September 29, 2003
code. 00383bpop

When Napster was first, uh, legislated, filesharers declared an "underground" code to find the real music that the record cos were scrubbing. We were to place the first letter of the artists name at the end, the classic example was adonnam, and we would all know to search (and make searchable) our music with that code. As if the record cos don't read Wired News as well. That was pretty short lived. Especially since computers are uniquely well suited to cracking algorithm-based codes like letter ranspositiont.

So now that Kazaa is the new infectious disease, an interesting thing is happening, I just noticed it for the first time today on a Bastard Pop blog (Bastard Pop = mashup = mixing one pop song directly over another with the same beat). Interestingly, these are from March 13th -- pre-RIAA lawsuits -- but with Bastard Pop, it's a double jeopardy thing, since you're not only distributing music without attention to copyright, you are also modifying it. The entry (a typical one) reads:

go kazaa (searchword:)
code. 00383bpop

I just tried running a search on 00381bpop on Kazaa Lite, and didn't turn anything up, but then, the code is from six months ago. In theory, it should return the latest file as specified on the blog.

So Kazaa becomes a decentralized filesharing network but with a key, the key being -- as in fairy tales -- a name. It's a very different idea about filesharing, and a very different idea about Kazaa, and very possibly in widespread use, since the very nature of it is to use obscurity (or extremely local relevancy) as a form of defensive camoflauge.

Only a matter of time before the kinds of recognition-software that powers Shazam tracks down pop files with Terminator-like horror movie efficiency. But like the drug wars, this is not one that anyone will win through legislation and enforcement. In particular when it's purely about one idea vs. another idea (keynames vs. music-recog software, Blaster vs. Windows Update) the world in aggregate will always be smarter than the subset of it working in law enforcement.

Posted by kevin slavin at September 29, 2003 09:41 PM
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