×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Brightnets are Owner Free File Systems

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

Privacy 502

elucido writes "OFF, or the Owner-Free Filesystem is a distributed filesystem in which everything is stored in reference to randomized data blocks, as opposed to a 1:1 copy of the original data being inserted. The creators of the Owner-Free Filesystem have coined a new term to define the network: A brightnet. Nobody shares any copyrighted files, and therefore nobody needs to hide away. OFF provides a platform through which data can be stored (publicly or otherwise) in a discreet, distributed manner. The system allows for personal privacy because data (blocks) being transferred from peer to peer do not bear any relation to the original data. Incidentally, no data passing through the network can be considered copyrighted because the means by which it is represented is truly random." Their main wiki page discusses a bit of what this means and how it might work as well. I've been saying that we need this for many years now, if only because we all have 10 gigs free on our machines and if we could RAID the internet we'd need fewer hard drives.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

502 comments

Encryption (5, Insightful)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998999)

Isn't this just a sophisticated form of encryption, using a large, randomly generated key?

If so, does it have any real advantages over conventional encryption? It seems that the disadvantage would be the need to have both the file (large) and the random data (large) instead of, conventionally, just the file (large) and key (small).

Also, I can't be the only one who found the summary, uh, confusing??

Re:Encryption (5, Informative)

iocat (572367) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999035)

the wiki explains it a little better. It's sort of cool. It breaks all the data in 128K randomized chunks, and those chunks can also be used as well to represent OTHER data, because it's all about the relationship of the radomized chunks, not just the chunks themselves.

Re:Encryption (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999405)

ya, fuckin' cool

go rape yourself, cuntslag.

Re:Encryption (4, Insightful)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999287)

Replying to my own post, but this IS just a sort of encryption - their main claim being because the data is encrypted, it's not copyright.

As has been pointed out below, the data transferred is not the thing copyrighted - it's what it represents. So it's an arduous and painful encryption, with high overhead, easy to crack and no plausible benefit. With some hand-wavy 'it annuls all badness from bad things' explanation.

Re:Encryption (5, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999501)

Replying to my own post, but this IS just a sort of encryption - their main claim being because the data is encrypted, it's not copyright.

As has been pointed out below, the data transferred is not the thing copyrighted - it's what it represents. So it's an arduous and painful encryption, with high overhead, easy to crack and no plausible benefit. With some hand-wavy 'it annuls all badness from bad things' explanation.

Except that is probably bullshit to copyright lawyers

There's a great explanation of why in this essay, What Colour are your Bits. It's actually about another system based on the same sort of ideas.

http://ansuz.sooke.bc.ca/lawpoli/colour/2004061001.php [sooke.bc.ca]

The fallacy of Monolith is that it's playing fast and loose with Colour, attempting to use legal rules one moment and math rules another moment as convenient. When you have a copyrighted file at the start, that file clearly has the "covered by copyright" Colour, and you're not cleared for it, Citizen. When it's scrambled by Monolith, the claim is that the resulting file has no Colour - how could it have the copyright Colour? It's just random bits! Then when it's descrambled, it still can't have the copyright Colour because it came from public inputs. The problem is that there are two conflicting sets of rules there. Under the lawyer's rules, Colour is not a mathematical function of the bits that you can determine by examining the bits. It matters where the bits came from. The scrambled file still has the copyright Colour because it came from the copyrighted input file. It doesn't matter that it looks like, or maybe even is bit-for-bit identical with, some other file that you could get from a random number generator. It happens that you didn't get it from a random number generator. You got it from copyrighted material; it is copyrighted. The randomly-generated file, even if bit-for-bit identical, would have a different Colour. The Colour inherits through all scrambling and descrambling operations and you're distributing a copyrighted work, you Commie Mutant Traitor.

To a computer scientist, on the other hand, bits are bits are bits and it is absolutely fundamental that two identical chunks of bits cannot be distinguished. Colour does not exist. I've seen computer people claim (indeed, one did this to me just today in the very discussion that inspired this posting) that copyright law inescapably leads to nonsense conclusions like "If I own copyright on one thing, and copyright inherits through XOR, then I own copyright on everything because everything can be obtained from my one thing by XORing it with the right file." That sounds profound only if you're a Colour-blind computer scientist; it would be boring nonsense to a lawyer because lawyers are trained to believe in and use Colour, and it's obvious to a lawyer that the Colour doesn't magically bleed to the entire universe through the hypothetical random files that might be created some day. You could create the file randomly, but you didn't. Maybe you could create a file identical to the complete works of Shakespeare by XORing together two files of apparently random garbage. "Why, so can I, or so can any man;" but that doesn't mean that I am William Shakespeare.

Re:Encryption (1)

TimeTraveler1884 (832874) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999587)

What I missed from the wiki is why you could not just host the random files locally, or generate them on the fly? If the URLs that are distributed are encoded to reassemble the original file from known random parts, why host those parts on other machines at all?

On aside note, assuming computing power is no problem, wouldn't it be better to distribute multiple MD5 hashes of 128kb chunks of a given file. Then through brute force reassemble the file by solving for what the MD5 represents. Not only are you drastically cutting way down on bandwidth, but arguably you are not committing copyright infringement by transferring hashes.

Perhaps MD5 is not even the best for this, maybe a hash that has a lot of collisions and then you need a primer (like a URL for OFFS) to reassemble the file correctly. Otherwise, you may reassemble the file to represent something else that had a collision with the hashes you have.

You could go on and on, and I've decided one way or another, you are transferring copyrighted works whether it's the information to assemble random pieces encoded in a URL, or MD5 hashes that are considered "derivative works". Fun problem to think about though.

Re:Encryption (1, Troll)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999707)

On aside note, assuming computing power is no problem, wouldn't it be better to distribute multiple MD5 hashes of 128kb chunks of a given file. Then through brute force reassemble the file by solving for what the MD5 represents. Not only are you drastically cutting way down on bandwidth, but arguably you are not committing copyright infringement by transferring hashes.

The chunks are (much) bigger than the hashes, so for each hash, there are multiple possible chunks which would yield that hash. So no, it won't work.

As for copyright law, I'm pretty sure you committed an infringement by even discussing a potential - although non-functional - way of circumventing it. But even if you hadn't, rest assured that Disney will have the law amended to close this loophole.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999619)

The key advantage is that all components from which the data is reconstructed could be used to reconstruct other files just as well. It is the selection of components which describes what you get, not the components themselves. You can think of it like a hash which describes the file with enough certainty, but doesn't have all the information to reconstruct the file. Normally you would use the hash to identify a file, and the data you would have to download is clearly that file. In this concept, you can get the necessary information without giving away what you're getting it for. Likewise, you can share blocks of data which have no discernible purpose: Combined in a certain way they reconstruct one file, combined in a different way they reconstruct other files. The blocks of data contain no information whatsoever about the files which they can reconstruct. They're for all intents and purposes random data. You could share all blocks needed to reconstruct the latest Redhat Linux iso, but someone else could use the same blocks of data as part of a Suse Linux iso. The other blocks needed for the Suse Linux iso in turn could as well be used to reconstruct some other big file, and so on. The data does not identify the contained information. Only the combination does, and that is a very small and much more easily hidden and distributed piece of information.

what the fuck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999031)

what the fuck is it and why would I want to use it?

Re:what the fuck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999057)

Sounds kinda like a torrent-distribution system, except there aren't any copyrighted files and there aren't any seeders (no full copies made available). Basically torrent minus anything that makes it good.

Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999047)

As a rule, you don't copyright the exact data (i.e. the sequence of numbers representing a digital file). You copyright the actual tangible information. Attempting to abstract the law into mathematics is pointless. They are not compatible.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (5, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999199)

Attempting to abstract the law into mathematics is pointless.

Hmmm... I don't think that's the objective, exactly. I didn't read TFA as saying "material distributed in this way is not subject to copyright" but rather "none of the bits we're moving are copyrighted - go pester the people doing the uploading"

I also think there is a useful discussion to be had on the subject of numbers and the digital assets they may or not represent. If I zip up MS Office, for instance, I've turned it into a very long number. Is it reasonable to allow companies to claim ownership of such numbers? With the proper compression and/or encryption scheme, you could use any number (trivially in some cases) to represent a work over which you can claim copyright. Do we then let a corporation privatise the entire integer space? And if not, how do we distinguish between infringing and non-infringing uses of a large number?

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999409)

how do we distinguish between infringing and non-infringing uses of a large number?

$ sudo apt-get install common-sense && man common-sense

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (3, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999561)

$ sudo apt-get install common-sense && man common-sense

The problem I have with that, is I that don't think those commands work in a court of law.

Come to think of it, but I'm fairly they wouldn't work under Ubuntu either. (I wouldn't know about Debian)

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (5, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999705)

In this case, though, the law has it right. No matter what you're doing to break up, encrypt, hash, randomize, or distribute files, if the end-goal is to end up with a representation of copyrighted material then you're still breaking the law.

If you don't like the law, then go out there and do something about it. Trying to find a workaround for the law is just going to get the courts mad at you if you get caught. Information may want to be free, but right now it isn't (at least not the information that these kinds of things are being created for). Legitimize it, not strategize about how to avoid the problems that can come with it.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999711)

> $ sudo apt-get install common-sense && man common-sense

Warning: Installing "common-sense" for assumed environment "human-geek-slashdot_newbie-debian_user-simpson_family" . This version may not be compatible with versions for other environments.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

setagllib (753300) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999437)

This argument is futile. The law covers distribution of the information regardless of the format of the information, so one large number is legally indistinguishable from base64 or hex. If the copyrighted data can be recovered it's considered distribution - in some cases even if the key itself is not distributed with the encrypted data.

I don't know if this new system exploits a loophole in the laws, but even if it does, that loophole will be closed. The new copyright laws appearing worldwide are practically making it illegal just to use a computer, so it's not like a single loophole is going to help.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (4, Insightful)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999699)

If the copyrighted data can be recovered it's considered distribution - in some cases even if the key itself is not distributed with the encrypted data.

The issue is that any piece of random data can be turned into copyrighted data. With the right key, you can turn John Smith's holiday photo's into copyrighted MP3's. But you can't sue John Smith because someone uploaded a key that can turn his photo's in copyrighted data. OFF stores random blocks of data, which can be used by multiple files. It doesn't store any information in particular, just random blocks. Random blocks that can be used for anything. It is the URL that turnes those random blocks into something.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999659)

And if not, how do we distinguish between infringing and non-infringing uses of a large number?

Intent.

The "number" is almost never without context, e.g. a filename, metadata, or other description. Sure you could lie about that, mislabel it, etc, but then it doesn't make it very useful for dstribution. If someone else can find out what it's supposed to be, so can a judge.

People act like this somehow new, too subjective, or breaks the "black and white"-ness of the law, but this is how the law has always been. It doesn't fit neatly into "if-then" boxes as INTPs would like to pretend it does.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999855)

People act like this somehow new, too subjective, or breaks the "black and white"-ness of the law, but this is how the law has always been. It doesn't fit neatly into "if-then" boxes as INTPs would like to pretend it does.

Actually, my concern is more over the other side of the coin: that some corporation or cartel will try use the same apparent novelty to try and claim ownership over the numbers. As in "we own 'The sound of Music' so therefore we own number 135678012456677787...."

I'm not trying to suggest (as some seem to assume) that this constitutes a way of evading copyright.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (0)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999691)

Do we then let a corporation privatise the entire integer space?

Don't get me wrong, I'm an opponent of copyright zealots as much as you, but in your example, yeah, you have a string of numbers, but what do those numbers represent?

The answer: A copyrighted work (MS Office).

MS (or any copyright holder) isn't claiming copyright over 0100010 or 00100111. They're claiming copyright over what those numbers mean. Complaining about it like this is like saying "Authors are trying to copyright all the letters of the alphabet" when they hold and exercise their copyrights on novels, magazines, and the like.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999717)

If I zip up MS Office, for instance, I've turned it into a very long number. Is it reasonable to allow companies to claim ownership of such numbers?

Read the link I posted earlier. Legally it depends on where the bits came from. No amount of compression and encryption will change that. Copying zipped or encryped MS Office, or for that matter the Linux kernel, doesn't magically make the copyright go away of the copyright owner lose their right to compel you to either follow the license or not use it.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (3, Informative)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999207)

As a rule, you don't copyright the exact data (i.e. the sequence of numbers representing a digital file). You copyright the actual tangible information. Attempting to abstract the law into mathematics is pointless. They are not compatible.

That's not the point. The point is that if someone downloads blocks from me to be used for copyrighted material, I cannot know what it is used for. Maybe these block also encode legal stuff. Because the same block encodes multiple files, and because a request does not state what the data is gonna be used for, I (probably) cannot be holded responsable for sharing copyrighted material.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (3, Interesting)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999213)

You copyright the actual tangible information. Attempting to abstract the law into mathematics is pointless. They are not compatible.

You're dead right. What is interesting is that if you're "caught" with some of these random blocks on your disk, they're just random blocks of data. You can't decode them unless you have the key, hence there's no charge of copyright infringement.

One problem with the proposal (which, by the way, is very obvious, and is how FreeNet and other systems work) is that their key length needs to be the same length as the data, because it's effectively a One Time Pad. If it's any shorter than the original data, then there will be a way to unencrypt the data without the key (proof by a simple counting argument).

Rich.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (4, Insightful)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999221)

Once I actually understood what on earth they are on about, it seems like an interesting idea with very little basis in reality. Their main claim seems to be a magic-wand approach to getting round copyright, as opposed to a particularly useful distributed filesystem:

No data passing through the network can be considered copyrighted because the means by which it is represented is truly random

Sure... So if I put in Brittany's latest album, then tell my friend to click on the url that 'reassembles' the 'truly random' data into, well, Brittany's latest album, then do you really think copyright has nothing to say?

Breaking news! Photocopying books is TOTALLY LEGAL if you use yellow paper and/or put the book in the machine upside down!

A correctly encrypted file also appears random. It does not mean it IS random, otherwise it would be, well, not very useful.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999315)

For some of us that isn't a problem, since we don't believe in IP anyway.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (4, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999375)

Whether you believe in IP is irrelevant to the law of the country of where you live. As a defence it won't hold up in court.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999495)

Who said im going to court? I adjust my activities to compensate which avoids that situation.

Doesn't change my belief, or disregard.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999633)

For some hundred years ago and still some places in this world today a person have no chance in court if they're gay.

Today very few don't belive in IP, but I guess this will change when the youth today grow up.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (3, Insightful)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999647)

Whether you believe in IP is irrelevant to the law of the country of where you live. As a defence it won't hold up in court.

"Whether you believe in Allah is irrelevant to the Sharia law of the country of where you live. As a defense it won't hold up in the Religious court."

There, fixed it for you. Since the evidence for existence of Allah is pretty much on the same level as that for the so-called "Intellectual Property" (i.e. the concept of 'ownership' of large integer numbers and the like) and the relationship between such belief and laws passed based on it is strikingly similar, the statement you made is pretty much equivalent to the one below: arbitrary bullshit based on whatever nonsense happens to deliver power and money to whatever "law makers" and their associates happen to be at the top at the time, logic, science and reason be damned.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999839)

Could not agree more. Were I in a state where there were a Sharia law in force I would be careful about disrespecting Allah just in the same way that I tend not to blow hash smoke in the face of the British police force. That was my point, and all my point.

As long as we live in society we have to pay some regard to the rules of that society whether they make sense to us or not. My belief that smoking cannabis is harmless doesn't make it legal, my belief that Allah is as meaningful as the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't make it wise to disrespect Allah in strong Muslim countries (ditto bad mouthing Jesus in the Bible Belt) and the GPs disbelief in IP won't protect him/her from the IP laws of whichever country they live in.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999575)

Too bad Western legal systems do.

Saddam didn't believe in the court's jurisdiction. Didn't do him any favours!

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

radarjd (931774) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999623)

For some of us that isn't a problem, since we don't believe in IP anyway.

So you're cool with violations of the GPL? After all, the only thing that gives the GPL any teeth whatsoever is copyright law.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999761)

If I had a problem with GPL violations, id be a hypocrite.

Its all the same to me, none of it is valid.

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

intx13 (808988) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999401)

Exactly - while the technology of a distributed, encrypted file system might be neat (though this particular implementation seems kind of silly IMO), this isn't some huge loophole for distributing copyrighted works without violating copyright. Encrypting a copyrighted work does not diminish the copyright of the work. It just makes it harder for anyone to prove that the file does indeed represent a copyrighted work.

From the article:

Even if a number (file) in question can be copyrighted under current legislation, it is practically impossible and unreasonable to state that every other representation of that particular number is copyrighted.

This quote in particular shows how little the authors understand copyright. Nobody copyrights a number (well... nobody who doesn't want said number to end up on t-shirts sold over the Internet that is!). You copyright a work, and then you can try and sue people who distribute (without rights) representations of that work (yeah yeah, fair use, derivative works, etc etc - some representations are protected). You can ROT-13 the work all day long, but at the end of the day you're still violating copyright.

This system might make it harder to prove that any particular block is a piece of a file that represents a copyrighted work... but then that seems more like the opposite of a "bright" net to me!

Re:Psst. Copyright doesn't work like that! (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999471)

You copyright the actual tangible information. Attempting to abstract the law into mathematics is pointless. They are not compatible.

Define "information" in terms not mathematically equivalent to binary data.

If you manage this, that would mean that all the computing technology is in fact impossible (as computers would not be able to process information), that no music or moving images can be digitally stored and that "information" cannot be encoded in form of electrical impulses, among other things.

What you want to happen here is one of the oldest cons in the history of civilization: that of a crook who claims that what he peddles is "divinely defined" and so no mere science can possibly explain such a "miracle" and thus he cannot be judged by the rules of such mundane things as logic. Which of course does not stop the crook from sponsoring "laws" to help his thuggery along to a profitable end. It was so with religious fanatics of old and so it is now with the purveyors of the whole field of "Intellectual Property" and related scams, of which your statement is a perfect example.

Data != Information (5, Insightful)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999085)

Incidentally, no data passing through the network can be considered copyrighted because the means by which it is represented is truly random.

It's not the data that's protected by copyright, it's what the data represents.

No matter how you mangle the data when storing it or transferring it from one location to another, the end result is the same. They're trying to use semantics and technical voodoo to get around copyright law. It won't work.

Re:Data != Information (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999157)

When the RIAA files a lawsuit, you can testify in court that you were actually downloading kiddie porn.

Re:Data != Information (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999165)

however there won't be a way to identify which is which as mentioned in a previous story where encrypted data could be throttled

Re:Data != Information (5, Interesting)

iocat (572367) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999177)

You're right, but wouldn't this move the 'infringer' to the guy who had the URL to put all the little random chunks together into a Maroon Five file on his PC, not the girl who had one 128K chunk that *could be* used to represent the Maroon Five file -- or a shopping list -- on her PC?

Re:Data != Information (2, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999317)

The idea of a chunk that 'could' be used to represent part of a copyrighted work is specious. Using XOR encryption, a copy of Madonna's latest video 'could' just be my weekly shopping list, encrypted with a particular one-time pad. Anything could be anything, and therefore the concept of 'could be' is useless.

Re:Data != Information (5, Funny)

inviolet (797804) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999223)

It's not the data that's protected by copyright, it's what the data represents.

No matter how you mangle the data when storing it or transferring it from one location to another, the end result is the same. They're trying to use semantics and technical voodoo to get around copyright law. It won't work.

Defense: I didn't do it.
Prosecution: We found the body in your apartment, hidden under your bed.
Defense: It is true that I placed a fast-moving bullet into the air adjacent to his chest, but if there happened to be any later consequences, those were not clearly visible from the location of the trigger.
Jury: Hang him.

So yeah, this is no legal defense. But perhaps it wasn't meant to be one. It seems like subterfuge, countersurveillance, and plausible deniability than anything else. But that plausibility won't hold up long, because the courts will soon say "If we find a bunch of random files on your drive, the burden is on *you* to prove that they aren't naughty bits." They'd make you extract the original content from the blocks, which hopefully haven't later disappeared off the internet, and if you couldn't do it then you'd be in hot water.

Re:Data != Information (1)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999347)

I thought it was innocent until proven guilty?

Re:Data != Information (2)

Urkki (668283) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999675)

I thought it was innocent until proven guilty?

You're thinking of the wrong century.
A common mistake in these post 911 days.

Re:Data != Information (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999881)

I thought it was innocent until proven guilty?

Which decade do you think you live in? When computers are involved you are always guilty until proven innocent.

Re:Data != Information (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999903)

For CRIMINAL cases, yes.

Copyright infringement is a CIVIL action, and that rule doesn't apply...

Take the following with a huge dose of salt.

The way I understand it - and I didn't read through it very carefully, I admit - is that the chunks are not simply encrypted portions of the file but rather derivatives of the original chunk in such a way that they can occasionally be reused. For example, I have two files: X is copyrighted and Y is not.

X gets broken into chunks A and B.
Y gets broken into chunks A and C.

Through some digital alchemy, they both contain crypto-chunk "A" - therefore, the existence of crypto-chunk "A" on your hard drive is not evidence that you are storing a portion of copyrighted file X.

Somewhere, though, there is data for reassembling the original file from the scattered crypto-chunks. It might be possible, for example, that an entirely different file "Z" could be recovered by combining crypto-chunk "B" and "A". Thus:

Chunk A + Chunk B = File X
Chunk A + Chunk C = File Y
Chunk B + Chunk A = File Z

So the existence of chunks A and B can't be used to (conclusively) prove you have file X, as there is an alternate legit meaning to those chunks.

Is this how it actually works? I have no clue! I'm not a crypto kind of guy.
=Smidge=

Re:Data != Information (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999631)

Exactly.....but since the key if is effectively a one time pad, then it could decode to anything.

It would be an interesting court case if that "copyrighted file" also decrypted to a shopping list, a website, and a recording of the defendant dictating something. All it would take would be one time pads that effectively map that exact number of bits to the same number of bits just holding different data.

Re:Data != Information (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999669)

Just thought I'd mention that I still think that the court would convict for copyright infringement because it's obvious that there was probably only one key that was widely circulated. Math kung-fu isn't going to get around simple common sense...especially if that exact file is sitting on your computer post-decoding from this filesystem.

Re:Data != Information (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999851)

Just thought I'd mention that I still think that the court would convict for copyright infringement because it's obvious that there was probably only one key that was widely circulated. Math kung-fu isn't going to get around simple common sense...especially if that exact file is sitting on your computer post-decoding from this filesystem.

that's funny, pseudo-cs kung fu gets around simple common sense regarding the extortio...i mean "righteous lawsuit campaign against the evil john does"

Re:Data != Information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999911)

"If we find a bunch of random files on your drive, the burden is on *you* to prove that they aren't naughty bits."

No more innocent until proven otherwise?

Re:Data != Information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999377)

It's not the data that's protected by copyright, it's what the data represents.

No matter how you mangle the data when storing it or transferring it from one location to another, the end result is the same. They're trying to use semantics and technical voodoo to get around copyright law. It won't work.

True, but it was WIPO that went through this path first, considering as "copies" those things that were made just incidentally for transmitting information from A to B (and even if I have the legal right to do it). This at least forbids the usage of such attack.

Big load of BS (0)

xquark (649804) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999095)

how is this junk different from encryption or plausible deniability file systems - distributed or localized?

The data would change from (2, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999139)

"copyrighted data"

to

"encrypted copyrighted data"

The first is merely infringement. The second is conspiracy to commit infringement, and you will have lost any chance of defending with "I didn't know it was copyrighted".

Curiously enough things like this are exactly why "conspiracy to commit" crimes exist.

Furthermore, unless I'm making a stupid mistake, it doesn't actually distribute the data, the key to find the data in the P2P net is the same length as the original data, in the random case, which buys you exactly ... nothing. You have to download the file twice.

This thing does not evade copyright law, and it's inconvenient to boot. I don't think I'll be placing a second look.

Re:The data would change from (5, Informative)

phoenix_nz (1252432) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999227)

It's not encryption. What you will be downloading is several random files that when combined make up whatever you want.

The cool thing is that the files really are random. They are simply numbers that can be combined to make a copyrighted file but don't have to be.
In other words: (As stated on the wiki) you will infringe on copyright the second the random files are combined. But downloading and sharing the files is not a copyright infringement.

Re:The data would change from (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999429)

And how do you know which files to download? You know because from somewhere you got a key that told you WHICH files you need.

The key is where this falls down. The key is an encrypted representation of the original. Trading the key is where the infringement occurs.

Let's take a simple examples. There are 4 files in my "brightnet"- "00", "01", "10", "11". I name these files "a","b","c","d".

Now I have my copyrighted string I want to trade. My string is 01101101001010.

I need to generate the key for the brightnet, which is "bcdbacc". This tells me that I need to take file b, then file c, then file d... to reproduce the original.

Now, you can argue that downloading file a, b, c, or d in itself isn't a violation. That may be true, but it misses the point. The point is that the brightnet is useless without my key file "bcdbacc."

My key file is, in itself, an encryption of the original copyrighted string. Trading in the KEY is the problem, even if downloading the files I'll use to decrypt it isn't.

All this does is let us generate multiple possible encryptions of the same file. And, with large enough brightnet blocks, each one can be shorter than the original. Which is cool for file traders--if there are multiple keys that encode the same file, now all of a sudden it's harder to catch me trading files--I can send the same file to 2 people using 2 different keys, so simply watching for a specific key won't catch me trading a particular file

At best, this makes it easier to trade copyrighted files. But thinking there's no obvious copyright violation here is just silly.

Re:The data would change from (2, Insightful)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999459)

The random blocks don't infringe the copyright, but the key would likely be considered a derivative work and thus the key infringes the copyright.

Re:The data would change from (2, Informative)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999823)

Actually the algorithm is not performing a search through truly random blocks, but rather generating new 'random"* blocks by combining old blocks with the copyrighted file.

So the blocks AND they key are derivative works, meaning even users of this app who are just researching it become liable for copyright infringement if any of the users puts even a single copyrighted file on it.

DESPITE not being able to read said file.

The law does not specify what comes out, only what goes in. Copyrighted files go in -> duplication of what comes out is prohobited without copyright owner's permission.

It's like leaving your car without the handbreak on the top of a hill. Nothing has to go wrong, but one little blow of wind, one single individual who brushes the car and *bang*.

* this is a totally unprecedented definition of the term random, by this definition anything not recognizeable is random. So a rot-13 encrypted stream of zeros will be random under this definition ... it's not. At all. These blocks contain in reality a huge amount of entropy.

Re:The data would change from (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999343)

The second is conspiracy to commit infringement, and you will have lost any chance of defending with "I didn't know it was copyrighted"

Unless you don't know what is stored where.

Re:The data would change from (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999617)

But you know exactly what is stored : that's the whole point of having this filesystem.

You know the way to combine these supposedly random bytes (they are actually derivatives of copyrighted works, since they are generated starting with said copyrighted work) into the original work.

So you're fucked ...

Re:The data would change from (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999779)

Gotta prove you knew what/when/where.

In a properly distributed system, you cant prove any of that.

Good luck with that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999155)

I'm not transmitting copyrighted data. I'm transmitting encrypted data, and a pointer to a key that will let you decrypt it INTO copyrighted data! Brilliant!

Hell, by that logic, I can't possibly break copyright distributing an MP3--it's not music, just 1's and 0's that the receiver will be trivially able to turn back INTO music.

From the Wiki (4, Interesting)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999197)

"A simple analogy is seen in that every number has an infinite number of representations (3+2=5, 2*2+1=5, 10-5=5, 10/2=5, etc). Even if the number (file) in question can be copyrighted under current legislation, it is practically impossible and unreasonable to state that every other representation of that particular number is copyrighted."

Actually, no, it's not unreasonable or impractical. In fact, that's how it actually works. Star Wars is copyrighted as a DVD, Film, mpeg, script, live performance, song, interpretive dance, etc. ..right?

Context matters. (2, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999597)

You're quite right.

Like it or not, copyright doesn't apply to bit-streams, but rather to particular instantiations of ideas (and derivatives thereof). No one can copyright a number. But in a particular context, a certain bit-stream can be considered protected by copyright.

This whole "you can't copyright a number!" is a red herring. No one seriously claims that particular numbers are copyrighted. But in a certain context, a particular chunk of data (a number!) can be reasonably shown to be a copy (or derivative) of a particular copyrighted work. If the same number appears in a totally unrelated context, and it's apparent that it is not being used to distribute a copyrighted work, then no court would find that instance of the number to be infringing.

Another way to say this is that copyright law is more concerned with the action of copyright violation (distributing a copy or derivative of a work without authorization), and is not concerned with maintaining a catalog of copyrighted bit-streams.

Re:Context matters. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999799)

I'd like to add some emphasis to something you touch on.

Copyright is about the right to make copies. If you can copy a work by turning it into a number, you have still copied it.

Ergo, as long as you still depend on the original as a source of the data, copyrights apply.

Re:From the Wiki (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999643)

IIUC & FFCM, copyright is based on derivation not information.

So, if you randomly and independantly came up with the same bits as the Star Wars DVD, then you wouldn't be infringing because there is no derivation even though the information is the same (though that situation is implausible enough that it would be hard to prove it). However, if you just kept randomly generating values and checked them until they "happened" to match the XOR of the original Start Wars DVD with the 47MHz radio static that happened on your birthday, they would have a copyright claim on the result since it is derivative.

IIUC = If I understand correctly FFCM = Feel free to correct me

Re:From the Wiki (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999697)

Actually, no, it's not unreasonable or impractical. In fact, that's how it actually works. Star Wars is copyrighted as a DVD, Film, mpeg, script, live performance, song, interpretive dance, etc. ..right?

Not necessarily, at least on the last 4 or 5 items.

If I do 'Star Wars as interpretive dance', what I have isn't necessarily a copyright violation, it may be parody. And parody is protected under 'fair use' exemptions as free speech. It depends on how closely it tracks to the original film. And I'm guessing 'SW as ID', by definition, isn't going to track closely enough to not be parody.

So if I lose the URL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999253)

the space being used on the various hard drives involved becomes unrecoverable? Yay! Another Distributed Cruft Accumulator for teh Interweb!

Re:So if I lose the URL... (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999453)

No, because the blocks being stored on the various hard drives could very well be used with another URL to reconstruct a totally different file to the one in the URL you lost.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999261)

If what they claimed is true doesn't that make a zip file of a dvd image downloaded via bit-torrent ( and everything ) legal?

Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999545)

If what they claimed is true doesn't that make a zip file of a dvd image downloaded via bit-torrent ( and everything ) legal?

Only if you zip it twice and shake your laptop (or wiggle your PC) during the process for randomizing some bits.

Re:Huh? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999725)

That is correct.

However, what they said is very similar in summary to the teachings of a well known Mr. Hubbard, henceforth and previously known as "Bullshit."

The fallacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999263)

From TFA: "Even if a number (file) in question can be copyrighted under current legislation, it is practically impossible and unreasonable to state that every other representation of that particular number is copyrighted."

Um...not. This is implying that performing any trivial encryption or other transformation on a file magically renders it uncopyrighted, because now it's a different "representation of that number".

You can, I suppose, have the "angels dancing on the head of a pin" argument that any random string of 1's and 0's can be "decrypted" to produce any other string by use of the appropriate decryption key, and so say "copyrighting any specific string automatically copyrights every possible string!" That's generally beside the point here. When you're giving someone the key to decrypt your "random" string into another specific string, your intent is pretty clear.

Re:The fallacy. (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999341)

Except that they are right to a point. Passing those randomized data blocks amongst yourselves will not be copyright infringement. Instead, this system less like peer to peer and more like a simple download in its copyright liability. The assembly instructions themselves are a compressed version of the file, and the parties violating copyright are the URL hoster and the person who uses the instructions to assemble the file.

Metered Internet. (1)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999273)

I hope you don't plan on using that with RoadRunner, Rogers, Bell, or any other ISP with a transfer cap.

Summary Misleading (2, Insightful)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999283)

While individuals are not passing copyrighted files to each other, the copyright violation does occur. The URL with the instructions of how to assemble the file is actually an encoded version of the file. Downloading those instructions is just as much a copyright violation as downloading a digital version of the file, or a zipped archive from which the file can be extracted. So, "nobody shares any copyrighted files, and therefore nobody needs to hide away" is erroneous. Both the person offering the URL and the person accessing it need to hide if it's a work someone's going to exercise copyright over.

From the main site: "It must be noted that up until the point of retrieval of content from the OFFSystem, storage and transfer of a so-called copyrighted file is completely legal. However, the act of re-assembling a file may be considered copyright infringment in some cases, and users should be aware of legislation regarding copyright law which applies to their jurisdiction before doing so."

I think this analysis is flawed because it assumes that the instructions to construct a file are not a file, and that only when you have the end file have you copied the work. In fact, if the instructions contain all the information of a work, they are the work, in exactly the same way that any digital representation of a work is the work. "Y'onor, I didn't copy no files, look, this is just instructions to make the files" will not fly any more than "Y'onor, this isn't a music recording, it's ones and zeros."

Re:Summary Misleading (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999755)

You are right. However the summery just repeats what the authors of thebrightnet say. They assume that because they are transfering bytes instead of actual copyrighted dataa they are in the clear.

They just moved the copyright act of publishing the file to publishing the hash. If that hash/key/url is the only way to retrieve that file then you can be sure that is a the people that is procecuted for the publication.

torrent sites now can hide (unsuccesful [pcpro.co.uk]) behind the fact that they are just indexing data pulished by others just like google.

There is far simpler way to get the same result: password protect (rar,zip) the file you are publishing and give a strange name. Same result without needing a new p2p protocol.

Insane lengths to go to (3, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999305)

Look, I totally get how encryption and plausible deniabiltiy is great if you people are circulating dangerous information about government conspiracies, or organising the resistance in Burma or Zimbabwe, but lets face facts, this will be used to share torrents of Hollywood movies and top 40 albums.

This is stupid.

Either accept the fact that all the political posturing about free being a better business model is true, in which case, just go enjoy all the free music/software/games/movies out there, or admit its just smokescreens to justify getting Hollywood movies for free, whilst your entertainment is subsidised by everyone who paid to see that stuff, and thus allow it to be made.

People seem to have this attitude that this kind of thing is cool because it lets you escape prosecution for copyright infringement. If copyright is such a fucked-up system, then why is it all the stuff people want to share is produced under that system? Surely all the cool movies/software/music/games is being produced under the free model right? Or could it be that the free model isn't viable, or popular with content producers, big and small...

YANAL (1)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999311)

[Yada yada yada]. That is why we claim that these numbers are not copyrightable.

Doesn't matter to me. When I open up my hard drive with a hammer, I don't see any numbers anyway, so I don't see how that helps me.

Seriously, though, if you think stopping at a particular layer of abstraction and then adding another layer of abstraction isn't what IP lawyers call a "derived work", then I don't think you understand IP well enough to make any claims at all.

Huffman Coding (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999323)

All this is is Huffman Coding for a whole filesystem. The most frequently used blocks will have small addresses, but the rarely used blocks will have addresses that are the same size as the block they represent.

For transferring seemingly random data, like an mp3 or movie, this will achieve zero compression and only provides a very poor level of privacy.

Re:Huffman Coding (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999463)

It is not about compression. And how does it provide a poor level of privacy? Blocks can be used by any number of files, so how can you tie a block of data to a specific file?

Hm (1)

Elisanre (1108341) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999353)

Think I am going to skip participating in this. No matter how safe, undreadable and similar a whole lot of kiddieporn alarms are going off in my head. Thanks but no thanks

A lot of misinformation floating around... (2, Informative)

Sheafification (1205046) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999359)

There's a lot of misinformation floating around here (RTFA please). Here's what happens: you want to upload a file. The program makes up a bunch of random numbers - really random numbers that have nothing to do with the original file. The original file is not consulted to make the random blocks - they could be pre-generated even.

Also generated is a URL that has the instructions on how to get the original file back from the random blocks. Anyone that shares this part is going to be guilty of copyright infringement (assuming the work in question is copyrighted).

It's basically a substitution cipher - with a unique way of substituting real data for the random blocks, as determined by the URL. So really, it's a one-time pad of sorts.

Worrisome... (5, Interesting)

zetazentra (1274302) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999439)

http://wiki.offdev.org/Talk:Why_is_OFF_safe%3F [offdev.org] :

Trojan detected with avg free

Another side to the safety issue. I'm hoping this is a false positive, as I like OFF

        * avg free v7.5.516 virus base 269.17.13/1208 finds
                    o Trojan Generic9.AKLU in
                                + offsystem.exe from OFFStystem-0.18.00-win-installer.exe from sourceforge January 3 2008

This is worrisome...

More like DimWitNet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999487)

It's nonsense.

frist stYop (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999509)

Of businees and to die. I awill jam so that their

This seems more steganography than cryptography (1)

jack_n_jill (642554) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999513)

This technique seems useful for making a message available in a robust maner so as to counter those that don't want the message to get out (CIA, FBI). The message would be sent into the OFF network first and the URL key would be made available later. It seems better for hiding a message (steganography) than for evading the law.

Reinventing Usenet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999603)

This seems to be just like Usenet. Anybody can upload anything they want on it, and no server is responsible for copyright violations. The copyright holders have a hard time purging the information because it's spread over hundreds of servers.

The original uploader, though, can be charged of a crime. Moreoever, if networks like this become a real thread to the copyright holders' existence, legislation will be enacted to ban networks that don't have a central administrator who could be held responsible.

Unclear on the concept. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999615)

If there is one copy at the start, and two copies at the end, then a copy has been made. If one does not have the right to make the copy, said right being reserved by law to the owner of the copy right, one has broke copy right law.

This is an obvious tool for infringing on the copyrights of other. If it were not, then there would be no reason to say

"Nobody shares any copyrighted files, and therefore nobody needs to hide away."

They can't even hide behind "it has other uses", because of all the talk about copyrights.

Ethernet Frames (1)

tezza (539307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999657)

At some stage the data will almost certainly be Ethernet frames, which doesn't bear that much relation to the orginal data.

But then it is recombined to form the copyrighted work, to create the infringement.

I cannot see how this is different to that process and thus escape legal sanction.

To adapt a good quote, as in :: £20,000 bill for speeding row scientist [metro.co.uk]. Quote 'In speeding [copyright] matters, it is the law of the land not the law of physics [way you split the data] that matters.'

Better Analogy. (1)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999747)

Many posters seem to not get the idea that a given 128k chunk cannot be infringing because it cannot correlate one to one to a given file, copywritten or otherwise. The set of sharable files is much larger than the set of 128kB words.

Imagine this purely in textual terms. If you had a group of three character strings containing every possible combination of three characters, you could express MacBeth, The Bible, or whatever as a series of addresses within that string-space. The string "e t" is not specifically part of any given work.

What would then be an act of infringement is distributing the recipe to assemble a protected work without a liscense to do so.

copyright != issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999835)

I think this has more potential in distributing network loads, than any copyright issues it may or may not circumvent.

Other related links...

Wuala - A distributed file system. [youtube.com]
ABSTRACT After three years of research and development on a distributed storage system, we are ready to unveil the result: Wuala. Wuala is a new way of storing, sharing, and publishing files on the internet. Unlike traditional online storage systems, Wuala is decentralized and can harness idle resources of participating computers to build a large, secure, and reliable online storage. This enables its users to trade parts of their local storage for online storage and it allows us to provide a better service for free. In the talk, I will explain what Wuala is and how it works, and I will also show a demo. All attendees will also get an invitation code to join the early alpha version.

A New Way to look at Networking [google.com]
ABSTRACT Today's research community congratulates itself for the success of the internet and passionately argues whether circuits or datagrams are the One True Way. Meanwhile the list of unsolved problems grows. Security, mobility, ubiquitous computing, wireless, autonomous sensors, content distribution, digital divide, third world infrastructure, etc., are all poorly served by what's available from either the research community or the marketplace. I'll use various strained analogies and contrived examples to argue that network research is moribund because the only thing it knows how to do is fill in the details of a conversation between two applications. Today as in the 60s problems go unsolved due to our tunnel vision and not because of their intrinsic difficulty. And now, like then, simply changing our point of view may make many hard things easy.

Amazing Idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23999861)

... and that's why that Freenet team released a software project based on a somewhat similar concept alllll those years ago. Of course, Freenet's goal is more about privacy than copyright... uhm... yah.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...