In Pursuit of the Free Flow Proliferation of Information: An Interview with Vinnie Falco, Creator of Bearshare

Zeropaid holds audience with Vinnie Falco as they rap together about music piracy, people’s willingness to share, the future of gnutella, turmoil in the industry, and how he plans to beat the odds.

Zeropaid: Don’t we need to introduce technology that forces users to share, a.k.a ‘anti-freeloading’ controls?

Vinnie Falco: No. The larger problem is that the average person can’t understand why anyone would give something away without getting something in return. They don’t understand it because we are raised in a world of greed and materialism. We seem to have lost touch with our Self-lessness.

But with the digital age, the rules are different. Sharing a file costs nothing – perfect copies of digital content can be produced with no expense. The ramifications of this have yet to sink in, so the status-quo is to look upon the freeloading issue with old-economy thinking.

The real solution to the perceived freeloading problem is not technical, its social. Its about understanding the technology and realizing that when you give away a copy of a file, you actually gain something rather than lose it; all of humanity benefits.

Despite the Gnutella consortium and related working groups, you are the first person in the world to change the Gnutella protocol since it was reverse engineered in March of 2000. How did you do it?

I guess I pulled the proverbial sword from the stone. Progress needed to be made, and the working groups were moving too slowly. With Napster on the brink of going subscription and the big players in the industry looking to preserve their monopoly on keeping prices artificially high, can we afford to wait while a bunch of people sit in the middle of the room and give out ideas? Clearly not.

Some anonymous sources claim that you are out to change the Gnutella protocol so no one else can use it, and they are disturbed by these binary queries that BearShare puts out. Some feel like there is an ulterior motive behind BearShare, maybe to divulge secret information?

Like most industries, competition is fierce, and if you don’t stay on top and protect your secrets, it is easy to fall behind to a nimble foe.

But I think the Gnutella protocol is just fine the way it is, all of the existing problems can be solved without any major changes. The modifications I introduced were mostly cosmetic, not a fundamental change in the behavior of the client. In fact, I collaborated with some of the other major developers, the ones who belong to corporations, to come to a fast consensus on how we would extend the protocol. I tried to get the information out as quickly as possible, and I made some sample code available in the Developers forum on BearShare.Net. So I think these claims are farfetched, likely from either jealousy or paranoia.

As for divulging user information, Free Peers, Inc. is liable for BearShare, and there are significant civil and federal penalties for misuse of computers and public networks. I’m trying to develop software, not break the law.

What about It used to be an impartial website, but now it seems like a promotion for BearShare! This has drawn ire from some of the other developers and people who were originally involved with Gnutella. How can you justify that?

Whats to justify? It happened, so get over it. The site hadn’t been updated since before October. Before I gave it a complete workover, I updated the downloads section to include the newer clients. Then I decided to just link it to other sites that do a better job of updating their content, like Zeropaid. As for downloadable clients, Gnutelliums does a good job as the custodian of all available software so why not leave that task to them?

There are a number of websites, some national and some international, that still offer the original Gnutella 0.56 client, even though it has known problems with broadcasting push requests. They were also offering Gnewtella, which was a decent client for its time (and my first experience with Gnutella), but that program broadcast a ping every second!

With any other product, this could slide, but with Gnutella, it is imperative that everyone stays informed through news sites like Zeropaid, and upgrade to the latest version of BearShare. Thats part of the new problems that peer to peer networks bring, is a perfect example of how social issues are as equally important as technical issues. The entire network we had to do was get the word out and tell people to switch to a newer client.

The biggest problem Gnutella had up until December, was not freeloading, it was that the number one portal for Gnutella, was abandoned and left out to dry by its founders. Gnutella lost its leadership and floundered for a while.

Now there’s a new sheriff in town.

Now that BearShare is becoming popular, aren’t you afraid of becoming the next target of the RIAA?

I’m interested in human rights, but not at the expense of going to jail. If they shut down BearShare, two more clients will take its place, like the regenerating heads of a hydra. They can invest all of their time and effort against the peer to peer revolution, but they will only slow, not stop, the inevitable changes to society. Someone or some product is going to reach the finish line no matter what, if not in this country then in another country, or in someone’s basement.

Let’s face it, there seems to be something that just isn’t right about taking an artist’s work and making copies of it without compensating them.

True. Lets also face that something isn’t right about a relatively small group of people having absolute control over the publishing and distribution network, and manipulating it to make prices artificially high, and keeping the vast majority of the revenue to themselves instead of where it deserves to go, the content providers.

The whole payment model worked because content was being distributed on physical media. But now, distributing digital media means just pushing electrons around. That’s a lot harder to keep a monopoly over, without resorting to crude legal threats. Its also much cheaper, which is why not only will the consumer ultimately benefit through lower prices, but the artist will also benefit through increased revenue since the middle man is eliminated from the picture.

– A Brief Bio –

“I created BearShare for users looking for the Gnutella client of their dreams. Everyone has been silently waiting for a program like this. This is server-room quality code delivered directly to your desktop at no cost. Other clients may give you freedom, but only BearShare gives you the POWER to share.”

BearShare is an exciting new Windows file sharing program from Free Peers, Inc. that lets you, your friends, and everyone in the world share files! Built on Gnutella technology, BearShare provides a simple, easy to use interface combined with a powerful connection and search engine that puts thousands of different files in easy reach! Best of all, BearShare is FREE!

What makes BearShare so special? Look at these features:

  • Complete documentation
  • Search or share any type of file
  • Keyword highlighting for search results
  • Multiple active searches
  • Resume incomplete downloads and uploads
  • Bandwidth barrier detection and avoidance
  • Active monitoring and updating of shared directories
  • Connection Setup Wizard
  • Resizable window
  • Status indicator lights
  • Color coded list view items
  • Graphical progress display for transfers
  • Sorting, multiple selection in lists
  • Automatic connection maintenance using
    the Clip2 DSS Gnutella Service Provider

  • Customizable filters exclude virus file types
  • File type filters for searches and shared files
  • Search results shows missing, incomplete, and matching files
  • Multiple shared directories
  • Play/Open/Explore files from each page
  • Server type, user agent, and version displays
  • Monitor shows hits, requests, uploads
  • Comprehensive statistical reporting
  • Backup routing
  • Reverse lookup for computer addresses
  • Compatible with Reflector and LimeWire indexing features
  • Simultaneous Active and Passive searching modes
  • Strict adherance to Gnutella protocol
  • Fully optimized code
  • Easy to use


Zeropaid is a File Sharing portal which will make it slick and easy for you to get in on the wonders of peer-to-peer informational sharing networks. They have the resources and research for you to determine which is the best route for you. But what ever route that may be. Share, share, share it baby! Give the information that you have away freely. A great new day will be ours soon.

Author: Chris Gilbey

News Service: Zeropaid


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: