If Napster or its music-trading descendants such as Gnutella and Aimster are to be shut down, key participants must be persuaded, via the courts if necessary, to cease unauthorized activities. Several developing trends would seem to make that impossible, highlighting the need for the music industry to provide a service that appeals to the market Napster has created in the very near future, or cede the market to somebody outside its control.
One, called Tropus, is P2P software in development based on the Freenet technology created by privacy advocate Ian Clarke. Tropus would not only avoid using a central server, it would allow anonymous file-sharing, thus preventing the detection and prosecution of individuals who make files available. Tropus would function in conjunction with the Java-based Freenet, that provides network and security functions. Clarke says Freenet will provide scalability and functionality superior to other P2P systems.
On another front, Russian organized crime is said to be expanding its global CD and DVD piracy business onto the Web. By some accounts, the so-called Russian Mafia already controls the Russian music business with connections all over Eastern Europe, where the confusion of courts as well as more pressing demands on law enforcement could stymie efforts to shut down servers hosting unauthorized music files.