Colleges that want to fight piracy without resorting to draconian peer-to-peer clampdowns might be intrigued by an Ars Technica report about a new project that aims to turn illegal downloaders into legitimate consumers.
But there’s no way to know yet whether Brilliant Digital Entertainment — a venture started by an Australian music-industry official and a former employee of KaZaA — will have a hit or a flop on its hands. Here’s how the service, called the GlobalFileRegistry, is supposed to work: It intercepts illegal attempts to download music, movies, and software, and then redirects would-be pirates to online stores that sell the same content. If all goes as planned, writes Ars Technica, “the new customer has legal software, piracy has been averted, and everyone goes home happy.”
But there are a couple of potential sticking points, as the Web site goes on to point out. For starters, there’s the breadth of the registry itself: If it catches someone swiping the new Kanye West single, it should have no problem identifying dozens of places to buy that song online. But if it spots someone trying to download an obscure Rammelzee cut from the 80s — well, there just may not be any legal music service selling that tune.
More to the point, though, it’s not yet clear how the GlobalFileRegistry will sniff out would-be pirates. For colleges and commercial Internet providers, that could end up being the $64,000 question.