• United States
by Ann Harrison

Online chat network attempts to ban file sharing

Feb 20, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

* DALnet to prohibit file swapping

One of the oldest and largest online Internet Relay Chat networks is to begin banning chat channels that support file swapping.

DALnet announced on its Web site that beginning March 1, it would begin prohibiting users from “using a channel for the primary purpose of facilitating the transfer of files.”

DALnet, which was founded in 1994, has hosted thousands of channels for people who want to chat and exchange all sorts of electronic files. The system predates Napster.  But DALnet is apparently not immune from the kind of legal pressures that have bedeviled P2P networks since Napster was litigated out of existence.

The chat service provider says publicly that it simply wants to focus on its original mission of chat. But IRC networks have historically been places where music, films, games and other copyrighted material often first appear on the Internet, and DALnet was one of the first networks to encourage this. Swapping files is a form of chat – it is simply the exchange of information that is most vital to your correspondence.

DALnet is now likely spooked by the ongoing litigation against the Kazaa and Morpheus networks. It has also been the target of repeated denial of service attacks that have crippled the site.

But it will be difficult for DALnet to kick off all its file traders. The site now hosts about 300 channels that advertise music trading, plus others that swap movies. Many file traders resort to disguising their files when banned by the networks. This will likely happen at DALnet, which is sadly turning its back on a vibrant part of its own online community.