Any recording business executive celebrating the court victory over The Pirate Bay should have been in San Francisco this weekend for a reality check. Attending CodeCon 2009 would have brought them swiftly down to earth, and emphasised the futility of trying to prevent P2P file sharing. What's the point, when you can make money off it instead?
Legal "victories" become ever more expensive - and Pyrrhic. I didn't hear a word of anti-copyright rhetoric from the hardcore coders here unlike the poseurs at Pirate Bay. Instead, there were demonstrations of working code designed to enhance the security of users. The fact that this ingenuity was designed to obscure music lovers from snoopers is a consequence of how the incentives are lined up today. If P2P was legal - in controlled, licensed situations - these coders would be coding great music services.
(If you think Pirate Bay or Rapidshare is as good as music services can get, you are suffering from a severely crippled imagination).
Various projects suggested that detecting copyright infringers may soon become a whole lot harder.
A project called OneSwarm builds on the existing BitTorrent legacy and adds a layer of privacy. The original source and destination of material is obscured - you only know the first hop - and that's a chosen circle of friends.
Two presentations discussed the anonymous Tor network. The Switzerland "Test Your ISP" tool for tinfoil hatters is intended to measure ISP throttling, (in the UK we're throttled and metered up the wazoo already), while another TorFlow monitors the network for stress and capacity.
I'll deal in more detail with Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn's presentation of the Tahoe secure file system shortly - it merits a full story. Tahoe isn't strictly a media sharing service - but helps allay concerns that when you host data remotely, the hoster may be snooping.
CodeCon, the demo show created by Len Sassaman and Bram Cohen, was back after a two year hiatus. It seems appropriate moment for a boot-strapping coders' workshop, that was born in the 2002 recession to return. El Reg covered the early years, with Jorn Barger of Robot Wisdom guest correspondent in 2005. Welcome back. ®