run. Sites could simply list their key, and voila, you could instantly download anything you want off of their server. These sites could even by hosted on Freenet itself, as the system supports encrypted URLs, so it would be impossible to track down the culprits.

Napster was created by someone that wanted to make it easier to get more MP3 files. There were no grandiose statements, it wasn't intended as a revolution, simply a way to download music. But Freenet is a calculated project by a wide group of developers.

This hasn't been much of an editorial as I haven't really made any statements about my feelings on the subject, but that's because I'm not sure of them myself. All I do know is that if and when Napster shuts down or drastically changes there are going to be a lot of college students with too much bandwidth on their hands looking for MP3s.
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Home » Topic: "Freenet implements free speech, nothing more."

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#1 by "Creole Ned"
2001-02-26 11:02:54
cned@telus.net
Must deny first post weenies...
#2 by "Ryan Greene"
2001-02-26 11:07:59
not@themoment.com
Larry King style thoughts from 5:07 am (been up since 4:00AM)
Anything has the potential for misuse.
No one can access anything that they don't want to see (closed system).
There are "white hat" hackers with a passion for destroying pedophile sites.
Anything one person can make, another can break.
Honeypots could be set up to trap folks who are after any kind of illegal stuff, likewise someone could put up MP3 files that contain nothing but laughter after the first 30 seconds.

I must get some coffee...Thanks for reading.
#3 by "Creole Ned"
2001-02-26 11:16:08
cned@telus.net
Now that that's out of the way, I think my own ambiguity toward Freenet is based on the fact that the service -- encrypted file transfers -- is itself benign. There's nothing intrinsically wrong or immoral with the idea, but we all know that the examples Jason cited will surely come to pass. If the people behind Freenet truly believe the ability to encrypt file transfers will not be used for illegal purposes, they are either hopelessly naive or deliberately avoiding reality.

But is that enough to stop the service from being allowed? Probably not, although I think governments (and the U.S. government in particular) would be very interested in seeing (and breaking) the kind of encryption involved. I would almost bet they would work hard to do just that, if the service cannot otherwise be stopped.

As for the Napster users who may be forced to find other sources for mp3's soon, I doubt Freenet will factor into the equation for them at this time. The process seems just a bit more complicated than the average 14 year old seeking the latest from N' Sync is willing to muddle though. :) Key to Napster's success was its simplicity.

Developers will have another legitimate concern when it comes to warez, though, no doubt.
#4 by "Morn"
2001-02-26 11:18:14
morn@planetcrap.com http://www.planetcrap.com
First of all, thanks to loonyboi for writing this editorial and sending it our way.

P2P is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Think that Napster was dangerous? Think again. Right now, P2P software is still in its infancy, but wait until it has been refined, and more people are using it. It will be amazingly easy to pirate music/games/movies/etc, and it will be near to impossible for the industry/government to do something about it.

Geek fantasy? No! It's already here, except the available software is way too clumsy, and its users are too unorganized. The biggest "problem" when using "cloud" type P2P systems like Gnutella is that one big network (all Gnutella users) is used to share all types of files. Someone who might want to download the latest warez would have to run file searches through hundreds of systems carrying not much more than the latest Britney Spears MP3s. But what if he was able to connect his Gnutella client directly to a Gnutella network of people sharing warez only? Voilá, he gets fast and efficient warez delivery.

LimeWire, a P2P tool based on the Gnutella system, already does this (although it only supports MP3s, but it allows you to connect to different network segments).

The key to this mess will be specialized P2P clients connecting to specialized P2P networks.

(I'm just playing devil's advocate. I'm just surprised by how close we already are to all this.)

For a change, let's look at the nice stuff you can do with P2P. Dave Winer has his own vision of a two way web, a restructuring of the WWW that applies the P2P concept to its current "star" structure (instead of multiple clients connecting to one server to get a web page, clients connect to each other, content is propagated through the network, etc etc etc -- putting more load on the clients' machines instead of a central server is the key here).

The entire P2P thing will be very interesting to watch (well, it already is). The most interesting thing will be seeing how governments and the industry will react to it. Unlike with Napster, there is no company they can sue, and there are no servers they can shut down. So they'll either close their eyes, or we're in for some very nasty (or funny?) ideas for new laws.

- Morn
#5 by "Desiato"
2001-02-26 12:42:14
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com http://www.spew2.com/
I have to go to work -- so a brief comment.

Why is it that every net article about the possible "fears" that someone has usually includes Child pr0n? It's just so damn alarmist.........I'll type more later....but sheesh.


Desiato
#6 by "sentinel"
2001-02-26 12:48:08
jeroen@metallica.com
Sites could simply list their key, and voila, you could instantly download anything you want off of their server. These sites could even by hosted on Freenet itself, as the system supports encrypted URLs, so it would be impossible to track down the culprits.


I think one of the important parts of FreeNet is also that the actual content of your server is unknown to you. The whole idea behind that ofcourse is that if you don't know what you're hosting, how can you be sued over it? In the long run a simple law could break this entire system: "You are responsible for the stuff you are hosting. If you run software that doesn't tell you, that's your problem as you are responsible anyway."

The only thing to make FreeNet a really complicated tool to use then is some client that can identify where something is physically located. And since this involves the actual downloading of data, I expect we'll start to see network sniffers and related tools to track a transaction's origin once FreeNet reaches some stage where it's actually starting to be used on a certain scale.

But apart from the technical side to it, I think their entire approach to more freedom on the 'Net is wrong. I don't consider running a server that encrypts everything and doesn't even tell me what the hell is on my harddisk "increased freedom", it's a lame 'workaround' for liability. So even if it would work, it's a stupid idea and has nothing to do with freedom.
#7 by "Buccaneer"
2001-02-26 14:46:42
buccaneer@planetcrap.com http://www.konsumsklave.de
I ask myself if there is a legal purpose for such peer-to-peer networks. Would anybody like to listen to Joey's karaoke mp3s or read Marry's love letters? Surely not. The majority of the fanbase is looking for warez, may it be mp3s, movies, pornography or applications.

Desiato
Why is it that every net article about the possible "fears" that someone has usually includes Child pr0n?

As for child pornography, it is a good example to show people what perversive and crimal stuff can be traded over the net. Every parent out there who read this bit think at once about their child and therefore is afraid of the net or supports the governemt to act as Big Brother.

Morn
Unlike with Napster, there is no company they can sue, and there are no servers they can shut down. So they'll either close their eyes, or we're in for some very nasty (or funny?) ideas for new laws.

Yes, and I'm afraid if those new laws will come. At least here in Germany, the government searchs constantly for ways to make the ISP to install protocol software. *shudder*
#8 by "Whisp"
2001-02-26 15:38:06
I think this is where computing is going - distributed networks and computing.  Lots of devices all acting together, sharing their resources, with only loose central organization.  Maybe even none at all.  And yes, it is kind of scary because it will change a lot of things about information flow.  Without draconian laws though, I don't think it's going to stop.  FreeNet may not be the next step, but I think that something similar will eventually develop.  It's just a tool for sharing information though, not good or bad in itself.

-Whisp
#9 by "Chella Kline"
2001-02-26 16:39:19
Demagoguery (look it up if you have to), how refreshing. Only tyrants fear the free exchange of Ideas. As for child pornography, I think we would be better severed shutting it down at the production end then using it as an excuse to monitor people Internet activity.
#10 by "None-1a"
2001-02-26 18:13:50
none1a@home.com
Only tyrants fear the free exchange of Ideas. As for child pornography, I think we would be better severed shutting it down at the production end then using it as an excuse to monitor people Internet activity.


Where did that come from? Nobody is stateing a fear of the free exchange of ideas. It's more about the already illegal crap that will be floting around, which is bad for the exchange not good.

Lets put it this way, your running a group opposed to what every government. Your not doing any thing wrong (ie not telling members to create bombs, or kill large number of civilions). DO you want the group to be assosited with a network that's saturated with child porn, and warez. Not only that do you want that same network storeing that stuff on your system.

Now lets say the government your fighting manages to brake that encryption. News headlines reading Group found storing pirated software and child porn isn't going to help your cause. With the tiny details of how the network acctauly works omitted.

If this bad stuff does end up happeing (and you know it will) the real people that can use freenet for good will be turned off to the system, with little help from any out side regulation.
#11 by "mystery"
2001-02-26 18:51:26
myst@massivemultiplayer.org http://www.massivemultiplayer.org
As a safeguard, Freenet currently isn't searchable, and the only way to exchange something is by giving another person a "key" so that they know how to reach your files.


Yes, but as we've seen with Gnutella, Freenet can simply be the host to your graphical client that DOES have the ability to search.  While I haven't heard of any efforts to develop a client that does this, Freenet is an Open Source project, and it would be a simple thing to create an index server or somesuch that gives you someplace to search for your files.

Here's my problem with your commentary in general, looni:  Freenet isn't doing anything new here.  They've simply organized everything into a neat (albeit spartan) package.  The only thing that you should be frightened of is that Freenet has shown you something that you should have known about already.  The Internet has always had the capacity to be a secure and free information store...read Cryptonimicon when you get the chance -- that should put a little perspective on things for you.
#12 by "FunkDrunk"
2001-02-26 19:16:07
jflavius@bellatlantic.com
#9 Chella Kline
<quote> Demagoguery (look it up if you have to) </quote>

I mean is this really required?  Most people here are "educated" adults, and not a bunch of high school d00dz.  And I would even contend that the High Schoolers are a bit more educated that the average kid.  The points that you make, however valid/invalid, are instantly colored by the condescending attitude.  You can make your points without it.

Funk
#13 by "Jafd"
2001-02-26 20:04:40
JnoAspamFpleaseD@whatthefuck.com http://jafd.isfuckingbrilliant.com/
If Freenet scares you, technical remote viewing will probably make you crap your pants.

Setec Astronomy, baby, it is here today. Get used to the idea.
#14 by "BobJustBob"
2001-02-26 20:17:24
kevinakabob@mindspring.com
Ditto on Cryptonomicon, read it and all shall be revealed to you. From reading the Freenet FAQ linked at the top of the story, I got the impression that they very much know that it will be used in illegal ways, and they don't care. This is a good attitude! Yes we have laws, and intellectual property and copyrights and all that. But we also have opressive governments and various other censorship groups trying to tell us what is right and what is wrong. There can be no "almost free" exchange of information, just like there's no "almost free" speech.
#15 by "Crusader"
2001-02-26 20:40:33
crusader@linuxgames.com http://www.linuxgames.com/
What I find disturbing about this article is it basically boils down to "People can say evil, hurtful things, so I believe maybe, perhaps, free speech should be curtailed or outlawed....".

On a similar note, Mojo Nation is also another interesting P2P experiment which utilizes crypto.
#16 by "Rambar"
2001-02-26 21:59:49
#9,  You beat me to it :(

#12, How long have you been reading PC?  A condescending attitude (along with Language Fascism) is required for posting on PlanetCrap.  If your argument lacks this attitude then you will be ignored.  Some success has been achieved by using conpiracy theories and vicsous personal attacks as well though.

#13, Ah, another Art Bell fan.  The beuty of TRV is that every time your wrong you can say 'Well I'm simply wrong about the time frame, it'll happen sometime in the future!  It could've happened sometime in the past already though...'

I wonder when someone is going to start calling IRC the next P2P fad...

OOOOH, I've got a radical idea.  Picture a server that I could call with any modem.  On this server could be any amount of illegal things.  The only people with access to this server are people explicitly authorized to be there by the 'System Operator.'  This radical idea of authorization would prevent law enforcement agencies from shutting the server down because they'd never be able to get in.

Too bad I don't know anyone who was around pre-BBS days.  How did they infringe copyright back then?  I'd assume sending disks through the post.
--
Rambar
Marshall Post #2 for PC v5.0
#17 by "FunkDrunk"
2001-02-26 22:08:14
jflavius@bellatlantic.com
#16

I've been here for a while, #9 is new.  I guess she wanted to introduce herself the hard way, because she's being attacked fiercly in another thread.... I was trying to let her know she was going to get plonked rather quickly that way...

Funk
#18 by "Rambar"
2001-02-26 22:11:03
Oh, I didn't recognize either of you.  Still a broken clock is correct twice a day.  I'm not around often enough myself.
#19 by "jason"
2001-02-26 22:17:19
jason@loonygames.com http://www.bluesnews.com/
Only tyrants fear the free exchange of Ideas.


I haven't seen anyone challenge this statement, nor do I think anyone would. The problem isn't "the free exchange of ideas" it's everything else that has to go along with it. I'm as big a proponent of free speech as anyone, yet I agree that yelling "fire!" in a public place should be (and rightly is) a serious crime.

As for child pornography, I think we would be better severed shutting it down at the production end then using it as an excuse to monitor people Internet activity.


That's a very admirable thing to say, but it's hardly as easy to carry out if you don't know who is distributing it to begin with. A statement like that is akin to "stop racism now!" in that it makes a bold statement without ever actually addressing the problem.

I do want to make it clear for PC readers that I don't think Freenet should be shut down, or even have serious restraints put on it. I intentionally didn't make any statement to that effect in the editorial because the fact of the matter is that I don't know what to make of Freenet. It does however, scare me.

-jason
#20 by "jason"
2001-02-26 22:20:08
jason@loonygames.com http://www.bluesnews.com/
There can be no "almost free" exchange of information, just like there's no "almost free" speech.


True, but encryption laws in the United States have been written so it is impossible for terrorists to use an encryption scheme that the government cannot break if need be. Even if they could crack the encryption of Freenet, its web-like structure means it would be impossible to track down whoever is using it for illegal purposes.

-jason
#21 by "FunkDrunk"
2001-02-26 22:21:31
jflavius@bellatlantic.com
#18 Rambar

I've been lurking for almost a year.  I've been posting only for a few months.  I'm sure you missed it.  PAY MORE ATTENTION :)

Funk
#22 by "Paul"
2001-02-26 22:26:50
paul@shrinkweb.com http://www.webhitzone.com
100% encryption is first off, never the case.

Just because someone is difficult to track electronically, doesn't mean they are difficult to track by other means. Police Agencies have always relied on first hand witnesses and such.

In the case Child Pornography, law enforcement will just have to go about it legally(as in getting search warrants, etc). I don't buy the argument that these perverts can somehow avoid all other traps(as in personal relationship discoveries, etc)

I won't even begin to discuss child porn and the history of humanity.. like in ancient rome.. or Mary and Joseph for that matter.

I'm all for this type of system. If people do illegal things, that's a risk they take. If they get caught, they get caught. So what if Big Brother has a more difficult time of tracking any citizen down?

I've been listening to Art Bell for 6 or 7 years. His guests are 99.5% full of crap, but, it can be interesting.. Especially the callers who worship blatantly ignorant ideas. If the Art Bell show was 100% on track, than 100% of Science is 100% flawed. I don't buy that.

- Paul
#23 by "Paul"
2001-02-26 22:29:00
paul@shrinkweb.com http://www.webhitzone.com
Chella Kline:


Demagoguery (look it up if you have to), how refreshing. Only tyrants fear the free exchange of Ideas. As for child pornography, I think we would be better severed shutting it down at the production end then using it as an excuse to monitor people Internet activity.


Woohoo. Another poster who actually makes good points. I know there are more people out there who actually believe in freedom.. Please Post!

- Paul
#24 by "Jafd"
2001-02-26 22:37:10
JnoAspamFpleaseD@whatthefuck.com http://jafd.isfuckingbrilliant.com/
#16 - All that "predict the future" crap is a smokescreen. Gone to the racetrack lately?
#25 by "FunkDrunk"
2001-02-26 22:46:45
jflavius@bellatlantic.com
It's funny.  I don't remember who said it, but the easiest way to take away someone's freedom is to convince them to give it to you.  If you pay attention to the way things work, someone "important" thinks something is bad.  The first thing they do is demonise it, in a way that you CANNOT support (child pr0n).  Once you can't support it, you become willing to give it up.  It's been done time and time again....  It's a common form of manipulation....  Cool credits to anyone who knows the quote I'm thinking of.

Funk
#26 by "Rambar"
2001-02-26 22:57:10
I found the hypothises that sporting events don't have a large impact on the human subconsious very interesting.    Obviously the fanatical riots of a few thousand soccer fans mean squat to the rest of the human race :)

Paul,  I agree.  If anyone took The Art Bell Show seriously 100% of the time thier head would explode and create an inter-dimensional portal for the alien human hybrids from atlantis to invade with and kill us all.
#27 by "Whisp"
2001-02-26 22:57:19
#19 - jason
I'm as big a proponent of free speech as anyone, yet I agree that yelling "fire!" in a public place should be (and rightly is) a serious crime.
  Obviously you mean when there is not actually a fire present...

I've always had mixed feelings about this example.  Why is this considered a crime?  Because it is not true and could have potentially caused someone injury?  While the truth is fairly easy to determine objectively in this example, that isn't always the case.  What happens then - who decides what the truth is?  Government?  Your neighbors?  The people affected by your yells?  How about determining harm?  If someone is trampled in the rush to escape, it's pretty easy to tell someone was hurt.  But what if it isn't easy?  Who decides?  How about if no injuries at all are reported, not even a bruise or "emotional damage"?  Should it be a crime then because of the potential for harm?  Who decides when an action is potentially harmful, and should be prohibited?  Who do you have to harm, and in what ways before it becomes a crime?  How do you decide how serious an abuse of your right to free speech it was, and can you abuse that right at all?  

How about if I had yelled "Omigosh, it's a jackrabbit" instead, and someone nearby was deathly frightened of jackrabbits - causing them to die of a heart attack.  Was that a serious crime, and what makes it different from yelling "fire", assuming again there was no rabbit, and no fire?  Someone did die directly as a result of a lie I told, after all.

No matter what your answers are to those questions, it's going to put power in someone's hands to regulate speech, possibly in ways you didn't intend.  It also opens up the potential for abuse of that power, and the regulation of speech to eliminate undesirable opinions and forms of expression because it someone considers it "potentially harmful" to someone or something.  It makes me wonder whether "of course it's a crime" is the best response.

-Whisp
#28 by "BobJustBob"
2001-02-26 23:08:46
kevinakabob@mindspring.com
True, but encryption laws in the United States have been written so it is impossible for terrorists to use an encryption scheme that the government cannot break if need be. Even if they could crack the encryption of Freenet, its web-like structure means it would be impossible to track down whoever is using it for illegal purposes.


Or for legal purposes that are at odds with the government's ideals. This is exactly why we need something like Freenet.

I'm as big a proponent of free speech as anyone, yet I agree that yelling "fire!" in a public place should be (and rightly is) a serious crime.


This I do not agree with. Sure, it sounds nice, rational... why wouldn't anyone agree with this? And Racism! Racism is bad! Let's arrest all those Neo-Nazis and anyone else who is a racist! And then Homophobes, the bastards! And Misogynysts! And Bigots of all kinds! And then let's start on the people who sell cigarettes, because those things can kill you! And then the guys who sell hamburgers! Cholesterol is the enemy!
Okay, that got kind of stupid. But the point is, you can't believe in free speech and then say, except for this. That's just free speech with limitations, which is not free speech. Sure, this is awfully black and white, and the world is not that simple. But does that mean that we shouldn't strive towards the ideal?
#29 by "Rambar"
2001-02-26 23:12:03
No matter what your answers are to those questions, it's going to put power in someone's hands to regulate speech, possibly in ways you didn't intend.


The Jury.

Ultimately its up to a jury to decide whether something is a crime or not because they have to convict on it.  It wouldn't be to hard to prove to a jury that someone who yelled fire in a crowded theater knew two things.  One, that there was no fire and two, that saying there was would probably cause someone harm.  It'd be much harder to prove the 2nd point to a jury in our jackrabbit scenario.
#30 by "jason"
2001-02-26 23:47:11
jason@loonygames.com http://www.bluesnews.com/
The "fire" example has been the chief topic of debate for free speech advocates for years, so it's no surprise that there are people on both sides here.

I don't think the "fire" law can be equated to any sort of censorship...but that's just me. I also think flags should be burned if people chose to do so, and that even the most dispicable person has the right to say what's on his mind. But as far as I know (admittedly I'm no legal student) it has yet to be successfully used to defend outright censorship.

There are some other ambiguous lines though...what about threats against the president's life? Between Echelon and Carnivore we know the government is listening whenever certain words are used, regardless of the context. If you don't believe me, someone post about their intent to harm a major political figure and let's see how fast their ISP gets contacted. :)

the point is, you can't believe in free speech and then say, except for this.


You're right, and that's why the constitution is worded as it is. But then...the ability to amend the constitution is in there for things like "fire." Your statement is correct, and I do agree with it - that's why I would never say that anything *but* this should be a crime - no matter how horrible it may seem. It's a really tough issue, and makes me quite glad i'm no lawyer.

Does anyone know how this law is worded? I can't come up with an explanation that couldn't be abused against something else...if you use words like "dangerous speech" you set a really freaky precedent.

-jason
#31 by "What"
2001-02-26 23:51:38
Jason

To use your phrase.. Who is yelling fire now? and to coin another phrase " better to let 10 guilty men go free then 1 innocent man be imprisoned"
#32 by "Narcopolo"
2001-02-27 00:00:22
#20 Loonyboi:
True, but encryption laws in the United States have been written so it is impossible for terrorists to use an encryption scheme that the government cannot break if need be.


Actually the laws are written so that average citizens cannot legally sell encryption that the NSA cannot crack.  Plenty of crypto is available legally in other countries and surreptitiously here that would not be cracked by supercomputers in literally thousands of years.  Until quantum computing, that is.  So the only ones who lose out are the people who like to make a point about freedom, like us.  Kind of like how the NRA says, if you ban guns the only ones who will have them are police and outlaws.  Not as much of a tautology as all that, though they could have made the point a little better.

Further, Osama bin Laden I understand uses steganography on the internet to hide his plans.  USA Today got it's panties in a bunch over this, apparently the CIA is alleging that bin Laden's people hide messages in porn photos, like they need to smear him even more.  Supposedly an e-mail will say, hey look at this girls giant tits at such and such a URL, and there for anyone who looks at the file info for the picture is coded information.  It may be true, but that doesn't matter to me, what matters is that any government that feels the need to restrict publishing, and make no mistake, the crypto laws are censorship, must be resisted.   Freenet and child porn is bait and switch, it's not what the debate is about.
#33 by "Quicken"
2001-02-27 00:23:21
geoffrey@access.com.au http://www.warmage.com/
freenet does not scare me. P2P has always been a big part of the internet and since now well known FTP sites get more traffic than they can handle it would seem a P2P file sharing is a logical solution. Any system can be misused and there are still ways to track down an IP of where the illiegal stuff is coming from. And encryption does not make a huge difference since if they want to spread child porn or warez to the world they have to hand out the key that will decrypt it all. An easy matter for the FBI or some other organisation to pretend they're just you're average online trouble maker and ask for a key. No big deal
#34 by "llamasex"
2001-02-27 01:04:08
llamasex@yahoo.com www.drunkenlosers.com
OH SHIT, OH SHIT, OH SHIT, I just thought about it. Some could mail CHILD PORN to someone else and no one would ever know. HOLY FUCK OMG OMG OMG. Think about it. Some could Mail child porn and no one would be the wiser...

something must be done

My congressman is getting some letters
#35 by "Desiato"
2001-02-27 02:38:24
desiato_hotblack@hotmail.com http://www.spew2.com/
Well, luckily no matter what is discussed here the Freenet movement and others like it will continue and evolve. It can't be stopped, that is why debating the merits of having such a system exist or not is futile. Why can't the discussion just involve the best method? You have to admit that there is no turning back now, the genie is out of the bottle permanently.

This reminds me of the Human Cloning debate -- while the lofty academic types and lawmakers fret over it, some guy with some borrowed equipment is sequencing genes right now....I believe an article in Wired stated that with about $35,000 and a small room full of equipment, a human clone could have already been produced without the world knowing.

I'm sure this kind of thing is similar -- we're beating our chests and decrying (or supporting) Freenet and other Peer-to-Peer alternatives, all the while these things are being deployed and used in all kinds of situations that we can only dream of. The proper question to ask is not "how should it be used?" but rather "this is being used now, so what is the best way to do it?"

Personally - I see this kind of application and decentralized information just increasing with every ham-handed clumsy effort the law or gov't tries to shut it down....must be like trying to nail jello to a wall....

Desiato
#36 by "Narcopolo"
2001-02-27 03:16:13
#35 Desiato:

a human clone could have already been produced without the world knowing.


According to the BBC, human cloning has already happened.  With cow eggs, no less.  The dna is sucked out, and the eggs are fertilized with human dna, and then the embryos have been destroyed after two weeks or so.   As far as I know.

There are some things that shouldn't be done, even though they can.  The question you are posing really is a different debate.  It's a good question, but it's not the only real issue.  

must be like trying to nail jello to a wall....


That's a Bill Clinton quote, isn't it?  I never thought I'd see the day...
#37 by "Ryvar"
2001-02-27 03:52:02
sonnej@rpi.edu http://www.illuminatis.com
We've been debating this a lot at Old Man Murray's forums (they see a lot of crossover with this place) in 'Rants'.  I have a feeling that P2P is eventually going to lead to the death of the majority of capitalism on the Web, and that may be a good thing for gamers.  Very few people go into game development with aspirations of money - they do it with aspirations of making private universes they can escape to.  It's the chance to really play God that draws, not the money in the real world.  Music would see the 'filler' crowd thinned out and the 'artist' crowd unaffected - most groups make the majority of their money from shows, not albums.  Movies (which I've just tried downloading off of Gnutella - painful but amazing) would be hurt bad if not for the fact that most profits are in theatres and this isn't going to change anytime soon.  Besides that it's a few years until bandwidth catches up to make that like MP3s are today.

I really have no problem with the traditional publishing companies being wiped out - think about it - capitalism is amazing for distributing scant resources in the real world, and amazing for creating artificial scarcity in a near-limitless resource digital world.  If our entire economic model is in direct opposition to the nature of the Internet itself, is the dot com crash any wonder at all?  (Actually it never was, but this observation may make it seem less so).  

Irregardless, I still keep my very rare 'can't find it or strapped for cash today' media-theft as private exchanges between friends.  I insist that every transaction occur over a 768-bit encrypted session (this is uncrackable by just about every government agency before the Universe's heat death - word is NSA might be able to handle it in extremely important cases).  

I'd also like to point out something, here - media becoming freely distributed is not going to stop it's production, it will stop it's MASS production.  Instead of being subjected to the latest Britney Spears single because the RIAA tells you you will be, you'd have to choose from the various artists who perform because they feel they must despite receiving little or no compensation for their work.  The first casualty of the death of the publishing companies will be THEIR darlings, not yours.

Would it really be so bad to lose our content-filler, the media equivalent to whores?  I don't think so.  Look at the dark ages through the 1800s - no copyright, no guaranteed recompense or even credit, yet art THRIVED and the signal to noise ratio was significantly higher than today.  God forbid we bring back this horrible spectre of the past.

--SB

PS I am actually in favor of credit, and credit alone - check out the BSD license which basically amounts to 'keep our names on it, copy, cut, paste, sell it as you like otherwise'.
#38 by "Steve Bauman"
2001-02-27 04:18:47
steve@manic-pop-thrills.com http://www.manic-pop-thrills.com
you'd have to choose from the various artists who perform because they feel they must despite receiving little or no compensation for their work.

And how are you going to find those artists? Are you only going to be able to enjoy local bands that make a living touring in your area? What kinds of search engines will match you up to an act as well as randomly flipping channels on your radio and stumbling on three-minutes of pure pop heaven? Can this occur on the Internet? Absolutely, but the sheer quantity of possible channels makes the odds pretty bleak. The record industry at least serves as a filter--a crap filter, perhaps, but there's a reason I don't have a record contract, and online I'd be the equal of a musician with, I dunno, actual talent.

So what will you end up with? The only artists that will survive are those who figure out how to exploit technology to shove their stuff in your face... I guess that's an improvement.
#39 by "None-1a"
2001-02-27 04:22:25
none1a@home.com
Look at the dark ages through the 1800s - no copyright, no guaranteed recompense or even credit, yet art THRIVED and the signal to noise ratio was significantly higher than today. God forbid we bring back this horrible spectre of the past.


Here's the flaw people like that noise. RIAA members wouldn't be producing boyband and hot chick crap if people didn't buy it,  an no playing the same thing over and over 50 times a day is not going to make people like it more (if any thing it turns off more people then anything). What I don't get that that there are many indy music companies out there, yet even with the higher roalty rates they offer bands there is still more money with the big guys. If enough people are pissed off around the noise that they want to rip off the RIAA, why aren't the indies making more money?

I'd also argue that a lot of the noise was cut out in the middle ages because of the simple fact that most people could not take the time to create art, music, or tell stories. Most had most of their time in just keeping them selves alive, and even if they did have the time to create any thing their education level and access to the needed matirals would have been prohibative. (literature is out since many couldn't even read the works being produced let alown write them).

O and about movies, your dead wrong about where they make the most money. Many films bearly brake even in box office numbers (out side of the top ten, but many of them do not as well). Much of the money is in the video relese not the box office.

PS I am actually in favor of credit, and credit alone - check out the BSD license which basically amounts to 'keep our names on it, copy, cut, paste, sell it as you like otherwise'.


Take a look at www.mm2cars.com to see how well that works out. That site removes the readmes for every thing (the sites author clames they are annoying because they unzip with the files needed to use the car, apparently he has yet to figure out that you can unzip a single file). He then retunely post that he does not know who created the orignal car (and on occasion will act as if he did). In fact he has started a topic in his own forum asking who created these cars (a post was mad 16 days ago listing some of there creators and he has yet to put these names on the page).

Now about the 100% free speach thing. There are way to many assholes to make it a good idea. If the assholes where elminated it'd be a great thing, since that can not happen we must limit it while trying to preserve as much freedom as possible.
#40 by "Ryvar"
2001-02-27 04:35:23
sonnej@rpi.edu http://www.illuminatis.com
#38 said:
And how are you going to find those artists? Are you only going to be able to enjoy local bands that make a living touring in your area? What kinds of search engines will match you up to an act as well as randomly flipping channels on your radio and stumbling on three-minutes of pure pop heaven? Can this occur on the Internet? Absolutely, but the sheer quantity of possible channels makes the odds pretty bleak. The record industry at least serves as a filter--a crap filter, perhaps, but there's a reason I don't have a record contract, and online I'd be the equal of a musician with, I dunno, actual talent.


Freenet is a bit ahead of you here - the more popular a file is, the more servers it is cached on, while respecting a) the amount of space it takes up vs. the total Freenet space available and b) the amount of space a given server is dedicating to Freenet.  End result though is that the good shit tends to float to the top, which is perhaps what's scariest about it - childporn would be available to the people with the right keys, but stay generally below the horizon for everyone, while anime/porn/warez/mp3s and for some reason perl code (?) tend to stay on top.  Hope you can see how this mostly, but not quite perfectly, nixes the 'publisher as filter' argument, which as you noted is pretty sketchy to begin with.

--SB
#41 by "BobJustBob"
2001-02-27 04:37:17
kevinakabob@mindspring.com
Now about the 100% free speach thing. There are way to many assholes to make it a good idea. If the assholes where elminated it'd be a great thing, since that can not happen we must limit it while trying to preserve as much freedom as possible.


Exactly! Let's limit free speech for the assholes, and the rest of us non-assholes who know what to say and how to say it, can! It will be perfect! And once the assholes are gone, then we can have truly free speech!
#42 by "#36"
2001-02-27 04:40:09
I think from your tone it seems pretty clear that you are not an artist yourself, Ryvar, correct?  That tone makes it seem like you feel entitled to everything the world has to offer, like a gift, including anything created in the name of art.  That's a subject for another debate, but you haven't talked about how these artists are actually going to find the time to make the music you want when they're busy and tired from slinging burgers all day to support themselves.  My favorite bands, the really hard core, anti-corporate ones, never were able to get by just on touring and CD sales at gigs.  And none of those bands lasted longer than a few years.  How long do you think people get by on doing things because they are fun?  I guess you think that inspiration comes from the blue, and that the greatest artists are in it's feverish grip like a mania.

You would be wrong though, in my experience.  Putting the cart before the horse in fact.  Inspiration comes from working on something, hard, and that takes time.  All through film school I thought like you do and it just about killed my creativity when I had any self-doubts.  Why am I not hearing a voice from God, I would wonder?   You might suppose it's because I am a hack, but rarely do people ever think so about themselves, so that wasn't it.  It's because I let myself get distracted by thinking some romantic bullshit about genius.  

Since people have been able to support themselves making content, the amount of work that can actually be considered art has been increasing exponentially.  Britney Spears has her place, and the RIAA does not tell me what to listen to next.  If you are lucky in the future, neither will people like yourself.
#43 by "Narcopolo"
2001-02-27 04:42:18
#42 by #36?  That's really humorous.  That's what I get for waxing passionate about something.  Yeesh.
#44 by "Ryvar"
2001-02-27 04:46:34
sonnej@rpi.edu http://www.illuminatis.com
Here's the flaw people like that noise. RIAA members wouldn't be producing boyband and hot chick crap if people didn't buy it, an no playing the same thing over and over 50 times a day is not going to make people like it more (if any thing it turns off more people then anything). What I don't get that that there are many indy music companies out there, yet even with the higher roalty rates they offer bands there is still more money with the big guys. If enough people are pissed off around the noise that they want to rip off the RIAA, why aren't the indies making more money?


People like that noise because it's what they're used to.  That's why indies have trouble making money - they have trouble with distribution, getting heard, and even if they manage that don't usually fit the flavor of the month.  The RIAA is big enough (90% recording) to always have the flavor of the month.  I won't go off on meme theory too much here, but it's pretty cut and dry viral ideas/taste at work here, like the short term version of a national culture.

I'll admit to not being too well-versed on cinematography's economic realities, so you're probably right, here - there may be a thinning of the herd here to at least some degree.  I can't say I've seen 5 movies in the past two years that were worth my $8.  It might be nice to see what happens when producers are faced with 'quality or death', no?

Sorry about the mm2cars thing, though, that sucks (as I said I'm behind a license which makes not giving credit the ONLY illegal act with media) - some advice for the authors?  Image files have lots of really easy ways to embed the authors' names, if not in the actual image than in the actual file.  Of course, I just spent the whole day (actually past 48ish hours, time for sleep) writing image format libraries, so I'm a bit biased here when I say 'really easy'.

--SB
#45 by "Steve Bauman"
2001-02-27 04:55:30
steve@manic-pop-thrills.com http://www.manic-pop-thrills.com
Freenet is a bit ahead of you here - the more popular a file is, the more servers it is cached on, while respecting a) the amount of space it takes up vs. the total Freenet space available and b) the amount of space a given server is dedicating to Freenet. End result though is that the good shit tends to float to the top...

No, the popular shit tends to float to the top, which isn't necessarily the good shit. Rarely the twain shall meet. Of course that's an elitist way of looking at it, but if number of dowloads in the main criteria people will use to try new stuff, we'll be in the same situation as we are today. Who gets downloaded the most on Napster? The Britney Spears of the world, not Sleater-Kinney.
#46 by "None-1a"
2001-02-27 04:56:29
none1a@home.com
Exactly! Let's limit free speech for the assholes, and the rest of us non-assholes who know what to say and how to say it, can! It will be perfect! And once the assholes are gone, then we can have truly free speech!


Why bother singleing out the assholes. Lets face it if your not an asshole your not going to yell fire in a crowed area, your not going to stand up on a stage and tell people to blow up government building or kill any one, your not going to be stealing the work of other, your not going to remove proper credits from files, ect. If your doing things the right way you have nothing to fear currently (unless of course your currently in collage then your fucked).

Lets face it no body is aressting KKK members that aren't killing people, no body is aressting the anti-gay crowed that's not killing people. Yes there are oppressive governments out there but many are acting like this is happening in free countries. And how many people think being assosiated with the porn,warez, and MP3 floting around freenet would help the cause of those fighting real oppression is anyway? Or that these groups would really end up getting their message acrossed uisng the service?

No those that are doing the things the wrong way will be using the service far more and staying hidden. If the service gets used by these groups it'll be the terrarist not the peacefull ones.
#47 by "Ryvar"
2001-02-27 05:12:54
sonnej@rpi.edu http://www.illuminatis.com
#42:

I'm a modeler, programmer, and BSD geek.  I don't know if I consider myself an artist.  .MAX files for my mod work, and anything else I've done (most of it's fairly pretentious Roman architecture stuff) that isn't covered by NDA are available upon request, as are .PSDs for finished images. Why?  Because my name's embedded in all of it where people won't look.  I ask for credit and nothing more.  Almost anyone who knows me would say I definitely fit much more firmly in the 'artist' category than anything else.   I have no trouble whatsoever with inspiration - I see far more than I will ever be able to model or fully realize and it's frustrating.  What I have a problem with is people who call themselves artists when what drives them is money and not the burning passion that FORCES you to create, sometimes without sleep or food for days.  I don't have romantic notions about genius, I live daily with the reality of the frustration of too much creativity and not enough time.

Despite this, I don't think you're a hack or any such thing.  If you really love to create, than good for you and go to it - my only admonition is that you might want to stop and see what your reasons for creating actually are.  Is it because you want money, or because you are forcing yourself to?  You seem to fall into the latter, and that's all I'm asking for.  I have a problem with Ms. Spears, who definitely fall into the former.  Will free exchange generate a better exchange of ideas, higher quality content and less of her type?  Probably.  Where's the downside?

I am sorry I look to you like a pretense-ridden mouse pushing the 'Feed' button until the machine breaks - but that simply isn't the case.  I only know I feel inspiration, and I see it in a lot of the art I encounter.  It won't be damaged by the coming changes.

--SB
#48 by "Ryvar"
2001-02-27 05:15:16
sonnej@rpi.edu http://www.illuminatis.com
#45

Yeah, sorry, made a bit of a jump there - assume P2P tech continues as we're seeing it (read: way ahead of enforcement) and takes the publishing conglomerations with it.  Fast-forward 20 years and there won't BE much in the way of Britney Spears.

Better?
-SB
#49 by "BobJustBob"
2001-02-27 06:05:14
kevinakabob@mindspring.com
Why bother singleing out the assholes. Lets face it if your not an asshole your not going to yell fire in a crowed area, your not going to stand up on a stage and tell people to blow up government building or kill any one, your not going to be stealing the work of other, your not going to remove proper credits from files, ect. If your doing things the right way you have nothing to fear currently (unless of course your currently in collage then your fucked).


Exactly! Fuck the assholes who don't do things "the right way"! Those of us who do things "the right way" are safe, because we are never going to do anything that the establishment doesn't agree in, and so we won't ever be censored! And we know this is true, because we are part of the establishment! Now let's go out there and get rid of all the people who oppose us!
#50 by "None-1a"
2001-02-27 06:59:17
none1a@home.com
Fuck the assholes who don't do things "the right way"! Those of us who do things "the right way" are safe, because we are never going to do anything that the establishment doesn't agree in, and so we won't ever be censored! And we know this is true, because we are part of the establishment! Now let's go out there and get rid of all the people who oppose us!


I may need to clarify what I mean by 'the right way' just for you. By right way I mean in a peacefull manner or if the group is activly attacked the force nessisary to prevent it. By the 'wrong way' I mean bombing large public building, killing people that do not share your views (on both sides).

Now lets say I'm distributing anti-gay material. I print up pamplete telling people that being a homosexual is a crime agenst nature and agenst gods will. This is the right way (I will not be aressted for doing this). Now lets say my pamplete have a slightly different focus, rather then talking about how it's wrong I print a list of the names of gay people in the area and the best time to find them alown, lastly I call for these people to be killed. That would be the wrong way. Now tell me which way would be in the most need for an encrypted service to transfer that infomation to people that already share their views (face the facts I have little chace or reaching people that don't share these views).
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