You are currently viewing archive for January 2009
01/31 2009 | 12:07 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Johan Pouwelse is a busy man. The P2P researcher based in the city of Delft, in the Netherlands, is heading up development of the social BitTorrent client Tribler; he’s also deeply involved with the EU’s P2P Next project, which aims to use P2P streaming for an open source, next-generation video delivery infrastructure. And Pouwelse, who’s been tracking the P2P phenomenon over the last decade, has just published along with some of his colleagues an article highlighting some of the key points of his research. It’s a good 21-page read, but here’s the short version: That whole copyright thing ain’t gonna work.

In fact, Pouwelse thinks the existing copyright system could fall apart as early as next year unless significant reforms are put into place. He draws this conclusion from an analysis of not only movie file-sharing, but activity on social networks like Facebook and streaming video sites like YouTube. All of these platforms are prime examples of user-based collaboration, or peer production, as Pouwelse likes to call it. These forms of peer production are not only getting more and more popular, but also increasingly sophisticated, to a point where they poise a significant challenge to our established system of content production and monetization. Continue reading on

01/30 2009 | 04:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers's recipe to success seems to be somewhere along the line of "do stuff that's not really green and talk about it." But what the heck, we all like free stuff, so I'll stop nagging and just give you the facts: is giving away free 250GB premium accounts that among other things allow the upload of files of to to 5 GB and direct links to images. And somehow this all has to do with saving trees. Because, you know, those 4.4 GB files are just giant text documents with millions of pages ...

Okay, I'll stop. Here's the link. And act fast, the whole promotion is supposed to run out by the end of today.


01/30 2009 | 09:59 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Will the kangaroo ever jump? That’s the question observers of the UK’s online media market are asking these days, where the BBC and the public broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 are planing to jointly launch a Hulu-like, video-on-demand web site code-named Project Kangaroo. The site was scheduled to go live this January, but has been held up by regulators looking into claims that the joint venture would stifle competition. A final verdict by the UK’s Competition Commission is expected to be cast any day now.

As is to be expected, Project Kangaroo does not have the support of media giants like Sky and Virgin, nor of online video startups like Joost and Babelgum, but it’s unclear how much the competition is really going to gain if the project fails. A new study reveals that the lack of video-on-demand options in the UK has, to a large degree, benefited torrent sites and less-than-legal YouTube clones. The “VOD State of Play” study, which was published today by Essential Research, concludes that 24 percent of the UK’s online video consumers get their TV fix from torrents and similar sources. Continue reading on

01/29 2009 | 03:16 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
John Aprigliano was a little confused when he received a DMCA takedown notice from his cable provider Comcast earlier this month. The letter alleged that Aprigliano had downloaded a movie called Cadillac Records via Bittorrent. The only problem: Aprigliano didn't even know that such a movie existed. From his blog:

"I have come to learn that "Cadillac Records" is a movie with Adrien Brody and that their marketing for this movie must have really sucked because with what ever thousands or millions of dollars they used to promote this movie, I have never heard of it - even once."

Aprigliano called Comcast's tech support to let them know that this was a mistake, and of course the friendly tech support person on the other side of the line didn't believe him. So he called again. And again. And again, until he could finally convince them that he wasn't actually the infringer.

Turns out Aprigliano had gotten a new cable modem from Comcast two months prior to the alleged infringement, but the old modem was still associated with his account, even though it was now in use by some unknown Adrien Brody fan - a confusion Aprigliano could only clear up because he was tech-savvy enough to ask the right questions. Here's a snippet from his paraphrased phone call:

aprigliano: "What was the MAC address of the offending cable modem?"

Tech 2: "OO:BE:..."

aprigliano: "Hold on! That is not my current MAC address. I have had this cable modem, and IP number, since the end of October."

Tech 2: "IP numbers change."

aprigliano: "MAC addresses don't change."

Tech 2: "Yeah. Um. They don't. Please hold."

It's great that Aprigliano got his name cleared, but it's very unfortunate that this took not only a lot of persistence, but also technical knowledge. Most people have never even heard of MAC addresses, much less of the fact that such an address could help to prove their innocence in a case of alleged infringement.

This is especially troublesome because entertainment companies want to make ISPs keep track of such alleged infringements and disconnect repeat infringers, and Comcast has signaled some willingness to participate in this game. One has to wonder how many mix-ups like this will it take before innocent users lose their Internet connection?

(via Dave Zatz, thanks!)

01/28 2009 | 02:26 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers

Google's Vint Cerf just announced on the company's blog that it has launched an initiative called M-Lab aimed at testing end users' Internet connections for various types of interferences. Consumers can use M-Lab's servers to test whether their ISPs block Bittorrent, among other things. From the Google Blog:

"Over the course of early 2009, Google will provide researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations in the U.S. and Europe. All data collected via M-Lab will be made publicly available for other researchers to build on."

Google is cooperating with established research projects to get M-Lab going, and one of the projects that benefits from the search giant's server power is Glasnost - a web-based tool that aims to find IP-based interference for Bittorrent file transfers.

Glasnost was launched almost a year ago as an easy-to-use tool to detect Comcast-style interference with Bittorrent, and it has proven to be hugely popular, which has sometimes resulted in overloaded servers. Google's infrastructure should help alleviate some of these problems and also draw more attention to ISPs that do block Bittorrent, which in turn could help to keep the whole net neutrality debate in the public spotlight. From Google's announcement:

"Transparency has always been crucial to the success of the Internet, and, by advancing network research in this area, M-Lab aims to help sustain a healthy, innovative Internet."

01/27 2009 | 03:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I almost missed this one: Computerworld recently found out about Brett O'Connor's cool hack to use Amazon's EC2 as a seedbox, and it got them all hot and bothered. O'Connor essentially was able to install Torrentflux on EC2, making it possible to download and seed torrent data from Amazon's servers. Read more about it here, or just go straight to his extensive step-by-step description if you want to know how he did it.

And then go read the Computerworld article and be amazed, especially about the parts that a self-proclaimed security expert contributed:

"'This means that hackers and other interested parties can simply use a prepaid -- and anonymous -- debit card to pay the $75 a month fee to Amazon and harvest BitTorrent applications at high speed with little or no chance of detection,' said David Hobson, managing director of GSS."

Those interesting parties, the article goes on, could then download those torrented files via FTP straight onto a company's server, "resulting in an internal computer infection." Because, you know, every Bittorrent download infects your computer.

Wild stuff, and not only because of the fact that Hobson seems to be completely unaware of the fact that seedboxes have been around for a while. Or even that non-existent 75 bucks a month fee that you have to pay Amazon to infect your servers with those torrents all the kids are talking about nowadays.

Pando CTO Laird Popkin apparently wasn't too amused when he read all of this nonsense, and he ended up contributing my favored comment of the month. Here's a quick excerpt:

"(M)ost of the article comes down to "security firm tries to generate business by making up a new threat". After you filter out the fear mongering, what you're left with is the "news" that some people find it useful to run p2p software to download files onto servers that they pay for using bandwidth and storage that they pay for. If that's hijacking, I suspect that Amazon would love to be hijacked a lot more. :-)"

01/26 2009 | 01:56 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Microsoft did not use Bittorrent to offer Windows 7 beta for download earlier this month, but that doesn't mean that the software giant doesn't have any love for the torrent crowd. just reported that Windows 7 plays back DivX and Xvid files out of the box, without the need for any further codec installations. From Digitalwerks:

"Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon of broad interoperability, allowing Windows users to play back a range of video formats right out of the box, something that will surely be a boon to less sophisticated users who just want to be able to watch something without having to even know what a codec is, much less a container format, audio stream, etc."

And where do less sophisticated users come along formats like DivX and Xvid? Exactly, torrent sites. Granted, there are a few legitimate sources for DivX movie downloads, but the vast majority of those files are things like TV show episodes, Hollywood blockbusters, music videos and all those other things you find on The Pirate Bay.

But that's not all. There are unconfirmed rumors flying around the interwebs that Microsoft is actually working on an implementation of Matroska / MKV as well, which could be part of a commercial Windows 7 version.

What does that mean? Well, for one thing, it means that your Windows Media Player will hardly ever again tell you that it can't play that video you just downloaded - even if it's an 11GB Blu-Ray rip of the Dark Knight.

01/25 2009 | 09:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers’s Andy Baio has once again published an extensive collection of data about this year’s Oscar nominations and their availability on P2P networks. He’s been doing this for the last seven years, during which the overall picture has remained pretty much the same; almost all Oscar nominated movies are available on file-sharing networks before the annual awards ceremony. In fact of the 26 movies that were nominated this year, 23 are already available in DVD quality on P2P networks.

However, there seems to be hope for Hollywood, or at least for its anti-piracy believers: Leaking those films now takes longer than ever before. The median time between a film’s U.S. premiere and its leak online now stands at 11 days, up from five days in 2008 and a single day in 2005. The reason for this seems to be that there are fewer and fewer so-called “cam” releases, movies recorded by people with their camcorders in theaters. Maybe all those bag checks, intimidating security guards and night vision goggles actually do have an effect. Continue reading on

01/23 2009 | 05:13 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German Pirate Party hasn't exactly been successful in its quest to legalize P2P and fight privacy violations, but the group has now picked up its first official elected representative. Jens Knoblich, mayor of the German town of Hohenstein, officially joined the Pirate Party this week.

Knoblich wrote on his website that the party's name initially confused him, but that he liked the fact that Pirate party activists are not career politicians.

Of course one reason for that may be that it's hard to make a career with pirate politics, at least in Germany. The Pirate party only got 0.3 percent of all votes in its first German state election contest, and it actually did even worse the second time around, only getting 0.2 percent of all votes in Hamburg's state election.

It's unlikely that Knoblich will provide the party with a huge support base. Sure, he is an elected official, but his hometown is quite small. Only 233 people actually voted during the last election.

(via gulli)

01/23 2009 | 01:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The folks from the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF) have just published a beta preview to Miro 2.0. The upcoming version of the video client is going to have a more streamlined interface that will make it possible to integrate streaming video sites like Hulu, and the software will offer some overall performance improvements.

One could wonder if that’s really enough to compete with iTunes or the recently revamped Vuze, but PCF’s director of business development, Jesse Patel, recently argued that the real competition for Miro are not other clients, but browsers. “The real challenge is to produce a better way of watching TV online through software,” he told me when we sat down last November at Newteevee Live. But that’s not the only challenge the Miro makers are facing. They’re also dealing with the difficult task of staying true to their open source and media reform ideals while staying afloat financially. Continue reading on

01/22 2009 | 04:15 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Germany's highest court has ruled that the P2P TV application Cybersky TV is illegal. Cybersky TV allowed users to share streams of TV channels they were able to receive with their TV tuner-equipped PCs. The decision follows four years of lawsuits between Cybersky and the German cable TV network Premiere, according to

Premiere, which is kind of like the German HBO, feared that users would utilize Cybersky TV to distribute its signals and forgo its subscription fee. Cybersky owner Guido Ciburski had previously argued that he wasn't interested in distributing repeats of Hollywood movies via Cybersky, but instead wanted to get users to stream their own live video content.

Germany's Federal Court didn't buy this argument and sided with Premiere earlier this month. The irony of the case is that Cybersky apparently never really worked. reports that previously published beta versions were completely unusable. The Cybersky website has since been take offline

Cybersky isn't Guido Ciburski's only online media venture. His company is also running the Online TV Recorder, which offerrs users an ability to download centrally captured TV shows, and the Online Music Recorder, which offers the same thing for audio recordings. Both services are of questionable legality and try to avoid being shut down through complicated enrcyption schemes.

01/21 2009 | 11:55 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Don Reisinger thinks that President Obama should, but probably won't use Bittorrent to distribute official government information.

pic of inauguration

From his post over at CNet:

"President Obama should look to BitTorrent as an ideal way to get the word out. The distributed network reduces the cost of running data centers by allowing all the network's users to share the load. It makes sense to me."

Well, guess what? You don't need to wait for a server to do this. Government communication has always been part of the public domain in the US. Obama's new White House website went one step further and for the first time released all third-party submissions to under the liberal CC-BY Creative Commons license.

This means that all material from, including Obama's weekly video podcast, can legally be shared through P2P networks. You can upload torrents of these videos to The Pirate Bay, or you could even start your own Bittorrent site dedicated to US government material. I know, Bush Torrents gave us all a chuckle, but how about a site that is truly dedicated to Obama torrents?

01/19 2009 | 12:08 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Jacques Chester from Clubtroppo started an interesting discussion the other day with his proposal to use Bittorrent as a remedy against the Digg effect. Chester's idea: Add an X-Torrent header to HTTP that points to a torrent of the page in question.

This would enable web browsers with Bittorrent support or Bittorrent plug-ins to download a page from other users in case a page became really popular on Digg. Over-night popularity on sites like Digg or Reddit can oftentimes knock out smaller sites and blogs, and a distributed approach like the X-Torrent header could help to avoid this so-called Digg effect.

However, the Pirate Bay's Fredrik Neij aka Tiamo thinks the numbers don't add up. Neij did a quick test of the proposed method, downloading a number of web pages and gzipping them to get an idea of how much data we are actually talking about. Turns out an article from Torrentfreak including lots of comments and various images is a little less than 400k, whereas this P2P Blog post adds up to about 24k compressed. From Neij's test results:

"An average announce request will result in a ~500 bytes response, and to complete a download you will contact the tracker at least twice. If you leave the browser open and keep seeding for 2 hours you will talk with the tracker about 6-10 times more per bittorrent file on that tracker. So lets say 10 times on average and that will result in 5kb of data from the tracker. This would result in ~6kb per page (...)."

That doesn't sound like too much data overhead, especially when you're talking about bigger pages like the one from Torrentfreak. However, the whole scenario looks much worse when you look at latency. Users not only need to connect to the original web server, but also to a server that supplies them with the torrent file, a tracker and other peers before the browser can display the page in question. Neij thinks that's way too complicated:

"This will cause at best a 2-3 second delay, and in worst case minute long waits."

For the record, I suggested a different method to offload Digg traffic to Bittorrent. My idea was to bypass the original server and just establish a third-party service that scours Digg for popular Urls, downloads the documents in question, generates torrents and serves these to Bittorrent-equipped browsers. The advantage of such a set-up would be that it would still work even if the dugg server went down, but the latency problem would essentially be the same. Neij's comment on both proposals:

"So in the words of my favorite show, As for using a x-torrent header to prevent the digg effect: BUSTED. However, as a way of offloading servers for distribution of large static files i think it's a excellent feature."

I agree, there's definitely some potential when it comes to combining browsers and Bittorrent to deal with high-traffic situations, and this does make more sense for large files than HTML pages.

I still think there is some viability in a third-party approach, and PPLive's PPVA video accelerator seems to prove that it can work, but that doesn't mean that server-based P2P integration doesn't make sense as well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what people come up with once P2P browser plug-ins are more widely established.

01/17 2009 | 11:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This is pretty ingenious: Brett O'Connor came up with a way to run Torrentflux on Amazon's EC2 web service, and he has posted a detailed description on his blog Torrentflux is a PHP-based Bittorrent client that makes it possible to download torrent data to a web server and then continue to seed files - all without without impacting your broadband connection. Or, in Connor's words:

"And the best part? My ratio is maintained while my Left 4 Dead games speed along without any annoying lag."

Torrentflux is usually installed on so-called sedboxes - servers that are solely used for downloading and seeding torrents. Seedboxes cost anywhere between 30 and 300 dollars per month, depending on whether you're talking about shared or dedicated servers and various bandwidth and disk space restrictions.

EC2 on the other hand is priced on actual usage. Running any software on these cloud servers costs as little as 0.10 dollars per hour, data transfers are anywhere between 0.10 and 0.17 dollars per Gigabyte, and storing all those movies Linux distributions is also not much more than a dime per Gigabyte.

Granted, the whole installation process is a little complex, even with Connor's excellent tutorial, but I'd imagine it's only a matter of time until someone starts a seedbox business with low, performance-based pricing based on Amazon EC2.

01/17 2009 | 12:08 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Some 95 percent of all digital music downloads continue to be pirated, according to estimates released today by music industry trade group IFPI. Those numbers don’t translate well for online video, especially as streaming sites like Hulu start to see significant traction, but a quick look at the stats of sites like the Pirate Bay show that unlicensed video downloads are hugely popular as well. So how does the entertainment industry react to these trends? Apparently by curtailing anti-piracy measures.

Sure, trade groups like the IFPI and Hollywood’s MPAA continue to beat the anti-piracy drum. But take a closer look, and you’ll notice that the industry is starting to backtrack on many fronts of the war against piracy. It’s not that they wouldn’t like to continue to pursue pirates, spam P2P networks with fake files and press for copyright filters. It’s just that those things never actually worked that well, and are starting to look like luxury in tough economic times like these. Continue reading on

01/16 2009 | 03:44 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The folks from Vuze shared few stats about their app on the Vuze blog, and it looks like the completely new UI that was introduced with version 4.0 is starting to pay off. apparently clocked 10 million uniques last month, according to internal measurements.

Quantcast's numbers are slightly lower, but also show some solid growth ever since the new client came out in October. Check out a graph of the monthly global visits below:

traffic graph vuze

Vuze's feature to create personalized torrent subscriptions seem also to bee a big hit with its user base, according to the blog post:

"1 million unique users have signed up for the new Subscriptions feature, and more than 8 million total subscriptions have been created."

01/16 2009 | 09:56 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Al Jazeera has started to share some of its footage of the military conflict in Gaza under a liberal Creative Commons license that allows commercial reuse and remixing. The clips are made available as broadcast-quality MPEG1 downloads as well as streams. Al Jazeera’s Gaza footage is supposed to be the start of a extended Creative Commons depository that will eventually feature various Creative Commons-licensed clips.

The project is notable for two reasons: No TV network, to our knowledge, has ever allowed its audience as well as its competition to reuse any of its footage commercially under the terms of a Creative Commons license. The importance of this initiative gets underscored by the fact that Israel has been banning foreign media organizations from Gaza, which makes the Al Jazeera footage even more valuable. Continue reading on (And just to point out the obvious: This of course also means that he footage can be freely shared on P2P networks.)

01/13 2009 | 11:49 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Jacques Chester has an interesting idea to deal with the Digg effect: Chester essentially wants to use Bittorrent for HTTP caching to help websites struggling with sudden surges of traffic, and he proposes to add an X-Torrent header to HTTP to do so. From Chester's post:

"The thinking behind the X-Torrent header is that whenever a web server returns any headers over HTTP, it includes an X-Torrent header pointing to a torrent tracker for that document. When a website becomes heavily loaded, browsers would use the BitTorrent protocol to obtain the requested document or resource from their peers, distributing the load amongst the audience as well as on the server."

This does sound like an interesting idea, and there's definitely a need to deal with these types of issues. Bigger websites can oftentimes deal with traffic spikes by offloading some content to CDNs, switching to static, cached content as opposed to dynamically rendered pages and things like that, but your average blogger with a shared hosting account is usually just screwed if his site goes down.

However, there are some reasons to be skeptical about this proposal. First of all, most browsers still don't support Bittorrent, but that of course could change in the future. But I'd also argue that the X-Torrent header model has a fundamental flaw in that it still depends on the very server that is in trouble in such a situation.

Sure, some of the data would be offloaded to the clients, but it that doesn't mean that the server won't still have to deal with lots and lots of requests, which could eventually overload it. New users won't get hold of the P2P-cached document either in such a case, even if it's readily available in the cloud.

I think a more decentralized system that only kicks in if websites are not or barely reachable is much more promising. Howie Vegter suggested something like this called Notorrent a couple years back, but it still hasn't caught on either. Maybe we really do need to wait for a ubiquitous browser implementation of Bittorrent?

01/12 2009 | 12:03 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Torrent site admins aren't really known for modesty. There are numerous sites that claim to be the "most comprehensive", the "world's largest", or simply the "ultimate". Some of these claims can be verified by looking at the sites' stats, while others are much harder to judge, especially if you're an average user.

This is why it's refreshing to see some honesty. Enter

pic of zerotorrents logo

This site delivers what it promises - which is exactly nothing. In fact, Zerotorrents is proud to be the number one source for nothing, and it shows this message for evey single search request:

"We're sorry, no results matched your request."

Zerotorrents claims to have no torrents at all for music, movies, games and software - but don't worry, you won't find any porn with this site either. So if you ever find yourself overwhelmed by hundreds of search results on the Pirate Bay, just go to Zerotorrents for a reffreshing little bit of nothing.

01/09 2009 | 04:38 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Microsoft delayed the release of Windows 7 beta today in order to deal with a huge influx of traffic that at least temporarily brought down the company's web servers. Microsoft's Windows 7 web site currently features the following note:

"The volume has been phenomenal—we're in the process of adding more servers to handle the demand. We're sorry for the delay and we'll re-post the Beta as soon as we can ensure a quality download experience."

There are rumors that Microsoft will finally open the flood gates at 6pm PST tonight. The company also posted a quick note about the delay on its Windows 7 blog, which prompted the following reply from a disappointed reader:

"Why? Logistically speaking, bit torrent would have been a life saver here."

The commenter apparently wasn't the only one having this thought. Someone has uploaded a torrent of the official Microsoft Technet iso to the Pirate Bay, and the file currently has almost 200 seeders. Now let's just hope that Microsoft will start handing out those 2.5 million beta keys soon ...

(via Downloadsquad)

01/09 2009 | 08:25 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Nine Inch Nails (NIN) fans were caught by surprise this week when NIN mastermind Trent Reznor dropped by the band’s web site to announce that 405 GB of HD live footage somehow found its way online. The raw HD recordings, which document three of the band’s latest concerts from multiple camera angles, are available as a free BitTorrent download. Thousands of fans have started to download the footage, despite the fact that downloading 405 GB will literally take days, if not weeks, with an average consumer broadband connection.

This is not the first time Reznor has challenged traditional media distribution models. NIN promoted its 2007 album Year Zero with the help of a complex alternate reality game. The band also released its 2008 album Ghosts I-IV under a Creative Commons license and uploaded parts of the album to the Pirate Bay. That didn’t seem to stop the success of the album, which recently topped Amazon’s list of the best-selling MP3 albums of 2008. Could Reznor’s massive video experiment lead to a similar success story? Continue reading on

01/07 2009 | 09:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
YouTube has almost become a synonym for online video in recent years, but professional online video platforms like are dominating YouTube’s dancing babies, according to a new Cisco study. The company just announced the results of its Visual Networking Index Survey (PDF), which compared TV and online viewing habits in the U.S., China, Germany and Sweden. The survey finds that U.S. Internet users spend 2.5 times longer watching professional content as user-generated video clips on their PCs.

These results should be music to the ears of Hulu’s management, but the survey also shows that content owners have to play catchup when it comes to licensing their catalogs for overseas audiences. Germans spend twice as much time on their PCs and laptops viewing user-generated videos as opposed to professional content, most likely because there just is no yet. However, Cisco and other devices makers still have some work left to do, as well: Many Internet users around the world don’t seem to be too excited about the prospect of online video on their TVs. Continue reading on

01/07 2009 | 03:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Okay, this is not exactly P2P, but it's pretty ingenious nonetheless: Twadio is a Twitter bot that tweets the title of a new song every 15 minutes.

pic of twadio

Most of the songs are pretty popular, so there's a good chance you'll instantly remember the tune and listen to it - in your head. From the site:

"Twadio is a radio station you can't hear. Through the magic of Twitter, it plants a new song in your brain every few minutes. Just follow the Tweejay and it'll play you the tunes right inside your head."

It's kinda like a silent rave for the Twitter crowd ...

01/06 2009 | 03:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Amazon recently added an interesting update to its mass storage web service S3. Developers of S3 services can now decide to make end users pay for the bandwidth costs of their downloads through Amazon's payment system. The Amazon S3 developer guide puts it this way:

"With Requester Pays buckets, the requester instead of the bucket owner pays the cost of the request and the data download from the bucket. The bucket owner always pays the cost of storing data. (...) You might, for example, use Requester Pays buckets when making available large data sets, such as zip code directories, reference data, geospatial information, or web crawling data."

The new option is not available for Bittorrent downloads, which have been a little-known feature ever since S3 started. This may sound like a let-down, but could actually be an interesting option for content publishers as well as torrent hosting services like Vipeers: Offer torrent downloads for free, but charge end users for http donwloads through Amazon.

Those charges would be relatively low, since S3 itself only costs between 10 and 17 cents per GB. However, developers still would have to pay a transaction fee of 0.30 USD per bill collected.

(via Computerworld)

01/05 2009 | 09:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Customers of Verizon's Internet service don't need to fear disconnects because of the RIAA's new anti-piracy approach anytime soon. The music industry association recently announced that it has "agreements in principle" in place with a number of big ISPs to forward copyright notices to alleged infringers and potentially disconnect repeat offenders.

However, not a single ISP has so far acknowledged to be on board with the plan, and Verizon has told both Wired News and that it didn't agree to anything. Verizon spokesperson Eric Rabe told Digital Music News the following:

"The RIAA seems to be out there discussing these agreements, but we're not aware of it, whatever it is."

Rabe also stated that Verizon is not going to participate in any process that doesn't follow set legal procedures, like DMCA subpoenas. Just acting on behalf of copyright owners without any possibility of review or recourse would be a "wholesale short-circuit of the legal system", Rabe said.

01/05 2009 | 02:34 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Amazon recently published a list of its 100 best-selling albums of 2008, and guess which one is on top? It's the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts I-IV, which band front man Trent Reznor personally uploaded to the Pirate Bay and the private music tracker earlier last year. Reznor also offered a free download of the album from the band's website and licensed it under a Creative Commons license.

pic of amazon 2008 charts

It was pretty clear early on that those free releases didn't harm the commercial success of Ghosts I-IV. Fans paid more than 1.6 million dollars for downloads and deluxe edition physical releases of the album in the first week after its release alone. The album also got nominated for a Grammy award just a few weeks ago, and Reznor followed up Ghosts I-IV with another album that got released via the band's own Bittorrent tracker.

NIN's use of torrent sites and Creative Commons licenses often gets compared to Radiohead's online experiments. Radiohead had offered is album "In Rainbows" as a free download, but asked its fans to donate. The band also teamed up with a traditional label to release In Rainbows in stores.

Reznor however criticized Radiohead's efforts as an "insincere" marketing ploy, because the downloads were only available for a limited time and clearly aimed at drumming up the publicity for the album's physical release. I guess Reznor might feel pretty good about the fact that at least on Amazon, Ghosts I-IV outsold In Rainbows. Radiohead's album, which has been available as a MP3 download on the online retailer's website for about a year, ended up on spot number 11 of Amazon's 2008 besteller list.

(via Creative Commons)

01/04 2009 | 10:38 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Anti-virus vendor Sophos is reporting that a new trojan horse is attempting to block access to Mininova, the Pirate Bay and Suprbay. The trojan, named Troj/Qhost-AC by Sophos, is changing the hosts file on infected Windows machines to redirect users to the local IP address It also adds the comment "FuckYou" to that file.

From the Sophoslab blog:

"While inserting the comments “Fuck You” into the HOSTS file is probably not a nice thing to say, it is definitely quite unusual to see a Trojan do nothing else except to deny the infected machine access to P2P websites."

Conspiracy theorists will probably argue that this might be a virus written by or on behalf of the entertainment industry, but I think it's much more likely that a user of a competing torrent site is behind this. Why else would the virus include Suprbay, but fail to mention other much more popular sites?

Still, one shouldn't dismiss this as a silly grudge against the Pirate Bay. Qhost-AC seems to be based on a similar trojan that blocks access to security websites, and is reporting that another incarnation of the virus is not only blocking access to torrent sites, but also opening pop-up windows for rogue security software and downloading further malicious code form the Internet.

01/03 2009 | 10:02 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
MacWorld Expo is going down starting Monday in San Francisco, and Apple fans have been speculating about new products for months. Will there be a new Mac Mini? An iPhone Nano? Or maybe even an Apple Netbook ? Answers to all these question will be given in the coming days, and our friends of The Apple Blog will be there to cover it in depth. Meanwhile, there’s still some time left to imagine what kind of Newteevee gadgets we would like to see announced.

Let’s face it: We’re probably not going to see anything too unexpected from Apple a the event. Steve Jobs just won’t leave it up to his minions to announce any revolutionary new product or service, and with him most likely not showing up we have to brace ourselves for a bunch of unspectacular upgrades. So why not dream big and come up with some stuff we would really like to see in our living rooms? Continue reading on

01/02 2009 | 12:56 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
What will happen to BitTorrent users and their favorite sites in the new year? What will happen to the music industry’s new efforts to combat piracy with the help of ISPs, and what about efforts to legalize file sharing? We asked guest columnist Janko Roettgers for his predictions for 2009. Continue reading on

01/01 2009 | 11:41 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I know, you're probably getting sick of these lists popping up everywhere by now, which is why I decided to make this one short and sweet. Here we go:

1. It's official: File sharing becomes a crime without punishment in Germany

2. Wortharchiving: Another site for legal torrents

3. Court: Rapidshare has to check all uploads for copyright infringement

4. Monster vaginas cost German tax payers millions

5. Flashback: Interview with Soulseek programmer Nir Arbel

Happy new year everyone!

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01/01 2009 | 08:22 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
2008 should have been a good year for P2P startups. The FCC ruled that ISPs can’t block BitTorrent and other distributed protocols, the growing importance of HD was increasingly making P2P look like a viable solution, and the P4P folks even came up with a way to increase the speed of P2P downloads while appeasing ISPs at the same time.

And yet the industry continued to struggle, especially some of its bigger players. BitTorrent Inc. cut two-thirds of its staff, saw the departure of its co-founder as well as its CEO and had to pay back millions of dollars of funding while Vuze had two rounds of layoffs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the P2P industry has turned the corner quite yet, even though there are some opportunities ahead in 2009. Continue reading on