You are currently viewing archive for August 2006
08/30 2006 | 05:36 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Looks like Prosper is getting some competition: CNN money reports that the UK-based P2P lending site Zopa is getting ready for it's US launch. From the article:

"The draw: better rates than traditional banks offer. Borrowers can take out loans for as much as $25,000 and enjoy rates as low as 5 percent. And anyone with anywhere from $100 to $100,000 to spare can lend money, and earn returns better than most high-yield savings accounts and CDs."

One big difference between Zopa and Prosper seems to be that Zopa actually takes your credit score into account before it approves a loan request, whereas Prosper leaves the risk-assesment to its members.

Zopa is scheduled to launch in California soon and then eventually expand to the rest of the US. It will be interesting to see how these two sites compete with each other.

08/29 2006 | 05:49 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I'm back from my vacation workation in the Bay Area, so posting will be more frequent from now on.

And I'm sticking to the good old custom to share some of my holiday pictures with you. I decided to do a little contest to make this a bit more interesting: The first person who correctly guesses the content of all three pictures will receive a free copy of the Kingdom of Piracy reader.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read More

08/29 2006 | 02:11 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The fourth international Wizards of OS (WOS) conferece is taking place from September 14th to 16th in Berlin, and I'll have a small part in it by chairing the netlabel panel. Joining me will be John Buckman of, Moritz Sauer of, Olivier Schulbaum from the Platoniq / Burnstation crew and Sebastian Redenz of

There will be also some other really interesting folks at WOS. Think Lawrence Lessig, Yochai Benkler, Rasmus Fleischer, James Love and many, many others.

Go check out the program on the WOS website - and come to the conference if you are in Europe around that time. It's only 60 Euros for all three days, and I think it will be lots of fun.

08/29 2006 | 01:33 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Lynetter has uploaded some great Web 2.0 slides to Flickr. Here's an example:

flickr tags


08/26 2006 | 02:38 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Some things are just meant to be taken as a compliment. Using the free Wifi at the Sony Metreon in San Francisco I discovered that my German weblog is blocked by Websense:

websense p2p

08/25 2006 | 03:21 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Michael Robertson's music locker platform announced new features for their free account this week. Users can now store up to one thousand songs for free with a total of one gigabyte of online storage. There is also a new basic account which offers twice the storage for 20 bucks per year. The 40 dollar per year premium account remains unmetered.

Free account holders initially weren't able to upload any music from their own computers when MP3Tunes started late last year. The only way to get music into your account was to "sideload" songs - a feature that allows remote archiving of music you find on other websites. Michael Robertson announced the new pricing structure on his personal website:

"Tens of thousands of people have signed up for lockers and our systems now hold more than 100 terabytes of music (a terabyte is 1000 gigabytes). This makes us the largest music storage facility in the world. It's a nice start, but still a tiny percentage of the world's music. So it's easy for you to get started we're making a free music locker available to everyone that holds up to 1000 songs."

I've tried the MP3Tunes locker early this year when they had just launched - and I must admit that I wasn't too impressed. The Firefox extension was buggy, oftentimes resulting in "unresponsive script" error messages. The iTunes integration wouldn't work at all for me, and the pricing structure - 40 bucks for a year instead of a low monthly fee - didn't seem too inviting either.

I ended up uninstallling the Firefox extension with the next browser update and haven't used MP3Tunes ever since. The new, free account might make me want to give this another shot tho.

08/25 2006 | 12:08 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
No, not what you think. It's not 1999 after all. They just finally opened their beta-test to the public. You can read my take on the service here. What's your first impression?

08/21 2006 | 12:34 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Coverage Blogging will be light during the next few days because I'm in the Bay Area for a few days of vacation fact finding. I'll be doing some interesting interviews during the next few days tho, so expect some longer stories coming up soon.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button

08/17 2006 | 04:29 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
IMehs has relaunched Bearshare as a filtered P2P subscription service today. Reuters has an article with some optimistic quotes from iMesh executive chairman Robert Summer:

"'Ours is a unique offering that addresses that massive audience of free music downloaders that the industry is trying to bring to heel,' Summer said."

Judging from the screenshots Bearshare 6.0 seems to be nothing more than a rebranded version of iMesh 6.0.

A few things strike me as odd tho. Bearshare 6.0 is available for download in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Polish and German - even tho the music of their subscription service is only licensed for use in the US, Canda and the UK. Maybe finally someone recognizes my fellow German expats as a valuable target audience?

Also, iMesh seems to have relaunched the classic, unfiltered Bearshare software as Bearflix, targeting movie downloaders. I'm not entirely sure how Hollywood will feel about that.

08/16 2006 | 01:44 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Plazes officially soft-launched their Plazer application for mobile phones today. From their website:

"The mobile Plazer enables you to use Plazes on your Smartphone. Set your position, discover new Plazes, and see... Just like with the Plazer for PC and Mac. But everywhere and independently of a WiFi or LAN Connection. (...) Currently we support all Nokia, Samsung and Lenovo Smartphones running Series 60 v. 2.1, 2.6 and 2.8."

Plazes is a location-enabler that allows you to communicate your current and past locations and explore social spaces in your neighbourhood. I wrote a longer article about their platform when they relaunched last month.

(via no information)

08/15 2006 | 06:29 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Prague based P2P company Allpeers is gearing up for their public beta. They are in the process of inviting 50.000 registered testers during the next few days, they are spreading invites amongst readers of various blogs - and they announced there will be no more major updates befor the beta launch. So it's probably a good time to take a final peek behind the curtain and write up a short review.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Read More

Allpeers invites

08/15 2006 | 04:20 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Techcrunch did a short review of today, combined with a giveaway for invites for their still-private beta. Unfortunately people had to leave their e-mail addresses in the Techcrunch comments - soemthing that will make spam harvesters very, very happy.

Here's my offer for the privacy-conscious: Send me your e-mail address via this contact form, and I'll hook you up with an Allpeers invite. I can't promise that everyone will get one - I might run out of invites or patience sooner or later. But you don't have to publish your address on a high profile weblog, and I won't give it to anyone except the Allpeers registration server.

Also, stay tuned for a more detailed Allpeers review later today or early tomorrow.

Altnet sues Streamcast Networks

08/15 2006 | 11:48 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Slyck is reporting that Altnet is suing Streamcast Networks for an alleged violation of their Truenames patent. Truenames is Altnet's method of identifying specific works in P2P networks by using file hashes.

The lawsuit could be seen as a retribution for Streamcast's charges against Sharman Networks and Ebay. But there is also a possibility that Altnet and Sharman want to open a second front against competing P2P vendors that already battle off lawsuits by the music industry.

Swedish Pirate Party launches VPN service, calls it "World's First Commercial Darknet"

08/14 2006 | 01:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Swedish pirates seem to have learned their first lesson in politics: It's all about the spin. Today the Pirate Party announced the launch of the "World's First Commercial Darknet" through a Swedish company called Relakks. From the press release:

"Today, the Swedish Pirate Party launched a new Internet service that lets anybody send and receive files and information over the Internet without fear of being monitored or logged. In technical terms, such a network is called a "darknet". The service allows people to use an untraceable address in the darknet, where they cannot be personally identified."

Upon closer inspection this darknet seems to be nothing more than a VPN service that is marketed to end users. From the Relakks website:

"The Service consists of an encrypted VPN tunnel between your computer and RELAKKS. The IP-number you receive from your existing ISP is only used to connect your computer to RELAKKS, from there on RELAKKS substitute your existing IP-number with a new IP-number from RELAKKS."

This actually nothing new at all. One company marketing a similiar service (bundled with other features) aggresively to P2P users is the German Nutzwerk AG.

The Relakks website doesn't really hype the P2P and "darknet" factor of it's product too much, instead just stating that it allows you to "use clients and applications anonymously on the internet". How anonymous you really are isn't too clear either. Their legal section states:

"RELAKKS then have to hand over the subscription information entered by you (but that’s all). RELAKKS do not store any subscribtion information about you except what you entered yourself when signing up for the RELAKKS Safe Surf service. For Swedish authorities to force RELAKKS to hand over “traffic data” including your RELAKKS IP at a specific point in time, they will have to prove a case with the minimum sentence of two years imprisonment."

Now does that mean that they save login information, IP numbers and traffic data or not? And for how long are they keeping the information they save? You would expect that a privacy service offers a better worded privacy policy ...

Another thing that isn't really clear is the connection to the Pirate Party. The party states that it will get some share of th Relakks revenue, but the Relakks website doesn't say anything about that. Also, I'm obviously no expert in Swedish politics, but the idea of a party directly profiting off of a company's product seems a little odd to me - especially if the company would gain from the party being elected.

Finally, who is Relakks? The company's website doesn't offer any imprint or contact information. The registry data however reveals that is owned by Labs 2 - a Swedish broadband aplications developer whose products include "service infrastructure (including portal and business systems) and complete systems to present TV, film and music." I guess they forgot to add that whole thing about the "World's First Commercial Darknet". Or maybe that just doesn't ring that well for a publicly traded company.

Quote of the day: P2P is a Ferrari waiting to be taken for a drive

08/11 2006 | 01:05 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Multimedia Communications Lab of the Technical University Darmstadt is doing a lot of P2P-related research these days. As everybody else in this space they struggle with the notion that P2P is just about piracy. Which is why Lab-member Oliver Heckman used a nice analogy in a press release (German PDF) recently:

"P2P has a problem of perception. People almost exclusively focus on shady music swapping platforms. We see something completly different in P2P: A new technology that lacks research, but has a lot of sex appeal. It's like having a Ferrari in your garage that you only use to listen to music."

Asus WL-700gE: The Bittorrent router?

08/10 2006 | 08:15 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Australian APC magazine calls the new Asus WL-700gE router "THE router for the avid software/TV/music/movie pirate". APC has a little bit of a pirate fetish, which is why it's probably good to read a review that is a bit more balanced. Like the one from, which concludes:

"Overall I would say the router performs very well and is worth the money (I paid approximately $300). However, the bittorrent client is very buggy and limited."

Having fun with the leaked AOL database

08/08 2006 | 04:09 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Don't you feel bad for the AOL guys? They wanted to help some fellow researchers and ended up with a major privacy SNAFU. Now someone has made the whole AOL search terms database searchable itself - and in turn given us rare insight into the mindet of AOL users.

Of course one could use this to puzzle together personal profiles. But it's already lots of fun to just feed the database with random terms that are of some importance to the P2P and online media space. Look at it as some sort of personalized popularity contest:

Limewire - 2798 hits.
Youtube - 2186 hits.
iTunes - 1214 hits.
Kazaa - 864 hits.
Napster - 494 hits
Rhapsody - 454 hits.
Bittorrent - 84 hits.
Allofmp3 - 83 hits.
Emule - 53 hits.
Edonkey - 8 hits.
Azureus - 7 hits.
Overnet - 0 hits.

Looks like Edonkey / Emule and Bittorrent aren't really too popular with the AOL crowd. Or maybe they are using it already and just don't have any questions. After all, search activity doesn't always translate to popularity. Take the completely unrepresentative first results for Napster, for example:

napster searches on aol

Oups. Well, at least one guys is genuinely interested in the new, free Napster web service.

New Cache Discovery Protocol for Bittorrent

08/07 2006 | 05:51 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Bittorrent and Cachelogic have announced a few more details about their partnership today. Apparently they are working on a Cache Discovery Protocol that enables provider-based superseeding of legitimate content. From the Cachelogic press release:

"CDP will enable BitTorrent client software to automatically discover and take advantage of caching devices within an ISP’s network to significantly accelerate the delivery of legitimate content whilst reducing costs."

The protocol itself is supposed to be open source, but how are they making the distinction between legal and illegal content? Well, that's where the second part of the announcement comes in. Cachelogic is introducing a network of ISP-based peer cache servers called Velocix.

"The VelociX Accelerated Media Delivery Platform comprises a global distributed network with significant delivery capacity located at strategic points across the Internet. The platform, and its interaction with P2P clients operating on the network, is dynamically controlled using CacheLogic’s Cache Discovery Protocol (CDP) that enables accelerated media delivery and optimizes distribution of legal content."

Velocix uses some sort of registry to identify licensed content. One has to assume that everything that gets seeded by Bittorrent itself will make it onto the local provider peer cache platforms, where it gets distributed at faster speeds than ordinary Bittorrent traffic.

Of course this raises a whole bunch of net neutrality issues. Will they allow other legitimate Bittorrent hosters to utilize those ISP peer caches as well? Or will you have to pay your fees to Bittorrent in order to get your content out there reasonably fast, while all other P2P traffic gets throttled by the participating ISPs?

The politics of anonymous P2P

08/07 2006 | 01:04 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There is a really interesting discussion going on in the Slyck forums about the implicatons of darknets and anonymous P2P networks. Apparently some of the warez guys are starting to use Freenet more frequently, starting indexing sites such as FreeNova.

Slyck reader Yaveznodo isn't too happy about this:

"Shouldn't we campaign for the copyright rules to be changed rather than hide? Wouldn't it be better for all of us if we could fileshare without any need for this kind of hiding? Running away, putting our head under the sheets doesn't solve the underlying problem, which is that of the copyright laws. (...)

The monster is still under the bed, we need to turn the light on, instaed of pulling the sheets over our heads."

Good arguments from the other site too. Definitely worth a read.

Music industry sues Limewire

08/05 2006 | 02:04 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Uh-oh: Limewire has been sued by the music industry. CNet has some basic facts, Slyck has some more detailed quotes from the lawsuit.

It seems like this comes at a particularly bad moment for the company. Limewire is in the process of relaunching its website, they started to beta-test their content filtering, and their recent job listings hint to a future that is very different from and potentially much less threatening to the copyright industry than Limewire's current incarnation.

One certainly has to wonder why some companies are given years for such transitions after a settlement is reached whereas others are called "devoted (...) to the Internet piracy of (...) sound recordings" simply for trying to resolve these issues without a lawsuit.

Update: Ray Beckerman is deep-linking to a PDF copy of the complaint.

Napster up for grabs?

08/04 2006 | 05:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
About a year ago I speculated on my German blog that Microsoft would buy Napster within the next twelve months. Obviously I was wrong, because it hasn't happened - at least not yet. Reuters now reports that Napster is losing subscribers and considering a sale as a result:

"We do not have our heads in the sand regarding an M&A (merger and acquisition) transaction. We continue to receive a lot of interest in the company. We will always carefully weigh any valuation alternative against the opportunity and risk associated with continuing as a stand-alone company," Gorog told analysts on a conference call."

Maybe I was just off by six months or so?

Former Limewire programmer starts new P2P venture - first product combines SIP with file sharing and social networking

08/03 2006 | 02:55 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Adam Fisk used to be a senior software engineer at Limewire until Jaunuary 2004. Now he has started blogging - and in turn dropping hints on what he's up to now.

Adam's new venture Last Bamboo LLC apparently combines the VOIP protocol SIP with file sharing and other P2P services. Their first product is called Little Shoot and is in private beta since early June. The Last Bamboo website is access restricted, but thankfully one of their founders has put up some static pages about Little Shoot:

"Little Shoot fuses open source p2p technology, social networking, personal web serving, and next generation VoIP protocols (SIP). In so doing, Little Shoot offers users the ability to search, browse, download and securely share with friends, all through the browser."

Little shoot apparently allows you to share files with the general public or with a selected set of friends, using a social network architecture to facilitate access control. Here's a simple overview of their network topology:

little shoot architecture

Note that the people in the middle are the Last Bamboo founders Adam Fisk, Brendan Klinger, Doug Price, Jerry Charumilind and Yusuke Naito.

There's also some screenshots available here, here, here and here. Overall, this looks like a pretty exciting project. The social P2P space might get pretty crowded by the end of the year, but I think therer will be plenty of opportunities. After all, we haven't seen a real innovation in the P2P space in terms of content discovery for years.

Another P2P company receives funding

08/03 2006 | 01:18 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Maybe the Grokster decision didn't have that much of a chilling effect after all: Om Malik is reporting today that the Bay Area-based P2P startup Skyrider just received 8 million dollars venture capital. Skyrider is still in semi-stealth mode, but Om's description definitely sounds interesting:

"The big opportunity, Kozel says, is to bring the web-like ease to the P2P networks, and looking beyond video and music file sharing. SkyRider also has plans to apply P2P technology to user-generated content."

The company's website doesn't really give much more details. It sounds a little like they want to merge P2P networks with web-based search in order to offer keyword-based advertising, but that's just a wild guess for now. Skyrider does have a blog tho, and it seems like they could be onto something:

"The basic peer-to-peer networks that we are seeing today will rapidly evolve in the coming months and years and merge with the web. When YouTube serves over 100 million videos a day and when tens of millions of MySpace users can not communicate directly with tens of millions of Facebook users, there is simply no other option: p2p and the web architectures will merge."

Odd Job Jack Torrent

08/02 2006 | 12:28 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The makers of the Canadian animation series Odd Job Jack have decided to publish the raw material for their current season as a Creative Commons-licensed torrent download. From their website:

"What: Master flash files and bitmaps of every piece of art used in this season of Odd Job Jack. Every character, prop, and background from every episode plus tutorials and other support material. All free to hack, use, remix under a share-friendly license.

Why: We love animation and we just know you do too. We're proud of Odd Job Jack and we've put lots of work into our show. Our art deserves to live beyond broadcast and who better to give a free gift to than the entire planet?" is superseeding the Torrent for the second episode, future episodes will follow each week. Point your Bittorrent software this way:

Odd Job Jack Episode 3.02 animated show assets (hosted by

Redswoosh pulls a Vistatorrent on Microsoft

08/01 2006 | 12:19 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Redswoosh apparently decided to get one of those framed C&D notices some free publicity by offering Microsoft beta software via P2P. From their blog:

"Starting Wednesday, August 2nd (Microsoft) will be charging $1.50 to those who wish to download and test Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2. It appears that the demand for MS's Office Beta was much larger than the MS budget for bandwidth had anticipated and they've had to resort to charging their beta users for the download.

We at swoosh, with infinite generosity, offer up this FREE swooshed link to Office 2007 Beta2 to rid Microsoft of delivery costs while accelerating the download to users."

Somehow I doubt this will be online for too long.