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Regarding Gnutella

 [image of the Head of a GNU]

"Gnutella" is, at present, the name for a protocol for distributed file sharing, mostly used for music files. The name also sometimes refers to the network itself, as well as the original Gnutella software. The situation is quite confusing. For more on Gnutella's origin and history, please refer to the Wikipedia article on the subject.

In any case, the name was originally a word play on "GNU" (the original developers planned to release their code under the GNU GPL, and may have had in mind contributing it to the GNU project) and "Nutella" (a candy bar that the original developers enjoyed). However, neither the original software nor any of the related current projects are official GNU packages. We have asked that the Gnutella developers change the name to avoid confusion; perhaps that will happen in the future.

There are a number of free software programs that implement the Gnutella protocol, such as gtk-gnutella, mutella, and gnucleus. Please note, however, that none of these programs are officially GNU software either. GNU has its own peer-to-peer networking program, GNUnet, whose documentation includes a comparison of the protocols.

The Free Software Foundation is concerned with the freedom to copy and change software; music is outside our scope. But there is a partial similarity in the ethical issues of copying software and copying recordings of music. Some articles in the philosophy directory relate to the issue of copying for things other than software. Some of the other people's articles we have links to are also relevant.

No matter what sort of published information is being shared, we urge people to reject the assumption that some person or company has a natural right to prohibit sharing and dictate exactly how the public can use it. Even the US legal system nominally rejects that anti-social idea.

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