Much like Napster, Kazaa was once a file sharing network that was closed with the clampdown on such P2P and not-for-profit activities online, and also like Napster, it is set to rise from the dead in a paid-for fashion.
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that the software is now looking entirely different as users are forced to pay for their music instead of trading tracks illegally. The relaunch is being led by Kevin Bermeister, who was behind much of the technology in the original Kazaa.
The new Kazaa, to be announced on Tuesday, will initially only be available to people in the United States due to licensing issues but Bermeister said he was expecting it to be available to Australians within six months.
Bermeister appears to have the support of the music industry, with all four major record labels and a number of independent labels signing up to provide the service with a one-million track catalogue.
So is this part of a coalition of once naughty, now good services? Kazaa has joined Napster and Pirate Bay in launching a legal service and while there are services online that allow file-sharing to go on, it seems that there are genuine intentions on the part of the larger organisations.
I was a user of Napster back in 2000 when it seemed like a novelty to download guilty pleasures for free, it wasn’t like I had to buy them, but like most people I downloaded music to listen to a particular band before buying their CD, a hole plugged by MySpace now.
From a security perspective, surely this can only be a positive thing. After all, if you download a file that you believe to be a music track from a P2P sharing network, whose guarantee do you have that it is clean from malware, or that the file transfer does not carry anything nasty along with it?
From a legal perspective it is admirable that these companies are going legitimate, and it does show that the authorities are willing to embrace file sharing in a format that can be controlled. Quite what the rebels of the P2P world will make of this move is yet to be determined, but this allows safe and secure sharing, and that can only be a positive as long as it is used correctly.