A Black Hole in the AudioGalaxy

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Date: Monday, June 24th, 2002, 02:57
Category: Archive

Late last week, users to the MP3 swapping service AudioGalaxy were treated to an unfortunate surprise as almost 100% of the searchable files were blocked from download due to copyright restrictions. In a victory to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), AudioGalaxy was ordered to halt the swapping of files violating copyright laws.

Perhaps the closing of AudioGalaxy shouldn’t come as a surprise as it was just a matter of time that the RIAA would work their way into helping close other Napster-esque services. Napster, the original MP3 file swapping service, which sparked a worldwide internet copyright debate, was forced to close its doors over a year ago, and has recently ceased operation due to a lack of funding.

Unfortunately, the news comes as a setback to many unsigned artists and others secure with the swapping of their music over the Internet. While only files in violation of copyright laws were ordered removed, the network decided to block nearly all files. Only those ones featured, and in turn hosted, by the Web site have continued to survive the sudden stoppage of service.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time for users of Mac systems before Mac OS X. MacSatellite, first developed by the now defunct Overcaster family, was perhaps the finest MP3 swapping application available to Classic users. While often times receiving mixed reviews, its simplicity and ease of use came as a pleasant surprise to many Macintosh enthusiasts. Unfortunately, for now, the software is null. For Mac OS X users, AudioGalaxy was accessible by a program known as Sputnix, which like MacSatellite also received mixed reviews.

With development of the Classic OS quickly coming to a halt, the future of file-swapping on older Macintosh machines remains insecure. Some users have had intermittent luck with LimeWire, a program (available for both Classic and Mac OS X users) that takes advantage of the ever-growing population of Gnutella users. Unlike AudioGalaxy, LimeWire allows for the sharing of other file-types. Users have argued that LimeWire requires a considerable amount of RAM and is runs solely on Java, and is therefore quite slow on many machines.

Other users have tested the OpenNap waters using a program called DrumBeat ($30 shareware – free to try) by Groundlevel Software, but report limited success. Unlike its successors (Napster and AudioGalaxy), many argue it would be quite difficult to shut down programs utilizing both the Gnutella and OpenNap networks as unlike their successors, their networks consist of more than one central server in which the user can search for the individual files. In turn, as some of these servers may shut down, newer servers could be started up by other users.

Other file-swapping options for Macintosh users include the transfer of files over Internet Relay Chat (IRC) networks. To the beginner, IRC file-transfer may appear complicated, but over time, the trend is extremely basic and simple to catch on with. A highly recommended IRC program is Ircle, available in both Classic and Carbon environments.

Labeled as “in development for Macintosh,” the treasure-chest of peer-to-peer file-swapping, Kazaa, is unfortunately still unavailable to the Mac faithful. Peer-to-peer file-swapping, and its availability, is still much greater on the Windows platform.

As development with Mac OS X continues to flourish, many new peer-to-peer file-swapping programs will be appearing in the near future, as many others will most likely be closed. While the future of peer-to-peer file-swapping may be uncertain, there will be many advancements in the near future and it’s highly recommended to take advantage of the opportunities as they’re available because they’re certainly not guaranteed to last.

[ZeroPaid is a Web site that keeps tabs on the peer to peer software by platform. The PowerPage encourages you to buy the music that you listen to. -Ed]

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