By Richard Menta 3/04/2002
Didn't I admit last week that I felt like I might be going overboard with all the cloak and dagger stuff regarding the Morpheus shutdown? Agatha Christie could have written this one. It was KaZaa BV who pulled the plug on Morpheus. The reason they claim is that Morpheus parent StreamCast didn't pay its bill.
Kazaa BV founder and FastTrack creator Niklas Zennstrom wrote this statement to CNET News. "MusicCity (also known as StreamCast Networks) has failed to pay any amounts due to Kazaa BV under the parties' license agreement. As a result of MusicCity's breach, Kazaa BV did not provide version 1.5 to MusicCity. Kazaa has also terminated MusicCity's license."
KaZaa BV also cut off ten-of-millions of user's to the FastTrack network, a pretty dramatic move considering both the KaZaa client and Grokster both share files with those users and a P2P networks power lies squarely with its user base. You would think they would have gone to any lengths to reach a consensus.
And if they tried exactly that and still failed to mediate their differences, wouldn't a public warning of a potential shutdown of Morpheus by KaZaa make sense just before they pulled the plug by not providing the 1.5 version of the software?
And what about all this hacker stuff from Morpheus, the supposed "two-prong" attack they described on their Web site? "This week MusicCity and Morpheus users suffered dual attacks. First, early this week MusicCity's servers were hit by a massive Denial of Service attack. Soon thereafter, Morpheus users found that a separate attack had been launched on their computers and their Morpheus software programs".
"This unprovoked attack is being carefully investigated, as it appears that federal laws may have been violated. We are still attempting to discover who would want to eliminate the community of millions of consumers who are using the Morpheus software product to connect with other users around the world".
Still attempting to discover? Did they or didn't they know KaZaa cut them off for lack of payment?
Or is it possible a DDoS attack came from another source and just happened to coincidently been timed about the moment KaZaa BV was to pull that license, hence all the accusations by StreamCast against Kazaa BV?
Maybe. KaZaa told Newsbytes that their own Web servers have been attacked since Morpheus went down. In the Newsbytes article they also denied any role in Morpheus' shutdown, a denial that contradicts the statement they made to CNET. Kazaa has also confirmed that advertising traffic generated by users of the competing Morpheus software was redirected to its own servers last week, but deny being the culprit behind it. Hey Agatha, got any clues?
Whatever the cause of the shutdown, the event has brought to light an infighting that does exist between the membership and this has got to please the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) who are both suing members of FastTrack's network in California. Legal action can drag on for months if not years, but this self-implosion among the defendants did more to curtail trading on this network than any threat of a restraining order from US courts.
That order is more likely to come about now that KaZaa has provided evidence that supports the RIAA and MPAA claims that FastTrack is not a decentralized network and thus open to some of the legal exposure that closed Napster during its trial.
The three defendants claimed that even if you shut down all three companies, file trading would continue unabated among users who already possess one of the P2P clients. FastTrack's booting of Morpheus users off the network, however it was caused, shows this is not the case and that at least one of the companies may have the power to shut the network itself down.
No doubt more information on this will come about. Only time will tell if this will be a case of self-immolation or another bud on the Hydra's head.
Meanwhile, StreamCast's latest version of Morpheus is struggling over the load as a Gnutella client, a network that may not scale to handle the volume of traffic Morpheus once owned. Over 8 million people have downloaded the new Morpheus Preview Edition since it was released Friday. That is a superior number in such a short span of time - almost 20% of the total downloads of the FastTrack version of Morpheus since its inception - showing the power of the Morpheus brand. The question now is can they improve this hastily developed client before users become frustrated with its limitiations and move on?
Almost 4 million users have downloaded the KaZaa client during the same perion showing that Morpheus has already lost a significant part of its audience.
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