RealTime IT News

Music Pirates Under Pressure

[SOUTH AFRICA] BayTSP, an American based security software firm, Wednesday announced it has designed software that can track digital music on the Internet: BaySpider.

The software scans the Net 24 hours a day, every day of the year, identifying Web sites, newsgroups and peer-to-peer groups like Napster that are illegally providing copyrighted material. The company's 'Adaptive Search Technology' can match songs even if they're encoded in different formats (WAV or MP3, for example).

If a song is found to be on offer, illegally, a snapshot of the URL is taken and both the ISP and the site are informed -continuously- that they are infringing copyright. Only once the site has complied or is taken down will the badgering stop.

BaySpider identifies songs based by determining a song's 'electronic DNA' and then seeing if other songs match the original- which sounds similar to a scheme implemented by EMusic last month in response to fans trading songs EMusic owns the copyright to over Napster.

While BayTSP has not revealed its technique, EMusic's was based on the MD5 checksum. The MD5 checksum is a 128-bit fingerprint created from a binary file of arbitrary length; only identical binary files have the same checksum.

Which means that if 2 binary files differ by as much as a single bit, they will have different checksums. So by changing a single bit in a music file -not hard to do and resulting in absolutely no discernible change in the music quality- that music file has a new MD5 checksum, a new fingerprint, and cannot be traced.

Now, BayTSP's application may or may not work with MD5 checksums, but the technology they use is probably similar and similarly easy to circumvent by the savvy user.

Still, BaySpider will at least reduce the incidence of digital music piracy among the uninformed and should put the record labels fears somewhat to rest.