p2pnet.net News:- The RIAA claims it’s identified software that’s the answer to unauthorised music sharing.
It can “sit inside peer-to-peer software and automatically stop swaps of copyrighted music from artists such as Britney Spears or Outkast,” as a CNET News story tells it here.
“It is definitely something that is interesting to people on (Capitol) Hill,” a “senior congressional staffer who had seen the demonstration and requested anonymity” told CNET.
The RIAA now wants to know why the commercial p2p companies aren’t using it, or something close to it, to filter unauthorised material on peer-to-peer networks.
After all, “The RIAA uses it to help identify musical evidence,” boasts sales blurb on the site of Audible Magic, the company that makes RepliCheck ‘song-recognition software’, as it’s known.
Sadly, the ‘filter’ may not actually filter, contrary to claims made for it by the RIAA and Mitch Bainwol, its chief. And the music industry enforcement unit’s contentions may once again be based on bluff and blunder, as is all too often the case.
Deciding whether or not Audible Magic’s song-recognition software does much more than simply recognize songs calls for expert technical knowledge, not something either the RIAA or congress are famous for. But high on the list of experts able to analyse the software are the p2p operators themselves.
They’re itching to get their hands on RepliCheck but so far, although it seems everyone on Capitol Hill has watched the software in action, the people it concerns the most – the commercial p2p community – haven’t managed to see a copy, let alone test it in the wild.
Not that they haven’t tried.
On January 24 their trade group P2P United hand-delivered a letter to RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) boss Bainwol demanding access to the Audible Magic ‘song-recognition software’ being touted under the aegis of the RIAA.
More than a week after the letter was delivered, P2P United members still haven’t been able to conduct a hands-on trial. And yet somewhat disingenuously, Bainwol told CNET News he “would be delighted for them to do so”.
Moreover, Audible Magic quotes Frank Creighton, RIAA svp of anti-piracy, as saying, “We have joined forces with trade associations and rights holders to combat the theft of intellectual property” and “Audible Magic’s RepliCheck helps protect artists and our business from copyright infringement, and it takes a huge burden off our employees.”
The ‘rights holders’ Creighton is talking about are, of course, the Big Five record labels, which own the RIAA in the first place. And the ‘trade associations’ are other RIAA-like enforcement organs – also owned by Big Music.
What’s it all about?
In 2000 Audible Magic Corporation, then a startup “that provides solutions for identifying audio content over the Internet”, bought Muscle Fish, a Berkeley-based company founded by acoustic engineers formerly from Yamaha Music Technologies, Inc.
“Muscle Fish engineers pioneered the use of content-based analysis and classification of audio files with over six years of extensive research and development,” it says, going on:
“Muscle Fish’s invention … measures a variety of psycho-perceptual characteristics of the audio file. These measurements can be used to analyze, compare, classify, and retrieve audio files. The technology has been demonstrated to be accurate at exact pattern matching for a range of file formats, including streaming audio on the Internet. In addition, it can be used to match and identify ‘similar sounding’ audio files, returning a list of closest matches to the user.”
“Psycho-perceptual characteristics”. Science-speak at its best and magic for Bainwol and congress.
“The value of the Muscle Fish acquisition will be seen not only in audio content identification, but with the digital media access, control and monetization opportunities it enables,” said Vance Ikezoye, Audible Magic ceo and co-founder in 2000. “We are already working with a number of customers on some very intriguing applications and have multiple patents pending, so stay tuned.”
There’s a Muscle Fish paper entitled CLASSIFICATION, SEARCH, AND RETRIEVAL OF AUDIO by the app’s creators, Erling Wold, Thom Blum, Douglas Keislar and James Wheaton, which explains how it call comes together.
It all looks great but the bottom line is – although it seems this software can recognize all kinds of audio material, how does it ‘filter’ content, let alone block it?
But not to worry – we’re sure Bainwol can explain it.
In the meanwhile, introducing filters into centralised apps such as the old Napster would be possible. But one of the main points about programs developed by P2P United members FreePeers (BearShare), Manolito P2P (Blubster), LimeWire (Limewire), Grokster Ltd (Grokster), MetaMachine (eDonkey2000) and Streamcast Networks (Morpheus) is: they’re decentralized.
This means users looking for material to trade or simply access search a number of individual computers on individual p2p networks until they find what they want. This same decentralized search process make it impossible for ‘filters’ to track searches.
To write programs able to interdict porn or anything else would mean completely changing the characteristics of existing p2p software, which would in turn mean changing the nature of the existing commercial p2p business.
That’s not only impractical, it’s dangerous, says Adam Eisgrau, P2P United executive director.
Software of this kind would amount to “a warrantless wiretap capability with no public accountability,” he told p2pnet. The music industry is demanding nothing less than, “the developers of neutral and legal software programs with great social utility redesign their products to the dictates of a single private industry.
“Anyone who values privacy ought to be outraged and alarmed.”