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06/23 2007 | 09:32 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Sometimes things just happen by accident. You give your company a name that sounds cool, only to find out later that it actually means something in Spanish. Luckily, in the case of the personal P2P start-up Pando the meaning wasn’t too bad, and the company has been bulging with users from Spain and Latin America ever since.

Pando’s story has been somewhat symptomatic for quite a few P2P ventures. Potential lawsuit and a tough market for paid downloads have forced more and more companies to look for alternative revenue models. At the same time, almost overnight, online video grew a huge appetite for content delivery services. Soon people started asking: Does anyone speak P2P around here? Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/23 2007 | 12:54 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Regular readers of this blog probably know by now that I've been somewhat obsessed with both Plazes.com and Yahoo Pipes lately.

I've been thinking about using Pipes for a Plazes mashup for a while. Now I finally did it, and I must say it was actually much easier than I thought.

plazes local

Plazes Local Search combines Yahoo Local and Plazes.com, which means that you can search Yahoo Local whereever you are without entering your current location. You do need to be a Plazes user for this, Plaze yourself somewhere and make your current location available for the world to see - which is something you might not want to do if you're afraid of stalkers. Oh, and you need to be in the US as well.

I must admit that I'm actually somewhat excited about this. Most of my Pipes so far have been more educational, meaning that I wanted to teach myself or others how to use the service. This one seems like a mashup that I might actually end up using quite a bit. I do have a few idea how to make it better, but I'd also be interested in your feedback ...

06/21 2007 | 04:36 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember those clogged tubes Ted Stevens was talking about? Luckily there is a great way to free them up so those internets that your staff is sending you will reach you in time. No, I'm not talking about Liquid Plumr, but about P2P.

Technology Reports just published a story that suggest P2P technology might help to make the net work better. From the article:

"The increased use of peer-to-peer communications could improve the overall capacity of the Internet and make it run much more smoothly."

The article makes for an interesting read, especially since it shows that the findings were only possible because the researchers used a distributed approach in the first place, using thousands of volunteers to map the topology of the internet.

Want to take part in this efford as well? Just go to Netdimes.org and download the Dimes Agent.

06/20 2007 | 06:45 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This sounds like a story straight from the department for dubious research: A market reseach company called Ebizmba, sorry, eBizMBA claims that online video and porn sites are more popular than Torrent websites. Okay, this part actually does sound somewhat believable, especially in light of recent measurements showing that P2P traffic has been overtaken by HTTP-based video data aka Youtube.

The story does get a little murky though once you take a look at eBizMBA's methodology. The research company took a whole bunch of freely available data and somehow mashed it together to rank video, Torrent and porn sites. The winner obviously is - wait - Metacafe?

From the website:

"Which is more popular on the internet, Porn, File Sharing, or Video sites? We wanted to know so we choose to take a look at traffic data from the top 5 sites in their respective categories to determine the victor. (...) To insure a fair fight we decided to remove YouTube from the fray because of the obvious traffic advantage they get from being a part of Google Inc."

Riiiight. eBizMBA also ranks Playboy.com higher than The Pirate Bay, but slightly below Mininova. Of course one could argue that most Torrent sites have enough porn to make the distrinction between adult and video / Torrents obsolete.

And is it just me or does anyone else have a the weird feeling that those porn sites are picked very much at random? I for one have never even heard of Worldsex.com. But eBizMBA thinks they are more popular than The Pirate Bay ...

06/19 2007 | 12:16 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Weedshare announced to close shop back in April - and two months later people start to take notice. Now, this slight delay already tells you something about the popularity and success Weedshare enjoyed. So, just in case you, like a few others, missed out on it: What the heck was Weedshare?

Weedshare was a digital download platform that used "viral" DRM in combination with a multi-level marketing approach to sell content of indie musicians. Musicians could distribute Weedshare files through their own website, official download locations and P2P networks. Users could listen to a file three times before purchasing it.

They could also make some money by getting other users to buy files, who in turn could make money by reselling those files - and so on. Weedshare paid referal fees up to the third level, which makes them slightly less pyramid-like than your average Utah-based juice conglomerate.

The company had to close shop because Microsofts Windows Media Player 11 apparently doesn't play any Weed files anymore. From the official announcement:

"Windows Media Player 11 will gain in usage over time and the problem will become more common as it does. Rather than operate under steadily deteriorating conditions, we've decided to suspend operations."

Of course this has renewed the discussion about DRM, with John Buckman of Magnatune claiming that "Microsoft broke DRM and WMA compatibility for competitive reasons".

Buckman makes it sound like Microsoft got rid of Weedshare because they felt threatened by it, but the truth is that Weedshare was never much of a success. One of it's biggest announcements, the Weedshare-supported Limewire download shop, never materialized.

CD Baby was supposedly Weedshare's largest content provider, with 60.000 titles available at the end of 2004. Still, 15 months later, CD Baby artists had only made a total of 1348 dollars, which means that Weedshare sold less than 3000 songs of the CD Baby catalogue during that time. Just as a frame of reference: CD Baby got almost three million dollars from iTunes by February 2006.

So Microsoft may have killed Weedshare, but that hardly makes them a weed killer. It's more like they accidentally trampled on an endangered species that wouldn't have survived for much longer anyways.

06/17 2007 | 12:18 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Sicko, Hostel 2, the new Fantastic Four flick: You can get all those summer blockbusters via BitTorrent. Of course, there is a small chance that you actually might get in trouble for doing so, which is why more and more people turn to so-called "one-click" hosting sites instead, where all these movies are readily available for download as well.

One-click hosting has become a huge business during the last few years. The two market leaders RapidShare.com and Megaupload.com claim to each transfer more than a hundred terabyte of data every single day. Rights holders are slowly waking up to this trend - and suddenly realize that this is the cruel revenge of the market place for their file-sharing lawsuits. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/13 2007 | 12:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It looks like there is a new solution for students to bypass their college's P2P ban out there: File hoster Furk.net offers the ability to remotely download Torrent data onto their web server and then access it as a regular HTTP download.

furk

Furk is one of gazillions of one click file hosters, offering free, anonymous file hosting with an admittedly much less cluttered interface than Rapidshare or Megaupload. The service imposes some limits on non-paying users, but it has a special value proposition for those who decide to pay 10 Euros (about 13 USD) per month: You can upload .torrent files and start the download through Furk's web server.

furk

I just tested the service and must say it's pretty impressive. Remote download speeds are up to 350 kB per Second, making it possible to have access to a 336 Megabyte file in roughly 24 Minutes. Of course this is still Bittorrent, so actual download speeds depend on the seeding of the particular file. Plus the data is not on your hard drive yet, so speed might not be the primary reason to use Furk.

furk

Of course there are some other reasons that make a service like this attractive. Remote downloading might be a great idea if your college blocks Bittorrent and threatens you with expulsion. Also, Furk makes it possible to download Torrents from your office PC and then access the media effordless from your home PC without tinkering with the Web UI of your Bittorrent client.

And then there is piracy privacy. Furk doesn't have a privacy policy, and their Terms of Service feature some rater strong words against abuse:

"Authorities may be contacted. Regarding the infringing content, any available user information will be shared with either the FBI and/or Interpol, depending on both the severity of the infringement and the applicable cause of removal of future harm. With this information, these two agencies will be able to find and arrest the user in regard to any of the above-mentioned infringements."

This does however seem to be boilerplate TOS language. The very same warning is part of the TOS of two other file hosting servics that don't seem to be related to Furk.

Still, you don't really know who you are dealing with here - the Whois information of Furk.net is fake, and the servers seem to reside somewhere in the Netherlands. Security Watch thinks that it might be a good idea to use the service with an anonymous pre-paid debit card.

A few more things that are noteworthy about Furk: You get an email receipt as soon as your download is on their hard drive. Your disk space is limited to 10 GB, and there is a bandwidth limit of 32 GB per month in place. The site encourages the use of download managers, allowing up to 25 connections per IP address. Also, it seems like premium users can share their downloaded Torrents amongst each other. No words on whether Furk actually seeds content as well though.

06/12 2007 | 10:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember that photo of a P2P graffiti piece on the window of a Spanish Blockbuster? I found the picture last October of Flickr and the published it on this blog. Torrentfreak, Waxy and quite a few other blogs picked up on it, and eventually the photo even found its way into a Spanish newspaper.

Turns out that isn't the end of the story. A few days ago I found this picture on Flickr:

i love p2p

(cc) Sérgio Tavares Filho, republished with permission (Thanks!)

Apparently people in Brazil love P2P more than Blockbuster as well. And maybe, just maybe the inspiration for this particular graffitti piece is connected to a certain blog posting back in October ...

06/11 2007 | 09:28 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There is money all over the floor. A TV set in the back of the stage is showing soft porn. More than half of the screen is occupied by flashy graphics promising up to 50.000 Euro, blinking countdowns, phone numbers and a word puzzle that a four-year-old could solve in a minute. And then there is the host of the show. Screaming at the camera, swearing, running around on stage like crazy. Mocking someone who called earlier, literally giving away the answer of the puzzle. Still, no one seems to call.

Tune into German cable TV these days, and you’re likely to find multiple stations with shows like these at any time of the day. Call-in game shows have become big business for the German cable TV industry. Viewers are charged 49 Euro-Cents (about $0.65 U.S.) per call. Some of the more successful networks generate hundreds of millions of calls each year. Proponents claim this is the future of interactive television. Critics call it the biggest fraud in TV’s history. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/08 2007 | 05:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Almost forgot to mention it here: The Distributed Computing Industry Association is having its second P2P Media Summit in Los Angeles on Monday, and they asked me to come on board as a keynote speaker.

I'll be talking about Joost and Babelgum, and there are some other interesting talks and discussions going on as well. Speakers and panelists include Bram Cohen, Andrew Parker (Cachelogic), Eric Garland, Ray Beckerman and Joshua Wattles. Are you attending as well? Then by all means please stop by and say hello.

06/08 2007 | 11:13 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A couple of online video sites recently started to employ fingerprinting technologies to prevent the uploading of pirated content. My colleagues at Newteevee decided to see whether all this Audible Magic stuff really works. Here's what they discovered:

"We were surprised to be able to upload multiple times the exact same copyrighted file, even after we explicitly told the hosting site and the fingerprinting provider about it and they took it down."

Oups. Read the whole article at Newteevee.com

06/06 2007 | 02:09 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Speaking of Guba: The site also offers various RSS feeds that can be mashed up with Yahoo Pipes.

I played with it a little bit today, and the first result of that is GubaTunes - an RSS feed of videos for the Top 10 songs on iTunes. The resulting feed can be used as a Podcast within iTunes or Democracy / Miro.

gubatunes

There are still some videos in the feed that don't really belong there. I've been thinking about doing stricter filters, but unfortunately that would kill many of the music videos you want as well. Let me know if you have any ideas on how to solve this.

06/05 2007 | 06:07 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The folks at Allpeers seem to be pretty excited about the new version 0.60 of their Firefox file sharing extension - so excited in fact that they just broke their own news embargo with a posting on their blog. The reason for all this adrenaline: Allpeers 0.60 will be available as a Mozilla-sanctioned Firefox bundle, meaning that users that are new to Firefox and Allpeers only have to install one application to share files with their friends.

The official Allpeers press release quotes CEO Cedric Maloux saying:

"Approximately 10% of new AllPeers users download Firefox in order to install our application. The popularity of our application's features has helped AllPeers achieve an organic growth rate of one new user every two minutes, and we expect this rate to accelerate considerably with the added ease of installation afforded by the new bundle."


Mind you, this doesn't mean that every Firefox download will now have Allpeers built in. Instead, Alleers will distribute a special version of Firefox on their own site with the blessing of the Mozilla foundation - an arrangement that is somewhat similiar to the Google Toolbar-powered Firefox.

Still, it could help Firefox to find some new friends by adding a viral factor. From now on it will be your friends who nag you to install the browser, and not just some blogging CSS fetishists. It remains to be seen if that is enough to make Allpeers the "Firefox killer app" that Techcrunch predicted early last year.

06/04 2007 | 06:42 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Council of the European Union is currently reviewing a new copyright directive that could shape copright policy in all of the EU member states for years to come.

The Second Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive, also known as IPRED2, deals with the enforcement of copyright laws and has been the subject of some heated debate within Europe. Infringers are threatened with a maximum of four years of jail time and fines of up to 300.000 Euros (about 400.000 US-dollars).

The European Parliament decided to exempt non-commercial infringement from the directive though. A recent draft of amendments for the directive reads:

"'Infringements on a commercial scale' means any infringement of an intellectual property right committed to obtain a commercial advantage; this would exclude acts carried out by private users for personal and not for profit purposes."

The Council of the European Union apparently doesn't care too much for this distinction. It's version of the same amendment is a little shorter (PDF download):

"Definition of 'infringements on a commercial scale' to mean 'any infringement of an intellectual property right committed to obtain a commercial advantage'."

Of course, commercial advantage could also mean that someone just wants to save 99 Cents by downloading a song off of a P2P network instead of buying it at the iTunes Music Store.

This isn't the first time EU politicians tried to criminalize file sharers through IPRED2. EU parliament member Janelly Fourtou proposed to just get rid of the phrase "on a commercial scale" altogether. After all, it doesn't really make any difference whether people swap a few files or operate a factory for bootleg DVDs. At least not for Fourtou, whose husband incidentally is the former CEO of Vivendi.

(via futurezone)

06/04 2007 | 11:02 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Torrentfreak has been holding an Anti-DRM T-shirt design contest that entered the voting phase today. 46 designs are up for your consideration. Some admittedly look like anger expressed with MS paint, but others are actually quite funny. This is my personal favourite:

anti-drm shirt

Now go and cast your vote.

06/02 2007 | 01:09 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
So you think piracy is primarily taking place on BitTorrent, eMule and Gnutella? Think again. There is a whole parallel universe out there with people trading huge amounts of DVDs, TV shows, warez and porn. Three terabytes of new content every single day, to be precise. Welcome to Usenet, the original piracy hotbed.

Usenet is a little bit like P2P’s estranged uncle. People started trading files over newsgroups around the time when Napster founder Shawn Fanning attended kindergarden. The face of Usenet has changed dramatically in recent years, though. It has become big business for some. It has been under legal scrutiny, but escaped major lawsuits. Will the next step be Hollywood-friendly commercialization? Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/01 2007 | 07:58 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Germany is getting ready for a very special spectacle this weekend. 16.000 cops, 1100 soldiers, numerous bodyguards and secret service agents and a barb wired fence that is seven miles long and eight feet high are supposed to make sure that the attendees of the G8 summit won't notice 100.000 expected demonstrators and their demands regarding climate change, fair trade and similiar issues.

g8

This means that the odds of the copyleft activists who plan to attend the protests aren't too good. A German organization called Netzwerk Freies Wissen (network free knowledge) nevertheless published a declaration demanding "better development and just access to knowledge" this week. It states:

"We observe stronger enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) by the G8 countries, especially in the developing world. The debate is framed by governments of industrialized countries as protection against piracy and forgery. However, IPRs cover a huge array of exclusive rights, including patents on medicines, technology, and plants; copyrights; plant varieties protection; and data protection. These exclusive rights - held almost exclusively by companies of the Global North - have a huge negative impact on the life and developmental opportunities of billions of people. Furthermore, after a change in the global balance of economic power strong IPRs may have the same negative effect on the economy of the G8 countries.

We have a different vision. We believe that all human beings have the right to benefit from and contribute to the domain of human knowledge. We believe that sharing is more conducive to knowledge than control, that profit is only one motive for the creation of knowledge, and that no person should be denied what she or he needs because of artificial scarcity in any form, including scarcity created by misuse of intellectual property law."


Sharing is better than control. That sounds like something P2P activists should support, right? Well, if it only was that easy. Some file sharing friends apparently think that the declaration is too tame. Their vision just got published on the German Indymedia website:

"The abolition of all patents, copyrights, intellectual property rights and other forms of creative ownership would be a start for the redistribution (of wealth)."

Speaking of redistribution: The anonymous activists also published a list of links to Torrents of artists that will participate in an Anti-G8 concert next week. The slogan of the virtual street fighters: "Bootleg Bono, sink capitalism!"