Japan’s four main Internet provider organizations have gotten together and worked out an arrangement where they’re going to be cutting Internet access to people using the “WinNy” P2P file sharing program.

Their big reason for this is the big battle against piracy.  They’re claiming that most of the files being traded by the 1.75 million or so WinNy users in Japan are illegal copies of:

3.55 million examples of illegally copied gaming software, worth about 9.5 billion yen at regular software prices, and 610,000 examples of illegally copied music files, worth 440 million yen,

I have to say that it’s interesting that they claim there is so much more trading of games than there is of music which, as far as I know, is totally backwards from claims made elsewhere about what’s being shared.

They haven’t gone into any details of course as to HOW they’re deciding that a particular WinNy user is sharing “illegal copies” of programs and music, which is particularly interesting because while I understand that WinNy message forums aren’t anonymous, the file transfer system itself *IS* anonymous.  Given that, there’s no real way to be sure that any one user has, in fact, uploaded or downloaded any given file (at least, without searching their hard drives and even then if the user in question maintains good security practices, that will also prove fruitless.)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that WinNy is and has been used for trading a lot of “illegal copies” of stuff, but it also serves as an anonymous means of sharing information and as such is valuable in spite of any illegal use.

The thing is though, that it apparently can be detected and therefore blocked and it’s also possible to identify users by tracing the non-anonymous forum part of it’s network to identify the IP addresses of users.

I’m thinking that this is a situation in which the people using WinNy would do well to consider switching to Freenet.  Freenet has a distinct advantage in that ALL of it’s traffic is 100% anonymous and encrypted.  Content being distributed over freenet cannot be identified by an observer, nor is it possible to determine who is inserting or requesting any particular file.

Freenet also has a messaging system that keeps all of the message exchanges within the same encrypted, anonymous transport layer that is used to store and move files.  I believet that it’s also been reported that Freenet nodes can often communicate even in situations where other networks have been blocked.

There are currently two main branches of freenet in use:

Freenet 0.5, which is considered by many to be the “stable” version, has been around for quite a while and is once again under active development.

Freenet 0.7, which is the new version that’s currently in “alpha” state of development where a lot of new code is being developed and tested.

Because of the anonymous nature of Freenet it is not possible to know exactly but it’s estimated that both versions have several thousand users with that number growing all the time on both versions of the network (note: Freenet 0.5 and Freenet 0.7 are separate networks and do not [currently, I think that may change someday] communicate with each other directly.

I think that both networks would benefit greatly by the increase in the number of nodes that’s possible if WinNy users switch to one or the other network.

Technorati Tags: Anonymity, anonymous+p2p, file+sharing, Freenet, internet+access, japan, japanese+isp, p2p, winny

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