Possible to Stop Gnutella?

W.Yip weng at yours.com
Mon Oct 2 05:45:27 UTC 2000

I refer to the article "The Gnutella paradox" By Janelle Brown dated
October 2, 2k: 


I am interested to open room for discussion relating to the possibilities
by which Gnutella may be sued. Of course, we all know that, for Gnutella,
there are no parties controlling a centralised host to sue. However, said
article does suggest certain possible ways to destroy the movement anyway.

I quote two very interesting sections of said article:

1) quote article "...although it's widely believed that the decentralized
nature of Gnutella will make prosecuting users impossible, it's much easier
to target scapegoats if only a few hundred hosts are actively dispensing
files." [see further arguments in article on why only a few hundred hosts
are actively dispensing files.] So there seems to be a finite number of
parties out there who may be sued (for accessory to copyright
infringement), such as to deter others from joining in the gnutella

2) quote article "MP3Board.com's lawyer Ira Rothken argues: "AOL owns the
intellectual property [of Gnutella], they own the copyright, they put it up
on the Web site, they should have known it didn't have safeguards in place
for Digital Millennium Copyright Act compliance. They had the right, given
the fact that they own the copyright to the code, to go out and get a
restraining order against people who did use it. And they didn't." 

Since Gnutella was released under the GPL by Frankel under the AOL, it does
seem that AOL owns copyright. However, we all know that the GPL forbids
recipients from adding any restrictions upon re-distribution, thereby
ensuring a perpetual 'chain of licenses'. Hence, it would be interesting
*IF* AOL does indeed sue for a restraining order, because this would mean
that the courts are forced to rule on the (i) NATURE of copyright in the
GPL, and particularly (ii) whether the original copyright holder can
suddenly appear and stop the re-distribution process. Is it possible that a
restraining order may be justified on grounds that compliance with the DMCA
is at stake?
I would love to hear your opinion on this, and thanks in advance.


quod semper, quod ubique, quod ad omnibus creditum est

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