On September 13th, 2005, the RIAA on behalf of its member companies sent several cease and desist letters to various leading P2P developers. The letter demanded the recipient developers stop the infringing activities of their users. Developers could avoid litigation, the letter contended, if actions were immediately taken to curtail the perceived illegal activity.
P2P developers reacted to this in various ways. MetaMachine's Sam Yagan conceded defeat. Additionally, he will "throw in the towel” by distributing a DRM friendly eDonkey. FrontCode (WinMX) folded up and vanished. FreePeers (BearShare) closed their forums and released their developers. Ares Galaxy's Alberto Treves told the RIAA where to go and how to get there by releasing the source code.
And LimeWire? Like eDonkey, it faces staggering odds and very few alternatives. To stay alive, LimeWire decided to throw in the towel and began work on a DRM client.
LimeWire's DRM client, although not yet operational, is designed to block unlicensed material from infiltrating the Gnutella network. If the client is released, it will equate to millions of individuals who will find themselves adrift on a network without resources. Unless they've already made the switch to FrostWire.
FrostWire is fork of the LimeWire project. Unlike other closed source clients whose years of hard work will go for naught, LimeWire intelligently designed an open source client. This allowed a community of developers over the years to participate in the evolution of this client. The development team of FrostWire was part of this community.
Even if LimeWire either ceases operations or releases thier DRM client, the core product will continue to live on. Considering the amount of attention and press given to FrostWire so far, it's possible this client may become the popular successor to the Gnutella crown.
FrostWire has made the first important step towards this goal today by releasing their first beta client. Based on LimeWire 4.9.33, this release is basically a "clean" version - no pop-ups, no nag screens, no inhibiting features. Like LimeWire, it’s a simplistic client that gets the job done.
The great challenge confronting FrostWire will be the maintenance of the innovative features that LimeWire brought about. Will FrostWire become stagnant or will the open source community pull through and continue LimeWire’s strides? Only time will tell, but smart money is betting on the latter.
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