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Saturday, 30 June, 2001, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Virus hoax aims to dupe MP3 users
Napster-alike montage BBC
Hoax sounds like manifesto against music piracy
A hoax virus warning that preys on the gullibility of computer users who swap songs via the web is circulating on the internet.

A note posted to several newsgroups says that "music fans around the planet will receive a shocking surprise on their computers on American Independence Day, 4 July, but only if they have downloaded unauthorised songs from Napster, Gnutella or other file swapping applications on the internet."

Obviously a hoax and not a very good one

Rob Rosenberger,
According to the message, a "new hybrid computer code" named MusicPanel has been surreptitiously buried inside MP3 files of 500 popular tunes and distributed over the past eight months among unsuspecting "song thieves" using the popular Napster and Gnutella file-exchange services.

The hoax goes on to say "those who have downloaded any of the 500 most popular songs ... will find their illicit music unusable and their computers frozen due to the time release of this bomb".

Piracy manifesto

But experts point out that data files such as MP3s cannot execute by themselves and thus cannot have computer viruses embedded in them.

Rob Rosenberger, who runs the virus myths and hoaxes website, said MusicPanel was "obviously a hoax and not a very good one. But some people are falling for it".

The note, which reads like a manifesto against music piracy, warns that "the only way to protect against its damaging payload is removal of the illicit songs from hard drives".

The warning, which appears to have originated in Australia, says the virus was developed by disgruntled musicians, angry at the illicit trade in music over the internet.

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