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06/30 2008 | 09:01 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Podmailing, a Paris-based personal P2P-service I've already covered a few times on P2P Blog (check here for a review), is celebrating the US launch of it's service today. Here's a Techcrunch-compatible elevator pitch video of Podmailing founder Louis Choquel:

I've had a chance to talk to Choquel earlier this weekend and he told me a little bit about the evolution of the service and some upcoming changes. Podmailing has been available to US users from its first launch back in 2006, but the company has been busy building a server-based infrastructure that had to be optimized for today's US launch. Podmails are uploaded to the company's servers as soon as you send them out so you don't have to be online to transfer a file. The company has been using Amazon's S3 service for that, but there used to be one problem. Louis explained:

"The only way to upload files to Amazon S3 is straight basic http. There is no upload resuming on S3. But we want Podmailing to transfer very large files which has a very high probability of getting a disconnection at some point. Even if your connection is perfect, you might need to go offline and prefer to finish that 2GB upload later on."


Podmailing worked around that issue by deploying its own servers for the users to upload their files to and then transfer those files to S3. Not an ideal setup, especially if you plan to grow fast, which is why the company now switched to virtual servers based on Amazon's EC2 environment. This proved to be much more scalable, according to Choquel: "We can add one new fully configured relay server in less than 20 minutes."

This new setup is part of the reason for the US launch, getting a little PR out of it certainly was another. Most of Podmailing's users have been from Europe so far, and the service isn't exactly playing in the big league yet. Choquel told me that they have had a little more that 40,000 registered users that used Podmailing to send files and up to 30,000 peers downloading files using their trackers. Overall, Podmailing has seen more than 110,000 file packages sent.

Those numbers show that many users seem to send their files to more than one user. Choquel told me that the company has seen users publish their links to Podmails in forums and blogs - something that previously helped competitor Pando to grow quickly. Podmailing now wants to jump onto that bandwagon and launch a free file hosting service in July. The clou: There will be no bandwidth or file size limits, and files can be downloaded through any Bittorrent client or straight-up http. Files will be hosted on S3 for up to three months, but Choquel is already thinking about laving them up for a year.

All of that brings up an obvious question: Where's the money tree? Personal P2P services have proven to be hard to monetize in the past, with Tubes and Allpeers shutting down despite success. Choquel admits that his company hasn't found the holy grail to monetize its services yet either, but he thinks he doesn't need to right now because there are no upfront infrastructure bills to foot, thanks to S3 and EC2.

"I'm watching my Amazon bill and I hope that it grows", sayd Choquel. Podmailing has been experimenting with advertising on landing pages, but he's quick to admit that such ads can't make up for gigs of traffic. "Advertising doesn't look like the best way to make money", he told me. Instead, he's thinking about launching premium services for paying users.

But Choquel has something else on his mind beside revenue. He wants to merge email and Bittorrent, and define new open standards to make it possible to send large files over the Internet. Podmailing will be releasing an open source version later this month as well, with the idea of other developing their own applications, email client plug-ins, relay servers and maybe even business models.

Choquel believes that the first step on that journey is getting more visibility for Podmailing - and a bunch of new features to launch in the next few weeks, including the file hosting service and a Thunderbird plug-in, could just be the way to get there.

06/28 2008 | 02:12 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Pirate's Dilemma author Mark Mason has put together a great promo mash-up for his book -check it out below:



(via Mathew Ingram)

06/28 2008 | 08:37 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Usenet, the original piracy hotbed, is in the midst of a shake-up after New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo persuaded Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint to ban child porn by cutting down on their Usenet offerings. But the medium is far from dead. In fact, the shake-up could lead to users downloading even more media files even faster.

Commercial Usenet access providers have been offering discounts to Usenet refugees from Time Warner and other ISPs in the hopes of getting them to switch. Giganews Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Vogelpohl told NewTeeVee that his company had ďa great responseĒ to its Time Warner special, and that Giganews is ďthankful for the opportunityĒ provided by the ISPsí Usenet shake-up. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/27 2008 | 09:54 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Michael Arrington published a story this afternoon about EMI suing Hi5, Videoegg and ten John Doe defendants, which are presumably the uploaders of EMI music videos, for copyright infringement. From Techcrunch:

"One person close to the litigation says that the parties have been negotiating with EMI for well over a year to avoid litigation, but that they were unable to reach agreement."


This story comes just one day after the German IT news website reported that EMI Publishing Germany got a preliminary injunction against the local streaming video website Myvideo.de. A the center of the German lawsuit were "ten musical works that were published on the platform without the consent of rights holders". Ten, eh? Sounds somewhat familiar ...

EMI previously got into an agreement with Youtube to license it works on the platform, but now it apparently decided to take the Universal Music route instead and sue the hell out of these sites. I wouldn't be too surprised to see more lawsuits in the coming days and weeks in other EMI strongholds, like the UK.

06/27 2008 | 04:21 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Cnet has an interview with Verizon CTO Mark Wegleitner today that was supposed to be about the FIOS success story, but a good deal of it is talking about P2P, which is interesting in itself. Here's what Wegleitner had to say about Bittorrent throttling:

"It's sort of a glass-half-full situation. Degrading traffic for one application enables another to work better. But we have to allow people who use the peer-to-peer applications for lawful and legitimate purposes to do so."

Does that mean that Verizon would be open to interfere with illegal P2P traffic - something that AT&T previously was willing to do? Wegleitner doesn't say, and Cnet writer Marguerite Reardon doesn't ask. Still, and interesting interview, if a little vague on the details.

06/26 2008 | 03:41 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This summerís TV season has barely started, but net-savvy TV fans are already downloading pilots of shows slated to premiere this fall. A whole bunch of pilots have found their way onto torrent sites in recent days, and file sharers are having heated debates about shows that in some cases still go by their working titles. As always, the sources of the leaks are unknown, but one can suspect that at least some of the shows received some inside help.

Of course, leaks like these are unfortunate if a show has been running into trouble during production. The pilot for ABCís remake of the UK crime drama Life on Mars was shot in Los Angeles, but ABC decided to relocate the whole show and re-shoot in New York. The L.A. pilot still found its way online where it got less than stellar reviews. Other shows are doing far better online, which could help them to build a fan base ahead of the fall TV season. So what can we expect coming this fall, and what are file sharers thinking about these shows? Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/25 2008 | 02:26 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Net neutrality has divided the P2P landscape in recent months. There are companies like Pando that align themselves with ISPs, favoring technical solutions over regulation. There are others like Vuze and Miro that fight for net neutrality. And then there is Bittorrent Inc, flip-flopping in a way that makes (insert your least favorite politician here) look like a straight talker.

Here's what happened so far:

Bittorrent president Ashwin Navin repeatedly told the press that his comany doesn't see any reason for the government to interfere with ISP's business decisions on the height of the Comcast Bittorrent scandal last year. Here's what Navin told me during an interview last December: "Where competitive forces are alive and well, and I believe they are here in the United States, I believe the ISPs will upgrade their networks to accommodate this usage pattern"

Bittorrent CTO Eric Klinker didn't seem to agree when he joined a pro net neutrality conference call from Free Press in February. The call included Nicholas Reville demanding "strong net neutrality leigslation." Kliner told journalists that his company felt "as strongly as Miro doesĒ about the subject.

Bittorrent announced a cooperation with Comcast a month after that, noting in the press release that "(b)oth BitTorrent and Comcast expressed the view that these technical issues can be worked out through private business discussions without the need for government intervention."

And now I hear that Bittorrent joined up with Google, Free Press, the ACLU and others to demand Internet for Everyone. One of the goals of the newly-formed political lobbying organization is "the right to freedom of speech and commerce online in an open market without gatekeepers or discrimination", aka net neutrality.

So what is it, Bittorrent? Pick a side, take a stance - but don't try to dance at two weddings at the same time, because you might not get any of the cake at either if you continue to flip-flop like this.

06/25 2008 | 11:06 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There have been quite a few attempts to sell Bittorrent-optimized set top boxes and media PCs, ranging from obscure vaporware cleverly marketed products from previously unknown companies to brand-name collaborations based on failed content platforms.

pic of vuzebox

And now there's the Vuzebox, which is essentially a really well-equipped Home Theater PC that runs Vuze on Linux out of the box. It features an Intel Dual Core 2 GHz processor, 1 GB of Ram, a couple hundred gigs HD space and a bunch of outputs including HDMI, but no Wifi (ouch!). The whole thing costs 600 bucks and apparently is available now.

For the record: The Vuzebox makers are not affiliated with Vuze, which makes this a pretty bad name choice that probably won't last too long. And the price is a little steep, compared to what you can do with a hacked Apple TV. But hey, you can always try to get a deal: The Vuzebox web order form allows you to submit your "best offer" ...

06/24 2008 | 11:50 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Plazes announced yesterday that is has been bought by Nokia. Plazes is a location based presence platform, which I've covered here and elsewhere before. In fact, I'm somewhat of an early user of Plazes who has been sticking with the service through a few incarnations, so I'm pretty excited about these news.

pic of plazes nokia

Of course, now comes the hard part. It's always a balancing act when very big companies acquire very small ones. You can't expect Nokia to adopt Plazes without any changes and roll it out to millions of customers tomorrow. In fact, you probably don't even want this to happen, because it would surely end in another Twitter-like downtime fiasco.

Plazes users on the other hand obviously want to keep using the social service they're used to and not see it evolve into a shiny but impersonal Nokia geo-presence app. And they definitely don't want this to be another Dodgeball (bought and abandoned by Google) or Jaiku (bought and frozen in time by Google).

Plazes and Nokia should probably take a good look at Del.icio.us for inspirations. The service has been left virtually unchanged since the Yahoo acquisition and still shown substantial growth, but at the same time inspired other developments from Yahoo that are more geared towards the mass market.

One way to do this would be for Nokia to use the social geoloation data that has been accumulated by Plazes users over the years and that's now becoming available through the new Plazes API in their products while at the same time supporting Plazes to build out a powerful Twitter competitor with geo-presence.

I guess we'll have to wait and see, but the announcement on the Plazes blog sounds encouraging:

"It was important to make sure that whoever buys us is actually interested in running and improving the service. So be prepared for some continuous improvements in the months to come."

06/22 2008 | 11:07 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Computerworld recently reported that P2P throttling and bandwidth management for ISPs was a hot topic at the NXTcomm conference in Las Vegas. The article mentions a lot of the usual suspects and talking points, with ISPs and network management vendors notably shying away from endorsing Comcast-style Bittorrent blocking. Instead, everyone now seems to be thinking about bandwidth caps and temporary slow-downs for the most active users.

One aspect that is interesting about the article is that it quotes Qwest CTO Pieter Poll saying that P2P users are not always the worst offenders and that ISPs need to target other heavy users as well. Qwest apparently regularly tells its most heavy users that they are in violation of the ISP's terms of service. The article quotes Poll with the following words:

"What we've found when we look at the highest-end users is that a significant percentage of what they use is certainly P2P traffic, but also that their high bandwidth consumption could be the result of malware infections or of Web cameras running 24 hours a day."

Mentioning webcams in this context is certainly interesting. Streaming low quality video didn't use to be a big issue for ISPs in the age of Jennycam & Co., at least in part because not many people did it. The boom of life streaming platforms like Ustream and Stickam has however led tens of thousands of users to broadcast video streams to the rest of the world.

A regular Ustream broadcast shouldn't eat up much more than 200kbps of your upstream bandwidth, but it looks like ISPs are starting to worry that thousands of Chris Pirillos could eat uo their resources. Notices like the ones sent out from Qwest used to be the first step in the ISPs' fight against P2P as well. Will we soon see life streaming being targeted with the same technicals means they use to slow down P2P?

(via gulli)

06/20 2008 | 05:11 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Looks like China isnít the only country cracking down on streaming video sites these days. Korean prosecutors have arrested the CEOs of five media storage companies for alleged violation of copyright laws, but critics believe that hosting streaming videos of anti-government candlelight vigils might have something to do with the arrests as well, according to the Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

The paper reports that two of the five companies targeted were Kutech and Nowcom. Kutech runs the popular Endisk site, while Nowcom maintains a site called PDBOX that offers media storage and P2P video streaming. Nowcom also maintains a similar service called Club Box, as well as a YouTube-like site called Afreeca.com. Critics charge that Afreeca is the real target of the crackdown because it has been hosting government-critical programming and video recordings of the recent protests against meat imports. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/20 2008 | 01:19 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The British Times features a pro-P2P piece that's a little sketchy on the details, but the main message is clear: We'll need P2P to distribute all those video bits flowing through the networks. That may be true, but the Times seems to have some timing issues in finding the right experts. The paper reports that a big push for P2P comes from Verisign, whose CTO told the Times:

"There may be a bad stigma attached to peer-to-peer but it may be necessary in order to distribute the traffic."


So what does a company like Verisign do if it believes in the future of P2P media distribution? Apparently it embraces the trend by kicking out its own in-house P2P developers. Verisign sold its P2P video distribution platform Kontiki back in May, a fact that the Times somehow forgot to mention.

06/19 2008 | 01:18 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There are tons of personal file sharing solutions out there, but most of them require both parties to install a client - which is not really an option if you're dealing with folks who are on corporate networks, or maybe just don't know that much about this whole Internet thing.

Hybrid services like Podmailing take away some of the pain by merging P2P uploads with web-based downloads, so your Mom won't have too struggle with installing and using yet another application in order for her to download your latest video creation. But what if your Mom wants to send you a big file for a change?

pic of droopy python web server

This is where Droopy comes in. Droopy is a small web server that is made for exactly these Mom meets Linux hacker type of scenarios. You can run it on any machine that is running Python, so you should be fine with OS X, Windows, Ubuntu and many other OS platforms.

Just execute it via command-line, maybe throw in a photo of yourself for good measure, figure out the IP address of your local machine, send it as a link to your Mom - and she can start to upload her recipe collection onto your computer in no time.

06/19 2008 | 11:15 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Up to 20 million concurrent P2P video users, 1000 live channels, 200 million downloads: Those are numbers that Joost can only dream of, but they're reality for the Chinese P2P video outlet PPLive.

My colleague Liz Gannes from Newteevee has inteviewed PPLive VP James Seng on a recent "exploratory trip" to the US that could be the start of an expansion or even a buyout of a US online video company, according to Seng. Check out the interview at Newteevee.com.

06/17 2008 | 12:04 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Call me a party pooper, but I couldn't care less about Guinness Book records. I also don't like overloaded servers that make me wait for forever, so here we go:

Firefox 3.0, English (US). Windows (7.1MB)
(via The Pirate Bay)
Firefox 3.0, English (US). OS X (17.2 MB) (via The Pirate Bay)

I didn't upload the torrents, but I double-checked the signature of the Windows copy and did a SHA1 checksum comparison for the dmg file - these are legitimate 3.0 finals, the same files that would be available at Mozilla.com if the server wasn't down.

06/17 2008 | 11:12 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Everyone is rushing to Spreadfirefox.com today to participate in a possibly record-setting waste of server-side bandwidth by downloading millions of copies of the same file at the same time, and guess what: The server is down. Isn't there some kind of technology that is supposed to help with problems like these? Can't remember the name right now ...

In any event, this seems to be a good occasion to note that the Mozilla-based open source media player Songbird officially reached version 0.6 this weekend. Songbird founder Rob Lord told this blog a while ago that he thinks his little player will eventually be more disruptive than Firefox. Granted, Songbird might never set a Guinness World Record, but at least you can download it right away.

06/16 2008 | 02:44 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The new version 3.1 of Vuze features an option to share torrents with your friends and contacts, offering not only social recommendations but also higher download speeds. Read all about it over at Newteevee.com. There is however one catch: Friends have to register with Vuze.com, and some people might be wary of the fact that the company could log what kind of torrents you share, since this is content you have most likely downloaded as well.

I asked the Vuze team to explain how exactly these torrent suggestions are shared between clients and if any of the information ever touches their servers. The info didn't make it in the article on Newteevee anymore, but I thought it might be worth sharing. Here's their reply:

"Each client generates a public and a private key. The private key is only ever known or accessible to that client. The public key enables encryption of files and the private key, unencryption. When two users become "Friends" they exchange the public key that allows them to encrypt torrent files. Therefore, when they send a torrent file to a Friend they use their Friend's public key to encrypt the file and then when their Friend receives the torrent file, they use their own private key to unencrypt. This communication happens directly between clients when both Friends are online. If they are offline, then it is relayed by Vuze, but as the keys are generated by the individual clients Vuze has no knowledge of the keys."


06/16 2008 | 12:34 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The popular BitTorrent media platform Vuze, formerly known as Azureus, is releasing a major update later today that offers some social features as well as a web-wide search functionality. Users of the new client version 3.1 will be able to connect to their friends on Vuze and recommend torrent downloads to one another. The client also has basic profiles and an activity stream, features more closely associated with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The search functionality is pretty remarkable in that it can be used to search multiple web sites as once. Thatís an interesting turn for a platform like Vuze, which has been trying to establish itself as a one-stop-shop for licensed professional and semi-professional content. Vuze may offer select episodes of Weeds and The Office for $2 a piece, but it canít really do without the huge catalogs of free and not always legal content from sites like Mininova. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/13 2008 | 05:10 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This summerís TV season is creeping up on us, and the networks are once again trying to get us hooked on a bunch of new and not-so-new shows. A lot of money is being spent on traditional promotion, but you can also expect an increased number of free downloads from the iTunes store, Amazon Unbox and similar platforms. Some producers are even more brave (or desperate, depending on your point of view), leaking their material to YouTube and file-sharing networks.

Usually thatís something people donít talk about. One exception is Spike TVís new show, Factory. The network hired the P2P promoters of the Jun Group to distribute the showís pilot on the Limewire file-sharing network, according to the LA Times. This might not have been the best choice. After all, Limewire is primarily used to download music, and the network is completely search-based, meaning users have to know what they are looking for, and who would search for a still-unknown TV show of a not-that-popular cable network? But donít worry, itís not all that complicated to get P2P promotion right. Here are five essential points to get your show popular with file-swappers. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/13 2008 | 12:16 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Canadian torrent site Isohunt has teamed up with the European online music platform Jamendo. Isohunt is now featuring almost 20,000 torrents from Jamendo, offering access to more than 150,000 Creative Commons-licensed songs. From Isohunt:

"You can now see Jamendo originated torrents highlighted by white tabs labeled "Jamendo Verified" in our search results, and here's a list of their torrents indexed on isoHunt. Their torrent descriptions also come in full HTML glory, like this one. In return, Jamendo is choosing isoHunt as their search engine for global torrents beyond their music database."


This isn't the first time Isohunt is embracing Creative Commons. Site owner Gary fung, who is currently being sued by the US music industry, even hinted at a Creative Commons-only future for Isohunt back in December of 07.

06/12 2008 | 03:23 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A German court has recently found that the evidence used in the country's tens of thousands of file sharing lawsuits is obtained in an unconstitutional way. The Frankenthal district court threw out a lawsuit against a defendant that was sued for sharing a video game on a file sharing network, according to heise.de.

The lawsuit was based on evidence obtained by the swiss Anti-piracy outlet Logistep, which provided rights holders with the IP address of the defendant. A law office working for the rights holder used the IP address to start a criminal complaint. Prosecutors requested the name of the defendant from a major German ISP and shared it with rights holders, who then started another civil lawsuit against the defendant - a controversial but common practice in Germany that has led to tens of thousands of lawsuits as well as completely overwhelmed prosecutors.

The court now found that the ISP wasn't allowed to give out the name of the defendant because file sharing doesn't count as a serious criminal offense. Handing over the name and address of the defendant violated his constitutional right to privacy. There is no common law in Germany, so this decision won't immediately affect other pending file sharing lawsuits, but it's quite possible that other defendants will get inspired by this decision to also try their luck in court, and that sooner or later we'll see one of those cases in front of the German Supreme Court.

06/12 2008 | 02:21 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced a deal with Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint to eliminate child pornography on the networks of the three ISPs. Part of the deal is a broad shutdown of Usenet newsgroups, as News.comís Declan McCullagh reported yesterday. Time Warner cable announced that it will stop offering Usenet to its customers altogether, and Sprint will ban all alt.* newsgroups from its Usenet servers. Verizon is apparently contemplating a similar step.

One could decry this as an overreaching measure initiated by the fear of Spitzer-like lawsuits against ISPs. Cuomoís office found only 88 newsgroups containing child porn, and there are more than 18,000 in the alt.* hierarchy alone, ranging from alt.feminism to alt.woodworking. But there is another reason that ISPs are so eager to get rid of these newsgroups: The alt.* hierarchy is also home to hundreds of video newsgroups, offering everything from current TV shows to full DVD images, and the growing popularity of Usenet video downloading makes it increasingly costly to offer access to those groups. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/10 2008 | 10:18 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Looks like Usenet is getting easier to use every day. A PHP developer of a big Silicon Valley web company with an exclamation mark in its name has used his spare time to come up with a service that makes it possible to subscribe to TV shows via Miro or iTunes and then download every new epsiode as it becomes available on Usenet.

pic of schmooze.tv

The service goes by the name Schmooze.tv and also offers a nifty, iTunes-like web interface that makes it possible to download episodes with a single click. Says the developer:

"In my specific case, I've created Schmooze.TV RSS feeds for my favorite shows. Every half-hour, the Mac mini attached to my flat-screen checks these feeds for new episodes and downloads them in the background. It's like TiVo - without the TiVo."

Schmooze.tv also features an iCal feed so you'll know when new episode of your favored shows are going to air. The one string attached, aside from obvious legal issues, is that you'll need an Easynews account to make use of the Schmooze.tv feeds.

"Luckily, for tech geeks like myself, Easynews, a $10/month Usenet provider, automatically decodes and offers up newsgroup binaries over the web. All that's left is automating the downloads."

Automating Usenet downloads via RSS is definitely an interesting idea. I took my own much more primitive stab at this a while ago with a combination of Yahoo Pipes and Guba, but Schmooze.tv is definitely much more powerful.

06/09 2008 | 12:18 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Matt Mason has released a PDF copy of his book "The Pirate's Dilemma" on his website Thepiratesdilemma.com.

pic of the pirates dilemma

In an online publishing experiment that is similar to what Radiohead has done with music, Mason allows users to set the price for each download - and it can be as little as zero dollars. Mason explains that giving away the book for free could actually help him to sell more copies:

"There are millions of books on amazon.com, and on average each will sell around 500 copies a year. The average American is reading just one book a year, and that number is falling. The problem (to quote Tim OíReilly) isnít piracy, itís obscurity. (...) By treating the electronic version of a book as information rather than property, and circulating it as widely as possible, many authors such as Paulo Coelho and Cory Doctorow actually end up selling more copies of the physical version."

The difference to Doctorow is that Mason doesn't release his copy under the terms of a Creative Commons license, so you'll technically still break copyrigth laws if you decide to spread the copy. However doesn't seem to mind if copies pop up on file sharing networks:

"Pirate copies of The Pirateís Dilemma are out there online anyway, and they donít seem to have harmed sales. My guess is they are helping. To be honest, I was flattered that the book got pirated in the first place."

(via gulli)

06/07 2008 | 01:42 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The BBC recently published a set of editorial guidelines for interacting with social networking platforms and other third-party web sites. Itís part practical how-to for BBC producers, part Star Trek-like Prime Directive, complete with warnings to ďbe sensitive to the expectations of existing users of the specific site.Ē

The document hasnít really gotten too much attention in the U.S.. In fact, I only found out about it through a German media blog. Thatís unfortunate, because thereís definitely a few lessons in there for U.S. TV networks and online video startups alike. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/07 2008 | 09:12 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Spanish rights holders sued the people behind the Piolet file sharing client and MP2P protocol this week. You can read all about it over at Zeropaid, even though some of the details seem a little sketchy. What it boils down to is that Pablo Soto's P2P empire may get shut down by Spanish courts.

Luckily, there is an alternative out there. Some open source developers reverse-engineered the MP2P protocol back in 2004 and used their newfound knowledge to write their own version of the client called Openlito. From their website:

"The goal of the OpenLITO project is to write an open source MANOLITO (MP2P) peer-to-peer client, compatible with Pablo Sato's Blubster, Piolet, and RockItNet software, able to run on non-Windows OS's. Much of MP2P is already reverse-engineered, however, no working open source client is yet available. The OpenLITO project is focusing on reversing the MP2P protocol (also known as the MANOLITO protocol)."

Granted, the Openlito files on Sourceforge haven't been updated for years. However, the same is true for the original MP2P applications, so there's a good chance that Openlito will work just fine. Now someone just has to pick up where others left off and port the application to different platforms.

06/05 2008 | 01:33 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Michael Piatek, Tadayoshi Kohno and Arvind Krishnamurthy are probably the only people on this planet that are happy when they receive DMCA take-down notices. The trio has been analyzing the process of copyright enforcement on P2P networks, and in turn have become targets of enforcement agents themselves.

The twist: They never up- or downloaded a single copyrighted work as part of their research. Instead, they just framed various devices on their own network - and in turn received take-down notices for printers and wireless routers. This was possible due to the fact that at least some of the online monitoring companies apparently don't actually download content to verify that a user is sharing a certain file, but just look at the data delivered by Bittorrent trackers, which can be easily manipulated. From the researchers' website:

"To draw on a real-world analogy, consider the ride-share bulletin boards common on many university campuses. People post requests for and offers of rides to various locations and contact information. Suppose a monitoring agency wanted to keep track of anyone who shared a ride from Seattle to Portland. One method would be to simply take a picture of the bulletin board each day, noting the names of people that requested a ride to Portland. The problem with this approach is that anyone can post to the bullet board claiming to be anyone else; there is no way to know if the person named in the request actually made that request unless that person is directly observed getting in the car."

The researchers also suggest that users don't actually have to fall victim of an intentional attack. Instead, just using a dynamic IP address on a Wifi network that has been registered with a Bittorrent tracker can be enough to get in trouble. The trio believes that Universities and ISPs should be more aware of the questionable nature of the data that DMCA notices are based on:

"The fact that we can generate DMCA complaints for arbitrary users regardless of whether or not copyright infringement actually occurred casts doubt on the current approach to copyright enforcement on P2P networks. As a result, Internet users and ISPs should not interpret DMCA complaints as foolproof; false positives are a very real possibility. Going forward, we believe our work shows a compelling need for increased transparency in the P2P monitoring and enforcement process."

You can read the complete study here.

(via NYT Bits Blog)
06/05 2008 | 10:06 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The creators of the copyright-critical movies Steal This Film and Steal This Film 2 are building a platform aimed at helping filmmakers get paid for releasing their works on file-sharing networks. The project, which goes by the name of VODO (it stands for ďvoluntary donationsĒ), is based on lessons the two filmmakers have learned from publishing their own movies for free on the Internet.

The Steal This Film Project was partially underwritten by grants from the British Documentary Film Foundation, but the filmmakers also asked their audience for donations. The duo was recently quoted as saying that an estimated 0.1 percent of Steal This Filmís audience ended up donating within the first two months of its release. Their hope for VODO is to get a response rate of up to 15 percent. So how do they want to reach this lofty goal? By plugging themselves right into the P2P distribution chain. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

06/03 2008 | 01:45 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Now this is clever: Google engineer and iPhone hacker Allen Porter is working on an open Bittorrent tracker that is entirely based on the Google App Engine, meaning the whole thing will run on a Google server. Google recently opened a preview of its App Engine, provising developers with "up to 500MB of disk storage, 10GB incoming bandwidth per day, 10GB outgoing bandwidth per day, 200 million megacycles of CPU per day and 2,000 emails per day" for free.

The only problem: The App Engine's Terms of Use make you adhere to the DMCA, specifically provide a way to react to take-down requests. From the Terms of Use:

"You agree to set up a process to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the United Statesí Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA notices"). It is Googleís policy to respond to DMCA notices or other applicable copyright laws and to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. We reserve the right to take down content in your Application or, if necessary, the Application itself upon receipt of a valid DMCA notice."

Now torrent trackers obviously don't host any material, and they don't even host the torrent files associated with specific downloads, so it's debatable whether take-down notices really make any sense at all, but I could see this become a major headache sooner than later.

06/02 2008 | 10:29 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Frustrated Joost users have just published the company's response to requests for a Linux version - which, in short, is: Ain't gonna happen. From the Joost forum:

"We're currently working on improving the performance of the PC and Mac versions available today. Although there has been demand for a Linux version of Joost, we have to prioritize our business objectives. As a result, we do not have plans to release a Linux version at this time."

So why does this matter if you are not running Ubuntu? Because no plans for a Linux version also translate to no plans for a set top box, since most set top boxes are based on the Linux operating system.

Joost CEO Mike Volpi had previously told the New York Times that Joost "is a piece of software and it can reside on a variety of platforms. It could be on a television set-top box." Joost EVP David Clark even told reporters that Joost would be in the living room by this summer, according to The Register.

Now it looks like this also ain't gonna happen. I guess they just prioritized their business objectives.

06/02 2008 | 01:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Podmaling has started to test a hybrid P2P client that uploads data via Bittorent as well as HTTP do deal with throttling ISPs. From its blog:

"The protocol hybridization implies that all the different transfer schemes can happen simultaneously according to what works best, and if the BitTorrent part is blocked, the software falls back entirely on http to carry out the transfers."

Podmaling is a service that is using Bittorrent in combination with Amazon's S3 to allow its users to exchange large files that would otherwise clog their email inbox (check here for an earlier review). Each file gets hosted at S3, so you don't actually have to be online for the transfer to take place. Podmailing has been offering HTTP downloads of these files for users that don't want to or can't upload a file for a while now, but the new version also makes HTTP available for uploads.

Fortunately my ISP doesn't mess with Bittorrent and in fact even supports net neutrality, so I can't test this part right now, but regular uploads seem to work fine, with data being evenly split between HTTP and Bittorrent.

picture of podmailing hybrid transfer

There was one other semi-announcement on the beta test page that caught my eye:

"If you get the impression that our servers are providing a BitTorrent re-seeding service you are not far from the truth. Although Podmailing is currently only meant for one-to-few "e-mail" private communication, we have a one-to-many publishing service in the works too."

Interesting ...

06/01 2008 | 05:20 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Just a quick note to my German readers: I've relaunched my old site Lowpass.cc today as a blog / portfolio, which means that you'll find German-language artices, radio features and blog entries there. It's basically what Lowpass.cc always was supposed to be, but I hope it will work out better this time around ...

On a related note: I've also delaunched Mixburnrip.de today, but you can still access the site's archive as well as download the book.