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NewsForge: Legal way to defeat AOL's third-party AIM blocking

Apr 17, 2001, 20:30 (18 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Eric Ries)

"As you already know, AOL recently started blocking third-party instant messaging products from using its network. The timing of this move happened to coincide with a major competitor of AOL's debuting an AIM-compatible product, based on the Jabber Open Source project. Many fans of Jabber and other Open-Source AIM clones were dismayed, and although AOL is within its rights in blocking access to its service, the company is making a big mistake."

"Many of the developers of Open-Source AIM alternatives have repeatedly asked AOL to engage with them in a constructive dialog about how their needs can be addressed while at the same time allowing access to the AIM network from third-party clients. After all, hackers are AOL customers, too."

"What follows is a brief overview of the clever technique AOL is using for its access restrictions, and then a proposal for defeating this scheme in a completely legal way. This method (which is completely generic and not tied to AOL in particular) may provide a blueprint for overcoming this type of blocking restriction by other companies in the future. Think of it as a kind of non-violent resistance."

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