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Re: FYI: Anyone seen this?
- From: Marshall Eubanks
- Date: Fri Jan 17 09:52:01 2003
Passed along without comment
"I poisoned P2P networks for the RIAA" - whistleblower
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Posted: 17/01/2003 at 13:00 GMT
"Gobbles", the German hacker who improbably claimed to have infected
peer-to-peer file sharing networks and to "0wn" your computer this week,
has confirmed that his brag was a hoax. That much, you probably
suspected, as Goebbels (as we must now call him) failed to offer a shred
of evidence in support of the notion that the RIAA was engaged in
widespread intrusion of personal computers.
But meet Matt Warne. He has an interesting tale to tell.
For two years Warne worked for the global version of the RIAA, the IFPI
which represents 1500 labels in 76 countries, with headquarters in
London. The IFPI's primary mission is to "fight music piracy", and Warne
worked with the RIAA and the biggest labels in implementing technologies
to document and thwart file sharing. The IPFI co-ordinated efforts to
glean detailed information about who was sharing what, and where. The
organization, backed by the labels, was responsible for providing
detailed evidence to the legal teams fighting Napster, Aimster and mined
information about the burgeoning peer to peer networks, such as
Gnutella. IPFI is responsible for trawling the world's web, ftp and irc
channels and runs the automated system that sends warning letters to
ISPs and webmasters.
"We had to act quickly. EMI would ring up ask 'What's this FreeNet?' and
want to know how many of their artists were on the network".
Napster provided the first taste for the music industry in measuing the
level of file sharing and was a war of attrition, says Warne. IPFI
developed a custom version of a program called "Media Enforcer" which
grew in sophistication.
"The RIAA were very precise about what they wanted," says Warne. When
Napster said it couldn't say what was on its network, the IPFI were able
to provide file names. When users scrambled the names (using the pig
encoder) and Napster said these were too hard to decipher, the IPFI was
able to provide the real names.
The technologies he worked on stayed on the right side of the law - just
about - but Warne's most interesting claim to fame is that he suggested
that the networks "poison" the emerging p2p networks with trash.
"I was one of the people who suggested the 'rogue file' scheme on the
file sharing services," he told us.
"I suggested that they should put out files with legitimate titles - and
put inside them silence or random noise - and saturate the file sharing
networks with those files. That did start the poisoning."
The goal was to discredit the networks so that casual users would
quickly give up trying to download music.
And so the plan went into action. The IPFI created a computer system
that appeared to be many unrelated nodes, a network with many members
that in fact resided in one location.
A former record label employee also confirmed this week that the
industries do order multiple DSL feeds to one location to simulate a P2P
For the IPFI however, the poisoned network grew too expensive to
justify. Before he left, says Warne, the IPFI's original poisoned system
was closed down. The body wanted to concentrate its attentions on large
scale copying outfits.
However, more recent evidence suggests that the technique is being used
by major labels in-house, instead, and the sheer quantity of junk files
found on the peer to peer networks today - purportedly residing on
individual's PCs - points to continuing "poisoning". Why? Because users
abort a junk download, or quickly delete a file. The alternative
explanation for the persistence of this noise material is that users are
extremely inattentive, and that's difficult to believe.
Missing the boat
Warne left the music industry in disgust he says, "because the record
industry is stuck in the past," and he vows never to return.
Back in 1997 and 1998, the industry had the chance to develop online
music services, he says. It saw what was coming. Which is true: at that
time, the major labels were paralyzed by fear of online music and were
downsizing accordingly, but refused to alter their business models, or
extend into new areas.
"Once Napster came along," says Warne, "people got used to getting stuff
for free. They've introduced Emusic but people just ask 'why isn't it
free?' If they'd introduced it in 1998, they wouldn't have this
problem,' he thinks.
"I've seen how they've destroyed talent. The greatest talent is from
independents." He cites Eva Crawford, and Mariah Carey as examples, who
were forced into styles by unsympathetic executives.
So as you can see, the RIAA may not - strictly speaking - be "hacking
you back". But the industry is extremely active in many other ways, and
unlike so much of the trade press which sees an RIAA denial as the end
of the story, their activities are only just beginning to emerge.
Since Monday, we've also received a number of reports of some very
curious IP traffic. If you're in a position to do so, can you please
check your logs, so we can piece together the rest of this mystery? Æ
On Wednesday, January 15, 2003, at 12:09 AM, Valdis.Kletnieks@vt.edu
On Tue, 14 Jan 2003 20:16:31 EST, blitz <firstname.lastname@example.org> said:
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
The RIAA is preparing to infect MP3 files in order to audit and
eventually disable file swapping, according to a startling claim by
The RIAA denies all knowledge...
Of course, even if it were true, they'd probably want to deny it, since
they haven't gotten their "hack back" legislation passed yet.... :)
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