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09/30 2008 | 05:42 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A German court has ruled that Rapidshare.com isn't doing enough to combat piracy and that its filters are ineffective. The court decision of the Hamburg district court, which was published a few days ago, states that Rapidshare has to become active against copyright infringements as soon as rights holders make the companny aware of them - a rule that is somewhat similar to the DMCA in the United States.

However, Rapidshare has to do a lot more than just take down infringing content. The company also has to "proactively check content before publishing it" if there have been similar infringements in the past. Rapidshare has to log and check IP numbers of potential infringers as well, according to the court decision.

Rapidshare has been using a MD5 Hash filter to prevent the upload of previously removed material, and it told the court that it it has six employees working full time to remove infringing content. The Hamburg court however ruled that this was not sufficient because infringers would only have to change a few bytes of a file in order to circumvent the filter.

Th court also ruled that Rapidshare cannot argue that it is impossible to stay in business if it would have to check every single file. "A business model that doesn't use common methods of prevention cannot claim the protection of the law", the decision reads.

(via gulli)

09/29 2008 | 10:42 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Guess that was not much of a surprise:

pic of file sharing survey

Spotted by Flickr user Berto Garcia at TheTech, the museum for innovation in San Jose. (Photo: CC-BY-SA)

09/29 2008 | 05:54 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Still wondering why there is so much spam on torrent sites? You know what I mean: Fake files, dubious videos with long titles that promise anything and everything, and tons of e-books that are supposed to get you rich and laid.

The entertainment industry is known to spread fake files to frustrate file sharers, but the truth is that most of these files are actually just from spammy affiliate marketers trying to make a buck. And they're not just submitting their stuff by hand anymore, but increasingly use automated tools to automatically submit their content.

One of these programs goes by the name Torrent Blaster - and it promises to be a true money machine. From the Torrent Blaster website:

" After 6 months, I had been making over 70 dollars a day without having to work more than 10 minutes a week, uploading just one torrent a week."


The website also shows a screenshot of the program, uploading a fake Lenny Kravitz torrent to Bytenova.

pic of torrentblaster screenshot

Of course, bloggers have been struggling with automatic submission tools for comment spam for a while now. The good news is that there are some pretty sophisticated technologies out there that make it possible to detect whether a human or a dumb application submits something to your site.

Real spammers deal with this by constantly updating their algorithms and taking part in an endless cat and mouse game with spam fighters. Applications like the Torrent Blaster on the other hand that are marketed as a one-off solution are destined to fail in this game. You'll spend 29 bucks, get piece of software that is likely to get you banned on any technically sound torrent site on the planet - and the only one profiting from it is a guy who apparently likes to hang out on Therichjerk.com. Go figure.

09/26 2008 | 02:47 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
“The biggest disappointment of the night”: Entertainment Weekly had some harsh words for this week’s installment of Heroes. The second episode of the show’s new season only clocked about 6 million viewers, following a season premiere that was down almost 30 percent. But Heroes seems to be doing just fine in the rest of the world. TorrentFreak is reporting that Heroes broke download records on many torrent sites.

Most of these downloads go to users outside of the U.S. who have to wait for weeks, if not months, after the U.S. premiere to finally see new episodes on TV. These delays do not just lead to millions of torrent downloads, but also a huge number of streams and downloads from less than legit YouTube clones and one-click hosters. In the light of recent download records, TV studios are slowly waking up to the fact that global release windows just don’t work anymore. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/25 2008 | 11:42 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Yahoo Music Unlimited is reminding its users this week that it is shutting its doors by the end of the month. The company will also turn off its DRM licensing servers, which means that users won't be able to acquire any new licenses for the Windows Media DRMed downloads they "bought" for 99 cents each. From the email sent to customers:

"Purchased music that you downloaded to authorized computers or devices will continue to play on those devices, unless you upgrade your operating system. If you attempt to transfer purchased downloads to an additional or previously unauthorized computer or device, your music will not play on those new computers or devices."


So better don't get any funky ideas and buy yourself one of those Sansa players, because your Yahoo music won't work on them, even though the company previously promised it would. Yahoo's advice is to back up your songs by burning audio CDs and ripping them in the MP3 file format, thereby effectively circumventing the DRM.

This isn't the first time users of an online music store have to find out the hard way that they don't actually own the music they paid for it it is protected with DRM. Microsoft got a lot of grief when it turned off its licensing servers for its discontinued MSN music store this summer.

It seems like Yahoo has learned from this fiasco: The company is offering free download gift certificates for Rhapsody's MP3 store for anyone having trouble with the DRM after Setember 30th. The only downside: You have to make your claim until the end of this year, or you'll be stuck with a bunch of worthless DRM garbage.

09/24 2008 | 11:40 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Comcast recently announced that it will disconnect users that eat up more than 250 Gigabyte of bandwidth per month. There has been some debate about whether that number is fair, with some arguing that HD video downloads or online backup services could easily get you to violate the cap.

Another big problem: Comcast's users aren't told how much bandwidth they actually use, so they won't know if they use to much until it is too late. There are some bandwidth monitoring tools for you PC, but those don't include the considerable amount of bandwidth that devices like the XBox, Vudu or the Netflix Roku can cause.

It looks like Comcast listened at least to this complaint. A representative of the company chimed in on the subject in the comment section of GigaOM today, writing:

"A web-based tool to enable users to monitor their usage is in development."

The article that provoked the comment was arguing that the best way to get rid of Comcast's bandwidth cap is to complain about it. I guess Comcast's response just proved its point.

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09/23 2008 | 12:08 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Michael Moore's new movie Slacker Uprising was released online as a free download today, a gesture that is supposed to get people excited in the upcoming presidential election. The Slacker Uprising website quotes Michael Moore with the following words:

"This is being done entirely as a gift to my fans. The only return any of us are hoping for is the largest turnout of young voters ever at the polls in November."


The Slacker Uprising trailer.

Moore uses Blip to stream the entire movie online. Hypernia, a company that is usually more active in the game delivery space, provides web hosting for downloadable DivX and MP4 versions. But that's not all: Moore is also running his own tracker to offer offering Bittorrent downloads of the film through a number of public trackers like the one operated by the Pirate Bay.

pic of slacker uprising download

Unfortunately, all of those offerings are only officially available for US and Canadian users. Visitors with IP addresses from outside of the northern American hemisphere instead get to see the following notice:

"Unfortunately, the lawyers tell us we are only allowed to offer the film to people residing in the United States or Canada. The computers think you are someplace else right now, and that's why you are seeing this page. If you really are in the U.S. or Canada and our computers are confused, you may try accessing the website from a different network, at a friends house, etc. We're very sorry for the inconvenience, and really want as many people to see the film as possible."


The sentiment expressed in the last sentence is apparently shared by file sharing enthusiasts, who have already started to distribute copies of the movie on torrent sites on their own. The movie has only been up only been up for a few hours, but it's already clear that it will be very popular: The Pirate Bay currently shows 624 seeders and 2309 leechers.

Updated to clarify that Moore is actually not operating his own tracker.
09/22 2008 | 03:55 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire has recently started a podcast directory on its website, which is currently featuring about two dozen podcasts. The site is labeled as "pre-release alpha", and there is no word about whether it will be included in the Limwire client, become part of the company's social music network or marketed as a stand-alone project.

pic of limewire podcast directory

The project does have its own blog, which marks early August as the official pre-launch launch date. However, most of the podcasts haven't been updated since the end of August, so it might be a work in progress, waiting for its next revision.

The podcast directory is featuring magnet links that make it possible to manually download individual episodes with Limewire's client. The application isn't currently capable of processing RSS feeds or downloading podcasts automatically, but there are some signs that Limewire may be rethinking this in the process of becoming more Bittorent-friendly. Bittorrent clients like uTorrent and Azureus are all able to use RSS feeds with enclosures to automatically download content.

09/22 2008 | 02:05 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A tipster this weekend told us about an upcoming streaming video web site by The Pirate Bay called The Pirate City. The site was apparently launched last week to commemorate the 30th birthday of one of the Pirate Bay’s admins, but was quickly pulled because “something went wrong,” and now features a note promising to return in a few days. A streaming media platform run by the Pirate Bay: That does sound like a good story. Too bad it wasn’t true.

At last check, The Pirate City’s site was still down. Google’s cache is still showing a site featuring the Pirate Bay’s logo but also a web design completely different from all of the Pirate Bay’s prior projects, which tend to follow the Craig Newmark school of minimalism. To make matters worse, there are some signs indicating that the “tipster” may actually be involved in running The Pirate City. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/20 2008 | 09:48 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
DSLReports reported this week that Comcast is getting out of the Usenet business. The ISP will stop its Usenet offering by the end of October. New users won't have access to Comcast's Usenet anymore starting right about now. The smaller, regional cable provider RCN also cut off its Usenet service without any warning this week, according to DSLReports.

Comcast and RCN are not the only ISPs saying good-bye to Usenet. Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint all cut down on their offerings this summer after New York's State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo had started a campaign against child porn in newsgroups. Comcast also uses the child porn argument to explain its decision, but it's a little more honest than other ISPs by admitting that there are other reasons at play as well. From the company's statement:

"This decision is in alignment with other Internet Service Providers that have recently terminated their Newsgroups service due to the declining popularity of Newsgroups as customers chose other methods, such as RSS feeds and web browsing to access information."

09/20 2008 | 03:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Comcast submitted a detailed description its ongoing network management practices in a filing with the FCC last night, revealing that it has been testing controversial network management technologies since May of 2005. The company also laid out a plan for its transition to protocol-agnostic network management, which Stacey Higginbotham covered over at GigaOM. The filings are response to the FCC’s order against the company issued a month ago.

Comcast has previously been less than forthcoming about its network management. In fact, the company denied for months that it was interfering with P2P traffic at all. Today’s filing not only confirms many suspicions about the practice in place, it also shows a different reason why Comcast is moving away from it: The current BitTorrent blocks just aren’t that effective. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

09/16 2008 | 04:27 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Pioneer and the P2P Next project showcased the P2P-powered NextshareTV set top box at the IBC conference in Amsterdam last week, and a first photo of the Nextshare UI has found its way onto Flickr.

pic of nextshare ui

Image CC-BY-NC fatcontroller. Used with permission.

Of course this is only a small part of the UI, but it already reveals a few things: First of all, this is the actual BBC News broadcast from last Friday, and the time stamp of the photo's metadata is the same as the time displayed on the TV screen, meaning that this is actually a live P2P broadcast. The UI seems to also show BBC One and Three as being available through Nextshare, which could mean that at least in theory the BBC's complete program could get distributed via P2P during the upcoming Nextshare field test.

Also notable: The display shows podcasts and music albums, presumably stored on a user's hard drive, as available through the set top box. Finally, the UI displays th word 'alpha". Let's hope we get to see more of it soon.

09/15 2008 | 03:35 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Looks like Jack Bauer's day just got a little shorter: The season premiere of "day 7" of 24 will simultaneously in the US air and on German TV, according to a report of Germany's IT news website heise.de. The following episodes of the hit show will be made available just a few hours after their US release date, and German 24 fans will be able to chose between a synchronized and an original version.

The move is not only aimed at getting people excited in 24 again after the show had to be delayed for a whole year because of Hollywood's writers strike. It's also an obvious move against P2P piracy. TV fans in Europe have long been complaining about long release windows that result in shows reaching foreign markets months, if not years after they premiered on US TV.

More and more Europeans are taking matters into their own hands by simply downloading popular shows hours after they hit the airwaves in the US. In fact, the majority of downloads for popular shows seem to happen because of these long release windows. Torrentfreak recently reported that only four percent of the downloaders of the Prison Break season premiere were from the US.

Moving away from worldwide release windows and towards day to day releases of popular shows could help to alleviate this problem. It's unclear however how effective the German 24 experiment will be. Jack Bauer's drama is going to show on the German pay TV network Premiere, which over the years has struggled to remain relevant in a country where most people are not used to pay for television.

09/14 2008 | 02:54 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It looks like the idea of a P2P-powered YouTube is finally becoming reality, albeit without any contribution from Google. Singapore Shanghai-based P2P start-up PPLive, which we previously covered for its hugely successful P2P video platform, is experimenting with a P2P accelerator for Flash video streams. The application, which is dubbed PPVA, essentially distributes the stream of any popular Flash video from sites like YouTube via P2P without any involvement of the hosting server.

PPLive began a Chinese-language only beta test of PPVA in June, and says it already clocked more than 10 million downloads, with the maximum number of simultaneous users being as high as 500,000. We tested PPVA with some popular YouTube videos, and the results are intriguing — especially if you consider what this could mean for online video hosters and content delivery networks alike. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/12 2008 | 03:53 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember the German musician that sampled 72,000 tracks in a single song and then tried to register all of them with a local music rights organization? Apparently it took him a while to fill out all those thousands of forms, but he finally got to delver them to German music rights group GEMA yesterday. Here's a video of the delivery:



The GEMA folks clearly sensed that they couldn't just close the doors on him, and instead asked everyone to take part in an impromptu press conference, where everyone respectfully disagreed on things like collective licenses for file sharers, according to German online magazine gulli.

The musician did however show that he wasn't out to punish GEMA's employees. He ended up taking all of his forms back at the end of the day, bringing them to a museum instead.

09/11 2008 | 03:21 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The European P2P Next consortium will unveil a set-top box prototype that allows P2P streaming at the IBC conference in Amsterdam tomorrow. The device goes by the name of NextshareTV and has been developed at the Pioneer Digital Design Centre in London. NextshareTV makes use of some of the open-source P2P streaming technology of the Swarm Player, which was introduced by the P2P Next project just two months ago.

The idea of bringing P2P to set top boxes isn’t entirely new. Vudu is using progressive P2P downloads to deliver content to its boxes, and the Chinese P2P operator Vatata recently announced that its distributed streaming video service will be available on set-top boxes as well. NextshareTV one-ups these platforms by offering social elements, allowing its users tag and share content. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

09/10 2008 | 10:18 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Prog rock band Marillion has gotten quite a bit of press for its decision to publish its entire new album on P2P networks for free.



Marillion is using Music Glue to spread the album, and the company quoted the band's keyboarder with the following words in a press release related to the promotion:

"While we don’t condone illegal file sharing, it’s a fact of life that a lot of music fans do it. We want to know who our file sharing fans are. If they like our new album enough, then we want to persuade them to pay something for it or at least come and see us on tour."

Marillion's album was officially released on P2P networks today, even though it seems like the torrent in question was initially uploaded to the Pirate Bay almost a week ago. Either way, there definitely seems to be some interest in the release: Mininova is currently counting 81 seeds and 75 leechers.

A look in the Pirate Bay's comment section however reveals a far more troubling picture: None of the comments is about the music. Instead, everyone is complaining about DRM. Turns out Music Glue used Microsoft's Windows Media file format to protect the files and forward users to its website the first time the music is played. The website then offers access to unprotected MP3 files in exchange for a user's email address.

Music Glue describes this idea as a "unique interactive band-to-fan interface mechanism", but one really has to wonder how effective it will be in the long run. WMA files that open up websites aren't really all that unique, but a fairly well known trick of P2P spammers that often spread files with misleading titles this way in order to increase traffic to affiliated websites.

Marillion's motives seem to be more sincere that those of said spammers, but I think it will only be a matter of time before someone uploads a torrent with unprotected MP3 files of the album. Maybe Marillion should have taken a look at Trent Reznor's P2P promotion efforts. Reznor released the latest NIN record through a private tracker on his website. Users had to register with their email addresses, but got a variety of DRM-free file formats in return.

09/09 2008 | 04:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A German court has ruled that the administrator of an Edonkey server can not be held liable for infringing downloads facilitated through the server if he takes reasonable steps to prevent such downloads. The court ruled against Warner Music Germany, which had sued the administrator last summer after they discovered songs of a Warner Music artist indexed by the server. Warner initially prevailed in court, but the admin appealed the ruling and was now able to defeat the major label, according to heise.de.

Warner Music initially contacted the Edonkey server admin through their lawyer to stop the trading of an individual CD. The admin in question complied, putting keyword filters in place to make sure that the songs in question wouldn't get indexed again. Warner however discovered soon after that a different CD by the same artist was still available through the server and sued.

The court now decided that the admin didn't participate directly in the infringement because his server did not actually host the audio files. It also ruled that there was no intentional facilitation of infringement because Warner's lawyers couldn't prove that the Edonkey network wasn't at its core a neutral network. The court finally decided that a keyword-based filtering system was enough to stop infringement and that the server admin wasn't required to proactively stop future infringements of titles that were not part of the original complaint.

This decision is a pretty substantial defeat, and the fact that it happened in an appeals court adds some additional weight to it. One should however remember that Germany and most other European countries don't share the US concept of common law, meaning that this isn't necessarily a legal precedence for other court cases.

09/08 2008 | 10:25 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A torrent featuring autopsy photos of two murdered toddlers has been causing a slight stir in Sweden in recent days. At the center of the controversy is a double-murder case that made headlines in Sweden earlier this year, partly because of its brutality, and partly because the father of the children was wrongfully accused and arrested.

Someone uploaded a torrent featuring the case files to The Pirate Bay in early August. Part of these case files are autopsy photos. Th father of the children has now asked the Pirate bay to remove the torrent because he doesn't want those pictures in circulation, but the site's operators refused, according to The Local, which quotes the Bay's Peter Sunde with the following words:

"I don’t think it’s our job to judge of something is ethical or unethical or what other people want to put out on the internet."

One predictable outcome of the whole ruckus is that the torrent has become really popular and is currently served by over 550 people. Perhaps more interesting is that The Pirate Bay has not only become the target, but also the platform for a debate about free speech. The torrent's page is featuring more than a thousand comments by now, with commenters passionately taking both sides of the argument.

(via gulli)

09/05 2008 | 04:21 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Wippit, a UK-based P2P service that sold music through subscription packages, has finally shut its doors. A company spokesperson told the Distorted Loop blog that Wippit "succumbed to tough market conditions" and eventually became a victim of its own vision and optimism.

pic oh wippit shut down notice

I'd suspect that the absence of a clear value proposition for end users might have something to do with the failure as well. Wippit originally marketed itself as a legal alternative to file sharing networks like Napster, but always had a far to little catalog to compete.

It tried to change this by moving more towards the model of a centralized download store, even selling music from EMI, but those tracks were DRM-protected and couldn't be swapped. It also experimented with home-made ringtones and apparently even had a limited number of video downloads. I reviewed the service early on, but found it confusing and too limited.

Add to that the fact that Wippit used anti-P2P sentiment to market its own service, taking cheap shots at companies that advertised on P2P sites, and you begin to understand why not enough people were sharing Wippit's vision and optmism.

(via dmw)

09/05 2008 | 03:36 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Om reported today that Joost is getting ready to abandon its client and replace it with a web-based product that’s powered by a P2P plug-in. This step certainly makes sense for Joost. The service has been struggling to remain relevant ever since its launch, and the idea of web-based solution has been floating around for what seems like forever.

But Joost in a browser is also hardly revolutionary. In fact, there have been plenty of attempts to merge the world of Web 2.0 with distributed data delivery in recent months, and there are other promising efforts on the horizon. To this crowd, Joost is like the odd, new kid that shows up in school weeks after summer break. So please, be nice, give it a place at the table, and let’s start with a quick round of introductions. Continue reading at Newteevee.com.

09/03 2008 | 04:10 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
German rights holders have proposed new sanctions against file sharers that are supposed to allow a more direct cooperation with ISPs while stopping short of cutting users' Internet access. Instead, German users will just see their Internet speed drop if they get caught sharing files.

The German anti-piracy organization GVU is adapting a proposal from French and British rights holders also known as the three strikes approach. Under that plan, rights holders would send the IP addresses of suspected file sharers to ISPs, which in turn would send a series of warning letters to the customers in question. Customers choosing to ignore these warning letters would get banned permanently from the Internet after the third incident of copyright infringement.

These ideas have drawn lots of criticism from politicians and civil liberties groups alike, but one argument against the practice hasn't been publicized too much: Millions of Europeans are using VOIP for their land line phones these days, and oftentimes they get their VOIP services from the same company as their Internet connection. Cut of the Internet, and you'll take away those peoples' phone service as well.

Combined packages of VOIP, phone and in some cases cable TV are particularly popular in Germany, which is why German rights holders apparently realized that the traditional three strikes approach won't work in their country. Their alternative idea is to make ISPs throttle the lines of infringers.

This idea might actually get some sympathy from ISPs looking to save on bandwidth costs, but it doesn't go over well with German Internet activists. Says one blogger: "This is an attempt to privatize law enforcement."

09/03 2008 | 02:54 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
ony Pictures is leaving South Korea because of sluggish sales and rampant piracy, The Korea Times is reporting this week. Sony isn’t the first studio to abandon the Korean market; according to the Times, Paramount, Universal, Buena Vista and 20th Century Fox have all ceased operations there, meaning there is no longer a major Hollywood studio operating in South Korea.

Korean DVD sales have been in a free fall in recent years. The newspaper quotes estimates for 2008 of some $285 million vs. $673 million in 2002. At the same time, blazing fast broadband is ubiquitous. The country’s average broadband penetration rate by household hit 90.1 percent last year; in Seoul, the rate was 107.8 percent. Korea’s broadband revolution is often touted as a sign of things to come for the rest of the world, but is the same true for the death of its DVD market? Continue reading on Newteevee.com.


09/02 2008 | 11:03 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Looks like I wrote my article about the presidential candidates and their torrents a little too early. Obaba's acceptance speech has been getting thousands of downloads this weekend through various torrent sites. It's not quite as popular as on TV where the speech even topped the opening of the Olympics, but it's definitely noticeable.

pic of google trends for obama torrents

An EZTV torrent on Mininova has about 550 seeds right now, and Google Trends shows that searches for Obama torrents exploded in the last couple of days. Interest in McCain torrents also seems to be growing, but he is still not nearly as popular with BitTorrent users.

It will be interesting to see how this changes once McCain holds his acceptance speech. Right now, the most popular McCain torrent is still an appearance on Jay Leno's show.