P2P apps: built to steal? OCT 01 2002
Ev sez: "Kazaa was designed to let people get copyrighted material for free, which wouldn't otherwise be free. In fact, looking at their practices, I'd go so far as to say that Kazaa was designed for the creators to profit from people illegally sharing material."
Meg sez: "Kazaa isn't designed to steal things. It doesn't go into your house and take your DVD player. If Kazaa is transfering files that people have illegally placed online, the fault does not lie with Kazaa (or Napster, or LimeWire). It lies with the individuals who placed property online without appropriate permission. And it lies with individuals who download files without ascertaining whether they have the right to do so."
Without getting into who's right or wrong here, let's approach it more constructively from the software developer's point of view. How would applications like Kazaa, Limewire, or Napster be designed if they were deliberately built for stealing? How about if they were not built for stealing? What features would they have that they now lack? What about new features?
My feeling is that if Kazaa is designed to steal software, music, movies, and pornographic images, the people behind it are doing a crappy job. The software does little more than find files based on their metadata and some search terms, the barest of functionality needed to locate files. I should have the option of clicking on a song to download the rest of the songs from the album. I should be able to d/l the top 20 Billboard singles as a collection or separately without having to search for each one manually. A list of new releases by artists I've d/led before? How about a list of Amazon's best sellers? The top 10 movies in America in DivX format? All of the apps that Adobe makes? People love books on tape...how about a list of the titles on the NYTimes Bestseller List in mp3 format? The rest of the images in a particular porno image series? And if any of these aren't available, I can place them on a wishlist that d/ls items as soon as they become available. And those are just the no-brainer ideas.
If it is truly designed to steal, Kazaa should function much like Amazon with recommendations, top 10/25/whatever lists, and collaborative filtering, except with a "Steal now with 1-Click" button in place of the "Buy now with 1-Click" one.