The Shape of Everything
A website mostly about Mac stuff, written by August "Gus" Mueller
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April 20, 2001
(This post is from my old, old, super old site. My views have changed over the years, hopefully my writing has improved, and there is now more than a handful of folks reading my site. Enjoy.)

Browsing through slashdot tonight, I find this entry in one of the stories... it's a cool idea, one that I really like...

by e_lehman on Friday April 20, @04:04PM CST

As I understand it, swapping music non-commerically between friends is legally okay, right?

So how about this for a music-sharing system? There's a little client that lets you enter up to 16 friends with whom you are willing to share music. These should be real-world people that you know, like, and trust.

Now, when you request a song, the request goes to the 16 people you know. If they don't have it, they forward the request to THEIR friends, without revealing your identity. Eventually the song is found and passed back friend-to-friend to the requester. Everything is kept all crypty. There are potocol issues, but yada-yada...

The "friends list" has a few advantages:

  • By entering the system, you're not giving away your valuable Starcraft-playing bandwidth to random jerks out on the net. The only requests come from a small number of people who are your friends.
  • Since only a few people request from you, you can manage your relationships with them in detail: give them only so many downloads at such-and-such times, etc.
  • By taking advantage of real-world trust relationships, the system becomes much harder for RIAA to crack. Okay, RIAA goon gets the client. But he hasn't gained a thing; RIAA goons don't have any friends.
  • Who exactly has committed a crime? My buddy requested a song. I gave it to him. Did he commit a crime? Did I? Isn't that legal? I'm sure the courts would eventually resolve this in some unpleasant way, but this sort of legal muddying still seems all to the good to me.

    Or does Freenet already do all this? :-)

    . . . . . .