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P2P downloads at warp speed?

File sharing may soon move at a faster pace. Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon and Purdue say they've conquered one of the frustrations of P2P downloads: the sometimes painfully slow speed.

Tomorrow, the new SET protocol will be released at a conference in Cambridge, Mass. SET stands for Similarity-Enhanced Transfer. That conference is the 4th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design & Implementation. The scientists say their new system is aimed at easier sharing of academic papers.

One of SET's creators says that they will release the system. He added, "This is a technique that I would like people to steal." Bet you can name the software companies he does NOT work for.

How's it work? In short, SET looks around for multiple sources of similar files. Say a movie exists in numerous files that vary only slightly, such as different file names. The system can pull video from one source and audio from another, simultaneously. The scientists say many music files are 99 percent similar but have different header or artist titles. SET would take advantage of the shared portion of those files and find the fastest download source.

That guy in the back of the room tomorrow, recording the whole thing, he's from the RIAA. That's why he looks so worried.