Music industry plays big brother

— 12:09 PM on March 22, 2001

The Register and are both reporting that the music industry has decided to cross the Rubicon. The International Federation of the Phonograpic Industry (IFPI) and their software, most commonly known as Internet Anti-Piracy System or Media Tracker, has begun spying on all the major non-centralized file sharing networks.

IRC chatrooms, newsgroups, Gnutella, Freenet, and perhaps others are all being watched. While monitoring, the system the software builds up lists of tracks, the networks they are being shared on, the sharer's IP address, and the name of their host or ISP. Even the date and time the share of the song occured is meticulously marked. The scope of this becomes particuarly distateful upon realizing that all this data piled into a database allows the music industry to determine sharing patterns, locate ISPs whose user bases contains a high number of sharers, and even to single out individual sharers.

This is so grandiose I would rather not even believe it. Perhaps I am naive to hope that this is just a story twisting the facts to sensationalize the topic. All I know is, if this does prove true, I can't see how the IFPI can escape legal scrutiny. Such monitoring of traffic on American shores I think could be construed as a violation of our fourth-amendment rights—especially if the monitoring and statistics maintained by this database becomes the key evidence in a legal charge against a user sharing music.

The battle around legality and morality of sharing music on the Internet is still in its infancy. Both sides have drawn some battle lines, but it seems that the music industry is willing to do pretty much anything—no matter how ethically vile—in order to ensure that their way is the only way.

This disgusts me.

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