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Recently in Taiwan, police have begun
raiding the university dorm rooms of
students suspected of MP3 piracy, at
the behest of the recording industry.
The industry intends to make an
example of them. Students are taking
it so seriously that some are
physically destroying their hard
avoid prosecution and ruin.
This can be a sign of things to come;
in a world where moneyed corporations
can buy laws (witness the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act, the recent
European copyright directive which
all but abolishes fair use, and
similar laws elsewhere). As such, it
is not that far-fetched to think
that, in the not-too-distant future,
possession of illegally copied music
may be punished more harshly than
that of drugs, given that it
threatens The Man more directly.
One way of dealing with such a
possible situation would be to
encrypt MP3 collections. MP3s are
highly compressed, low-entropy data,
and thus (excepting headers), should
be difficult targets for cryptanalysis.
A cypherpunk MP3 storage system would
consist of library code or plug-ins
linked into players, rippers and
such. The MP3 files would be stored
encrypted on the hard disk; a list of
the files, giving names (highly
incriminating) would also be
encrypted. The user would have to
enter a passphrase to access the key
and unlock the data, before being
able to play MP3s or even see what's
on the system. Ripping software, and
even Napsteroid clients and web
downloaders, could use the library to
write their booty into the encrypted
store, without leaving a trace in
plaintext. Various duress mechanisms
(or even a "dead man's switch", like
not pressing a key or moving the
mouse for more than N seconds) could
cause the system to forget part or
all of the passphrase.
Recording industry sues file swapping students
The news story about the dorm room raids in Taiwan [acb, Apr 14 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]
||This is baked in many ways. (After all, "cypherpunks write code". Or at least they used to.) Most of the free operating systems have encrypted filesystem support. I think there's even a steganographic filesystem out there; steganography is really what you want here.
||On the Napster front, see systems like Eternity, Freenet, etc., which are designed to let people store, publish, and exchange politically unpopular information.
||Don't you mean *high* entropy data?
||Otherwise, what [wiml] said. I would add that code is not the answer; if things go as you describe, the Man will ultimately make it illegal to use or distribute cryptographic or steganographic techniques, or any other technology which could be used to circumvent direct enforcement of copyright and other content control laws.
||I don't think this social problem has a (purely) technological solution.
||Or you could just use a filesystem that's encrypted instead.
Several OS's already provide encrypted filesystems including linux, *bsd and even w*dows