Honest Theif Part Deux

Gregory Alan Bolcer gbolcer at endeavors.com
Wed Apr 16 07:37:48 PDT 2003

...or FoRK gets it's April Fools joke
after all. 


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: The Honest Thief is not so honest
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 18:20:00 -0500
From: NW on Peer-to-Peer <Peer-to-Peer at bdcimail.com>
Reply-To: Peer-to-Peer Help <NWReplies at bellevue.com>

Today's focus:  The Honest Thief is not so honest

By Ann Harrison

A Dutch company calling itself The Honest Thief, announced in 
February that it would take advantage of a pro-P2P court ruling 
in the Netherlands and begin licensing its own P2P platform 
software to others. The company also said it would provide legal 
advice to other P2P services seeking a legal haven for file 
trading. As it turned out, The Honest Thief was not so honest.

A notice posted on The Honest Thief Web site on April 1 
announced that the "company" was no more than an elaborate hoax 
to attract publicity for a book published back in October 2001. 
The statement on the Web site reads, "Well, guess what April 
Fools! The Honest Thief file-sharing venture was no more than a 
publicity stunt."

The book, "The Honest Thief" released by Greenleaf Book Group, 
is allegedly about using "uncommon sense to succeed in business 
and in life." But this seems like an uncommonly stupid way to 
flog a two-year-old book. Th Honest Thief folks didn't even 
bother to tell their Texas public relations company, The Alliant 
Group which was hired to promote the site. The PR folks were 
understandably miffed to have been duped into participating in 
the charade. As for all the news stories about the project, the 
incident just highlights how ridiculously easy it is to generate 
press attention for a venture with only an idea and a catchy 
name. It happened all the time during the dot-com boom.

The IFPL, which represents the international recording industry, 
had reported that the venture seemed to be producing nothing by 
vaporware. The software was set to be released in the second 
quarter and The Alliant Group even announced that a large U.S. 
company was signing up as the first customer.

Pieter Plass, the guy who set who set up the stunt, contends 
that The Honest Thief caused no harm or financial damage. Aside 
from alarming the entertainment industry and embarrassing a few 
media outlets, this could be true. What the stunt did do is 
direct international attention to the ruling issued by the 
Amsterdam Appeals Court, which said that said Kazaa BV could not 
be held liable for the copyright-infringing actions of those who 
use the Kazaa file-sharing application.

That decision is being appealed at the Supreme Court of the 
Netherlands, which is expected to rule in October. But the 
decision opens the door for similar rulings in other countries 
that could, in theory, refuse to prosecute P2P ventures for 
copyright infringement. If the Dutch Supreme Court upholds the 
ruling, I predict that a viable P2P venture will indeed launch 
itself in Holland offering the very things that The Honest Thief 
promised. It may have a hard time gathering much initial 
credibility in the business press, but the file traders 
themselves would have the last word on whether it's useful and 
legally well defended.
To contact: Ann Harrison

Ann Harrison is a technology reporter in San Francisco. She can 
be reached at <mailto:ah at well.com>.

Copyright Network World, Inc., 2003

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