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05/31 2008 | 01:47 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Two German policemen specialized in investing Internet crime have become the target of an investigation themselves. And not just any kind of investigation: The two crime fighters from the German town of Bremen are suspected of Internet piracy.

A raid of their apartments resulted in the confiscation of "a multitude of CDs and DVDs", according to the Austrian Newspaper Der Standard. It's unclear at this point whether those disks contain pirated media and whether the duo used police computers for their alleged downloading habits. The two policemen became target of the investigation after a colleague told on them. Perhaps he wasn't a big fan of double standards.

This isn't the first time German anti-piracy activists have been suspected of being pirates themselves. A lawyer involved in the persecution of people that were (oftentimes unknowingly) selling copy protection circumvention programs on Ebay got 10 months on probation last year for his involvement with a paid warez FTP server enterprise. The German computer magazine c't also reported that the anti-piracy organization GVU at one time financed the hosting costs of a warez server in exchange for information about the scene.

05/30 2008 | 06:16 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The denial-of-service attack against online video distributor Revision3 continues to make waves. Revision3 CEO Jim Lauderback revealed yesterday that his company had identified the anti-piracy outlet Mediadefender as the source of a massive flood of messages that brought Revision3’s infrastructure to its knees.

The incident is one more blow for Mediadefender, which has been in the headlines for the better part of the last year for its attempt to start a P2P distribution platform that critics viewed as entrapment, as well as for a hacker attack against its own servers that culminated in the leak of over 600 corporate emails. It also seems to be a clear-cut case for Revision3. The company uses BitTorrent to serve its own legal content and shouldn’t have been targeted by Mediadefender in the first place. It’s good vs. evil, startup versus corporate muscle, right? Well, it’s a little more complex than that — it even involves an aging action hero on a mission. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/29 2008 | 12:21 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The first rule of Usenet: Don't talk about Usenet. This old fight club file sharing slogan was apparently on the mind of German judges that recently ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction against the Usenet access provider Usenext, according to Spiegel Online.

Usenext is know for its aggressive affiliate marketing, promising access to "more than 300 Terabytes of data" and free test accounts to anyone who wants or doesn't want to know. The company has been advertising on and forging affiliate relationships with many torrent and warez sites, with Mininova being one of the better known Usenext affiliates.

The German association of video rental stores now argued that Usenext has been advertising access to pornographic material, and the Munich district court agreed. Making porn available without very strict age verification mechanisms is illegal in Germany, and we're not just talking about the obligatory splash page many US websites use. Germans have to prove to be over 18 years of age by showing their national ID card to a postal worker who then signs a proof of age document that has to be mailed to the company running a pronographic website before the site can grant access to a user. The court now found that simply advertising the availability of porn without such age checks is illegal as well.

The video rental store association sees this as a first step in a longer fight against Usenet access providers. Companies like Usenext couldn't claim they don't know what kind of content their users are downloading if they advertise with such content, the group said in a press release.

Usenext CEO Wolfgang Oswald told Spiegel Online that it wants to appeal the decision. He denied that Usenext ever promised pornographic content and said that such a decision could affect the whole affilate marketing industry, which made up a big chunk of the overall online advertising market.

05/28 2008 | 02:40 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Josh Catone over at ReadWriteWeb has an interesting suggestion for Warner Bros. to get folks interested in the upcoming superhero feature, Watchmen: Take a page from Trent Reznor’s book. The Nine Inch Nails front man has been experimenting with innovative distribution and marketing schemes ever since his band said farewell to Universal Music, giving away songs and even uploading an album to the Pirate Bay. Catone admits that Warner can’t completely follow the NIN model, and our resident superhero expert Chris Albrecht had some other good reasons why the Watchmen plan might fail, but Hollywood surely could use some new inspiration.

Now, the music industry isn’t really known as a big innovator. In fact, record labels have long been the lemmings in the coal mine for Hollywood, stumbling from one disaster to another and showing what mistakes should be avoided at all costs. Remember that glorious idea to ship audio CDs complete with Windows malware ? But bands and online music startusp have started to innovate at last, developing a new type of music industry, oftentimes referred to as music 2.0, that is dominated not by brick and mortar, but by MP3 blogs, Last.fm and pay-as-much-as-you-want online sales. Maybe it’s time Hollywood took another look. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/28 2008 | 12:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Torrentfreak has an interesting story today about the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) putting pressure on a local hosting company to shut down What.cd, SumoTorrent, BTMon and FullDls. It's always been a little surprising to me that Canada has been seen as a safe harbor for torrent sites by many, including apparently these sites' owners.

Of course, Canada has been anything but a paradise for torrent sites: Demonoid has been forced to leave Canada early on, and Isohunt owner Gary Fung has been targeted by the MPAA even though he and the site reside in Canada. The Canadian Press (yes, that's what they're called) ran a good recap of that lawsuit just a few days ago.

Maybe it's really just wishful thinking that makes us believe that the grass is just greener in Canada, as I recently wrote for Newteevee:

"Let’s face it, we like to believe that everything is better in Canada. You know, people don’t lock their doors, health care is free, prescription drugs are cheap and bears just eat syrup all day long, presumably while downloading TV shows via BitTorrent."

Of course the same thing could be said for the other long-time favorite country of torrent admins, the Netherlands. I guess it's time to bust out the map again.

05/24 2008 | 09:56 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The popular BitTorrent web site Mininova was sued by the Dutch anti-piracy organization BREIN this week in a bid to get Mininova to filter unlicensed content. The organization has had some success in the past against Edonkey and BitTorrent web sites, so there is at least a possibility that Mininova will be forced to either take down most of its torrent files or shut down completely. Either way, it would be a big blow for the BitTorrent community. Since launching in early 2005, Mininova has quickly become one of the biggest BitTorent directories, with almost 5 billion torrent downloads to date.

The possibility of Mininova closing down also raises an important issue: BitTorrent is a highly centralized P2P protocol to begin with, depending on central servers both to catalog content and facilitate downloads. The growing popularity of the protocol has led to the creation of a few torrent powerhouses, with Mininova and The Pirate Bay being two of the most prominent. Could this increasingly monolithic infrastructure be the Achilles’ heel of BitTorrent piracy? Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/22 2008 | 04:59 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember Spiralfrog, the licensed and DRMed P2P music platform? Apparently no one else does, which is why the company decided to start a viral advertising campaign with a new site called Spiralfrogclub.com. The Flash-heavy site features an awkward intro with a club bouncer that looks like the company's accountant, but it gets even worse once you are inside.

The whole point of the site is to show off different playlists of free (as in beer with a DRM hangover) music, so they came up with the idea of dancers representing different styles. It's kind of like those odd cut-out virtual girls you were supposed to install on your desktop back in the Nineties, minus the nudity.

picture of spiralfrog club dancer

So where's the viral part? You can exchange the face of a dancer with your own and email it to a friend. Or you can do what I did and use the face of Spiralfrog Chairman Joe Mohen instead.

Here's what the Spiralfrog press release had to say about the campaign:

"This campaign gives music fans the tools to become part of the SpiralFrog brand experience and connect with music in an inspiring way."

Of course that's exactly what users that get their tunes from Limewire and Bittorrent have been missing out on: A brand experience. Great that somebody has finally filled the void.

(via Hypebot)

05/21 2008 | 05:48 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The team behind Steal This Film and Steal This Film 2 has made the raw footage of their second documentary available online. Film makers, remix artists and copyright activists alike can download the footage for free and reuse it for their own works.

The material includes interviews with Bittorrent founder Bram Cohen, NYU professor Siva Vaidyhanathan, Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, EFF counsel Fred von Lohman and many others, and each and every clip is licensed under the liberal Creative Commons BY-SA license, meaning that the material can be used for commercial works as long as those works are made available under the same license.

steal this footage

But that's not all: The project includes a complete transcription of the whole Steal This Film 2 raw footage, and everything is full-text searchable, so you can for example easily find each and every scene that mentions the word Bittorrent. From the site:

"If your search term is found, you are taken to the frame/s at which it occurs and given its immediate context."

The steal this footage site is based on technology developed for the 0xdb project that indexes films found on file sharing networks. The footage itself is distributed via P2P as well: Each interview is available as a HDV torrent or as an Ogg Theora torrent, and subtitles are available as separate downloads.

05/21 2008 | 12:25 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Techcrunch has an interesting article about Imageshack in light of rumors that Sequioa is about to invest in the company. Imageshack founder Jack Levin doesn't confirm or deny these rumors, but he gave Techcrunch some interesting background information about his company.

Turns out Imageshack has been profitable pretty much from the beginning. One reason for this is that Imageshack is using Google-type server clustering, taking off the shelf hardware and combining it with software like Hadoop to build infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of what start-ups pay. From the post:

"Because of the way he designed his back-end architecture, he can serve two terabytes of images from a single $1,000, Linux server. So he spends only about $200,000 a year on capital expenditures and now has about 500 servers."

Imageshack is making most of its money with advertising, serving 10 million ads a day. One part of its business that hasn't been mentioned at all on Techcrunch is Imageshack's torrent download service that makes it possible to remotely download torrents onto their web server and then access them right through your browser and download the data with plain old http.

The service got mixed reviews from the P2P crowd, with some folks cautioning users that Imageshack has been know for its anti-piracy stance in the past and rumors that it might track P2P use. Those rumors will probably only intensify after the Techcrunch post. Levin told Techcrunch that he has plans to leverage usage data he is collecting from Imageshack. From the aticle:

"Levin is vague about how he plans to make money from this data, but it is clear he is convinced the data is pretty valuable."

05/20 2008 | 06:44 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Associated Press is reporting that Comcast spent 2.7 million dollars in the first three months of this year alone on lobbying work against net neutrality and on other issues. It's unclear how much of this money went into paying off people to attend public hearings on behalf of the company.

comcast lobbying
Comcast's lobbying in numbers. Source: Opensecrets.org.


Comcast paid a total of 8.7 million dollars on lobbying in 2007 and only 5.5 million dollars in 2006, according to Opensecrets. The site also reveals that Comcast is runing its own Political Action Committee that has paid around 1.5 million dollars to campaigns and other PACs in the 08 election cycle as of now. Amongst the recipients: Ted "a series of tubes" Stephens, whose Senate campaign has received a total of 10000 dollars in 07 and 08.

05/20 2008 | 03:07 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Sandvine, the company behind the devices used by Comcast and others to block BitTorrent, has just introduced a network management tool called FairShare that aims to address Net Neutrality concerns. FairShare is supposed to allow ISPs to manage their networks with a protocol- and application-agnostic approach, precisely what Comcast promised to switch to before the end of the year.

Comcast isn’t the only one that could benefit from FairShare. Sandvine itself has been looking for a way to win back customers that were scared off by potential policy implications. The company saw its revenue fall 46 percent in the first quarter of 2008, a downturn that it attributed to customers delaying purchases because of the Net Neutrality debate.

So what will FairShare mean for online video? Well P2P startups will no longer be singled out as the Internet’s bandwidth bogeymen. But your P2P-powered NBC Direct downloads won’t necessarily be any faster with FairShare. In fact, all bandwidth-intensive online video applications are at risk of being throttled. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/18 2008 | 03:05 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The popular Bittorrent news website Torrentfreak is going to relaunch its forums this week under the new address P2Pfreak.com. The new site design is already up and running, but there isn't much content as of now. It looks like the site will feature discussions about Torrentfreak articles and general P2P news as well as tutorials and off-topic chit chat.

There's no dedicated space to swap private tracker invites yet. Ernesto from Torrentfreak told me that people in search for invites should go to invite-specific sites instead for now. However, he said that P2Pfreak might feature some invite-specific area at a later time. "We're certainly not going to ban threads like that but it's silly to start with 30 categories if there are only a few users," he added.

P2Pfreak.com used to be a Torrentfreak side project for more general P2P news that weren't specifically related to Bittorrent, but the site never really took off. Torrentfreak also used to have its own forums, but those lacked participation as well. Ernesto hopes P2Pfreak.com will work out better because he's getting some help from an expert the second time around. One of the forum admins comes from P2Pforum.it - the biggest and most successful Italian P2P community.

The Torrentfreak team is currently working on integrating the forums more closely with their main site. "We're not 100% ready," Ernesto told me, "but people are free to sign up."

05/16 2008 | 02:16 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A Japanese court has sentenced a local virus writer to two years in jail after he was convicted of releasing a Trojan into the wild that replaced files on users' hard disks with warnings against using P2P networks. The website Govtech.com is reporting that the virus writer got two years in jail that were suspended for a three year probation term.

One of the odder parts of the story is that the court didn't find him guilty for actually attacking PCs or erasing data, but for copyright infringement. His Trojan used pictures of popular Japanese anime comics to spread its Anti-P2P message - a fact that was now seen as unauthorized distribution of said images.

virus


Calling the virus bizarre, Govtech reported earlier this year:

"One of the images (which sings a song about fish-shaped pancakes filled with bean jam) includes a phone number, although it is possible that this does not belong to the malware author."

The programmer now told the court that he wanted to stop illegal file sharing because he wanted to save the entertainment industry - and his favorite TV programs - from extinction. Kind of ironic that he can now call himself a convicted copyright infringer.

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05/15 2008 | 05:12 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This is actually pretty amusing: Inside Higher Ed is reporting that the Missouri University of Science and Technology has instituted a novel approach against P2P file swapping. Students that want access to P2P networks have to take an online quiz about copyright first. Answer the randomly selected questions right, and you'll get six hours of P2P access. From the article:

"When students pass the quiz, P2P access is granted within 10 seconds for use by any program, whether it’s a game or software program that needs to download an update, LimeWire, BitTorrent or another program. From that point on, there’s no way for the university to monitor whether users’ file-sharing activity is legal — but, on the other hand, there’s also no way for them to claim ignorance."


The downside is that even copyright experts can only get a total of eight P2P sessions per month, meaning that they won't be able to use BitTorrent for longer than 48 hours per month. Of course that doesn't really matter once you're in a dorm and able to pool your resources - after all, gambling taking part in a multiple-choice copyright enforcement effort is much more fun if you do it with friends.

(via Broadband Reports)

05/15 2008 | 12:17 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember that web-based tool to test whether your ISP is blocking BitTorrent that we linked to a couple weeks back? Thousands of broadband users around the world have tried it in the last couple of weeks. Well the results are in, and guess what? Comcast isn’t the only U.S. ISP with anti-P2P network management in place. Fellow cable provider Cox was also caught interrupting its subscribers’ BitTorrent uploads.

The Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, out of Germany, found that Cox interfered with roughly 50 percent of all measured transmissions. It also confirmed that Comcast is still actively blocking BitTorrent, despite numerous assurances to favor a protocol-neutral approach to network management. In fact, Comcast seems to be even stricter than Cox, disrupting roughly two-thirds of all uploads. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/14 2008 | 10:48 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has rejected a plea by smaller ISPs to immediately stop Bell Canada from blocking BitTorrent traffic. Canadian providers requested such a step from the commission after Bell Canada started to use Comcast-type network management practices on its wholesale accounts, meaning it blocked BitTorrent uploads from users that weren’t even Bell Canada customers.

The issue quickly became Canada’s own Net Neutrality debate. It was fueled by the fact that Bell started to block P2P traffic right around the time that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) published its first show via BitTorrent online. CBC itself has stayed silent on the issue, but consumer advocacy groups sided with the smaller ISPs. There’s still hope for this new coalition: The CRTC declared that it will start a broader inquiry into Net Neutrality and network management issues this week. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/14 2008 | 12:14 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Downloadsquad just linked to an interesting site that aims to simplify the Bittorrent experience. Torrent2exe.com makes it possible to upload any .torrent file and transform it into a self-executable, single-purpose download manager. The resulting .exe file will act as a stand-alone Bittorent client and automatically download the data in question.

This isn't the first time folks have tried things like this. The makers of Miro attempted something similar with Blogtorrent, but I don't think it ever got much traction, and the website seems to be down. The difference here is that Torrent2exe is a web service, which opens the door for a whole range of new possibilities.

In fact, it already offers torrent site admins the feature to directly link to downloadable executables for every torrent they're hosting. Of course, you have to trust Torrent2exe to not include any malicious software. The site is fairly new and doesn't have any privacy policy or terms of us yet, so maybe you should go over the whole virus scanner thing with your Mom one more time before she starts to leech away.

05/13 2008 | 12:42 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire CEO George Searle announced an ambitious plan to pay rights holders at the P2P Media Summit in Los Angeles last week. His company plans to split the revenue of its upcoming contextual advertising platform with record companies. Labels will get as much as 40 percent of the money Limewire is going to make with Google Adsene-type ads.

fanmedia 1

Limewire has been working on integrating contextual text ads into its P2P client for a while now. Searle publicly announced these plans late last year at another DCIA conference in Los Angeles, and he used last week's event to reiterate some of his key points: Limewire's 80 million users generate an estimated five billion search requests each month, putting the P2P client in the same league as search engine giants like Google and Yahoo. In fact, Limewire would be the third biggest search destination in terms of unique users, ahead of Live.com and Ask.com, if it was a website.

Of course, it's not - and that's why it hasn't made any money from this search activity up until now. This however is going to change soon. Searle told his audience in Los Angeles that Limewire wants to incorporate contextual ads into its client within the next month. The ads will be at the top of the search results, but clearly marked as advertising. Ads will initially be used to promote Limwire's new music download store, but advertisers should be able to buy these spots soon as well.

fanmedia 2

The advertising program will be run by a separate entity called Fanmedia. It will sell CPC ads against keywords, just like Google does with Adwords. Fanmedia will take a 20 percent cut of the total revenue per click and then pass on 40 percent to Limewire and 40 percent to the rights holder associated with the ad in question. So if someone buys an ad for a Ladytron ring tone (you know you'd want one) and pays a dollar per click for it, then Ladytrons's label would get 40 cents for every click. "This is the first time that revenue would be shared with rights holders", Searle told me after his presentation.

Of course, not all of the rights holders will be on board. Limewire was sued by the major recored labels in late 2006. Many other P2P compaines decided to settle and fold in face of such a lawsuit, but Limewire seems determined to battle it out and has been significantly expanding, starting new ventures like the Music Store and the social publishing platform Limespot.

Searle conceded that Fanmedia will have to do with what he called "participating rights holders", meaning indie labels. The promise of additional income should certainly help to close those deals. And Searle believes that there's enough cash to be made for everybody with systems like Fanmedia. Contextual advertising could eventually become bigger than the entire music business, he said.

fanmedia 3

Part of the plan is to eventually expand the ad network beyond the Limewire client to other P2P clients and even websites like music blogs and social networks. One can imagine that Limewire will test this on its own web properties first. The company not only has a social network for bands and musicians in the making, but is also running a reasonably popular blog about New York's indie music scene.

Finally, Limewire is also working on a UI redesign, and the new client will apparently include a web browser. This certainly makes even more sense in light of its contextual advertising plans, and it will be interesting what the company comes up with. Searle said the new UI would come "hopefully this year".

Check out more photos from Searle's presentation below.

fanmedia 4

fanmedia 5

05/12 2008 | 11:17 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The controversial P2P tracking company Logistep has announced that it is expanding its reach to a few more European countries. Logistep is cooperating with the law offices of Cohen Amir-Aslani Marseillan Ornano and Associés in France to start lawsuits against French file sharers.

Polish file sharers will soon also get sued based on data investigated by Logistep. The company is cooperating with the local consulting and legal outlet Obig Polska Business Consulting to hunt down P2P users that offer works from rights holders like Topware Interactive, Magic Records, Techland and Universal Music.

Last not least, Logistep will expand its work to its home turf. The company is based in Switzerland, but hasn't worked with local rights holders yet. This might change soon: Logistep has announced that it will work with the law office Thomannfischer to go after its fellow file swapping citizens. Logistep has been criticized in the past by the Swiss government's Privacy Czar Hanspeter Thuer for allegedly violating Swiss privacy laws. The company however believes that Thuer won't follow up on threats of legal action, claiming that "there are no further roadblocks to go after infringers in Switzerland."

05/10 2008 | 12:23 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Torrentfreak is reporting today that the Shareaza developers are working on a version 3.0 of their multi-network P2P client. The software will feature, amongst other things, a completely revamped Bittorrent implementation. Shareaza used to have its own Bittorrent code, which didn't always work too well, resulting in bans from multiple private trackers. The next version will instead be based on libtorrent.

The team also announced that it will finally fight back against the take-over of its trademark and domain name by the company behind the music industry-sanctioned iMesh P2P subscription service. iMesh got hold fo the Shareaza.com domain late last year and has since used it to distribute its own client under the Shareaza name.

Shareaza has been in contact with the EFF, Richard Stallman and the Software Freedom Law Center as well as collecting over 4000 dollars in donations, which will be used to dispute iMesh's trademark application for the Shareaza name. Getting the domain back is next on the list. From the Torrentfreak article:

"We have legal representation and will be contesting the trademark application on our name and identity taken out by Discordia Ltd. After that, we’ll be looking to get our old domain back from the people who threatened, bullied and intimidated the team member holding it on the project’s behalf and who are now using as the gateway to their deceptive business model."

Shareaza initially used to be the black sheep of the P2P community because Gnutella developers felt irked by the use of the name Gnutella2 for Shareaza's own overlay network. It's a little ironic that another name and trademark conflict catapults Shareaza back into the spotlight, but that shouldn't distract us from the fact that this could prove to be a case with implications far beyond the P2P community.

05/09 2008 | 03:19 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The popular Chinese P2P TV platform PPLive has been sued for copyright infringement by entertainment company Beijing Shidai Yingyin International Entertainment Co., ChinaTechNews.com reports, seeking compensation of 330,000 Chinese yuan ($47,000). This is the first time PPLive has been sued, but it’s part of a larger backlash against Chinese P2P platforms.

PPLive is hugely popular in China. The service reportedly had 85 million users in October, and it currently offers access to several hundred streaming video channels as well as hundreds of on-demand shows. Most of those are Chinese programming, but PPLive also broadcasts sports events from around the world, including NBA and European soccer games — a feature that has made the service popular with sports fans overseas as well. Contine reading at Newteevee.com.

05/09 2008 | 11:23 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Version 0.7 of Freenet, the decentralized P2P network that aims to be a censhorship-free publishing platform, finally got released yesterday after having been in the works for three years. From Freenetproject.org:

"The journey towards Freenet 0.7 began in 2005 with the realization that some of Freenet's most vulnerable users needed to hide the fact that they were using Freenet, not just what they were doing with it. The result of this realization was a ground-up redesign and rewrite of Freenet, adding a "darknet" capability, allowing users to limit who their Freenet software would communicate with to trusted friends."

The new version is also more efficient and easier to use, according to the site. Not evenryone seems to agree on the security aspect though, as a long discussion on Slashdot.org shows. Some users don't seem to like the idea of a darknet topology at all. Says one commenter:

"When the NSA node see a request, they know with a approximate 2 in 3 probability that the information requested came from a member of the same darknet that their node is on. And they know the IP address of the darknet members. Do I really need to point out anything more on this?"

Freenet never was all that popular to begin with. With the new release apparently splitting its user base even further, one has to wonder whether the project has any realistic chance of a comeback.

05/08 2008 | 12:12 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There's been an interesting debate in the blogosphere this week about ways to decentralize Twitter. The reason behind it are obviously Twitter's frequent outages and the lingering question whether the system will completely break down once Paris Hilton joins. Or even Perez Hilton, I guess. Techcrunch sums up the conversation in this post and writes:

"The key weakness in Twitter (and therefore opportunity for a new decentralized approach) is the fact that so much Twitter activity occurs off Twitter.com. Users are getting very used to using desktop clients (Twitterific, Alert Thingy, Twhirl, etc.), IM, SMS, and other interfaces to talk to Twitter. Those third party applications can be tuned to lock in to the new decentralized Twitter-like service instead or in addition to Twitter itself."

Long time P2P delevoper Adam Fisk however thinks decentralizing Twitter is a bad idea. He writes:

"Martin Fowler’s First Law of Distributed Computing continually rings true: don’t distribute your objects. Why? Because it’s hard."

It would be especially hard in a case like Twitter, because you would end up distributing data that isn't really meant to be distributed in a P2P fashion, says Fisk:

"Distributed computing has shown itself to be particularly useful for moving around large files. In Twitter’s case, you’re working from the opposite extreme: processing a high volume of tiny messages. This screams centralization."


There might be a compromise out there though. One way to solve the Twitter problem would be to leave the service centralized for network-wide communication, but establish a decentralized version for near-field communication. Spanish developers are currently working on a P2P messaging application called Fluid Nexus that doesn't even use the Telco's networks. Instead, it relies on Bluetooth to broadcast messages to nearby users.

Fluid Nexus is made with an activist and relief worker user base in mind, and it certainly makes sense for these scenarios. It really doesn't matter in the grad scheme of things whether Jason Calacanis' 24.000 followers can read every single message he spits out. The world doesn't end if Twitter doesn't work in cases like this one.

Relief work on the other hand, or pro-democracy demonstrations against repressive regimes, call for decentralized Twitter-like systems that can't be censored and don't just switch to LOLcats every time the message load spikes. Of course this would work great a a conference back channel as well. The Fluid Nexus team is currently developing an Andoid client, so we might see this ready to use for next year's conference season. Here's a quick video overview:


Fluid Nexus on Android from Nick Knouf on Vimeo.

05/07 2008 | 12:04 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Verisign spun off Kontiki this week, and my colleagues over at Newteevee did a great job in covering all the details, including this interview with Kontiki's new president Eric Armstrong. I had lunch with some folks from Kontiki at the DCIA event on Monday, and they were still adjusting to their independence, as you can tell by the name tag below ...

kontiki at dcia media summit los angeles

One interesting tidbit that I took away from the conversation was that Kontiki is looking at implementing its player into set top boxes. The company has developed a Linux client, but didn't really have those millions of Ubuntu users interested in DRMed video content in mind - in fact, the lack of cross-platform DRM seems to be the main reason the BBC isn't using the OS X version of Kontiki for its iPlayer.

But that's a different story, back to Linux for now: The reason for the port was that Kontiki wants to get on set top boxes, and most of those are running some form of Linux. The company apparently hasn't any deals yet, but it could be one of the first ones to bring a P2P-based media distribution solution to set to boxes that is sanctioned by the rights holders.

05/06 2008 | 12:01 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Comcast SVP Rich Woundy told the audience of the DCIA’s P2P Media Summit in Los Angeles on Monday that his company is not spearheading the creation of a P2P Bill of Rights anymore. Instead, Comcast will take part in a newly formed working group of the Distributed Computing Industry Association that aims to define best practices for the P2P industry.

Comcast had proposed a set of guidelines called “Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for P2P Users and Service Providers” in cooperation with the P2P startup Pando less than three weeks ago. The proposal came just two days before an FCC hearing at Stanford University about Comcast’s ongoing practice of throttling BitTorrent traffic. The suspicious timing and the vague wording of the proposed guidelines were some of the reasons why consumer rights groups decried them as “ludicrous.” The DCIA now hopes to start a more substantial dialogue among ISPs, P2P companies and rights holders, but statements from movie industry execs made at the association’s Media Summit show that this won’t be a walk in the park either. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/06 2008 | 12:13 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Nine Inch Nails have published another Creative Commons-licensed album for free online. The album is called "The Slip" and is available as high-quality MP3s, FLAC, Apple lossless and 24bit 96kHz WAV files. It's published under a Creative Commons license and distributed via BitTorrent. From the site:

"as a thank you to our fans for your continued support, we are giving away the new nine inch nails album one hundred percent free, exclusively via nin.com."


This isn't the first time NIN uses BitTorrent to distribute its music. The band uploaded a torrent for its previous album Ghosts I on sites like The Pirate Bay and What.cd. It looks like NIN has learned from that experience and fine-tuned its P2P distribution.

nin

The new album is distributed via the band's own torrent tracker, and users have to provide their email addresses first to get access to the download links.

05/04 2008 | 11:30 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I'll be heading over to Hollywood tomorrow to attend the DCIA's P2P Media Summit. Looks like it will be an interesting event, with speakers including P4P inventor Haiyong Xie, Bitorrent CTO Eric Klinker, Vuze CEO Gilles Bianrosa and many others. I'm not sure if there's Wifi this time around, so don't expect too many live updates, but please stop by and say hello if you're around!

05/03 2008 | 12:34 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember Red Swoosh, the P2P company that was bought by Akamai for $18.7 million in April 2007? Red Swoosh used to be a competitor to Akamai, albeit on a much smaller scale, offering P2P-powered content delivery services to corporate customers. Shortly before the Akamai acquisition, the company reinvented itself, rolling out products for amateur videographers and file-swapping consumers.

This new direction opened up a lot of possibilities for Akamai. In particular, it offered a way for Akamai to extend its business model to blogs and other platforms for user-generated content. Call it the CDN solution for the long tail, if you will, complete with options to enter the advertising market. But none of that materialized. Instead, it looks like most Red Swoosh products have been discontinued or taken down. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/02 2008 | 04:44 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Limewire team has launched another product today that is only remotely connected to the company's P2P client, if at all. LimeBits is a website creation and hosting platform that is completely based on the WebDAV standard.

It makes use of Javascript do do pretty much everything, meaning that you won't need any additional database to run blogs and other scripts, and it aims to make sites completely shareable. Here's what that means, taken directly from the Limewire developer blog:

"Instead of starting from scratch, you start from someone else’s fully working LimeBits website. You find a site you like and then click LimeBits’s Copy button. Now you just customize your copy: insert your own name, your pictures, etc., while keeping the site’s dynamic features in place."


The project is still in alpha, so it's a little tough to get started since there really isn't that much there yet to share, plus it looks like some parts of the site are still protected with server-side passwords. New users are however able to sign up right away, which gets them one Gigabyte of WebDAV space to play with.

We will have to wait and see which role LimeBits will eventually play in the Limewire universe. I could imagine that parts of it will eventually power Limespot, but that's admittedly pure speculation at this point.

05/01 2008 | 05:55 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
When it comes to file-sharing, Usenet has long been considered an underground venue. Its odd archive formats and weird file extensions were just too complicated for the average user, and tasks like finding and merging 400 parts of a movie download seemed a little too laborious in comparison to the ease of use of BitTorrent. However, indexing web sites, meta file formats and a new generation of download managers are making Usenet more and more accessible every day.

Take BinTube for example. The Windows-only application looks more like your average media player than a complicated download client, and it offers a feature called “Usenet streaming”: Instead of waiting for all parts of a movie to be downloaded, it starts playing the video after receiving the first part, with downloads continuing in the background. Yes, I know — technically that’s “progressive downloading,” not “streaming.” Still, it’s light-years from what Usenet used to be. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

05/01 2008 | 12:51 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It's bad enough when the police raids your house and confiscates your computer just because you shared some MP3s on a file sharing network. But how would you feel if you learned that the police wanted to keep your PC to make up for it's own sorry state of IT equipment? That's exactly what happened to a German file sharer recently.

German lawyer Chrstian Solmecke, who has been defending more than a thousand file sharers against lawsuits by local entertainment companies, explained on his blog this week that one of his clients got visited by the police after he shared music on a file sharing network. The police confiscated his computer, found 3500 MP3 files on his hard disk, and handed over his personal information to the music industry - a controversial but common practice that should end any day now.

But the police didn't just take a quick look at the content of his hard disk. It also examined the whole machine in detail and found it to be faster and better equipped than anything at its disposal. From the police report:

"The computer is equipped with a Pentium D processor from Intel. This is a dual core processor with a maximum speed of 2 * 3000 MHz, which makes it 250 percent faster that the computers used in our office."

Police offers testing the machine seemed to be quite fascinated by it:

"The machine is relatively quiet and doesn't heat up significantly even after using it for several hours (to erase data)."

So there you have it: A fast, quiet machine, and all the unnecessary data on its hard drives has already been deleted. Why not just use it for police work, for example to hunt down other file sharers?

"The external hard disk would be great to secure forensic evidence in cases of Internet crime."

Solmecke thinks that the case is tragic because of two things: It's tragic for the file sharer who doesn't get his computer back, but it's also tragic because it shows how bad the IT equipment of the police is. The machine with its 250 percent faster than the police allows dual core processor was bought more than two years ago at a German discount chain.