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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Internet's Long War...

While reading an article about WinAmp availability on Android phone this morning, suddenly Napster came to my mind. Did a Google News search for Napster and found lot of articles about internet wars that happened recently. Of all the links, the most interesting one was an article by Tim Hwang from The Washington Post titled WikiLeaks and the Internet's Long War.

He (Tim Hwang) did an easy to understand summary about the series of battles between "Anonymous" and the establishment. It makes me interested to read more about the topic.

It started with the history of open source against the proprietary software

"In the early 1980s, Richard Stallman, then an employee at MIT's artificial-intelligence lab, was denied permission to access and edit computer code for the lab's laser printer. Frustrated, he kicked off what he calls GNU, a massively collaborative project to create a free and sharable operating system. His efforts sparked a widespread movement challenging the restriction of access to software through patents. Supporters asserted that they had a right to control the code in their own computers."

Then the story about Napster

"Another major milestone in the conflict arose in 1999, when Shawn Fanning launched Napster, allowing for seamless peer-to-peer sharing of content. The service ballooned, claiming more than 25 million users at its peak and resulting in mountains of copyrighted content flowing freely across the Web. The site was sued and shut down in 2001. However, the ensuing battle over copyright law drew a line between industry representatives, such as the Recording Industry Association of America, and the "hacker" advocates for the free flow of content."

Napster was forced down but then BitTorrent emerged

"Large-scale use of this technology emerged in 2003 in the form of the Pirate Bay, which indexes BitTorrent files en masse. The site's founders and operators, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde, would emerge as the Assanges of this battle, permitting a massive and continuous leak of copyrighted content in the face of waves of police raids and lawsuits - persisting even beyond their eventual conviction on infringement charges in 2009."

And now, the WikiLeaks

"The WikiLeaks fight is in the tradition of these conflicts, just on a much vaster scale. As the Internet has become an integral part of our everyday lives, narrow and technical questions about who gets to run and edit computer code have morphed first into battles over copyrighted content, and now into fights at the highest levels of government secrecy and corporate power."

We'll see how this war will shape the internet in the future.

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