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Archive for November, 2004


Monday, November 15th, 2004

A big thanks to everyone that has donated to the Gaim filesharing proejct. Just since last night we’ve more than doubled our goal (we’re up to $1277!), which is great and will definitely speed things up (amazing what a little slashdotting can do). And we’re still deciding how to best maximize these donations to make the project happen as fast as possible– we might try to break up the coding work into a main trunk and some mini-bounties for certain features.

And I think we’re also going to send tshirts to everyone who gave $50 or more– they’ve earned it.

We’re sorting through some good-looking emails of people who want to help develop the software, and it’s not too late to write to us if you want to get onboard: labs|at|downhillbattle.org.

Gaim Filesharing on Slashdot

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Well, the Gaim Filesharing Plugin was just posted on slashdot and we’ve seen a mix of positive and concerned comments in the thread. Here are a few quick responses to some of the main concerns:

1. Will a p2p plug-in put Gaim at risk of lawsuit? No. This will be packaged as either an optional plugin, available separately from Gaim and hosted on a separate website, or as a separate program. Either way, it will be clearly independent from the main Gaim development. Furthermore, courts have clearly ruled that filesharing software itself is legal (see this comment), even though certain uses may not be. As for the general health of Gaim, we hope that this will bring in many new users and help chip away at the AOL monopoly of IM.

2. Shouldn’t IM and p2p remain separate? There’s no reason why people shouldn’t be able to securely share files with their friends. Since IM is the dominant means by which people have real-time contact on the internet, it’s a logical foundation for secure filesharing. Darknets that use a separate program and a separate buddy list will never get the rates of adoption that would be possible with integrating standard IM. That said, the work that’s gone into darknets should be the foundation for this project and the easiest way of solving this may be to add Gaim chat support and interface to existing darknet programs.

3. Isn’t broad-scale p2p better? Open, global p2p is better in a lot of ways– more files, more sources for downloads, etc. However, anonymous p2p in that style still has a long way to go and this is a relatively simple way to offer anonymity in the short term (see this comment). In addition, there’s something great about sharing with your actual friends, the same way that reading a friend’s blog has special meaning, even if they aren’t the biggest and most comprehensive.

Above all, and this is something we mention on our description page, it is crucial to support and protect filesharing against the current onslaught of the RIAA and MPAA– not because we want people to get Hollywood’s stuff for free, but because the real promise of the technology is to let people create and share their own music and movies. That’s the most exciting part of all of this, and it’s also the most serious long term threat to the current entertainment industry. And if they can scare people away from p2p, it’s puts that potential at risk.

The search for the lead programmer continues– please be in touch (also be in touch if you just want to be on the dev list, but don’t have time to lead the project). We’re also open to name suggestions. Contact labs|at|downhillbattle.org.

P.S. If you like /. for tech news, you might like The Regular for politics news in a /. format.

Gaim Filesharing Update

Saturday, November 13th, 2004

Well, we’re already up to $354 raised for the Gaim Filesharing Bounty, a great response in just a couple days, and almost there to our $500 goal. We’ve also been sent some great leads about starting points that might make the coding go faster. Now we just need to find that special someone to tackle the bulk of the programming… more soon.

Things have also been chuggin along on the Blog Torrent Project, we’re close to a beta version. Anyone out there with good Windows UI skills– your time is now.

Help Us Create Private, IM-Based Filesharing

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

Today we’re announcing a new software initiative, but we need your help to make it happen. Here’s the plan. Here’s why:

The lawsuits aren’t enough. The major record labels want to send people to jail for sharing music, and a new bill in Congress right now would let them. We can’t let that happen– it is a completely, utterly, unacceptable political tactic. We’ve written a detailed write-up for a simple, new approach to filesharing that could make the major labels’ tactics useless. It would let you search, browse, and share files with your friends in your IM program. It would be simple, natural, and completely secure from outside snooping.

Please, help us make this project happen by donating money to our bounty or taking charge on the programming effort:
IM-Integrated Private Filesharing

Danger Mouse and Free Smiles

Saturday, November 6th, 2004

An account of Danger Mouse speaking at the Web 2.0 conference:

There was a bunch of pretty uninspired discussion about copyright and how hard it is for everyone to make money, and how stuff is getting stolen all the time and how can we protect it? But Danger Mouse stole the show. I wrote down a couple of quotes from him, including this response to why creating new work out of old work has taken off so quickly.

“Mashing is so easy. It takes years to learn how to play the guitar and write your own songs. It takes a few weeks of practice with turntable to make people dance and smile. It takes a few hours to crank out something good with some software. So with such a low barrier to entry, everyone jumps in and starts immediately being creative. I don’t understand why that is illegal.”

Then, at the end of the panel, someone asked why nobody was trying to solve the hard problems. There are tremendous fortunes to be made and lost, and those behind them are destroying democracy and technology to ensure the cash gets protected. Who, ultimately, is responsible?

“Artists are responsible, because for some reason we think we should be millionaires for making people smile. But I don’t worry too much, because it will be over soon. There won’t be a market for making people smile because kids will just do it for free.”

Now, we don’t necessarily agree with all of this, but it’s certainly a refreshing take on the whole issue and has a lot of truth in it.