There will be an important update for Kazaa within the next 24 hours. They’ve identified a security vulnerability and they’re urging users to patch their systems quickly. Here’s an article with more details.

While we’re on the subject, though, don’t be confused by a different kind of warning. There’s been talk of “viruses” spread over the Kazaa network. There is some truth to it: if you download an executable file on Kazaa, it might contain a virus. Supposedly, Kazaa users are making files available that purport to be pirated games or pornography but in fact are just viruses. Look for file extensions like .EXE, .BAT, .PIF, and .SCR.

Is that a surprise to anyone? Don’t download files like that from untrusted sources.

MP3 music files don’t carry viruses. I’m not aware of any exceptions to that statement, on Kazaa or anywhere else.

But there are a lot of companies with an economic interest in making you afraid of mp3 files. The record industry and technology companies are trying to force us to use other formats that support digital rights management, handing control back to them, but that can only happen if we voluntarily give up mp3 files. So they will try to make you afraid, at the same time that they promote their formats as “better sounding.”

Did you know that there’s an ongoing effort to do the same thing to compact discs? The industry introduced “SACD” formatted discs last year. They can only be played on a special player. The industry hype says that they feature higher sound quality and better support for multi-speaker systems. The Rolling Stones’ catalog was remastered and released in the new format a few months ago, and a few other major artists will get the same treatment soon.

It’s no coincidence that SACD discs cannot be copied on a computer.

Of course, the hardware manufacturers and recording industry are still dreaming of the glory days when we gave up LPs and tapes. They think it would be just great if you replaced your CD player and turned over your music library again. Fortunately so far consumers have shown no interest.

Are you unhappy with the sound quality of CDs or mp3 files? I’m not either. Resist the hype.

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