You are currently viewing archive for October 2008
10/31 2008 | 08:57 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A tipster reached out to us this week to tell us about layoffs at the Redwood City, Calif.-based P2P video startup Vuze, stating that the company had dismissed more than half of its workforce. Vuze subsequently confirmed two rounds of previously unreported layoffs to us, but clarified that the dismissals were not recent: 12 people were let go in April and another 12 in August. “We anticipated that the economic environment was going to deteriorate, so we decided to act proactively,” said Vuze’s V-P of marketing, John Fernandez.

Vuze has been building an ad-supported download platform for HD videos based on its BitTorrent client, which used to be known as Azureus. The company recently put the client through a major revamp, and Fernandez told me that things are looking up in terms of revenue and video views. Vuze did lose some key content partners in recent months, something CEO Gilles BianRosa recently attributed to the move away from download sales. Continue reading on

10/31 2008 | 10:16 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Forget filters, DRM and locked-down set-top boxes. The makers of the open-source media center Boxee have a novel approach aimed at getting people to watch TV from legitimate sources. The idea behind it is not to punish pirates, but to instead use them as taste makers that could drive others to Hulu, Joost and similar streaming media web sites.

I sat down with Boxee’s head of products, Dave Mathews, at the DCIA’s P2P and Video conference a few days ago. Boxee has been enjoying a busy month, issuing a major announcement almost every week. First it was unveiled that Boxee is now running on the Apple TV platform. Then Hulu came to Boxee, and most recently, the Boxee team won the CES i-stage competition, earning not only $50,000 but a booth at the next CES in Las Vegas. Boxee won the award, in part, because of its social features, which could help turn potential pirates into Hulu users. Continue reading on

10/29 2008 | 01:28 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I ran into Mike Weiss the other day at Digital Hollywood, and asked him how things at Streamcast Networks were going. Streamcast Networks has been the company behind the Morpheus file sharing client, and Weiss, Streamcast's long-time CEO, has been an outspoken critic of the entertainment industry as well as lone fighter in an epic legal battle with the major record companies, which is why I was more than a little surprised when he told me that he shut down the company back in April.

Morpheus has been largely ignored by the P2P community in recent years because it was forced to install filters to prevent unauthorized file sharing after losing against the entertainment industry in front of the US Supreme Court. However, Morpheus used to be at some point one of the if not the most popular file sharing client, so it's only appropriate to do a quick recap of its oftentimes turbulent history:

Morpheus started off as a Open Napster client back in 2000, operating two dozen or so Open Napster servers under the name of the Musiccity network. It switched to the Fasttrack network that was operated by Kazaa soon after, only to quickly become the most popular Fasttrack client, which also got the attention of the major record labels. The labels filed a lawsuit against Morpheus, Kazaa and Grokster, which at that time all shared the same network, in October of 2001.

Morpheus eventually had a fall-out with Kazaa in early 2002 when users of its client suddenly were unable to connect to the Fasttrack network. The makers of Morpheus at the time stated that Kazaa tried to get rid of unwanted competition, but Kazaa maintained that Morpheus just didn't pay its licensing dues on time.

Morpheus switched to Gnutella soon after but lost a large amount of its users to Kazaa as result of the controversy. Morpheus also implemented support for several other P2P networks, including Neonet, which was its own DHT network.

Streamcast obtained an important court victory against the entertainment industry in 2004, but the case was appealed and went all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided with the major record labels in its now famous Grokster decision. Grokster itself folded soon after, Kazaa eventually settled with the entertainment industry, but Morpheus fought on.

Morpheus suffered another loss in court about a year ago when a US District Court in Los Angeles put pressure on the company to install effective filters. Part of the verdict was the appointment of a "Special Master" to "aid (the) decision of what constitutes the most 'effective' filtering regiment", as it was stated in the verdict.

Turns out, Special Masters don't just have great job titles, they're also really expensive. Weiss told me that his company had to pay several hundred thousand dollars per month, and that these prohibitive costs eventually forced him to pull the plug in April.

Some folks have wondered why Morpheus even resisted that long. Its product was barely usable due to the filters, its user base had shrunk to a minimum, and there was really no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the legal fight. Seth Finkelstein mused last year that Streamcast may just have been hanging in there to eventually reemerge as another P2P company.

Streamcast did apparently have some plans to position itself as a solutions provider for P2P-powered social media platforms. I stumbled across a mock-up of a site called at some point that seemed to be an attempt to sell these service to niche markets, but now it looks like these attempts have died with Morpheus shutting down. The Morpheus website finally closed down this week, leaving almost no trace of the once so popular P2P client.

10/29 2008 | 11:01 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire announced today that its music store will start to carry 60 albums from Comedy Central Records. The record company has released various spoken word records from comedians who have appeared on Comedy Central. Fortune Magazine sums it up this way:

"The pact with Comedy Central is Lime Wire's first partnership with a major entertainment company. George Searle, Lime Wire's CEO, said it shows that his company actually has something beneficial to offer its adversaries in the entertainment industry."

I'm usually not blogging about licensing announcements related to the Limewire store because frankly I don't think the store contributes much to either Limewire's or the labels' bottom line, but this one is interesting precisely because Comedy Central is owned by Viacom - the same company that has sued Youtube for copyright infringement. It's really going to be interesting to see what a company like Viacom will do once Limewire rolls out the P2P revenue sharing opportunities it has been working on.

10/28 2008 | 10:18 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A quick note to my California-based readers: Unfortunately, I had to discover today that the folks behind Proposition 8 have booked ads on P2P Blog. I've previously had political ads on this site that didn't reflect my point of view. In particular, one presidential campaign (guess which one) apparently thought it was wise to buy ads against keywords that are also used on this site.

I didn't really mind, because I believe that my readers can make up their own minds about this election. And of course, like on every good website, there is a strict distinction between editorial content and ads on this site, so I didn't feel like readers would suspect I'm supporting any particular cause just because one of my ad networks decides to display one candidate's ads.

However, if there's one thing I cannot stand, then that's bigotry. Trying to take away peoples' constitutional rights just because your wrongheaded beliefs tell you that their way of living is somehow sinful is just plain wrong. And using children to advertise your hateful cause which would essentially make it harder for other people to found families and have children on their own is despicable.

There's no place for that on this blog, and there shouldn't be in California. I'm a resident of this state, but don't enjoy the privilege of being able to vote. All I could do was to block those ads, but I sincerely hope my California-based readers will take it one step further and vote no on Proposition 8 on November 4th.

You can read all about Proposition 8 here, and here's why the LA Times is against Prop. 8.

10/27 2008 | 10:23 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Rapidshare has just published a press release to clarify its position with regards to a recent German court decision decision that essentially mandated to "proactively check content before publishing it." Rapidshare's response: "This is currently technically and legally impossible." Rapidshare COO Bobby Chang continued: "There's not going to be any control of uploads."

This statement came a little bit as a surprise to me, because I had asked the company last week to explain how it is going to respond to the court decision and got a much more measured response. It read:

"The Rapidshare AG is currently analyzing the decision and working on a solution that will on the one hand do justice to the instructions of the court and on the other hand protect the privacy of its users." (emphasis added)

These instructions of the court were pretty clear: Rapidshare has to become active against the infringement of a copyrighted work once it becomes aware / gets notified of such infringement. This does not just include erasing the work from its servers, but taking reasonable steps to make sure that it doesn't get uploaded again.

Now how could such reasonable steps look like? Simply installing keyword- or hash-based filters - something Rapidshare already has in place - wasn't enough for the Hamburg-based court. Instead, it mandated to identify users that have uploaded the work in question in the past and monitor their uploads before publishing them.

That sounds tough, given the fact that Rapidshare allows anonymous uploads and the upload of password-protected archives, doesn't it? Well, the court thought about that as well. Rapidshare could use IP addesses to identify uploaders and monitor any upload from those IP addresses, which of course could mean to also monitor countless uploads from other users that happen to have the same dynamic IP address. Or it could just control everything.

The court also had a interesting idea on how to deal with .rar files: Just unrar them on a designated server, and block the upload of password-protected uploads from suspected infringers.

I'm still not clear how exactly Rapidshare intends do these instructions justice and at the same time not control any uploads, and the company didn't elaborate any further on it. Chang did however dispel the myth that his Swiss-based company doesn't have to adhere by German court decisions, saying:

"Rapidshare operates internationally and does of course have some German users as well. That's why this decision is obviously of importance for us."

10/24 2008 | 03:51 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The owners of the X-rated YouTube clone won’t have to bare it all in court, after all: Porn powerhouse Vivid dropped its copyright infringement lawsuit against PornoTube owner Data Conversions Inc., also known as the Adult Entertainment Broadcasting Network (AEBN), earlier this week.

Vivid sued AEBN back in December of 2007, alleging that PornoTube distributed at least 50 scenes from Vivid’s porn movies without any license to do so. One of the movies mentioned in the original complaint was the sex tape of network TV starlet and B-list personality Kim Kardashian. These movies have all disappeared from the site since then. In fact, users have reported that PornoTube has been removing countless clips in recent days, hinting at an out-of-court agreement. Vivid told us that it has “no comment at this time” on any arrangement between the two companies. Continue reading on

10/23 2008 | 02:36 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Despite numerous examples of legitimate uses, most people still associate P2P with illegal file-sharing. That perception might be due for a change, according to a new report from research firm MultiMedia Intelligence. It predicts that licensed P2P transfers will grow 10 times faster than P2P piracy over the next five years.

Granted, forecasts like these should always be taken with a grain of salt, especially since at least part of the online video space appears to be moving away from P2P right now, with Joost a prominent example of abandoning peer-supported streaming for traditional Flash streams. And one shouldn’t disregard the huge amount of data transferred for less than legal purposes just yet. Continue reading on

10/21 2008 | 03:52 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
No, I don't think all advertising on P2P networks is spam. Yes, I think there is a business opportunity for these kinds of things somewhere. And yes, I'd really like to believe that everyone involved in this space is an upstanding citizen, playing by the rules, avoiding black hat SEO, just distributing content that people are really interested in and not pretending to offer something or be someone else. And then stuff like this happens.

My article about P2Pwords that got published by Gigaom yesterday
got no comments at all for the first few hours. Then, around 9pm, there were suddenly ten or so comments within minutes, all slamming the article and defending the company that does P2Pwords. They were all under different user names, but originated all from the same single IP address. The folks over at Gigaom decided to do what you do with spam like this: Erase and block it.

Our colleagues over at the LA Times apparently didn't catch the astroturfing attempt. John Healey's article features more than a dozen comments. And guess what those folks think of P2Pwords? Well, have a read:

"This is amazing!"

"The potential for marketing seems incredible. It sounds like you've done your homework and see it as a pretty lucrative innovation."

"Why didn't google think of this?"

"Cool.....finally a company with real technology that embraces and enhances the p2p market...good Stuff Brand Asset Digital!"

"nice to see a privately owned company step in with some fresh new ideas to stir things up abit."

And then some ... I wouldn't be at all surprised if most of opt all of these comments are from the same Cox Cable subscriber that let his multiple personalities run wild on Gigaom ...

10/20 2008 | 10:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Brand Asset Digital launched its P2P advertising platform P2Pwords today, promising to bring pay-per-click advertising to file-sharing networks like Limewire, Gnutella and Emule. The NY-based company received a largely positive review from John Healey over at The LA Times Bitplayer blog, who thinks that “the opportunity presented by P2Pwords is so large, it may be hard for advertisers to resist.”

The combination of file sharing and advertising is definitely an interesting one. File-sharing networks attract millions of users. It’s becoming clearer every day that the entertainment industry’s shock-and-awe lawsuits just don’t work, which is why many look for other ways to monetize P2P. Still, it’s a good idea to approach these early trials with a healthy dose of skepticism. After all, Skyrider, another company that promised to marry search ads with P2P networks just closed its doors last week after burning through $25 million in funding. Continue reading on

10/17 2008 | 11:58 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
You've all heard of those cases of personal data that has been stolen through accidental sharing on P2P networks. But have you ever thought about who does such things? Cyber criminals from Russia? 15-year-olds with too much time on their hand? Or maybe just your regular crook who used to scam people with fake checks before the age of the Internet? Exactly, that's what I would have thought.

But apparently I was wrong. It looks like most of this stuff is being downloaded out by shady people like ... Wesley Clark and his buddies from Tiversa.

pic of tiversa slogan

Okay, I'm just kidding. Wesley, you can call of your lawyers. Tiversa is actually a company that is trying to prevent the leakage of corporate information onto P2P networks, and Clark is merely one of its advisers. But seriously, that's a pretty confusing slogan the company is using to advertise its services, isn't it?

10/16 2008 | 08:40 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Skyrider, the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup that made headlines early on for its attempts to monetize P2P networks through advertising, has shut its doors, VentureBeat reported yesterday. We’re still trying to get an official word from the company about this, but as of this writing, they hadn’t responded to any of our emails or phone calls. Skyrider raised a total of $25 million, but seemed to run into trouble earlier this year when a round of bridge funding coincided with both the CEO and the V-P of marketing leaving the company. In the subsequent months, a number of other employees left as well, including its CFO in July.

It’s still unclear what exactly happened in the last couple of months at Skyrider. Co-founder and interim CEO Ori Cohen told us earlier this year that Skyrider was preparing for a web-based offering that was supposed to be launched this summer, and its web site refers to a project that “that will revolutionize the online music world.” Maybe they ran out of money before the revolution started. VentureBeat’s Eric Eldon is hoping that Skyrider’s original P2P technology “has not entirely gone to waste;” he cites an anonymous investor in the company referring to it as both “incredible” and “totally wicked.” But I beg to differ. Continue reading on

10/16 2008 | 10:56 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Techcrunch is reporting today that has filed for registration with the SEC to create a secondary loans marketplace, temporary halting all new new lending. The blog has all the details:

"Until we complete the registration process, we will not accept new lender registrations or allow new commitments from existing lenders."

It's unclear right now how long it will take for Prosper to get the heads-up from the SEC, but it likely won't just be a matter of weeks. Competitor Lending Club did the same thing last April, and only got an okay from the SEC a few days ago, according to Techcrunch.

All of this comes only days after Zopa decided to shut down its US site. It looks like the credit crisis is definitely taking its toll on P2P lenders. In theory, these sites should, well, prosper, because there is a high demand for alternative sources of funding, which in turn should drive the interest rates on P2P lending sites up, making them more attractive for investors. But the increasing need for higher regulation could kill this boom before it even materializes.

10/15 2008 | 12:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Stanford University's School of Engineering is giving away some of its courses as free Bittorrent downloads. The downloads have proven to be a huge success, according to the Stanford News Service, which is reporting that 200.000 people have visited the Stanford Engineering Everywhere website that offers the downloads as well as Youtube streams of the lectures.

pic of stanford engineering everywhere gfx

From the news release:

"There have been some surprises. No one had predicted a flood of visits from Brazil, a turnout that placed the country behind only Canada on the list of hits from foreign countries. (Rounding out the top five were China, Italy and the United Kingdom.) "

The website also offers complete access to handouts, lecture transcripts and assignments. Al course materials are licensed under a very liberal CC-BC Creative Commons license, making it possible to translate texts and incorporate them into your own work as long as you give the school credit. Many people seem to be more than happy to do that. One student apparently wrote the school with the following comment:

"Hey there! First off I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH—you just saved me like 20,000 dollars."

The torrent downloads are a little but unusual though: Stanford decided to bypass the traditional tracker system completely and make the content available through the Vuze DHT network. The downside of this is that uTorrent, Transmission and other clients won't be able to process these torrents - but the Creative Commons license of course makes it possible to legally republish all of the files using your favorite tracker and torrent site.

10/15 2008 | 11:54 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Vuze had to delay the release of its new client a bit this week, but version 4.0 is now available on the Vuze website. It features, among other things, a new interface, the ability to search private torrent site, and a cool subscription mechanism that's crowdsourcing the sometimes tedious task of generating meaningful RSS feeds from torrent site search results. I've written about the new client earlier this week for

10/14 2008 | 03:59 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The release of Open Office 3.0 has completely overwhelmed the project's web server, which the site being inaccessible for most of the day. It has since been replaced by a basic start page, offering access to download links that are also less than reliable. I wonder what kind of technology could help to cope with such a situation?

Right, Bittorrent to the rescue. A member of the Open Office community has build a nifty web form that makes it easier to select the version of Open Office that is suitable to run on your platform. Check it out and grab your copy here.

10/14 2008 | 01:08 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The label that publishes the Kidz Bop compilations sued Limewire late last week in a federal court in New York, alleging that the P2P company contributes to and induces copyright infringement. The lawsuit references a number of Kidz Bop titles as well as music from other artists on the associated Razor & Tie label that were at some point available for download through Limewire's client. It names Limewire itself, its Chairman Mark Gorton, former CTO Greg Bildson and the Lime Wire Family Foundation. From the lawsuit:

"The vast magnitude of the hotbed of piracy created by Defendants is staggering and Defendants' services are a breeding ground for copyright infringement of unprecedented magnitude."

The lawsuit is similar to the one filed by major record labels about two years ago, and in fact makes multiple references to it, as well to the US Supreme Court decision against Grokster. The plaintiffs seek damages of 150.000 dollars per individual instance of infringement, which could potentially lead to a multi-million dollar verdict.

The lawsuit argues that Limewire's integrated music player as well as its capability to search for artists or song titles is proof that the system is designed to facilitate the infringement of musical works. It also refers to the sale of Limewire Pro as well as advertising components that used to be bundled with the software as proof that Limewire is making good money through its users infringing actions.

One interesting side note of the lawsuit is the allegation that Limewire Chairman Mark Gorton has set up a complicated ownership structure to protect his assets from potential court decisions against him and his company. From the lawsuit:

"In response to the Supreme Court's decision in MGM vs. Grokster, defendants took steps to insulate ill-gotten gains from creditors, including the Plaintiffs. In particular, Mr. Gorton established a family-limited partnership into which he placed assets in an effort to avoid financial liability in the event of a judgement against him."

Also notable: The lawsuit does not mention Limewire's copyright filters or its more recent moves to rights holder-friendly business models, like the Limewire store or its upcoming advertising platform.

10/13 2008 | 12:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Vuze Inc. is introducing version 4.0 of its BitTorrent client later this week in an effort to both win back hardcore P2P users and broaden the overall user base of the file sharing protocol. Vuze 4.0 features a completely revamped interface, a new (and actually pretty clever) subscription mechanism, as well as the option to search third-party torrent sites like Mininova. The application continues to offer access to Vuze’s own content platform, albeit in a slightly less in-your-face kind of way. The content patform, now called Vuze HD Network, is also shifting directions.

Vuze 4.0 is an interesting piece of software, if only because it shows how difficult it is to monetize P2P. Competitors like BitTorrent Inc. have tried and failed to convert users into paying online video customers. Vuze is now taking a gamble by going back to its pirate-friendly roots, hoping to convince both its users and content owners to give free and ad-supported P2P-downloads a chance. It’s risky — but it may just be the only thing that works. Continue reading on

10/12 2008 | 12:07 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers is reporting that the UK-based P2P lending site Zopa is pulling out of the US market ten months after entering it. At fault is, not surprisingly the growing global economic crisis. Finextra quotes Zopa CEO Doug Dolton with the following words:

"Due to the extremely difficult consumer credit circumstances in the US, we made the decision to focus our ongoing efforts in the UK, Italy and Japan."

Zopa had claimed that the credit crisis had actually helped the company because of growing demand for non-traditional loans a few days ago. In the end, it coldn't deliver because it had decided to team up with Credit Unions in the US to avoid regulatory problems, and those Credit Unions were affected by the credit crisis like any traditional bank.

Zopa had raised 15 million dollars to conquer the US market. It's sudden pull-out could cast some doubts about other P2P lending operations who will surely be affected by tightening credit markets, a fear of less secure investments and the growing call for stricter regulations.

10/11 2008 | 12:24 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
How many times have you opened up your monthly bill from Comcast or Time Warner and thought, that’s it, I’m ditching my cable — only to keep on paying? Well the time has come. With countless ways to watch your favorite shows online, ditching cable has never been easier. And with the economic crisis tightening its grip, there’s never been a better time to save some money.

Chances are there’s already a line-up of customers at your cable company’s local office looking to returning their Motorola boxes. The Wall Street Journal this week did, after all, declare that being off the cable grid is now socially acceptable. As much as 20 percent of all TV viewers watch shows online, the paper reported, and half of those people don’t watch TV at all anymore. Still not convinced? No worries, we have five good reasons to finally cancel your cable subscription. Continue reading on

10/10 2008 | 11:32 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I've been writing for quite some time about interesting developments that have been going on a Limewire, tracking how the file sharing company is quietly transforming itself into a social media platform. Now it looks like mainstream media outlets are also taking notice: The Fortune's Devin Leonard is reporting about Limewire's plans to go into search advertising and compensate artists.

The plan to roll out something like Google Adsense for P2P and media-related social web platforms hasn't really been embraced by any major music label - in fact, the majors are still fighting with Limewire in court - but things could change rapidly, writes Leonard:

"Not long ago, the thought of the big labels going into business with Lime Wire would have been laughable. But the music industry is changing rapidly. Earlier this year, Universal was suing MySpace in federal court for copyright violations. Now the majors are joint venture partners in the social network's new ad-supported free music service."

The article is a little vague on some details, but mentions that we might see some social networking or private P2P initiative from Limewire later this month. It will be interesting to see what Limewire will surprise us with next.

10/09 2008 | 12:24 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The legendary former Pink Floyd manager Peter Jenner called for and end of the music industry's lawsuits against file sharers at the Popkomm music industry convention in Berlin this week, according to Jenner told his audience at Popkomm that many of the notions of his industry towards copyright are outdated.

Rights holders could not insist on exploiting exclusive rights anymore in the age of Myspace and mash-ups, said Jenner. The industry should instead favor blanket licenses that would allow to profit from the way people are using music online. Jenner also said that he doesn't view private file sharing as an act of infringement, but as something similar to borrowing a friend a CD.

The idea of blanket licensing to legalize and monetize file sharing isn't new. The EFF has been proposing a solution like this for a couple of years now, and European file sharing activists have been pushing their own idea of a "culture flatrate" for a while.

Most rights holders have so far rejected these ideas, but the continuous strength of file swapping seems to change some minds within the industry as well. Warner music recently hired a long-time proponent of blanket licensing and legal P2P to figure out how the label could move towards such a model.

Jenner seemed to encourage such moves at Popkomm, telling the label managers in his audience that thy don't have to see the Internet as a giant shop, but as a new form of radio.

10/09 2008 | 10:55 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
If only Fox had listened to us. Back in June, we looked at the popularity of leaked TV show pilots to get a sense of what we have to expect this fall season. One of the shows we wrote about was Do Not Disturb, a sitcom about a hotel in New York that was directed by Jason Bateman. File sharers responded to the leaked pilot with the verdict “early cancellation.” And guess what? Do Not Disturb was canceled after only three episodes as the first show of the fall season.

Do Not Disturb wasn’t the only show that saw its pilot leak early. It’s safe to assume that at least some of these leaks were intentional, and they’ve shown to be pretty good indicators of the popularity of a show once it reaches the airwaves. Of course, online hits don’t always get great ratings on TV and vice versa. Episodes of Arrested Development are still doing pretty well on torrent sites, and it probably wasn’t just the DVD sales that compelled Fox to give Family Guy another chance. So how are this falls hits and misses doing on file sharing networks? Continue reading on

10/07 2008 | 11:11 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers is reporting that Warner Bros is keeping a close eye on the social file sharing and storage network The movie studio recently contacted after it discovered that dozens of its titles were traded through a private group on the network.

The Gulli Usergroup had more than 3000 members, according to Netzwelt. One of those members was apparently working for Warner, and he spotted around 80 titles of the studio in the group. Warner demanded the take-down of the titles, and responded by getting in touch with the group admin, threatening to close it down if the trading of the movies was to continue. The admin in turn closed down his group by himself. is an interesting file sharing network because it combines persistent storage with social elements, and it aims to be something like a secure storage solution for users of Facebook and similar networks. does offer is users to trade files publicly or in private groups, and some of these user-generated groups seem to target warez and movie file swappers.

However, sharing lots of large files with is somewhat cumbersome. Users only get one Gigabyte of storage when they sign up. They can earn additional Gigabytes through sharing parts of their hard drive for's decentralized storage system, but most users will probably not meet the requirements to do so.

I previously wrote about's vision and its new web-app based service.

10/06 2008 | 01:23 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German copyright protection company Digiprotect has been reaching out to the adult industry community in the US, offering free evidence gathering and legal representation in cases against suspected European file sharers. Digiprotect account manager Thomas Hein advertised his company's solution in an editorial on the adult industry site this week, where he wrote:

"Litigation might not seem to be a nice way of doing business, but dramatic circumstances sometimes require drastic action."

The drastic action Hein is speaking of are mass-scale lawsuits against file sharers that swap as little as one MP3 file or movie. Germany and the UK have seen hundreds of thousands of such lawsuits in recent years. Most of them were initiated by a small group of law offices and content protection companies in the name of local rights holders, but companies like Digiprotect have been reaching out to US rights holders as well. One porn company that has previously worked with Digiprotect is John Stagliano Inc, also known as Evil Angel.

Digiprotect and similar companies rely on a loophole in the European legal system that allows rights holders to combine cease and desist notices with invoices, charging users hundreds of Euros for each instance of infringement and threatening much more costly lawsuits they don't pay up. Hein explained on XBiz that these cost notices allow his company to offer its services free of charge to rights holders:

"Digiprotect finances the operation and generates its income as a percentage of the amounts recovered from violators. Thus, the company can not only finance itself, but also be profitable because of the amount of lawsuits instigated on its customer's behalf."

This tactic of mass lawsuits as a business model has been criticized by European politicians and law enforcement agencies in the past. Germany recently changed its copyright law to make it harder to sue people that share only a few files, but the effectiveness of these changes still has to bee seen.

One little-known detail of Digiprotect is that it is directly associated to a music label called 3-P that was founded by the German rapper Moses Pelham. 3-P and Digiprotect share office and web space as well as employees. Pelham is amongst other things famous for breaking the nose of a controversial German TV show host after being called the N-word by him.

10/03 2008 | 07:24 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The entertainment industry has been lobbying all around the world for so-called three strikes laws that would force ISPs to disconnect suspected file sharers after three offenses. One of the countries in the center of the debate has been the UK.

The British government negotiated a deal between local ISPs and rights holders to combat piracy in June. Many saw this deal as a first step towards three strikes, and some concerned users started a petition against such measures.

The office of the Prime Minister has now responded to this petition, denying that anything like three strikes is even on the table. From the Prime Minister's blog (yes, he's got one):

"Unfortunately, much of the media reports around this issue have been incorrect. There are no proposals to make ISPs liable for the content that travels across their networks. Nor are there proposals for ISPs to monitor customer activity for illegal downloading, or to enforce a “3 strikes” policy."

The post continues to state that the government is merely conducting a public consultation aimed at educating consumers and figuring out how to deal with infringers. That's about correct, but it doesn't really say much about the options that are considered as part of the consultation. One would be to force ISPs to filter content or manage network traffic in order to fight P2P piracy, which of course dones't work without some kind of monitoring.

The consultation itself is ongoing, and British citizens or companies are invited to participate until the end of this month.

10/03 2008 | 05:13 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers celebrated 25 million unique visits in September, serving almost 29 million short-form video streams. Among the biggest draws to the site were Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin skits, which got more than half of their views on the web. But there is another story here that hasn’t been told yet, a story about a bored Canadian teenager, a rainy day, and an experiment that questions the wisdom of shunning YouTube.

NBC has a long history of sending takedown requests to YouTube, fighting to make Saturday Night Live clips like Dick in a Box or Natalie Portman’s Gangsta Rap disappear from the site. The network apparently also flexed its muscles in the case of the Palin skit, and YouTube complied by adding the clip to its filters. These seem to work fairly well now, and initially only clips from other news programs showing excerpts of the SNL video were available on the site.

Then something odd happened: A video that promised the full version of the sketch shot up YouTube’s charts, getting over 300,000 views in 24 hours — even though all it showed, for some six-plus minutes, was a screengrab of Palin/Fey without any audio whatsoever. Continue reading on