Audible Magic sniffs P2P traffic for audio

C|Net has an interesting update on Audible Magic's peer-to-peer traffic sniffing technology:
Audible Magic's own technology specializes in identifying songs by their digital "fingerprints," or acoustic characteristics.

But combined with Palisade's network-security technology, it could become a powerful monitoring tool for network administrators or copyright holders. The joint product is designed to intercept all traffic on a network, make a copy of it, and then make a running examination of that copy for items such as Kazaa or Gnutella traffic.

When it finds digital packets originating from file-swapping software packages, it will compare the contents against Audible Magic's database of fingerprints. If it finds a match to a copyrighted song, it will stop the transmission of a song in progress, even if some of the file has already been transferred.

So far, the technology has been able to match and block infringing song transfers with as little as one third of the files being transferred. The up side of Audible's technology is that it doesn't block legitimate peer-to-peer file transfers, but any kind of sniffing is sure to raise concerns over privacy. I suspect that simple compression could defeat Audible's technology by masking an MP3's audio fingerprint, too.
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