---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2001 18:26:45 -0500
From: Felix Stalder <stalderATfis.utoronto.ca>
[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)
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
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
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
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.
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