Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

This is scary in many ways. On the one hand, the Chinese are trying to "cleanse Yahoo". On the other hand, the RIAA is trying to cleanse the US of Chinese copyright pirates. The RIAA is attacking the Internet backbone. Andy Oram and I talked before about the idea that the Internet may break up into a bunch of networks, each with different rules and much less end-to-end connectivity. It feels like it is starting to happen.

Maybe the great push for connectivity is going change to the great push for division. I guess alternative networks may emerge in the way that alternet emerged to carry the Usenet "alt." traffic, but I suppose this is much harder to do in a transnational context. I have a feeling that the Net may turn into a bunch of separate networks. On the other hand, most of the traffic in China is local within each province, I heard, so maybe it doesn't matter to most people. This push for dividing the Internet may be one of the main hurdles for our push for personal publishing, like blogs who don't have the political power to push through transborder doors when the filters come crashing down. Maybe only Time-Warner will be able to "get into" China in the future... And even then, they get banned every once in awhile.

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 19, 2002
Recording Industry Attacks Internet to Stop Chinese Pirates
Lawsuit Would Extend Great Internet Firewall of China to US

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

New York, NY - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) asked a court Friday to order four Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who maintain the Internet "backbone" to prevent access to a Chinese website that provides unauthorized copies of copyrighted music.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) opposes the RIAA action because it seeks to establish a precedent that anyone alleging piracy could shut down access to parts of the Internet, resulting in inappropriate shutdowns, undue administrative burden for ISPs, and imperiling the basic principle of unfettered exchange of information on the Internet. "This latest lawsuit, along with the recently proposed Berman bill, demonstrates that the major record labels have declared war on the infrastructure of the Internet in their campaign to stop the digital music revolution," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The Business Software Alliance and software industries, who have for years battled overseas pirates, have never resorted to lawsuits against Internet backbone providers that is both pointless and dangerous to innocent bystanders."

"We shouldn't be copying the Great Firewall of China here in the United States," noted von Lohmann. "Offering U.S. consumers a compelling, fairly-priced alternative to the black market will stop illicit traffic to Chinese websites far more effectively than dragging ISPs into 'whack-a-mole' Internet blocking efforts."

EFF expresses its concern that attempts to shut down parts of the Internet will spread to "proxy services," like, which are crucial to privacy and free expression online.

EFF Media Release: Recording Industry Attacks Internet to Stop Chinese Pirates


Cool! They're striking back at the RIAA! (IWT is an ISP.) This honeypot idea is also pretty sneaky and fun.

From David Farber's IP List.
IWT Bans RIAA From Accessing Its Network

August 19, 2002

Information Wave Technologies has announced it will actively deny the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) from accessing the contents of its network. Earlier this year, the RIAA announced its new plan to access computers without owner's consent for the sake of protecting its assets. Information Wave believes this policy puts its customers at risk of unintentional damage, corporate espionage, and invasion of privacy to say the least.

Due to the nature of this matter and RIAA's previous history, we feel the RIAA will abuse software vulnerabilities in a client's browser after the browser accesses its site, potentially allowing the RIAA to access and/or tamper with your data. Starting at midnight on August 19, 2002, Information Wave customers will no longer be able to reach the RIAA's web site. Information Wave will also actively seek out attempts by the RIAA to thwart this policy and apply additional filters to protect our customers' data.

Information Wave will also deploy peer-to-peer clients on the Gnutella network from its security research and development network (honeynet) which will offer files with popular song titles derived from the Billboard Top 100 maintained by VNU eMedia. No copyright violations will take place, these files will merely have arbitrary sizes similar to the length of a 3 to 4 minute MP3 audio file encoded at 128kbps. Clients which connect to our peer-to-peer clients, and then afterwards attempt to illegally access the network will be immediately blacklisted from Information Wave's network. The data collected will be actively maintained and distributed from our network operations site.

The placement of this policy is not intended to hamper the RIAA's piracy elimination agenda or advocate Internet piracy, but to ensure the safety of our customers' data attached to our network from hackers or corporate espionage hidden by the veil of RIAA copyright enforcement.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns regarding this policy, please e-mail

The music industry has been trying to do this for a couple years now.

US Record Companies Sue Chinese Music Pirates
A group of five major recording companies are hoping that the long arm of the law will become even longer... stretching all the way to China. EMI Group, Sony Music, Universal Music, Warner Music, and China Record Guangzhou Company filed two separate civil lawsuits earlier this week, in China, against two Internet Web sites which the recording companies claim have been selling more than 1,000 illegal Internet-based music files.
They are trying to jump on a wave of cooperating ISP's (post 9/11) to sneak in their agenda. Don't think for a minute it will work. I am the former Director of Network Security for NetZero and they will never give them the attention. If it does not make them money they shelve it. That is the way it is. The music industry should pay the ISP's to put the blocks in, then they will do it. Gurranteed.

As of this morning the RIAA has dropped their lawsuit citing that the site has been taken offline and will not return. This hints to me that they have sucessfully pressured the site owner. Funny how much power they have over a foriegn site.

That is amazing. Having said that, the Chinese government is tough and with their WTO membership, the recent spate of scandals with pesticides and bad Chinese medicine, they are probably pretty sensitive to global public opinion.