Aimster, the Napster-across-Instant Messenger software developer, has released what it reckons is the solution to Napster's filename filtering system.
Napster now monitors the names of shared files in order to block songs for which it hasn't been given permission to allow to be shared on its network. The move is part of the company's plan to avoid being completely toasted by the music industry and the courts.
Aimster's developers reckon this is tantamount to an invasion of privacy. What you call the files on your own hard disk, whether it's shared or not, is your own business, not Napster's. Hence what they're calling the Aimster Pig Encoder, which simply shuffles around the characters in an MP3's filename while still ensuring downloaders can figure out what they are: "It takes each of the file names of the mp3 files in your Napster directory and encodes the file names so that the name cannot be easily monitored," it says on Aimster's Web site.
Aimster implores users not to let on how the name shuffling works, presumably lest those crafty buggers at Napster figure it out and block the shuffled name to.
Aimster even goes as far as to threaten anyone considering letting on the secret of the encoder with legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - irony of ironies, the same legal foundation the music biz used to swat Napster.
As we don't know how it works, we can't tell you anyway. Not that Napster coders needs us or anyone else to tell them that - they can look at Aimster's site and download the code themselves.
Of course, if they try to use it to block juggled filenames, they'll be contravening the DMCA, too, which will make for an interesting situation: Napster sued simultaneously by both the music industry and users.
The DMCA makes illegal the act of circumventing copyright protection systems. ®
Aimster's Pig Encoder page