January 21, 2005 2:19 PM PST
Exeem opens new file-swapping doors
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Caribbean island of Nevis and a company called IFG Trust Services, which helps set up and administer offshore companies.
Preston confirmed that the company is based in St. Kitts and Nevis, and said its developers are scattered around the world but declined to provide any more information about the firm.
The software itself will be familiar to anyone who has used Kazaa or other file-swapping tools. It has a simple search page, allowing people to "publish" files to the network though a several-step point-and-click process. Once published, files can be downloaded by other people on the network.
According to Preston, the network works similarly to the FastTrack technology underlying Kazaa. A small number of people running the software are randomly selected as "nodes" and then provide a traffic cop function in the network, connecting people who are seeking or providing pieces of the same file.
Like many other file-swapping programs, Exeem comes bundled with several pieces of advertising software, including the Cydoor Technologies adware utility and the LookSmart toolbar, which plugs into Internet Explorer.
The software isn't meeting with universally good reviews around the Net. Some users have already complained about the addition of the advertising software. Thomas Mennecke, who runs the file-swapping news site Slyck.com, said he thinks BitTorrent aficionados will instead stick with the familiar Web-based community sites.
"I don't see people who have grown accustomed to BitTorrent, which is different than a traditional peer-to-peer network, going to use this," Mennecke said.
Peer-to-peer adversaries say the new software will do no more than any previous offing to hide the identity of people trading copyrighted works, such as movies or music, however.
A company called BayTSP, which tracks trading on peer-to-peer networks for movie studios and record labels, has said it has long provided information on BitTorrent users, including specific files shared and IP addresses, to its clients. It will likely do the same with Exeem, its executives said.
"We can still identify all the BitTorrent users," BayTSP Chief Executive Mark Ishikawa said. "Everyone who uses it still has the same issues of getting caught that they've always had."
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