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Weekly Opinion by Lindsey Eck

1 August 2000 PIRATE TALES

They say Napster’s only the beginning

Just when you thought the pirates on the frigate Napster had been made to walk the plank, we hear they’ve been granted a reprieve. Yes, the deus ex machina, as personified by a federal appellate court, has decreed that the Net shall remain safe for freebooters everywhere, at least for the time being.

The logic justifying downloading music without paying for it is what passes for the libertarian philosophy of the wired generation: “Why pay for something I can take for nothing?” Of course there are many justifications: The artists are getting screwed anyway, so who cares if the record company loses; I only download stuff I couldn’t get any other way; some artists actually support the phenomenon. But the main reason deadbeat downloading seems destined to thrive is that those who might enforce the law of copyright seem to be throwing up their hands and proclaiming, if we bust these guys it’ll just pop up somewhere else. A somewhat odd theory of justice, though it was tried for a while in Boston’s Combat Zone. Shame they don’t apply that philosophy to the War on Drugs. But I digress.

Anyway, if the pundits are right and free music swapping is to the ’00s what spouse swapping was to the ’60s, it is sure to spawn imitators. Here for your enjoyment is the Corner Oak guide to future Napster-like services:

Semester. This clever utility, the brainchild of a 19-year-old who finished high school a year early despite hardly studying, allows subscribers to search hard drives all over the world for term papers on a subject they have due. Press a few keys and combine sections of different papers into a new one, change the title, and it isn’t plagiarism — it’s using technology to leverage your time resources!

Sure, some hidebound professors stuck in the 20th century still think students should write every word themselves, but, with all the information out on the Net, what’s left to write personally? Semester connects people from around the world in a seamless web of verbiage far better than what one could produce on one’s own. We predict courts will find Semester perfectly legitimate because, if you shut this service down, it will just pop up in Bermuda or somewhere else we can’t trace.

Remember: Copying others’ work made Bill Gates the world’s richest human — why should you be left behind?

Fester. Plotting your next act of cybervandalism but not geeky enough to write the code yourself? Now there’s Fester. This already infamous little utility will search hard drives around the world and download the most destructive virus while immunizing your machine. Fester, developed by a Bulgarian agent known only as T, in its first week of operation has already scored more than a million page views, earned an impressive bounce on its IPO, and knocked out 30 million machines around the globe. Welcome to the Internet age!

Ulster. Sure, the Internet has always been the best medium in the world for terrorist bomb recipes. But, when your Real IRA mate’s just been blown away by Orange Order extremists and you’re eager for revenge, the last thing you need is to spend an hour searching for bomb recipes using Yahoo! or Alta Vista.

Now, with Ulster, you don’t have to. Search hard drives all over the world — even those hard-to-penetrate terror centers in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Idaho — for bomb recipes. Feed in keywords of what you’ve got around the house and get back dozens of lethal instructions in seconds! All traffic is encrypted. Developed by an Irish-American computer engineer (and BC grad) who made a killing in the Route 128 high-tech belt, who wanted to help out the Auld Sod during the troubles, Ulster will blow away the competition!


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