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[freehaven-dev] napster vs gnutella -- why distributed systems win (fwd)

Adam Back on gnutella - we can perhaps fit his observation at the end into
our defs of anonymity/privacy ?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 17:40:11 +0100 (BST)
From: Adam Back <adam@cypherspace.org>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: napster vs gnutella -- why distributed systems win

So Napster (www.napster.com) has an architecture which includes a
central server architecture for searching, and connecting to the
network, has been legally forced to remove 100s of thousands of user
accounts [1]

So the is possible because a) the notion of an 'account' exists
(napster is an IRC like chat program with the killer application being
collaborative file sharing of mp3s), and b) because there are central
servers.  (As an aside I am not sure what cancelling the accounts
achieves because that only applies to the chat handle; the user can
pick a new handle and continue).

Gnutella is a napster like file sharing system (without the IRC, and
with no restriction on types of files shared).  Gnutella however has
no central servers; it's architecture is like USENET, new nodes pick
existing nodes and connect themselves to the network via some of those
nodes.  There are no user names.

Gnutella (when I tried it) seems to have about 10x as much as napster
in terms of currently online files (10 Tb when I checked over 2500
nodes).  On Gnutella people are sharing not just mp3s but music videos
in the 20-80Mb size range, and even what looked like a movie of 350 Mb.

Gnutella stands a much better chance of success because napster
servers being central can be closed down.  Gnutella basically can't be

I think the next step on from Gnutella is some crypto to make it so
servers can't see what they're serving -- Gnutella leaves that
transparent.  I figure selective enforcement might have some effect on
Gnutella users, and that not reasonably being able to know what files
your server served would help in this area.


> Following through on its stated policy, Napster has blocked 317,377 user
> screen names from accessing the service.  The names are those delivered by
> rock group Metallica last week.  The company's official statement can be
> found at http://www.napster.com/metallica-notice.html.  Media coverage at
> http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-1847464.html