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Has P2P Become a Passing Fad? 393

Posted by Cliff
from the legislation's-true-effect-on-innovation dept.
plasticmillion asks: "As the RIAA launches increasingly rabid attacks against P2P networks and users, pundits continue to debate the future of P2P. On the one hand, some argue that P2P is just a clever way to escape detection from copyright owners, like in this recent Slashdot story. Others, like Clay Shirky, make a strong case that processing is destined to move to the 'edges' of the network. I'm curious to know what Slashdot readers think: is P2P the start of a major new trend that is just getting started, or is it a passing fad that will fade once legal client/server systems for media distribution finally take hold? If the former, which of the supposed advantages of P2P over client/server systems are really significant?"
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Has P2P Become a Passing Fad?

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  • no passing fad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ummit (248909) <scs@eskimo.com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:39PM (#6968223) Homepage
    I'm not heavily into P2P at all, so I'm speaking out of some ignorance, but: do we now accept the RIAA's definition that P2P is synonymous with piracy? It seems to me that, even if all sharing of copyrighted music were discontinued, P2P would still have a perfectly valid place in our spectrum of networking possibilities.

    (As an example, I'd like to see P2P used to maintain collaborative anti-spam blacklists, so that there wouldn't be single-point-of-failure central repositories.)

    • Re:no passing fad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:45PM (#6968324) Homepage
      While there may still be uses for P2P without copying copyrighted files, it is safe to say that if there were no copyrighted files on P2P systems, there would be less than 1% of the users they now have. P2P without copyrighted files would be about as popular as gopher.
      • Re:no passing fad (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lshmael (603746)
        What about the implications of using P2P systems to distribute large uncopyrighted files, like Bittorrent does for Linux ISOs and game demos?
        • Actually I believe there are some comercial P2P implementations already out there for sites like GamesSpot, CNet, etc. that host big files but are looking to maximize download speeds and minimize download costs.

          Got my latest Palm Desktop software with it. I'm still debating whether to allow it to stay (Secure Download by Kontiki. Notorious for spyware in the past, they claim it spyware free, but I'm not sure.)

        • Re:no passing fad (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ichimunki (194887)
          At the moment that seems to be pretty limited. Of course, I could be wrong, but I haven't been noticing a lot of upstream on the two Linux files I've got running on BT right now (LNX-BBC and Knoppix ISOs)...

          what we really need is BT sharing of individual .[rpm|deb] files or the source tarballs used by ebuilds for Gentoo. And BT isn't really P2P at the moment, it's swarming-- I think the difference is subtle, but important. Until BT has a networkable tracker solution (where one or more trackers share info
      • P2P without copyrighted files would be about as popular as gopher.


        This is Slashdot; remember to whom you are making your point. Most of us still maintain gopher sites.
      • Other uses will be found for P2P. The public use of the internet is still in its infancy. That most people concider P2P as that thing that is used to share music, is a direct result of the RIAA propaganda campaign. Once people begin to realise that P2P has other uses, they will start using it for other things. I, for one, am working on a MMORG. The client side stuff will be OSS, probably GNU. P2P will have a role. The way I intend to use P2P will not be unique to the Online Game domain. Its Mans nature to f
      • Gopher?! (Score:5, Funny)

        by EvilStein (414640) <spam@@@pbp...net> on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:38PM (#6968894) Homepage
        Damn it, I'd still *use* Gopher if people hadn't taken down all of their Gopher servers and replaced them with this "World Wide Web" crap. :P

        Information via plain ol' text. I like it. No Flash ads in Gopher. :P
    • Re:no passing fad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thomas.galvin (551471) <slashdot@EINSTEI ... minus physicist> on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:58PM (#6968493) Homepage
      There are some very real, very good uses for ananymous P2P; for instance, it would allow the people of China to see and share information deemed 'subversive' by their government. I expect this to be the 'killer app' of P2P in the fairly near future.

      It just so happens, though, that the features that would make P2P useful for fighting represive regimes are also useful for fighting the major media companies.

      Which, when I think about it, is a redundant statement.
    • Re:no passing fad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kyouryuu (685884) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:59PM (#6968501) Homepage
      I couldn't have put it any better. The original news post seems to assume that peer-to-peer is synonymous with piracy. As far as that aspect goes, I don't really know the answer. As far as P2P in general goes, we're seeing many widespread uses of the technology. Peer-to-peer allows a user to divide work across several machines rather than concentrating on a powerful, base machine. Such a solution is easily scalable - we can merely add more machines to the network instead of trying to upgrade a central machine to increasingly expensive bleeding-edge technology to keep up. Countless scientific surveys tout the benefits of a peer-to-peer approach compared to a centralized approach in various applications. In every application? Of course we cannot make such a generalization, but that doesn't make the concept any less valid.

      The original asker of the question is short-sighted to assume that the RIAA will end peer-to-peer as a concept. Bottom line: Peer-to-peer is just a method for dividing a workload amongst several machines, not a gateway to piracy. Please don't let the RIAA or anyone clueless argue that peer-to-peer is anything more than what is clearly is.


    • P2P, as a technology and as an infrastructure design, is not new. There have been p2p apps in use and around the 'net since before UUCP.

      The press treatment of 'p2p technology as fad', though, is something which has been extremely useful to the RIAA propagandists. True p2p users, however, know that there will *ALWAYS* be p2p apps out there, for as long as it is legal to write your own network protocol implementation, anyway.

      As long as people continue to believe that there is 'always something new around
    • I do think that P2P will become synonymus with piracy, not because it's neccessarily righ but because thats the way the general public look at it. Most people don't give a shit about the differences of client-server modell and peer-to-peer. All they hear is that P2P is being used to "steal" from the companies.

      The RIAA can actually win the definition game about what meaning you lay in copyright, property, stealing/piracy vs. copyright infringement. They can do this through media.

      As late as today I read t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:39PM (#6968224)
    There comes a time when it moves to the mainstream. Long-term and practical uses for P2P are just now being developed. It's a bit like the internet in general. At first, a few early adopters, then it was everywhere and everything, and now, it's calmed down to a more reasonable level. Instead of edogfoodwithfreeshipping.com, you have real uses for the web and the internet.
  • killer app (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frymaster (171343) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:41PM (#6968237) Homepage Journal
    p2p is the killer app of the internet. really. access to information (the web) and communication (email, chat) is nice, but people want stuff. it's like one big mall... and we know how much americans' love their malls.

    • "and we know how much americans' love their malls"

      I'm afraid you haven't been keeping up... ;-)
      The era of malls is over -- what next? [sunspot.net]

      -1 Offtopic...
    • Re:killer app (Score:5, Insightful)

      by darkov (261309) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:56PM (#6968467)
      This is what mystifies me. Software, including anything that can be encoded such as music or movies, is absolutely made for the Internet and p2p. The cost of distribution is zero. The marginal cost per unit is zero. All these stupid corporations need to do is work out that they're sitting on a gold mine and increase their profits exponentially. They ought to figure out that 1000 times the sales at one tenth of the price is still 100 times the revenue, or something in that order.

      But, as all monopolies and oligopolies inevitably do, they have become fat and lazy and will eventually alienate or destroy (through overpricing) their market. Technology is just helping that process along. One day's they'll wake up and make a mint.

      Meanwhile p2p and such tech will grow and flourish.
      • Software, including anything that can be encoded such as music or movies, is absolutely made for the Internet and p2p. The cost of distribution is zero. The marginal cost per unit is zero.

        Distribution costs are not zero. Go to a web hosting site and price out the difference between 1 Gigabyte per month (10,000 hits on a 100KB jpeg) versus 1 Terabyte a month (10,000 hits on a 100MB mpeg). There will be a big difference. And 1 TB/month wouldn't be anywhere near enough to distribute millions of copies of HDT

        • Re:killer app (Score:3, Insightful)

          by darkov (261309)
          Yes, bandwidth costs money, but there is no cost to the seller, which is the whole point.

          Here's a little model of how it might work so you don't have to tax your imagination:

          - Record companies release compressed (using some asymmetrical, lossless, compression scheme), DRM'ed movies, albums and songs. These can be freely copied and distributed by anyone (eg using p2p)

          - In order to read the file, you have to pay, say, less than 50c US per song, and $2 per movie. The file gets uncompressed to it's full size
    • The Internet Killer App hasn't even arrived yet. It won't until the system architecture is robust enough , and the architech understand what it really is.

      The internet is nothing short of COMMUNICATION. P2P is just one type of communication. The killer app will be when someone figures out how to tie all the various communication protocols into one system, email, voice, video, audio, visual etc.
  • p2p is NOT DEAD... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by greenskyx (609089) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:41PM (#6968244)
    especially for legal content... bitTorrent has made it so that you can get all sorts of legal content like game demos, linux distros, etc. off p2p without having to be on horribly slow ftp servers.
    • by EZmagz (538905)
      I totally agree, although p2p as we know it might change somewhat in the near future. The change will be totally dependent on the world's reaction to the RIAA/MPAA/DMCA issues that we're all so fond of. When it comes to legal content, I find technologies like bitTorrent a great way to get distributions, demos, and whatnot...ususally at speeds faster than the company's pipes would be dishing out.

      However, when it comes to more questionable material, I see the whole mp3/file movement going back underground (I

      • "So if you wanted that new Atmosphere track, you would be able to download it from a user in the Netherlands but not Wisconsin."

        Everybody and his mother would be routing through a proxy server.
  • by Brahmastra (685988) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:41PM (#6968255)
    P2P is not used just for piracy. P2P is used to download the latest Linux kernel, the Matrix preview when the official site was slashdotted, etc. It might stop having millions of users downloading copyrighted stuff, but it will always exist, and will be extremely useful to a lot of people involved in legal activities.
  • P2P is eternal. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Faust7 (314817) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:42PM (#6968261) Homepage
    is P2P the start of a major new trend that is just getting started, or is it a passing fad that will fade once legal client/server systems for media distribution finally take hold?

    P2P will be around forever, in whatever form it takes through the future's unimaginable technology, for one simple reason:

    It's free.

    Legal systems for digital media distribution will always cost money. Why pay money when you can get something almost as good -- or as good, with a little know-how -- for free?
  • P2P as we know it (Score:3, Informative)

    by RLiegh (247921) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:43PM (#6968276) Homepage Journal
    One thing which I think is interesting is that recently, VOIP over P2P was mentioned. Of course, you don't have to be kreskin [kreskin.com] to see that some form of legal online music purchasing has to eventually become legal. However, I think that the recent mention of VOIP over P2P shows that the technologies made for decentralised P2P will still be used, just not for the purposes that are currently used for.
    • VOIP done some other way than P2P would not make much sense (unless you're a telco)! P2P in this case just means connecting the two end points directly (peer-2-peer) instead of going through some central server. This has nothing(!) to do with p2p filesharing.
  • P2P is not going anywhere. The old media companies just have to come up with a new business model. Thus far their business model is 'sue the hell out of everyone'.
  • Forget the copyright issue; P2P is too inefficient for those who have to pay for bandwidth.
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) * on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:44PM (#6968295) Homepage Journal
    ...how are you going to keep them (from) down(loading) on the farm after they've seen the lights of peer-to-peer? Apparently more people use P2P than bothered to vote in the last Presidential election. With that many people engaged in the activity, it's not like it's going to dry up and blow away because the RIAA starts cracking down. Heck, if legal crackdowns ended illicit behavior, we wouldn't have had any booze since the '20s and we wouldn't have a drug problem now.

    On the other hand, there's a certain case to be made for the vast majority of those sixty million P2P users being ignorant sheep who can only use P2P in the first place because it's so easy to install the app--and who may not even be aware that they're uploading songs at the same time as they're downloading them, strange as that would seem to a Slashdot reader. And so, even if someone comes up with a totally "safe" method of filesharing, it could lose many of its prospective users if it is even slightly nontrivial to get working properly. (As an example, consider what happened to the mp3 websites after the RIAA's last legal crackdowns...they retreated behind a web of spawning browser windows, porn ads, top ten lists, and so on, until you have to be a hacker just to find where the MP3s actually are.)

    So balancing the two questions...I think peer to peer will always be with us, but depending on how easy it is to use, it may lose a lot of its users--and, thus, a lot of potential sources for files.
  • Researchers, for instance, could benefit from a P2P network to distribute academic work. In general, it would be well suited for swapping data in any community which actively encourages that kind of sharing, and which could enjoy increased efficiency by cutting out middlemen (e.g. academic journals).
  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:44PM (#6968300) Journal
    There is no one way of doing things, but many ways in which some ways are better than others dependant upon what one is doing. And it is by having many different ways of doing things that different things are discovered or innovated.

    So of course P2P is here to stay, but the RIAA, that' a different story, one of the old fighting to not move out of the way of then new and innovative.
  • As a Windows user (I know, I know), I can't tell you how many times I wished I could find a simple DLL or INI file from a user whose [insert name of utility or program here] was working when mine was not.

    I suppose the same could apply to Linux scripts if not for concerns over security.

    William
  • empower individuals, in a network effect

    the telephone, the automobile (highways), the printing press, etc.

    p2p is never going away, it's just revving up

    "illegal" will not be beaten, it's just a giant game of technological whack-a-mole

    napster was centralized, so they beheaded it

    kazaa was transparent, so they went after the nodes

    the next killer p2p filesharing app will hide user identities, and the monopolies and cartels of intellectual property will wage war against these systems via other means

    ad naus
  • yes.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by JoeLinux (20366) <joelinux@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:45PM (#6968323) Homepage
    Just like Data processing was considered a passing fad in the 1970s. After all, things are going from a community-based system to people working ISOLATED BY THEMSELVES.

    For instance, there is something new out there called the INTRA-web. Rather than connect to the OUTSIDE world in an attempt to get information, you simply search your own hard drive.

    Analysts predict that someday in the future, people will have no further need to ever be connected again, and people will live in isolated padded cells, not talking or communicating to anything at all, simply staring at the ceiling. /sarcasm
    • For instance, there is something new out there called the INTRA-web. Rather than connect to the OUTSIDE world in an attempt to get information, you simply search your own hard drive.

      Although you may have meant your comments sarcastically, what you write does have both merit and truth.

      The phenomena of small physically-close groups of people sharing resources over a private LAN has grown rapidly, particularly thanks to 802.11. Apartment-wide LANs, private wireless subnets in dorms, even connections betw
  • I said it back when (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lane.exe (672783) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:45PM (#6968327) Homepage
    I said it back when Napster took its famous stage dive, and I'm saying it again now that Kazaa is on the chopping block. Getting rid of 1 p2p service only enables 6 more to spring up, these even more widely dispersed. How long before p2p servers become located in non-US countries and routed through anonymous proxies to avoid the watchful eye of the RIAA/MPAA? How long before a pirates create apps to google through anonymous FTP proxies/IRC for the copyrighted material? p2p is the fall guy for piracy, the most readily available target. But because of that, its business is in the open. The pirated wares will be moved to the 'Net equivalent of a black market, while legitimate p2p (esp. with the right of first sale) will become like the 'Net equivalent of a flea market.

  • by javelinco (652113) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:46PM (#6968329) Journal
    I guess when you look at this, the best question is: why are these systems being used now? And the even better question: what are the legal uses of the system now?

    My answer is that the best reason to use these right now is to share ideas, music, pictures, etc. with other people, including strangers: things that you own and have the right to redistribute, either because you created it, or you have permission from the creator. Email is used heavily in this fashion, but it has the limit of most providers attempting to make attachments a no-no: either for cost considerations (size); or for the fear of viruses. So, is there a legitimate use? Yes.

    Next question would be: what are the usage numbers for these legitimate uses? Well, that one I can't answer too well. My first guess would be that it is a relatively small percentage of the current traffic, with a VERY high figure being around 40%. So, is that enough to keep these things around? Yep.

    Okay, so, my conclusion is that P2P serves a useful purpose, outside of the illegal ones. So, the next question becomes, can a commercial solution replace these P2P solutions? That one is really easy - no! There is no way that any organization can afford the freedom that is required in moving these files back in forth. Anyone in IT is quite aware of all the potential dangers to the network, and anyone involved in the whole law side can see how heavily exposed these companies would be if they were allowing viruses, etc. to be damaging customer's systems.

    So, ultimate conclusion? Unless they are outlawed, P2P networks are useful, and are likely to remain in existance for a long time.
  • File Sharing != P2P (Score:5, Informative)

    by asv108 (141455) * <(gro.oiduatahp) (ta) (xela)> on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:46PM (#6968335) Homepage Journal
    I am so sick of people using the term P2P as a replacement for file sharing. Yes, file sharing is one use of P2P, but there are plenty of other examples:
    • Distributed/Grid Computing
    • IM
    • Web Services
    • groupware
  • History (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SnowWolf2003 (692561) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:46PM (#6968343)
    While P2P may be phased out by newer technologies, its main use - sharing files between users will not stop (a lot of them borderline legal to blatantly illegal). Look at the history of the Internet. First there were Newsgroups, FTP Servers (remember all those no leech policies), Bulletin Boards, Hotline, Napster, Kazaa, Morpheus, etc.

    Since the beginning of the Internet people have wanted an easy and anonymous way of trading files. As each technology was foiled by the industry or upgraded by newer technology, one thing had remained constant - The sharing of files online.
    That is not a fad - only the technologies supporting it.
  • by eyeye (653962)
    Have computers had their day?
    Are the days of gravity over?
    Is the sun about to cool?
  • People have always stolen stuff(and will probably continue to indefinitely). If anyone can list a society that had no theft, I will be surprised. Greed is just too common among humans. I believe that it is probable that the RIAA will make use of some P2P networks nearly impossible. However, it will be back. How long will it be before secure large-scale p2p networks come along? No matter how little they end up charging for something, there will be people unwilling or unable to pay for it. Has anyone ever qu
  • Still early (Score:5, Informative)

    by ryanr (30917) * <ryan@thievco.com> on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:47PM (#6968355) Homepage Journal
    I think p2p is here to stay, and there are still features that need to be put in place univerally before it's mature, and all the various p2p flavors are comparable.

    The various bits are there scattered across different p2p networks. IMNSHO, all p2p networks/clients ought to have:

    -Swarming (as defined/used in BitTorrent)
    -Privacy/anonymity (perhaps as much as in Freenet)
    -Good searching (Kazaa, Napster, those types. With room for improvement all around)
    -Open-source clients with no ads/spyware
    -Decentralized/self-organizing networks (no central point of failure, or at least minimal)
    -Browser/web server hooks to autoswarm web content (there ought to be bittorrent:// links)

    Pardon my BitTorrent bias. I moderate the bittorrent_help mailing list, so I have more exposure to that.

    All these features should someday be pushed into numerous language libraries, so that they become ubiquitous.

    • I still think [slashdot.org] that you should move bittorrent functionality into squid.

      Then the caching would be on the gateway machine letting all the machines behind the proxy enjoy the benefits without all the usability/firewall problems you run into setting up bittorrent.
  • by blackp (217413)
    P2P has never been about breaking copyrights. Had Napster not come along, P2P would have moved along without it just fine. The legitimate purposes of P2P will not be damaged. The illegal purposes of P2P might be destroyed, but the core technology that allowed it will continue.

    Since the P2P acronymn has been improperly linked to illegal activities (copyrighted materials sharing). Maybe we should get a new one (Colabarative Resource Sharing CRS, or maybe computer resources Co-op CRC)
  • Definition (Score:2, Informative)

    by johnnyli (644642)
    Seems to me that there's quite a bit of confusion what peer-to-peer really is...

    In academic environments, P2P is commonly defined as having one or more of these characteristics:

    1. Peers should be able to freely offer services to other peers.
    2. The addressing system should be independent of lower layer network addressing systems.
    3. Peers should be assumed to be of variable connectivity.

    Yes, this means that even some partly centralized systems are peer-to-peer. Like distributed computing and instant messag
  • I think it's important to separate the idea bheind p2p from its most popular use, filesharing.

    p2p filesharing may yet be squashed by the RIAA's evil henchmen - this is an argument that will probably, in the short term at least, be settled by cash. However, it seems that p2p itself - the move away from the little client, great big server, towards lots of modestly proportioned servents - is unavoidable. Fact is, most people have more computing power/storage space/network bandwidth than they really need; p2p

  • p2p sharing is nothing new. It's just the old client/server with a new name, only everyone is a server.

    Now, *distributed* filesharing, like bitTorrent and or Kazaa/Morpheus... that's new. And *that* is here to stay; it's equivalent to switching from circuit-switched networking to packet-switched networking, only with files rather than messages.
  • I personally think we are just seeing the tip of the proverbial iceberg for p2p.. a lot of companies would love to be able to use processing power of millions of computers (i.e. what kazaa did with their leech-ware product) .. Seti@home has proved that people are willing to donate computer time and energy, I mean, look at the battles that rage over the number one through ten slots at seti. (people even trying to cheat). I think you will start seeing p2p system for searching, archival and scientific pop up a
  • by Jonny Ringo (444580) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:52PM (#6968427)
    When I think of all the millions I've saved.
  • Why is it that everyone associates P2P only with illegal sharing of copyrighted material? P2P is such a trivial concept and easy enough to implement that it will never go away. Even if there were no Kazaa or Gnutella, P2P would be alive and well, since it's useful for many things other than trading music.

    I use P2P every day, whether it be ftp, SAMBA, Gnutella, or some other concoction. And I don't ever use it to download RIAA crap.

  • by smack.addict (116174) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:54PM (#6968448)
    The P2P architecture has been around for ages. The original concept of the WWW was based on a P2P model. Of course, that was pre-NAT.

    What pundits fail to realize is that P2P is not a class of applications; it is simply a form of distributed computing architecture in which nodes act as both client and server.

    The term P2P is, however, a passing fad. It is a label for this architecture whose greatest association is with a class of applications designed to steal intellectual property from others. It is unfortunate that this association has come about. However, the architecture will outlive the fad.

  • Sure, most of the stuff there now is there despite the copyright owner, but as copyright crumbles P2P will be the way to become known. Indie bands jumped onto P2P as soon as they realized it was a way to get their stuff out there where people might find it.
  • with more bandwidth and faster processors, people will devise better and better ways of sharing files with or without a central server. i am particularly fascinated with the concept of decentralized networks, like gnutella; though obviously gnutella leaves much to be desired. i am positive that it is possible for a decentralized network to operate *almost* as well as the traditional server/client model, though it'll be a lot more work to make it happen. someone will do it (i'm trying, but who knows how that
  • by pla (258480) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:57PM (#6968481) Journal
    P2P will not die just because the RIAA has cracked down on a few people sharing music.

    First, let me say that I don't particularly support massive stealing of music - A bit of sharing between friends, sure, but the wholesale infringements we see thanks to the likes of Kazaa, no. That said...

    As with virus/worm authors, the RIAA has served a useful purpose, if by reprehensible means. They have demonstrated that P2P has a major flaw that most people do not know about - The model itself does NOT automatically mean anonymity. It just means that no central server exists to shut down, thereby making it all but impossible for any legal action to completely kill. People (can) still have accountability for their actions on a P2P network. Aside from the RIAA's abuse of this fact, we should worry quite a lot more about government use.

    So my prediction - P2P services such as Kazaa, that try to track users and transactions, will fade into oblivion. At the same time, those that make every effort to prevent logging, to give plausible deniability, and that use encryption to hide the actual data going over the weak links (anywhere between the first "P" and the second "P"), will gain in popularity. As an obvious current choice, the open-source Freenet does this already, though it has serious problems as far as actually finding what you want goes.

    Someone will eventually find a way to make Freenet (or a similar app) more useable, however, without compromising the benefits I mention above. That will replace the current generation of P2P programs, but will itself still count as P2P.

    So no, the idea won't die, nor will its use. Implementations will simply become far more sophisticated, and while at each step in the free-information arms race a few people will suffer (as has held true throughout all of history), the rest of us will benefit from their sacrifice.
  • with google. Then its just part of the existing infrastructure.
  • we have a very good example fo the power of p2p in our own backyard..

    what is it? No matter if its called free source or open source its the same power to edgge amoung many peers tha tproduces more power than the whole of its sum of its parts
  • Bittorrent (Score:5, Informative)

    by Toasty16 (586358) on Monday September 15, 2003 @05:59PM (#6968505) Homepage
    Bittorrent [bitconjurer.org] is currently the most viable legal method for large scale P2P. Just look at the network [aixgaming.com] traffic [gametab.com] that a site can sustain using Bittorrent's "swarm" download method. With it, a relatively small site can host a half-gigabyte file and transfer 1.31 terabytes [gametab.com] of data!

    On the other hand we see how the traditional client/server system can break down [penny-arcade.com] if it has a significant user base and not enough bandwidth. The new Steam client hasn't allowed me to connect to a game since I installed it six hours ago. Who knows how much more data could have been transferred if all the Steam users were connected to each other and sharing their cache through a P2P network?

    The next step in P2P would be to combine the swarm downloading of Bittorrent with a persistent P2P network like Edonkey2000. The Achilles Heel of Bittorrent is that it can only transfer one file at a time, and the only way to download multiple files is to open multiple instances of Bittorrent, which drains upload speed, a precious commodity among home broadband users. Some work [kefro.st] is being done towards this goal but it currently deals with upload rates for individual downloads, and doesn't manage multiple downloads.

    P2P is definitely the future, and I predict its popularity will continue to rise as more consumers sign up for broadband and start sucking down large media files like full albums and movies from corporate sites who aren't prepared for the broadband explosion.

    • Re:Bittorrent (Score:3, Informative)

      by gordyf (23004)
      A single torrent can contain multiple files, and they're all downloaded at once as part of a single torrent (BT doesn't differentiate between a set of files and a single file).

      There's still the issue that multiple torrents will trample on each other's bandwidth, but that's a problem that faces all P2P apps. eMule's solution is to change the priority of shared files dynamically based on the number of requests for each file. The more a file is requested, the lower the priority gets so all its requests don'
  • by Sebby (238625) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:01PM (#6968520)
    wasn't it once considered a fad too?....

  • well the P2P with legal uses like BitTorrent. Doom III will use a P2P system although why they designed a system like that again is beyond me, I happen to like the client server system that supports many more players, hopefully it will be brought back again. However whether or not the illegal P2P survives is dependent on the if the RIAA survives.
  • by Arslan ibn Da'ud (636514) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:01PM (#6968529) Homepage
    Imagine a P2P system like Kazaa but with one extra twist...Whenever
    someone wants to download a file from you, your computer doesn't send
    it directly to theirs. Instead your computer sends the file to a proxy
    machine which then sends the file to the rceipient. Both connections
    are encrypted with public-key cryptography, and the proxy machine
    stores nothing that is not encrypted. Congratulations, you have just
    send a file to anyone (maybe even an RIAA spy) without then
    interacting with you and finding out what your IP address is or who
    you are.

    Now imagine that in addition to super-peers, Kazaa maintains a list of
    proxy servers whose sole job is to upload stuff from users and
    download stuff to other users. You can run such a 'data peer' yourself
    legelly since all the data is encrypted so you don't know what your
    computer is storing.

    Of course this network is less efficient than Kazaa, since each file
    gets copied twice whenever it is downloaded. I guess that's why
    nothing like this network exists yet. But if Kazaa dies due to its
    users being sued off the network, I'll bet this 'proxy'-based network
    takes over. Let the RIAA try to sue users on this proxy network!

    Anyone interested in helping build this?
    • Anyone interested in helping build this?

      The Freenet [sourceforge.net] project with a client like Frost [sourceforge.net] is pretty close to what you are describing.

      • also waste [sourceforge.net](excellent for closed circle, between friends & etc, for every type of files) and es5 [es5.com](with somewhat clumsy interface but creative ideas, and choosable levels of secrecy, but you might end up in using proxies you don't know to be trusted, though i haven't really looked into it worth shit tho).

        anyways, the basic idea for such a network that is feasibly(enough) mangled to offer good enough fog is so simple that there will be other programs too, and it makes the whole fighting of uncrypted p2p
    • The RIAA will go after the owner of the proxy
    • Imagine a P2P system like Kazaa but with one extra twist...Whenever someone wants to download a file from you, your computer doesn't send it directly to theirs. Instead your computer sends the file to a proxy machine which then sends the file to the rceipient.

      Take it one step further, and add some chain remailer technology. Have a % chance that , instead of the file going directly from the proxy to the recipient, the proxy sends to another proxy. This way, traceability becomes increasingly impossible, an

    • And the next headlines on Slashdot being about the latest crack-down on the ever-persistent internet pirates.

      I'm not a fan of copyright law or really any of this legislation or the prosecution of the individuals involved. But we need an agreement, not an arms race. The harder we make it to track the harder 'they' will work to prosecute/legislate/etc.

      And its understandable. P2P and file sharing in general is too important to let it get eclipsed in this battle and that's why we *need* DRM. At least that w
  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:02PM (#6968530)
    Not that p2p isn't an interesting technology, but if I have my own stuff I created, why do I need p2p? I sign up for web hosting, and put it up on FTP, nice and simple! Everyone on the internet can get it.

    The other use of p2p is for mirroring large OSS type files [isos, src, etc] This helps keeping any one server from bearing the brunt of bandwidth. Here though, I think p2p tech could help out if we could get ISPs on board to mirror legal stuff automatically for their users. If I have a 1000 users that all want something , why shouldn't ISP's be caching it to save their own external bandwidth? The problem with that is most content providers still don't "get" caching and mirroring on a local level yet so they scream DMCA everyone tries someting like that, but p2p tech could allow your first local connection to mirror something and still give the originating site credit for ads, hits, etc..

    If Kazza or BitTorrent could clean up their act, they could have a really viable business instead of this shady stuff. Perhaps ISPs could have a "check-in" system to verify who's posting and that they can, and host the servers themselves for thier own local users. Once one legal mirror was in the system, everyone could mirror it honestly. It would be all server-side [business people] so that would eliminate much of the illegal activity right there. Sure things might take a day extra to get thru, but hosting for projects would be cheaper. There would be reduced bandwith costs because every iso after the first would be local for the ISP. A Kazza type system could still track all the hits though and scale back the mirrors after the initial "rush".

  • by kiwioddBall (646813) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:02PM (#6968533) Homepage
    Swapping music and videos was the fad. The technology is never the fad, it is what you can do with it that drvies popularity.
  • Bah! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:03PM (#6968548) Homepage Journal
    I was using P2P back when it was called IRC channels with a bunch of guys running FTP servers. Before that, I was into the type of P2P that was traded in wierd locations throughout Compuserve. Before that, we called the Bleeding Edge and other local BBS's and spent hours uploading gif files to their public areas. Before then, it was floppies and a copy of Renegade, and casette tapes with holes drilled in them.

    Now, I've gone off the searchable networked P2P, and on to sending secret web links to people I meet over IRC. Napster, Kazaa, they just simplify and dehumanize the interaction. The ways that used to work -- hunting down generous people with loose morals and begging them for files -- still work just as well. As does sneakernet and a stack of discs. I've had file sharing "parties" in the past year...grandiose events where three friends come over with a couple cool CDs and we trade them.

    Ironically, I don't trade files much at all. Not because I am afraid of the RIAA, but because most of what I want to listen to nowadays is off the major lables that are members of the RIAA and I want to support them. I had to seriously hunt for CDs from bands like Jiker, Valis, Edan (the humble magnificent) and the Black Keys. These same bands are all over the P2P networks. When your music distribution system is so screwed up that it is EASY to steal music but nearly impossible to BUY it...you've got big problems. Maybe an answer is to shut down p2p. Maybe a better answer is finding some way to reach the millions of listeners who don't want to hear Madonna's robotic warbling.
  • Pirate 2 Pirate? Oh, now I am disappointed.
  • by mkro (644055) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:05PM (#6968569)

    Justin Frankel knew what he was doing when he made WASTE [sourceforge.net]: On big, open P2P-networks, you never can be sure if happysunshine84 downloading a MP3 from you isn't someone preparing a lawsuit. A closed, WASTE-like network is therefore a better solution, also redusing the noise (spam, renames, clients modified to not upload, etc) you usually see from the typical P2P networks.

    I never tried WASTE, as I never got the thing to work under Linux, but as I understand it, I can have e.g. have one network with 10 co-workers and another one with my friends. If I share the files I download from both groups, I will be a link between those two networks. Now, if also my co-workers and friends are on more than one network, fresh files will always be pouring in (If these guys are nice and share what they download).

    Quality-filtered content where no-one from the outside can know what you are doing, what else can you wish for?

    That is, besides a Linux client
  • Almost every business website now had some sort of paid content. So much content is free yet premium content and other features are on a subscription or pay per use model it's impossible to use any of them effectively without going broke.

    Now that the internet is beginning to show the usual signs of capitalism it's becoming more of a less free zone than thre free zone everyone once enjoyed.

    If I'm going to pay to use things on the internet then I want a low fee that covers everything so I can go where I wi
  • by samantha (68231) *
    I don't understand why anyone would think the RIAA stupdity has anything real to say about the importance or viablity of P2P. P2P means "peer-to-peer", it does not mean "sneaky ways to move illegal and quasi-legal (rightly or wrongly) content". In particular edge level computing is absolutely essential as is grid computing. It is amazing to me that after all of these years since I build my first system that was P2P 15 years+ ago, that client-server still predominates. It is really bizarre to have orders
  • Personally I stopped with the whole p2p thing after Audio Galaxy died. I wasn't into it big even then. I liked getting a lot of tunes that were hard to find (ie: weren't played on the radio, tv, promoted or even sold in most stores.) I can't stand any p2p now because in all its forms it's a pain in the ass to use. Hence why I stopped after AG. AG was flawless. Great interface, and it took care of getting the song to you - never failed. Tiny, tiny client too.

    When I used p2p, I had a reasonable purpos
  • "I for one welcome our new P2P overlords!"

    Anyway, let's just state the obvious: (IMHO ;^)

    P2P will never die. It is NOT a passing fad.
    (I don't use it, but that's another story ;)

    P2P is forcing (or going to force) some companies to change the way they do business. There is no way around it. Adapt or die.
    (And yes, some rights/things/bands/products will be lost along the way - I can see why some companies are keen on palladium and DRM and god knows what else)

    I cannot even begin to predict how this will affe
  • P2P for media distribution has been around since the very beginning of radio and television. It's called the "affiliate" model. P2P networks based on "affiliate" nodes (not unlike Kazaa supernodes) have been around for several years, and are likely to have a prominent place.

    The client/server model is inefficient for media distribution. Trusting consumer nodes for distribution is relatively insecure, but more importantly, consumers won't want to pay the bandwidth fees that ISPs will likely charge if cons
  • Yes, gone will be the days of connecting to other computers and transferring data. Soon, very soon...
  • As long as porn exists, P2P will exist (with or without copyrighted music and movies).

    I do not expect porn companies to sue individual users for IP material.
  • ...p2p is going to flourish. The US, like it or not, is only about 3% of the world's population. The nice thing about p2p is that status or citizenship means *nothing* -- I can get a part of a movie or a game equally well from a guy in Estonia as I can from somebody in NY. If p2p goes down in the States, it's not going to kill the app, trust me.

    DISCLAIMER: I'm not trying to be flamebait here, but most of the comments I've read on this article are very US-centric. I'm just trying to state the facts, no

  • by feidaykin (158035) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:33PM (#6968839) Journal
    Yep, just like television. All the pundits predicted that no one would want to stare at a little box all day.

    Oh, and compact discs. I mean, 650 MB of read-only data? C'mon, that's more worthless than 8-track tapes!

    Or maybe it is a fad like bell-bottoms. They go out for a while, then come back in the 24th century as part of Starfleet uniforms! Quick, everyone go check the ST Encyclopedia and see if it mentions P2P!

    All joking aside, to use a trite but true statement, I think the genie is out of the bottle, cat's out of the bag, etc. The only people that think P2P is a fad are probably the people that want it to be a fad.

    P2P will likely usher in new business models, and new ways of getting entertainment. The RIAA/MPAA clinging to the old ways would be, as some have pointed out, not unlike the makers of horse-drawn carriages trying to stop the production of the automobile.

    Change happens. People don't usually like it, but are capable of adjusting. Corporations are not people (despite what the law may say) and simply refuse to adjust to change unless they can see an obvious, and instant, financial gain.

    Technology often makes current systems obsolete. For example, gunpowder pretty much made the feudal system of government obsolete. In the future, an invention like matter transporters (beam me up!) would probably make our current governments obsolete.

    P2P is making the way we purchase, oh I'm sorry, "consume" entertainment obsolete. I highly doubt the RIAA/MPAA can cripple technology enough to keep us all in the old days.

  • I remember there being ftp channels in IRC and newsgroups hosting copyright materials back when I was 8. That would have been in 1988. I think it's safe to say that if p2p has been around for 15 years it will continue on. Perhaps the face will change, but the soul will stay the same. Copyrighted or not, you simply can not stop people from sharing data.
  • by LostCluster (625375) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:36PM (#6968880)
    All P2P really does at a technical level is build a rather randomly distributed system of mirrors for the distribution of content. That's nice, but without a central starting point there's no facility for the updating, refreshing, or retracting of content.

    High traffic websites have been doing mirroring for a long time, and Alakami's business is based on putting mirroring servers exactly where they belong... as close to upstream of the users as possible for the content that will be repeatedly requested. Caching proxy servers can also be used on the corperate/ISP side of things to get the same effect.

    The only real use of the mainstream P2P clients is to obsficate the originator of a file by creating thousands of sites offering that file... basically an "I am Spartacus... I am Spartacus... I am Spartacus... I am Spartacus... " scene for anybody trying to figure out where the file started. As we've seen in today's other P2P thread [slashdot.org], the most popular P2P content is done in a way where the "leaker" doesn't wish to be identified.

    BitTorrent is the only major P2P protocol that ensures what you're getting is what you meant it to be... basically that the content has been "signed" by its originator who needs some help on the bandwidth costs and many supporters of the sender are working together to provide it. For other content that's meant to be distributed, you have to step outside of the protocol to get the MD5 hash to make sure you got what you thought you got and not a virus... which effectively does the same thing. When somebody tries to distrubute a virus-tainted Linux on a website, they're sure to get shutdown by their ISP if not worse, because to run a website you've gotta tell other people who you are and stand behind the content you post. Not so on P2P, which is why it's such a popular way to send out viruses.

    P2P as a distribution model has some limited merits, but "P2P" as an avoid-paying-"the man" system is a fad that'll die out has soon as "the man" reminds people that crime doesn't pay. The correct way to use P2P, which I'm sure will come out in time, is as too to beat "the man" at his own game. It'd be nice if a site with large-ammounts of open source fans (such as this one) would hold a musical talent contest where instead of locking the winner into an RIAA-label deal, the winner is given access to a recording studio and experts to help them to record their music, a personally-promotional infomercial (even if it has to be on TechTV) with which they introduce themselves, sing a few songs, and pitch tickets for a multi-city upcoming tour, and a high-bandwidth site from OSDN where they must post unprotected Ogg Vorbis and MP3 files of the songs they recorded with the prize. Their share of the ticket sales from the tour is the only prize money they get, but that should be more than enough for them. :)
  • by MoeMoe (659154)
    Title: Has P2P Become a Passing Fad?

    Yes, just like music, movies, and pr0n...

  • p2p is the future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by retro128 (318602) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:53PM (#6969031)
    I'm curious to know what Slashdot readers think: is P2P the start of a major new trend that is just getting started, or is it a passing fad that will fade once legal client/server systems for media distribution finally take hold? If the former, which of the supposed advantages of P2P over client/server systems are really significant?

    I believe p2p is the future. Copyright issues aside, I doubt I'm the only one that's noticed that there are some downloads that are getting extremely large. Maybe it's a game demo, a movie trailer, or a software upgrade. How often has it happened that some thing comes out like, say, a Matrix trailer or a new game mod and people swamp the main server and mirrors alike to download it? Why else would recent Slashdot articles on popular downloads be linking .torrent files?

    The problem is further escalated by the fact that the ranks of broadband users are growning every day. I hear that Verizon is wanting to dump somewhere around 11 billion dollars into their network to ensure that all of their customers are able to get DSL, and they have lowered their prices across the board...You can now get 1.5 down/128 up for a flat $30/mo, similar to what SBC's been offering. With all this broadband around, popular web sites will not be able to keep up, expecially if they have downloadable goodies. The answer is distributed computing. p2p represents the infancy of the inevitibility of distributed storage, processing, and bandwidth.
  • by Cyno (85911) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:53PM (#6969039) Journal
    I mean I get more bandwidth over sneaker net than I do across the internet. And I don't have to worry about my government or the **AA intercepting my personal private data.

    My family doesn't care if they ever get broadband, and now I'm finally starting to agree with them. Our society just ain't smart enough to know what to do with this technology, so we police it, tax it and commercialize it. Its almost forced monopolization of an extremely valuable service. Bra vo. Watch us turn the internet into the next cable TV network or telephone system. Watch us repeat our historical examples over and over and over again. Just watch us.
  • An idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaneelGiskard (222145) on Monday September 15, 2003 @06:57PM (#6969077) Homepage
    Hey guys!

    This is just an idea which I'm not more able to think through tonight (it's very later here), but what about a UDP approach to a file sharing system. Everybody sending something to you could definitely be anonymous (UDP does not require a valid source IP). The tricky thing would be how to actually _find_ stuff, because that would need the IP of the potential source to be known. Hmmm...

    Any bright ideas?
  • by reallocate (142797) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:47PM (#6969602)
    P2p will survive and grow if, and only if, the content available via p2p is attractive.

    The question posed is a bit like asking, 500 years ago, if the printing press will survive. Well...it depends on what's printed.

    If p2p is the only way to get something people want, then it will surviv e. If p2p offers nothing people want, it will fade.
  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Monday September 15, 2003 @07:58PM (#6969693) Journal
    p2p filesharing wont die - its the killer app for broadband. Not many people have seemed to grasp this fact yet but, theres not much use for ever-faster connections unless you have something to download. Websites are not going to increase in size that much, streaming video isnt really what gets people going (its just another tv channel) and games have their limit in bandwidth usage.

    Now, give people free content without restrictions and you have something that everyone wants. Why are search engines the most popular websites? because the user types in what they want and gets it. From a users point of view, kazaa is the same as google except you can get everything that you cant get on google - its like the too hot for google channel. Are you seriously telling me that people dont want to be able to download all the music, films, porn, software, games, books and southpark they want for free!?!?! get real!

    The only things that might kill p2p filesharing as we know it are:
    • Legislation and heavy enforcement (at the moment RIAA lawsuits and sen. Friz Hollings are restricted to the US only)
    • Networks collapsing thru abuse, free-loading, or (taking the law into their own hands) sabotage (they seem to be pretty resistant)


    Governments (well in the UK anyway) are pushing broadband for all sorts of PHB reasons like "education" and obviously the ISPs - AOL etc are gonna try and sell it. Sen. Hollings is even for it. The absolute irony here is that the very same people who are pushing broadband so they can sell content are the same ones who will be fucked out of their money by filesharing! its brilliant, serves them right for their evil DRM plans.
  • by dioscaido (541037) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @12:35AM (#6972049)
    Second generation P2P, which uses consistent distributed hashing for organizing the network topology and lookup, have the potential to be "the future". Read Pastry and Scribe work at Rice, Content Addressible Networks at UC Berkeley, PeerCQ at Georgia Tech, and others.

    They provide amazingly scalable (i.e. - theoretically internet wide) network topologies for things like multicasting, distributed file systems, and network monitoring.

    Great stuff, and generations ahead of anything Kazaa/Napster/Gnutella did.
  • by dusty123 (538507) on Tuesday September 16, 2003 @03:44AM (#6972922)
    I think that P2P could solve one serious issue that is still not solved in todays internet: Anonymity.

    Today every surfer *could* be tracked, every download *could* be traced back, every chat *could* be deanonymized.

    The industry and the government is more and more making use of this fact, so it is - to my mind - very important to move to technologies where everyone can stay in anonymity.

    Please, don't tell me "I have nothing to hide". This 12 year old girl that now has to pay $2000.- for sharing songs also thought she had nothing to hide. People who linked to "FTP-Explorer" in their homepages also thought they had nothing to hide. In todays world a single person without a company backing him up can never know what's copyrighted and what not.
    Moreover privacy is a basic right of every human being. Hopefully people will recognize this right.

    Technologies that do not rely on single controllable servers seem to be the only solution; P2P is such software. Still, anonymity is missing because no one bothers. Hopefully these subpoenas of the RIAA will push secure technology like freenet or gnunet.

    We will see.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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