Co-Evolution of P2P

Edward Felten describes the future of P2P in a way that makes the most sense to me - as a constantly evolving arms-race between filesharing software and anti-filesharing defenses. I think we've already seen a couple of generations of this sort of evolution. Originally, filesharing was mainly done via email, Usenet, and IRC. Napster was the first robust filesharing protocol. When Napster got into legal trouble, users shifted to more decentralized systems like Gnutella and FastTrack. Now that end users are being legally pursued, the next step in the evolution will likely be encrypted protocols.

I think this model also describes the likely future of viruses and anti-virus software, and spam and anti-spam protocols. It's analogous to the evolution of predator and prey, except in digital form.

[via Legal Theory Blog]

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And of course, Usenet, IRC,

And of course, Usenet, IRC, and private FTP's never went away...