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<nettime> Napster offshore?
Felix Stalder on 7 Mar 2001 00:48:57 -0000


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<nettime> Napster offshore?


[Offshore data havens have long figured prominently in the dreams of
cypherpunks as a base of a truly unregulated financial system that could
evade the presumed evils of governments. Not much happened so far, partly
because there are issues of trust involved. Would you give your money to a
company that is truly unaccountable?

Napster would be an ideal service to host offshore. It requires relatively
little infrastructure to run and there are no issues of trust involved. It
will be interesting to see if they can pull it off and what that means to
the existence of these data havens. I have some difficulties imaging the
record companies simply accepting that something essential to them happens
outside of jurisdiction.

Even if it were impossible to outlaw a service that operates from a data
haven, I wonder how many people are willing to spend the rest of their
lives of an old oil-plattform because there is a warrant out on them every
other country. Felix]


Napster clone may set up shop offshore
By STEVEN CHASE
>From Monday's Globe and Mail (Monday, March 05)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/RTGAMArticleHTMLTemplate?tf=RT/fullstory_
print.html&cf=RT/config-neutral&slug=wnapp&date=20010305&archive=RTGAM&site=Fron
t


Vancouver - A 21-year-old Canadian Web entrepreneur is planning to
circumvent the imminent demise of Napster Inc.'s controversial Internet
song-trading system by setting up a clone of the service on a so-called
"data haven" platform off the coast of Britain.

"I am sad to see Napster bending to the record labels' will," said Matt
Goyer, a computer science student at the University of Waterloo in
Waterloo, Ont. "Let's preserve it and we'll move it offshore where the
record industry can't touch it."

Napster is a wildly popular software program that allows Internet users to
swap free music between computers over the Web, much to the chagrin of the
recording industry. In about two years, Napster has amassed 64 million
users from around the world who are drawn by the allure of free,
near-CD-quality music that can be played on digital audio players or on
computers.

A series of court victories for record labels has all but doomed Napster.
On Friday, Napster announced it would take steps during the weekend to
block file-sharing of copyrighted music on its service, in an effort to
prevent a U.S. federal judge from shutting it down completely. It said it
had identified one million unauthorized song files it will block.

However, no apparent antipiracy filter was in effect as of early Sunday
night. Napster officials offered no explanation, leading company watchers
to speculate it may have been having trouble setting up the blocking
technology. Napster itself has warned users that blocking the files will be
a difficult task. "It is a complex technological solution that is very
taxing to the system and will degrade the operation of the service," the
company says on its Web site.

Many of Napster's users were still freely trading music files via the
service with no interference. For instance, on just one of Napster's dozens
of computer servers, about 11,000 users were swapping about two million
files.

Waterloo's Mr. Goyer is eyeing HavenCo Ltd. as a possible site for his
cloned Napster computer server. The company rents computing power and
Internet data storage space to those seeking to avoid government laws. It
operates from an ocean platform called Sealand, which has operated for 30
years as a sovereign territory off the coast of England.

He hopes to collect an estimated $15,000 (U.S.) yearly HavenCo rental fee
from music fans. If that doesn't work out, he plans to sign up with other
renegade services. "There's enough irate people out there I think I can get
many to chip in $10 each," Mr. Goyer said.

Others have already set up Napster clone servers - computers that help hook
up music lovers to swap songs using Napster-like software - in North
America. But these are under attack from record labels that are forcing
Internet service providers to stop offering Web access to these Napster
clones.

Mr. Goyer is no newcomer to the Napster debate. Last year, he and partner
John Cormie set up Fairtunes.com, a virtual "tip jar" where Internet users
swapping free music on Napster could soothe their conscience by sending
cash to artists. Fairtunes has collected about $7,000 for artists and Mr.
Goyer hopes to use the site to collect donations for the Napster clone
service.

But Mr. Goyer is only one of many Napster devotees flouting the recording
industry's attempt to shut down the service. Some fans began migrating on
the weekend to lesser-known and less user-friendly file-swapping
alternatives such as Gnutella. Others began renaming song files in an
effort to stymie the imminent copyright filter on Napster that is expected
to ban music by album and title names.

Saturday and Sunday were marathon downloading sessions for millions of
Napster users, including Vancouverite Bradley Kalmek, 28, who spent so much
time staring at a computer screen that his eyes were strained.

"Might as well make hay while the sun shines. It was a bit too good to last
forever. So, I'm taking advantage now," he said.


--------------------++-----
Les faits sont faits.
http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/~stalder

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