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Home > Software Reviews > General Computing

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Kazaa VS LimeWire

2. History

Kazza
The Kazaa Media Desktop is a p2p file sharing application, using the FastTrack protocol. The Kz and the FastTrack protocol were introduced in March 2001. It made its appearance in the end of the first generation of P2P networks (Napster shut down in July of the same year). The Kazaa is commonly used to exchange music and movie files. The official client can be downloaded free of charge and is financed by attached adware.

With the demise of Napster at the turn of the century, a new type of file-sharing technology emerged from the Scandinavians Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. Their company, 'Consumer Empowerment', developed a program which would replace Napster by following a dramatically differentiated path: the Kz relied on supernodes in order to index files, whereas Napster had a centralized index of files available for the downloading process. This meant that where it was possible for Kz to shut down Napster, it was virtually unstoppable. Consumer Empowerment sold Kz to several companies, including the Australian company Sharman Networks. Yet, Kz's future when its legal status is in question seems to be dim. Sharman is currently facing lawsuits by the RIAA, the ARIA and the MPAA.

Its initial user base was made up of users of the Morpheus program, a former client of MusicCity. Once the official Kz client became more popular, its developers used their ability to automatically update it, changing the protocol in February 2002 to shut out the Morpheus clients when its developers failed to pay license fees. The next step for Morpheus was to become a client of Gnutella.

Kz's creators have been taken to court by music publishing bodies claiming to the restriction of its use to sharing of copyrighted material. Consumer Empowerment was taken to court in the Netherlands in 2001 by the Dutch music publishing body, Buma/Stemra. In November 2001, the court ruled that the Kz's owners take steps to prevent its users from violating copyrights or else they would have to pay a heavy fine. Consumer Empowerment responded by selling the Kz application to a complicated network of offshore companies, primarily Sharman Networks, headquartered in Australia and incorporated in the Republic of Vanuatu.

In late March 2002, a court of appeals reversed the earlier ruling, stating that Kz was not responsible for the actions of its users. However, in 2002, Sharman was sued in Los Angeles by the RIAA and the MPAA. That lawsuit is still pending, although a recent ruling given by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a related lawsuit against a similar FastTrack client, Grokster, appears not to have taken heed of the rationale for the US Kz suit.

In September 2003, the RIAA filed suits in civil courts against several private individuals who had shared large numbers of files with Kz; in most of these cases, a $3,000 average monetary damage was deemed sufficient. Sharman Networks responded with a lawsuit against the RIAA, claiming that the terms of use of the network had been violated and that unauthorized client software (such as Kz Lite, as seen below) was used in the investigation to track down the individual file sharers. An effort disallow their claim was denied in January 2004.

In February 2004, the Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), a division of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), announced its own legal action against Kz, on the grounds of alleged massive copyright breaches. The hearing commenced on November 29, 2004, and came to an end on September 5, 2005 with the Federal Court ruling that the Kazaa network had actually breached copyright in Australia. Federal Court Judge Murray Wilcox gave the service's owners two months to modify their website to prevent further piracy by its millions of users.

Kz has been accused of installing either spyware or adware into users' computers. Sharman claims that the products are adware ones and do not collect any personal information referring to users. At a time, the segment of the Kz code which was considered an adware one, was optional with the Kz installation (though technically difficult not to install). However, the code has been bundled into the main Kz software and it is not possible to uninstall it without uninstalling Kz first. Also, spyware detection and removal software have frequently failed to delete the code without special procedures initiated by the PC user.

Revenue comes from the following sources:

  • Content - payment for distribution of Digital Rights Management content.
  • Advertising - delivered by Cydoor and the GAIN Network.
  • Sales of products and services – e.g. BullGuard, MatchNet.

The adware being the main cause, CNet's Download.com site terminated distribution of the Kz in April 2004.

In August 2003, Kz Plus was introduced by Sharman Networks, a paid-for premium version carrying neither spyware nor adware. Another commercial version under the name of Kazaa Gold has been created, but it is not part of the Sharman Networks line of production.

There have been programs based on the official Kazaa client without being official themselves. The Kazaa Lite is an unauthorized modification of the Kazaa Media Desktop application which excludes adware and spyware, providing at the same time slightly extended functionality. This fact resulted in Sharman Networks deeming the Kazaa Lite an infringement of copyright.

After the development of the Kazaa Lite was terminated, the Kazaa Lite Tools K++ and the Kazaa Lite Resurrection appeared. These are slightly modified versions of the Kazaa Lite. Following suit, other programmers came up with the K-Lite v2.6/2.71, and the Diet K. These programs do not include any of Sharman's codes: they only require from the user to supply the original, unpatched Kazaa Media Desktop, and they execute it in an environment which will remove the malware and add some features.
(9 points)

LimeWire
The LimeWire is a free, open source, Gnutella peer-to-peer network client, which was inspired by Mark Gorton and was released under the GNU General Public Licence. It is developed in Java, and hence runs on any computer having been equipped with a Java installation. The program allows users to share files utilizing the Gnutella p2p protocol. Two binary (pre-compiled) versions of the program have been released by its developer, the LimeWire LLC; a basic, free version, and an enhanced version sold for a small fee.

Lime Wire LLC is focused on developing advanced file-sharing client/server software, which connect computing devices over public and private networks. Its team of developers has its origins in some of the world's most highly esteemed academic as well as professional institutions, such as the MIT, Columbia, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, CIBC Oppenheimer, and Compaq.

LimeWire LLC is a subsidiary completely owned by the Lime Group, an incubator of technology, whose headquarters are located downtown New York City. As a matter of fact, LimeWire LLC itself, founded in August 2000 and having the status of a Limited Liability Company, has its headquarters in New York Its line of expertise involves developing technologies as well as setting up worldwide p2p networks across the internet, which are its main sources of profit.

Lime Wire occupies a very large team of developers who build applications for the Gnutella network. Their first product was the software package called LimeWire, a powerful as well as scalable serverless networking software that enables entities on the internet to search for, share, and download files via the Gnutella Network. The LimeWire has already achieved considerable popularity, having been downloaded more than 4,000,000 times since May 30, 2001. A pc magazine study shows that it resides in over 2% of the PCs worldwide.

The LW software was designed to be freely downloaded by individual users, in order to accelerate the growth of the network as a whole and introduce people to the power of p2p networks. For the time being it is being mainly used in file-sharing but it also has the potential to become a tool of information with capabilities beyond those currently existing on the Internet, such as the World Wide Web. Content-serving entities on a p2p network will be able to respond to queries by presenting dynamically generated, real-time information. Search requestors will be able to query and draw data directly from one or more databases, without having to navigate through several bulky web interfaces. They will also be able to communicate with a number of computers simultaneously, and pre select the kind and form of information they will receive in response to their requests. LW is building the technologies to communicate over p2p networks though structured metadata queries, transcending the text-based search capabilities of the World Wide Web and the current Gnutella network.
(9 points)




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