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01/31 2008 | 11:07 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
AFP is reporting that the Egyptian telecommunications ministry has asked its citizens to pause their MP3 and movie downloads until the country's Internet conectivity is back to normal. A damage to an untersea cable has caused disruptions for Internet users in the Middle East this week. Traffic is now being routed through a backup cable, but its capacity apparently isn't high enough to deal with the region's file sharing needs.

AFP qoutes telecommunications a ministry spokesperson with the words:

"People should know how to use the Internet because people who download music and films are going to affect businesses who have more important things to do."


South Asia has also been affected by the broken cable, with AFP reporting "a major communications disruption" for India's outsourcing industry. So don't blame "Joe in Texas" if his voice breaks up during your next phone support call - it's probably caused by some kid in Egypt, clogging the tubes with a Bittorrent download.

(via gulli)

01/30 2008 | 03:25 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
CNet New is reporting that RIAA president Cary Sherman has said his organization isn't interested in goverment-mandated copyright filters on the ISP level. CNet news quotes Sherman with the words:

"I don't think anyone here is trying to re-legislate this issue. We're much more interested in finding a marketplace way of going about this."

Sherman's remarks came in response to a speech of U2 manager Paul McGuinness that called for filtering mandates. Sherman apparently tried to downplay these remarks by saying that McGuinness was more used to regulatory approaches because he is European.

However, McGuinness isn't the only one demanding new laws that would force ISPs to filter out copyrighted content. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which is an affiliate of and to a large degree has the same members as the RIAA , has called for legal and political action in its latest Digital Music Report. The report reads:

"IFPI and its affiliates are discussing with ISPs in many countries a system for curbing mass copyright infringement on their networks. Many countries are now progressing towards concrete steps by ISPs in this area. However, the recording industry is prepared to use the courts where voluntary collaboration fails."


The press release accompanying the report is even more blunt:

"Governments are starting to accept that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should take a far bigger role in protecting music on the internet, but urgent action is needed to translate this into reality."

01/29 2008 | 12:47 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
U2's manager Paul McGuinness addressed the music industry conference MIDEM this week with a call to arms in the fight against piracy that put the blame squarely on ISPs. McGuinness admitted that his clients aren't actually going bankrupt anytime soon. U2 has sold 150 million records so far, and the Vertigo tour alone grossed 355 million US-dollars. Still, the recorded music industry is suffering, and Paul McGuinness has an idea of who's at fault:

"Network operators, in particular, have for too long had a free ride on music – on our clients’ content. It’s time for a new approach - time for ISPs to start taking responsibility for the content they’ve profited from for years."

McGuinness had some unique thoughts on why ISPs and other tech companies have been so negligent towards the needs of content creators. In his mind, it's all about the counter-culture of the sixties that was the birth place for today's tech imperiums and venture capitalists:

"Their values were hippy values. They thought the old computer industry as represented by IBM was neanderthal. They laughed at Bell Telephone and AT&T. They thought the TV networks were archaic. Most of them are music lovers. There are plenty of private equity fund managers who are Deadheads. (...) And embedded deep down in the brilliance of those entrepreneurial, hippy values seems to be a disregard for the true value of music."

But now it's time to finally get rid of those hippie values and pay up. He wants ISPs to start enforcing copyright within their networks by cutting off access for file sharers and blocking unlicensed services. McGuinness believes that ISPs have the power to stop file sharing, and he shared a very telling list of examples for this with his audience:

"When the volume of illegal movie and music P2P activity was slowing down their network for legitimate users recently in California, Comcast were able to isolate and close down BitTorrent temporarily without difficulty. (...) Another show of power was Google’s acceptance of the Chinese Governments censorship conditions."


If Google can censor its search results for a dictatorship like China, why won't they do it for the music industry? If Comcast can block Bittorrent, why won't others do it as well? Such are the questions that are on Paul McGuinness' mind these days. He wants ISPs to address them voluntarily, but already calls for lawmakers to step in in case the industry doesn't feel like building a giant copyright censorship system on its own.

And he wants money from tech companies. One dollar per Zune is not enough, but a start. Next up are "Apple, Google, Nokia, HP, China Mobile, Vodafone, Comcast, Intel, Ericsson, Facebook, iLike, Oracle, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Tiscali" and so forth. "They have built multi billion dollar industries on the back of our content without paying for it", said McGuinness. "It’s probably too late for us to get paid for the past though maybe that shouldn’t be completely ruled out."

01/29 2008 | 09:38 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Among the dozen or so online video start-ups that launched at the DEMO conference this Monday is Squidcast, a personal file-sharing solution for home video enthusiasts. The personal P2P space is already crowded and has proven to be tough to monetize, but Squidcast hopes its unique features geared towards the exchange of HD video content will help it make the cut.

Squidcast is still in private beta, with a public launch being planed for the end of February. I had a chance to test the service today. It had some bugs, which was to be expected, but the whole thing also made me wonder: Where’s the ink? Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

01/28 2008 | 12:09 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Now this is embarrassing: The ad-supported P2P music service QTrax was supposed to launch at midnight today with the music of all four major labels. The company spent almost one million US-dollars to promote the launch at the French Midem music conference, inviting LL Cool J, James Blunt and Don Henley to join them for the launch announcement.

Well, tuns out they don't have their licenses in place just yet. The Times is reporting:

"A spokesman for Universal, the largest of the labels, told Times Online today that it was "in discussion" with Qtrax, but that no agreement was in place. A source at Warner said: "Warner Music Group has not authorised the use of our content on Qtrax's recently announced service." Both Sony BMG and EMI also confirmed to Times Online that Qtrax did not have the right to use their recorded music catalogue."

Oups. The company is still insisting that it indeed has those deals in place but that the "ink hadn't dried" on these deals and that the whole delay is "because a competitor tried to damage us", as QTrax CEO Alan Klepfisz told the Times.

Now Hypebot is reporting that the QTrax launch got delayed for the time being. Guess they can always hire LL Cool J again.

01/27 2008 | 04:35 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German Pirate Party suffered a bit of a blow in its first election contest: Only 0.3 percent of the voters of the Hesse state elections decided to support the pirates. The official preliminary results show that the party only got 6955 votes. It would have taken an additional 133000 votes to actually win seats in the Hesse state parliament.

The local Pirate party still did better than some of the other small parties, but it got less than half of the number of votes than an animal rights activist party. The German neo-fascist NPD party also got more than three times as many votes than the pirates. The Pirate Party also didn't get enough support to be eligible for public funding.

Finally, some folks might now have similar feelings for the Pirate Party that progressives have for Ralph Nader over here in the US. State elections in Hesse were sharply contested this time around because the governing conservative (CDU) politican Roland Koch made some remarks that were widely perceived as borderline racist. His party was dealt a decisive blow as a result of this, losing around twelve percent of its supporters.

Still, the conservatives prevailed with 0.1 percent, or just 3000 votes, ahead of the more moderate Social Democrats (SPD). One frustrated voter used the temporary Pirate Party election forum to blow off some steam:

"CDU: 36,8%; SPD: 36.7; Pirate Party: 0.3% Thanks a lot for four more years of Roland Koch."

01/26 2008 | 12:11 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German music rights holders asociation GEMA, which is something like the German ASCAP, scored another legal win against the one-click file hoster Rapidshare. GEMA announced in a press release that the Dusseldorf district court ruled this week that Rapidshare is going to have to block access to works from the GEMA repertoire.

Rapidshare has been using the defense that only its users can be held responsible for copyright violations. The Dusseldorf district court disagreed because it found that Rapidshare is mostly used for illegal activities and that the company generates substantial profits from these activities.

According to GEMA, the ruling includes a mandate to stop file transfers even if that means shutting the service down completely. GEMA's press release quotes the ruling with the following words:

"The ruling forces Rapidshare to 'take measures that might have the risk of making Rapidshare's service substantially less attractive or even close it down completely.'"

GEMA won two previous injunctions against Rapidshare, but this is the first time they won an actual court case. It's unclear yet how Rapidshare is going to respond to the ruling. The company running Rapidshare.com is based in Switzerland, but its original Rapidshare.de service was founded in Germany.

01/26 2008 | 11:49 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Getting your favored Creative Commons-licensed movies via BitTorrent is much more fun if you use your company’s T1 line instead of your slow-poke and soon possibly even metered home DSL account.

bitlet.jpgThe only problem: That IT guy you hired to set up your office PCs apparently doesn’t like you to have fun at work. He made it impossible to install anything at all on that powerful, shiny new PC of yours that now just sits idle while you stare at your Excel spreadsheets. Maybe you should have been clearer about the fact that you are actually the boss of your little startup, funny haircut and all.

No worries, help is on the way. We over here at NewTeeVee know how much you can boost corporate productivity by watching quality entertainment during your lunch breaks, which is why we came up with a list of remedies to get your BitTorrent downloads working in an office environment. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

01/25 2008 | 02:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German Pirate Party just published some internal documents that show how Bavarian crime fighters want to get around Skype's VOIP encryption: The plan is to trick suspects into installing trojan-like malware on their PCs that then captures Skype phone calls and forwards them to a remote server.

Sounds like a crazy idea? Well, it's much more than just a toothless proposal. It seems like Bavarian officials have already been talking to a software development company about programming such a trojan. A detailed cost proposal is part of the leaked documents.

The proposed "Skype capture unit" would be able to forward VOIP calls, video, Skype chat and even file transfers in real time to the police. Eavesdroppers would also be able to see who is on a supect's buddy list and what kind of SMS messages the person sends through Skype. All relayed communication would be encrypted as well, and the trojan would delete itself after its no longer being needed to prevent detection.

The costs for all of this: 3500 Euro per month and suspect for the capture software, and another 2500 Euro to set up the remote eavesdropping equipment. In addition, police could get man in the middle attack-style access to SSL-encrypted browser data for another 2500 bucks per month. The software developers also suggest to rent proxy servers in foreign countries to make the own IP addresses untraceable.

Bavarian justice department officials didn't want to say whether these documents are in fact authentic, but they also didn't want to call them a fake, according to heise.de.

01/24 2008 | 03:30 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Wired reports that a hacker who goes by the pseudonym DMaul used a script to download thousands of private photos and is now distributing those photos via The Pirate Bay. From the article:

"A 17-gigabyte file purporting to contain more than half a million images lifted from private MySpace profiles has shown up on BitTorrent, potentially making it the biggest privacy breach yet on the top social networking site. (...) DMaul made two smaller files available as direct downloads. One of them examined by Wired News contains more than 32,000 images ranging from the mundane to the intimate: vacation photos, infants in bathtubs, teenagers mugging for the camera."

There is an obvious lesson to be learnt from this: Just labeling content as private on a site with millions of users doesn't mean that others won't access it. If you really don't want others to see it, don't upload it to a third-party server.

But what of you want to give some people access to your pictures and videos without sharing them with the whole world? One solution might be to use secure, distributed storage systems like Wua.la that offer encryption to safeguard your content while at the same time making it accessible to all your Facebook friends.

I've previously writen about the idea of Wua.la becoming the personal storage backbone of your social graph, and I'm pretty sure that we are going to see the interest in platforms like these grow with every data breach on Myspace, facebook and Flickr. Now systems like Wua.la just need better APIs to directly plug into your social networking profile.

01/24 2008 | 02:56 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Time Warner recently said it plans to test metered Internet access in Beaumont, Texas, and is looking at Bell Canada’s DSL plans as inspiration for pricing. Over at the New York Times, blogger Saul Hansell calculated that, under those plans, downloading a HD movie might cost up to $30.

You think that’s a lot? Well, how about $220 for a single movie download? That’s how much some ISPs in Europe used to charge their metered broadband subscribers. No wonder ISPs with unlimited plans beat out the competition once people fell in love with online video. Note to Time Warner: This could happen to you as well. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

01/23 2008 | 06:41 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The best-selling Brazilian author Paulo Coelho told the audience of the Digital Life Design conference last week in Munich that he has been secretly helping online book pirates - and in turn has gotten thousands and thousands of new readers.

Coelho said that he had some great experiences with free promotional book downloads, but oftentimes foreign publishers wouldn't support the idea of giving away his books. So he got creative and mingled with the pirates.

piratecoelho

Coelho went to Torent sites and downloaded copies of his books in all kinds of different languages. He then started a Wordpress blog called Pirate Coelho and uploaded all those pirated copies there, free to download for everyone. Of course, he had to make some publicity for this site, so he decided to "find" it himself. From his keynote speech:

"We put up a link on the blog, like I was very surprised. (...) The link is on the main page of my blog. I have to play a little bit naive, that I don't know. But people go there, they download the book, and, believe it or not: The sales of the book increased a lot."


Paulo Coelho has sold over 100 million books worldwide, and his works have been translated into 66 languages. He told his audience in Munich that he believes authors can benefit from following his example and giving away their works:

"At the end of the day people are going to buy it because it stimulates people to read and it simulates people to buy."

You can watch his complete keynote speech here.

01/22 2008 | 11:17 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The cross-platform P2P backup system Scatter has decided to go open source. From their website:

"

We think that we can develop a better product through the open process instead of limiting ourselves to a few internal programmers. But that means that we need you to help make this peer-to-peer (p2p) backup framework exactly what it both should be and needs to be."

scatter

The catch: Scatter hasn't actually released any client yet and still is very much a work in progress. Jim Hodapp from Scatter tells me that "it's been slow going so far, but we hope to pick up steam as more source is generated and hopefully some people get involved in the project from the open source community."

Of course one could be cynical about this and lament about the fact that open sourcing the project shouldn't make up for missing resources and / or funding. But hey, it's always good to have some more open source code out there, and it might be worth a look for people who have been thinking about working on similar projects.

01/20 2008 | 11:17 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German Pirate Party will be allowed to take part in elections to the local parliament of Hamburg at the end of February. This accomplishment comes after the party already got admitted to state elections in Hesse that will take part at the end of this month. The party had to submit at least a thousand signatures from supporters to be able to compete, and it ended up submitting a total of 1161 signatures.

Hamburg's voters will have a choice between a multitude of groups and parties. Other parties that got admitted include the Pogo-Anarchisten (the mosh pit anarchists) and the Grey Party (catering to seniors). There is even a popular transvestite running as an independent candidate with the promise to be absent from the parliament at all times in case she's gonna get elected.

Most of these groups and independents candidates don't have any chance at all though. Parties need at least five percent of the vote to get seats in the local parliament. Last time around that was equal to getting more than 41.000 votes.

(via gulli)

01/19 2008 | 09:08 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The writing is on the wall for Joost: The company just fired its CTO under what can only be described as puzzling circumstances. Then there are all those rumors about disappointing user numbers, funding issues and staffers looking for new jobs. It’s hard to tell whether these are true, but it’s clear that Joost is getting beat left and right by its competitors. Just take a look at Hulu, and you know that the Joost team has good reason to be worried.

But all is not lost for Joost. The company has built some interesting technology that could be leveraged into a great online video platform, it just has to break down the walls to its deserted garden. Here’s some unsolicited advice on how to save Joost. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

01/18 2008 | 03:21 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Okay, the title probably doesn't describe the political world view of the people running GOPhub.com too accurately, but I just couldn't resist. GOPhub.com is kind of like a Digg for Republicans who don't like the fact that their stories don't get enough votes on Digg. Judging from the vote count of items on their own website there seem to be four or five of them.

Anyway, GOPhub.com has partnered with P2P video distributor Neokast to start an own streaming media platform. I can't check it out right now because I'm on a Mac and Neokast is Windows-only, but GOPhub is confident that it "now offers the Republican Party a truly disruptive technology". From Techrepublican.com:

"Essentially YouTube on steroids, GOP Hub's streaming video network will offer GOP candidates across the country the opportunity to utilize our consulting services to build their own channels of 24/7 content on their own campaign website for a very reasonable cost, especially considering what they pay for a few seconds of time on the local news."


I guess I wasn't really aware of the fact that you have to pay money to be on the news, but okay, enough with the ridiculing. This election will definitely be the first big electoral contest powered by Youtube, Ustream and other forms of online video, and it will be interesting to see whether P2P will play a role in that or not. This might just be a first indicator that it will.

01/17 2008 | 03:59 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The BBC is thinking about porting its iPlayer software to OS X to allow direct downloads of its programming to the Apple TV. DRM and licensing issues could make this a complicated exercise, but the broadcaster seems determined to enter the living room of broadband-connected Britons.

The iPlayer itself has been ridiculed for the use of restrictive DRM, but many users don’t seem to mind: The BBC just revealed that it clocked 3.5 million program streams and downloads in the two weeks following the iPlayer’s official launch on Christmas Day. The Beeb was able to get a total of one million viewers to use the software during that time. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

01/16 2008 | 12:40 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Participatory Culture Foundation just released version 1.1 of the Miro client wich, among other things, features a completely overhauled Bittorrent implementation. From the Miro blog:

"With this update, Miro is truly a powerhouse for torrent feeds, if I do say so myself. Torrents are still a difficult and mysterious technology for many users, despite the huge bandwidth savings they provide to publishers. We aim to make your torrent experience seamless at worst and invisible at best."


Miro used to be based on an implementation of the original open source mainline client that has been developed by Bittorrent founder Bram Cohen. This client is unfortunately not really up to date anymore when it comes to advanced features and configuration possibilities.

One example: The mainline client doesn't support UPnP port forwarding. This has been especially problematic for a client like Miro that aims to have a more mainstream user base that doesn't know how to configure routers, resulting in many Miro users downloading torrents without opening the right ports in their firewalls and then complaining about slow downloads.

The client's developers have switched over to the libtorrent library with this release. Holmes Wilson from the Participatory Culture Foundation explains:

"It's fast, it does port forwarding with UPnP, supports trackerless, and it supports encryption (a big deal for certain ISPs that throttle Bittorrent). It also let us give users more control over torrent behavior, like setting upstream and downstream caps."


He thinks that libtorrent will help Miro to get more users, and, over time, even more and better Bittorrent features. Says Wilson:

"libtorrent is an active open source project that has lots of participants, so Miro will benefit from all the changes they make going forward (and if we make fixes or improvements, all the libtorrent projects will benefit)."

01/15 2008 | 03:35 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
LimeWire recently unveiled a major initiative aimed at combining web-based communities, music and video content — as well as contextual ads — with P2P file-sharing. But Wayne Rosso, founder of P2P startup Mashboxx, believes that LimeWire’s ideas violate some of his company’s patents — and he told NewTeeVee this week that he’d “go after anyone who comes near to it.”

Mashboxx was supposed to be the first P2P outlet licensed by the music industry, but financing issues have put the company on life support. Rosso’s tough talk could just be part of his strategy to secure a new investment, but it’s also symptomatic of the many challenges on the road to monetizing P2P. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.
01/15 2008 | 12:17 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
German Usenet provider United Newsserver has prevailed in a lawsuit initiated by EMI. The record company wanted to force United Nesserver to block access to its music with a preliminary injunction, but a Dusseldorf court now found that the company cannot be held responsible for the misdeeds of its or other Usenet users.

This decision reverses a lower court ruling from last May that sided with the music industry and was hailed by the German IFPI as a sign that people "who make illegal content available on the Internet cannot bail out of their resposibilities", as local IFPI boss Peter Zombik put it back then.

The new ruling hasn't been published yet, but United Newsserver CEO Heinz-Dieter Elbracht seems to be quite happy about the outcome. A press release from the company has him saying:

"Usenet has become a platform for the exchange of all kinds of information. It should be in the interest of all users, providers and rights holders to find solutions to act together against inevitable cases of people breaking the law on Usenet."

01/15 2008 | 12:00 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Liz Gannes is reporting at Newteevee that the Roo Group has just completely dismantled Wurldmedia - a start-up that used to run a walled garden P2P platform called Peerimpact that let consumers buy DRM-protected songs. Peerimpact at one point offered prospective customers songs for 9 Cents a pop, but that apparently didn't persuade anyone to sign up either.

Roo closed down Peerimpact soon after it acquired Wurldmedia back in February 2007 and instead tried to incorporate the P2P features into its B2B platform. Liz writes at Newteevee that the entire Wurldmedia team got laid off and its offices got closed. Roo doesn't want to say good-bye to P2P completely though. Here's what CEO Kaleil Isaza Tuzman had to say in a public statement:

"Our goal is to provide our clients with the most efficient and cost effective delivery system available; and as such, we will provide P2P options for our clients through business alliances with P2P providers as opposed to developing these competencies internally."


01/14 2008 | 10:38 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Demonoid and its users went through quite a bit of trouble over the last few months. The torrent site used to be hosted int he Netherlands until Dutch rights holders put pressure on its ISP Leaseweb. Demonoid then moved to Canada - only to be confronted with a similar hostile environment. The site finally shut down in November following weeks of pressure from the Canadian music industry.

Demonoid's users however still want it to return, and they started to look for alternative hosting locations all around the world. They started a collaborative list of potential host countries. Turns out there are many no-go area for P2P communities, either because of armed conflicts or tough intellectual property laws.

I used World66.com to visualize the list. Here's where Demonoid definitely won't find a new home:



These countries on the other hand are still considered as potential hosting locations:


It will be interesting to see where Demonoid and other P2P communities will end up settling down.

01/11 2008 | 12:49 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire CEO George Searle revealed a few more details about his company's upcoming social network today. Searle wrote on the Limewire blog that Limespot.com will be "an online community where artists can interact with fans, promote and monetize their music, shows and merchandise." P2P Blog reported first about Limespot yesterday, noting that the site promises the launch of Wikis, blogs and forums.

Searle also got into a few more details about the integration of Limespot and the upcoming Limewire music store within the Limewire P2P client. In his own words:

"This year, alongside the usual LimeWire search results, we’ll begin integrating links to extended content in LimeSpot, LimeWire Store and, eventually, across the web."


Searle previously talked about adding context-relevant links and advertising within Limewire at a DCIA event a few months ago, and Limewire has announced that the client will eventually feature a browser integration. He used his blog post today to go into a few more details, comparing the addition of these links to Google's universal search and hinting at a much more social and media-rich P2P experience:

"Soon, within LimeWire, you’ll be able to connect with participating artists, and drill down or sideways to see photos, find tour dates, watch music videos, find lyrics and buy music, tickets and merchandise."

01/11 2008 | 12:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Plazes.com finally relaunched its API this week after completely revamping the service last May. Plazes is a location-based social network / social messaging service. Kind of like Twitter, but related to the actual world as opposed to Scobletown and Calacanistan, if you will.

I've been following the service for quite some time and always thought it was somewhat unfortunate that Plazes never gained much traction outside of a few European metropoles. I think there are about five or six active Plazes users in Los Angeles, and I've probably met half of them ...

The Plazes API might help Plazes to get some more eyeballs by crowdsourcing the development of widgets and mashups with other social networks and web apps. Plazes is celebrating the API launch with a Plazecamp in their offices in Berlin, and the team is soliciting ideas for new apps and mashups on their blog. Location-based media sharing, anyone?

01/10 2008 | 11:46 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Gnutella P2P vendor Limewire has just semi-announced their social networking website Limespot.com. Limespot was mentioned today on the Limewire developer blog as an upcoming "new project" without going into details what the site will be about.

limespot

Go to Limespot.com, and you'll get a better idea:

"LimeSpot is a new up-and-coming community site, and we've got big plans. Plans to let you build your own ideal online site. Be a blogger, whip up a wiki, foster a forum -- or all of the above. Pick and choose from our beautiful themes, or design your own."


You can already join Limespot.com today, but the site only allows you to generate a very bare profile and invite friends. Blogging, Wiki and other features aren't enabled yet. Also, it's not clear whether Limespot will integrate in any way with the Limewire P2P client. There is a little more background on the about page:

"Lime Spot LLC is a forward-looking Web company focusing on creating and delivering user-driven web applications and services. The Lime Spot LLC team brings together some of the sharpest web development minds in the US and India to work on innovative products in the spheres of community and commerce, with a focus on quality design and rapid development practices."

It appears that the Limewire music blog that started some time last year is actually powered by Limespot, so this might give you an idea of what Limespot will offer in terms of blog hosting features. Limespot also has its own blog, and an entry from yesterday reads:

"Soon enough, the full features of Limespot shall be unleashed, and the power that's been granted to the LimeWire music team shall be available to all."

Limewire continues to be one of the most popular P2P clients around. A recent survey found that every third file sharer worldwide is using Limewire. The company has been shifting towards web-based offerings lately, with the launch of the Limewire Music Store apparently being imminent and a contextual advertising system being under development.

Close followers of Limewire won't be too surprised about Limespot: The company started recruiting developers for a web-based social networking platform in early 2006.

01/10 2008 | 12:16 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The University of California Santa Cruz has joined the growing list of colleges that interfere with P2P traffic. UCSC administrators informed students this week that the school has started to completely block Gnutella traffic and limit Bittorrent traffic. The email to students reads:

"To help speed up the network for legitimate uses and reduce the risk of “accidental” copyright infringement we have purchased and are now using a network device that can control different types of network traffic. So far it has been configured to block software that uses the Gnutella protocol such as Limewire and eDonkey, and to limit BitTorrent to 1 Mb/s inbound and 128 Kb/s outbound per IP address. Those numbers may change at some point."

Granted, limiting Bittorrent traffic to 1 MB/s doesn't sound that bad when you compare it to other schools that have outright banned the use of any P2P application. Still, some UCSC students are up in arms, like the author of the projectb14ck blog:

"As a student here myself, I find it completely insane that the school is spending not only my tuition money, but also funding from everyone who lives in California to pay for new network devices to restrict network traffic. I thought that universities were supposed to be defending free speech and information."

Projectb14ck also has a simple trick to get around the file sharing restrictions: Just tell network admins that you are using your account for online gaming and they'll grant you unfiltered access. Of course the hack won't work forever. Says projectb14ck:

"What we really need is to generate enough commotion and let the school administration know that we will NOT tolerate these kinds of actions."

01/09 2008 | 01:49 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There has been a lot excitement about the real time torrent meta search engine Youtorrent lately. Anyone who prefers solid search results to flashy interfaces should also take a look at Morrent, a new meta search engine that just went into beta and comes with the tag line "torrents and more."

morrent

One feature that lets Morrent stand out from other meta torrent search engines is the ability to do advanced searches with Boolean and torrent-specific operators. Want to search for something that has at least ten seeds and fits into the animation category but isn't dubbed? Then Morrent is the right search engine for you.

01/08 2008 | 04:38 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Thought Comcast-type traffic shaping was bad? Then better don't switch to At&T anytime soon. They seem to have even worse ideas.

The New York Times is reporting now
that AT&T has been talking to the RIAA, the MPAA and companies offering filtering solutions for the last half year. The goal: Filter copyrighted content out of your P2P traffic. The Times quotes AT&T senior vice president saying the following on a CES panel:

"We are very interested in a technology based solution and we think a network-based solution is the optimal way to approach this. (...) We are having an open discussion with a number of content companies, including NBC Universal, to try to explore various technologies that are out there."


This announcement comes on the heels of a statement from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin that his agency wants to investigate Comcast's Bittorrent filtering. Martin told the audience of a CES panel on Tuesday that he wants to make sure that "no consumer is going to be blocked". Maybe he can take a look at AT&Ts plans next.

01/08 2008 | 03:57 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A German court has decided that parents can't be held responsible for the intellectual property misdeeds of their children, thereby practically reversing previous court decisions that had helped the music industry in their lawsuits against consumers. The district court of Frankfurt found that a father can't be held liable for copyright infringement just because the DSL line that the infringement originated from is under his name, heise online reports.

The case itself
is a little complicated. It started when a record company got an injunction against a German fireman for sharing 290 MP3 files through a P2P client. German record companies soon after started a separate lawsuit for another instance of file sharing, this time covering 547 MP3 files, that apparently happened a months later.

The fireman signed a C&D notice and probably agreed to pay a fine to drop that second lawsuit, but he fought back against the first instance, claiming that neither him nor his wife or any of his four children had access to his computer at the time in question. The record company argued that he nevertheless was liable because he owned the computer and DSL line and therefor had to make sure that the equipment wasn't used for infringing purposes.

German record companies had some success with this argument before, but the Frankfurt court wasn't buying it. The justices agreed that it was very likely that some member of the fireman's household committed the infringement in question, but they said that the record companies couldn't prove that the fireman willingly participated or failed to prevent the infringement, especially since he didn't have any reason to believe that anyone would use his computer to infringe.

01/07 2008 | 10:54 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I've alluded to this in my weekend column over at Newteevee, but now it's official: Bittorrent announced today at CES that D-Link and Netgear both are becoming Bittorrent device partners. The two companies have integrated the Bittorrent SDK Kit into some of their NAS products, and Bittorrent certified some of their routers for their "for its ability to share high-speed Internet connections and link multiple home users on a network", as the D-Link press release reads.

Bittorrent teamed up with Netgear at CES a year ago already, but back then it was kind of a non-announcement. Netgear simply started to promote the Bittorrent store as a download option to customers of some of its products, but there was nothing really substantial in terms of hardware features.

This years' announcements are somewhat more significant. Having a Bittorrent-enabled NAS is obviously a great idea, and some of the previous implementations done by the hardware manufacturers on their own seemed to be lacking in features and speed. The now-announced NAS devices won't however be able to use the Bittorrent DNA streaming features at least for some time as far as I understand.

Business-wise, the router certification might even be more important for Bittorrent. The company aims to expand its reach beyond the hardcore P2P scene to people who don't necessarily know anything about port forwarding, UPnP and the maximum number of connections - and setting up routers in a way that they are P2P-ready will not only benefit Bittorrent and its DNA efforts, but also other P2P vendors and open source projects.

01/06 2008 | 06:34 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
How can you prove to your classmates that you're the nerdiest kid on the blog, I mean block? Just get one of those "I love Bram Cohen" shirts Amazon.com is selling for 17 bucks:

ilovebram

Feeling a little more narcissistic? Then how about the Bram Cohen loves me shirt instead? Granted, it's from a merchant that makes shirts made to order, Cafepress-style, and they have more than a million different items in stock - but it's still pretty funny.

(via Plasticbag.org)

01/06 2008 | 11:02 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The open source Bittorrent client Transmission finally reached version 1.0 yesterday. Transmission is lightweight, ressource-friendly Bittorrent client for OS X and various Linux / Unix flavors.

transmission

It features Growl support, Peer Exchange, advanced per-torrent configuration and a Web UI that is separately available at ClutchBT.com.

One could say that Transmission is something like the OS X equivalent of the excellent and likewise lightweight Windows client uTorrent. Go here to download and give it a try.

01/05 2008 | 12:20 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Next week’s CES will see a flurry of announcements from companies looking to tap into the online video boom. Among them will be new cooperations between BitTorrent Inc. and makers of both routers and network attached storage (NAS) devices, all aimed at making BitTorrent easier to use and to giving the company a stronger foothold in the home networking and home entertainment space.

Granted, embedded BitTorrent solutions aren’t exactly big news in the marketplace. Some NAS makers have been using their own implementations of the P2P protocol for years, and the company started to work with hardware makers back in early 2007. This time, however, the partnerships are part of a revised strategy to reinvent BitTorrent as a P2P infrastructure provider that offers solutions to CDN bottlenecks. But can the company really compete with heavyweights like Akamai? Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

01/04 2008 | 04:36 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Music fans have been looking for a new home ever since the legendary private Bittorrent community Oink was forced to shut down back in October of 2007. Many new sites have sprung up to fill the gap, and two of them have become the most prominent:

What.cd and Waffles.fm both follow the spirit of Oink - which, among other things, means that you have to know a user on the inside or scour the invite sharing boards to get invited. But which one of the two sites is more worthy of trading your Grandma invite to that hot, new Web2.0 site to get in?

what vs waffles

Thanks to a user who goes by the name of ramier, it's now easier to find out which one better suits your needs. What vs. Waffles makes it possible to search both sites for torrents of a particluar artist and see who is hosting more. Think of it as a Googlefight for pirates if you will ...

So how do the two sites square agaist each other? Here are a few selected results, based on the artists listed in popular internet charts and aggregated to give you a more complete picture:

Big Champagne Top Swaps of 2007, as reported by Wired.com: What.cd has 105 Torrents, Waffles.fm 107. That's a close one.

Coalition of Independent Music Stores Year End Charts Top 10, as reported by Hypebot: What.cd got 359, Waffles.fm "only" 313. Indie rockers know where to go.

iTunes top albums charts 2007: What.cd has 177, Waffles.fm is just shy of this with 169. Another close one.

So what do we learn? Both sites are pretty much tied when it comes to more popular stuff, but What.cd is definitely ahead in terms of indie hits. Oh, and don't bother to beg for an invite if you usually get your music on Limewire, because your "popular swaps" don't mean nothing to the elitist torrent crowd. :)

01/03 2008 | 10:53 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It seems like not a week goes by without another online video copyright controversy. Just think of the Web 2.0 parody Here Comes Another Bubble. Or the little kid dancing to Let’s Go Crazy. Or the whole Electric Slide controversy. Heck, you can’t look at anything on YouTube these days without wondering how long it’ll be before some lawyer sends over a takedown notice.

But in fact, many of these online videos are eligible for fair use protection, according to a new study from the Center for Social Media of the American University that will be presented at CES next week. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

01/02 2008 | 06:22 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The folks behind the Pirate Bay have started anohter of their countless side projects: Slopsbox.com is a free web-based email service that promises to take care of your spam while protecting your identity.

slopsbox

Anyone can use Slopsbox without registering by simply giving out email addresses in the format "adress@slopsbox.com" to sites that require registration and other unwelcome admirers. You can then go to Slopsbox.com, "log in" to that account by simply providing the address and solving a captcha - and you get to read all the mail sent to that address.

The service is somewhat similar to sites like Mailinator.com, but the obvious difference is that you don't get an auto-generated address but one of your choosing. Update: Turns out the services aren't that different. See comments for details. Slopsbox also provides a few additional domains, making it possible to use addresses like please@gimme.wa.rez.se. Web hosters can add their own domain by making some changes to their MX record.

All email sent to a Slopsbox address gets auto-deleted after 24 hours. Another unique feature of this service is that inevitably some of the email addresses will be shared by more than one person, so you probably don't want to use this for personal correspondence. Of course one could think of scenarios where you'd actually want to share an open, publicly accessible email address. It will be interesting to see what kinds of uses people come up with.

01/01 2008 | 02:00 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I know, I know, you probably can't stand the idea of more 2007 retrospectives anymore, which is why 'll make this one short and painless. Here are the top 5 stories published on this blog in 2007 in terms of page views, complete with a few updates to see what's going on now ...

Foxtorrent: First review of Akamai's new Firefox Bittorrent extension
Akamai subsidiary RedSwoosh published their own Firefox Bittorrent plug-in back in April 2007. Promising, and definitely interesting from a business perspective, but we're all still waiting for version 2.0.

IFPI wants ISPs to block The Pirate Bay, filter P2P traffic
This one was an Xmas gift from the IFPI - and internet users all over Europe are now wondering why no one ever bothers to actually read their wish lists ...

Allofmp3.com changes name to escape shutdown I predicted back in April that Allofmp3 wouldn't be affected much by a shutdown because they were already working on new sites. And guess what happened when they eventually got shut down in July?

France wants to track file sharers - users fight back with civil disobedience.
Vive la France! Even though it looks like the counter-revolution is winning ground lately.

Porn industry bands together against Bittorrent Maybe this is going to be the first big lawsuit campaign of 08?