Will The RIAA Sue Supernode Operators?

from the lawyers-vs.-business-people-again... dept

Ed Felten is reporting that the music industry may be considering expanding their legal attack on file sharers by suing those users whose computers are “supernodes” for file sharing networks. If you’re not familiar with how these file sharing networks work, they usually try to find a number of users who have strong connections, and turn them into an ad hoc “hub” of activity for searching for files. Even if a supernode is used for the search, the actual exchange of files takes place between the computers that have and want the files. The legal reasoning is that these supernodes, in effect, play the same role that Napster’s centralized directory server played – which is why it was deemed illegal, while the next generation of file sharing programs was called legal since they had no centralized directory. The RIAA’s lawyers realize that they can call the supernode users “directories” and get them in trouble for the same reason. Once again, though, if they go through with this, it will be a case of lawyerly thinking (we can sue and we can win) over business thinking (what’s good for business), which would realize this would likely be a tremendous public relations nightmare. The main problem is that most supernode users have no idea they’re a supernode. The system automatically chooses who will act as a supernode. So, you would have the industry accusing people of breaking the law because some software on their computer made a choice, and they may not have actually shared any illegal files at all.

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