For the recording companies that suffer from illegal downloading and Internet swapping of copyrighted music, a company called Audible Magic offers a way to save revenues in the near future.Audible Magic’s development of a new technology, which detects and blocks illegal downloading of copyrighted music in networks or peer-to-peer file-sharing software programs like KaZaA, will help the recording industries and compact disc markets in today’s high-tech world. Audible Magic is based in Los Gatos, Calif.The company produces two versions of the new technology, one focused on networks and one on file-swapping software itself. UR, the nation’s first private university to make a contract with Napster, began looking into the first version of the new technology for possible future use on campus. However, the UR technology staff must study the technology closely to ensure its reliability.”Audible Magic is a refined tool,” UR Provost and Chair of the National Joint Committee on Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Charles Phelps said. “And our technology staff wanted to see how it works.” Although this technology is still being tested, the Recording Industry of Association of America already organized Audible Magic’s press and promotional tour in legislative offices at Washington, D.C.However, technical counsel to the student government Peter Ordal argued that working with Washington can cause a problem. “With Washington involved, you have a whole slew of people with a lot of power and little technical know-how just dying to make poor decisions,” Ordal said. “I cannot say whether or not the Computer Interest Floor would support this particular system,” junior and Chair of CIF Joseph Toscano said. “But we certainly support using technology to legally transfer files between computers as long as it does not invade the privacy of users or interfere with their ability to use computers to their fullest potential.” Moreover, there have been ongoing debates on if this technology infringes on free speech and slows down innovation simply to satisfy recording industries.Toscano believes that legislators and university officials must study free speech carefully. “While [it] is protected in the United States, so is intellectual property,” Toscano said. “Any technology that is involved with this must be looked at very closely to ensure that it protects the rights of users as well as copyright holders.”Phelps disagreed with the critics who believe that Audible Magic infringes on free speech or discourages technological innovation. “The technology doesn’t infringe on free speech because it’s not stopping all traffic of files and has low level of intrusion,” Phelps said. “It’s not reading the content of files, but just finding matches of copyrighted music files selectively.””Whether Audible Magic discourages innovation of technology is a separate question,” Phelps added. “It’s just not fair use for people to illegally download copyrighted music.” Nevertheless, there are concerns as to whether the technology can actually detect all copyrighted music. “I would be concerned about inaccuracy in the software,” Toscano said.Ordal also argued that Audible Magic has yet to prove an effective tool to stop piracy. “I’m a firm believer that the pirates will always win the technical battles,” Ordal said. “Even if Audible Magic is deployed, some new piracy network will have built-in features to stop it.”Even so, UR technology staff will still consider its use to thwart illegal file sharing. “If we know illegal file sharing is going on using the UR network, we have to do something about it,” Phelps said. “Otherwise, we lose legal protection.””Encryption is the weakness of Audible Magic, but my problem is that illegal file sharing is going on,” Phelps added. “So we just want students to know that file sharing of copyrighted music is illegal.”Aoyama can be reached

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