By Richard Menta 10/25/07
Several years back when the RIAA had the original Napster on the ropes in court the digerati warned that its death might be the best thing that could happen to P2P. There were other such apps during Napster's heyday, but almost all of the file sharing action was focused on Shawn Fanning's little dorm room project. Once Napster was shut down it created a vacuum that was immediately filled by other applications, elevating odd names like KaZaa, iMesh and Grokster into recognizable brands.
What is also notable is that most of these apps, including the three mentioned above, were set up overseas away from US copyright law. KaZaa started in the Netherlands and was moved to Australia with servers located on the Pacific island of Vanuatu. iMesh was based in in Israel and Grokster in the Carribean. Then there was Earth Station 5, which supposedly operated out of a Palistinian refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin. Of course, copyright law exists in some form in every country, but the originators of some these applications were counting that countries with the weakest laws would serve as copyright safe havens. It usually didn't work that way.
Kaiser Kuo on Blin.ca
But then again, sometimes it did. AllofMP3.com had a long and assumed profitable run in Russia before US trade pressures pressured the Russians to close it. KaZaa was able to pony up a $125 million settlement to the record industry when it finally lost its trial in Australia. These entities were making money and now that many of them are no longer players in this arena a new vacuum grew out of this.
Two US based companies Limewire and BitTorrent absorbed most of this latest vacuum, but P2P innovation has shifted strongly overseas and according to Ogilvy digital Guru Kaiser Kuo China is emerging as the new leader. As Zeropaid wrote a few days ago in their article Is China Taking P2P to a New Level "With a relaxed regulatory environment unlike the US, Chinese developers have created file-sharing protocols that offer downloads 50 times faster than BitTorrent and real-time streaming of DVD quality video." The article includes an video interview with Kuo who sites a new P2P application started by the former CMO of Baidu called Blin (pronounced Bee-leen) that has ratcheded up download speeds significantly.
Like with Russia, the US has had considerable difficulty protecting its intellectual property over in China. But the biggest challenge for any up and coming Cinese P2P technology may not be American and European regulatory pressures, but how to combat ever shrinking bandwidth as video begins to clog the Internet. But then again, in this light such solutions will most likely come out of China.
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