Briefly buoyed by a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court on file sharing, Hollywood and the recording industry are on the verge of confronting more technically sophisticated opponents.
At a computer security conference in Las Vegas last week, an Irish software designer Ian Clarke, 28, described a new version of a peer-to-peer file-sharing system, so called “darknet,” that he said would make it easier to share digital information anonymously and make detection by corporations and governments far more difficult, informs Herald tribune.
Unlike today's open peer-to-peer networks, the new systems like Mr. Clarke's use software code to connect individuals who trust one another. He said he would begin distributing the new version of his program within a few months, making it possible for groups of users to establish secured networks - available only to them and those they choose to include - through which any kind of digital information can be exchanged.
Though he says his aim is political - helping dissidents in countries where computer traffic is monitored by the government, for example - Mr. Clarke is open about his disdain for copyright laws, asserting that his technology would produce a world in which all information is freely shared.
Mr. Clarke lives in Edinburgh and is employed by a music recommendation site, www.indy.tv. While Freenet attracted wide attention as a potentially disruptive force when he introduced it in 2000, it proved more difficult to use than file-sharing programs like Grokster and Napster, and did not achieve the impact that he envisioned.
Now, however, Mr. Clarke is taking a fresh approach, stating that his goal is to protect political opponents of repressive regimes.
"The classic use for Freenet would be for a group of political dissidents in China, or even in the United States," he said in an interview on Thursday. But he acknowledged that the software would also surely be used to circumvent copyright restrictions, adding, "It's an inevitable consequence of our design."
Industry executives acknowledge that even with their Supreme Court victory, peer-to-peer technology will continue to be a factor in illicit online trading, reports The New York Times.