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05/31 2009 | 01:46 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Vote arrr die: Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde aka brokep has thrown his support behind the Green Party for next week's election to the European parliament, diminishing the hopes of the Pirate Party to establish itself as the sole political voice of the file sharing world. Sunde used a short Bambuser clip to endorse the Green Party, telling viewers that they "have to vote Green in the upcoming elections, where ever you are in Europe."



Sunde's endorsement came as part of a new Pirate Bay campaign aimed at getting people to vote in the upcoming election. The Diddy-like named "Vote or die 2009" campaign is a collaboration with the Swedish live streaming site Bambuser and encourages users to "make their voice heard" by recording short videos related to the election, and presumably follow up with going to the polls.

The Pirate Bay has always insisted of not having a political agenda, but many in the file sharing world have been assuming that it's closely aligned with the Pirate Party. The Swedish arm of the Pirate Party became better known around the world after the Pirate Bay raid in 2006, and it has been benefiting a lot from the recent court case against the Pirate Bay. Current polls put the Swedish Pirates at six percent, which would be enough to get the party seated in the European parliament.

However, the Pirate Party hasn't really been doing all that well in other countries. Germany's Pirates are currently aiming for 0.5 percent. Leading candidate Andreas Popp recently told Torrentfreak that even 0.5 percent "would be a big step" because it would allow the party to receive public funding.

05/30 2009 | 12:11 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Germany's Undersecretary of Culture Bernd Neumann wants to adopt a three strikes policy against file sharing similar to the one recently enacted in France. "We can't say that this is out of the question," Neumann told the audience of a media policy event of the German Christian-Democratic Union (CDU), according to heise.de.

The CDU is currently the majority partner in a coalition government with the Social Democrats (SPD). Germany's Secretary of Justice Brigitte Zypries, who is an SPD member herself, had previously voiced strong objections against three strikes, calling the idea to boot suspected file sharers off the Internet after three cases of infringement "a completely unreasonable punishment." Neumann did however get strong support for his position from Germany's music industry, and he vowed to get Zypries to talk to the major labels about their position.

Three strikes isn't the only Internet-related issue that's currently keeping Germany's politicians busy. The country is also in the midst of a heated debate of how to fight child pornography online. Germany's conservative Secretary of Family has proposed a country-wide Internet censorship that would have to implemented by ISPs on the DNS level.

Internet activists and civil liberties advocates are outraged about this idea. They have started a very successful online petition drive against it, which has currently more than 100,000 co-signers. One of the concerns that activists have is that child porn will only be the first of many unwanted forms of content to be blocked. They have certainly reason to be concerned: The music industry has already proposed to put file sharing sites like the Pirate Bay and Mininova on these block lists as well.

Germany's Social Democrats aren't completely opposing the idea of combating child porn with Internet censorship, but some have voived concerns and want safe guards to be implemented. The CDU on the other hand would rather have this implemented as soon as possible.

Germany has federal elections coming up in late summer, and it looks like both the Internet censorship proposal as well as three strikes will only be settled after the election. The country's Pirate Party is trying to be a part of this process by putting up its own candidates, but it seems highly unlikely that the party would get enough votes to break the 5% barrier to be seated in parliament.

05/30 2009 | 11:24 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Google has added video recording capabilities to the HTC G1 through an update of its Android operating system that was sent out wirelessly to T-Mobile customers this week. Android version 1.5, code-named Cupcake, also features video sharing via YouTube, email and MMS. Bruce Lidl did a great first write-up of the new features earlier this week, but we couldn’t resist giving Android’s video recording a shot as well.

First the facts. The G1 records 3gp videos encoded with the h.263 video codec. There are two recording modes: High-quality offers you a resolution of 352×288 and a 360 Kbps bit rate while the low-quality setting comes with a resolution of 176×144 and a bit rate of 192 Kbps. How does all of that look? Well, see for yourself. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

05/29 2009 | 04:30 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
German HipHop musician Thomas D. has a somewhat unusual request: He wants people to steal his music. Thomas D., who's been a member of the German HipHip pioneers Fantastische Vier, would apparently much rather have people donate money to worthwhile non-profit organizations than spend it on his records.

thomas d

At least that's the message of a new online campaign that Thomas D. is spearheading for an organization called Roter Lotus (red lotus). Roter Lotus wants to build a hospital in northern India, and Thomas D. is trying to help the organization raise 500.000 Euro towards this goal.

(via gulli)

05/27 2009 | 09:09 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Twitter's 140 character limit hasn't really stopped people to share all kinds of stuff through the micro-blogging platform. First there were dedicated photo services like Twitpic, then video sites like Twiddeo, and now there are all kinds of Twitter file sharing services popping up everywhere.

One that has gotten a lot of attention in recent days is Filetwt. The company behind it did a bit of PR for its service, and it quickly paid off: Mashable, Readwriteweb and Zeropaid all did positive reviews of FileTwt, with reviewers calling the service "handy", "quick and painless" and "true P2P." However, FileTwt isn't any of these things.

The service currently uploads files to Rapidshare, where most users have to wait half a minute or longer before being able to download it. Files uploaded this way can also only be downloaded 10 times max, so you better don't have too many followers. Then there is the fact that FileTwt seems to spam your entire twitter address book with obnoxious ad messages if you happen to click on the wrong button. The worst thing however is that Filetwt makes users enter their Twittter username and password - a completely unnecessary and highly insecure way of authentication, given the fact that Twitter supports OAuth. I really can't recommend using this service to anyone in its current form.


Luckily, there are lots of alternatives out there to share files with your followers. Here are four of my favourite solutions:

twittershare

Twittershare offers a dedicated client to share files on Twitter. Users of OS X can install Twittershare as a Dashboard Widget, Windows users are offered a simple desktop client. Twittershare hosts files centrally on its own servers, with the file size being limited to 10 Megabytes. That's not much, but enough for the occasional PDF or MP3. And just a quick warning for the faint-heartet: Twittershare recently moved servers and the site looks like the room of a 16 year old indie rock kid as a result of some missing CSS files, but the service still works fine. Read my complete review of Twittershare here.

tho.st

Tho.st is a one-click-hoster for Twitter users that literally just launched yesterday. Files are limited to 100 Megabytes, the interface is clean and simple, and you don't have to register or enter your Twitter credentials to use the service. And how's this for a bonus: The service functions as it's own Url shortener. Sweet.

wua.la

Wua.la's social P2P storage
also makes it easy to post links to Twitter. Users do have to register for an account with Wua.la and start up its client before they can upload anything, but those are steps you might be willing to take for 1 GB of free P2P cloud storage. Files can be previewed through a web interface, and Wua .la's client can be started right from it's web site, so your followers won't have to install anything. In fact, they won't even have to register. Read more about Wua.la's service here.

filesocial
Filesocial is another dedicated Twitter file sharing platform, but this one is a little more tricked out than Tho.st. It supports OAuth, so you don't have to give them your Twitter password. Users can comment on your files and check out your profile. Files can be up to 50 Megabyes, and there is even a public time line to see what other people are currently sharing. Neat.

05/26 2009 | 11:54 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Those Spaniards surely love their file sharing: Billboard is reporting of another protest against measures to curb file sharing in Spain. This time, around 300 P2P activists took to the streets of Madrid, where they protested in front of the ministry of culture. From the article:

"Hundreds of Internet users protested outside the culture ministry in Madrid to put further pressure on the government not to limit Internet "freedoms," such as unrestricted P2P file-sharing, nor to consider punitive measures against Internet users who download music or films without paying."

Spain has seen a number of smaller Pro-P2P protests in recent weeks, some of which were prompted by the country's music industry's measures against file sharing websites. The Spanish music rights group SGAE recently succeeded in shutting down the two popular file sharing sites Elitemula.com and ETMusica.com.

Major music labels also sued the Spanish P2P programmer Pablo Soto last summer, and the case went to court last week. A decision is expected within the next few week. Soto is the inventor of Piolet, Blubster and Omemo.

05/25 2009 | 01:05 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Beet.tv just published a short interview with Pando CEO Robert Levitan that features a few interesting tidbits about the things Pando has been working on.



The company is part of the NBC Direct service that relaunched earlier this year. Levitan hinted at further cooperations with NBC in the future, but declined to say how those will look like. However he did say this:

"We are in trails with major broadcasters on video streaming and live event P2P. So, this is a new area."


Looks like live P2P could get pretty crowded. Luckily, there seems to be a huge demand for the live web ...

05/24 2009 | 12:55 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Chinese P2P video vendor Synacast, better known under the name of its video platform PPLive, will announce next week the appointment of former Microsoft exec Vincent Tao as its new CEO. Tao joined Microsoft in 2005 via the acquisition of his mapping startup Geotango, which provided the technology for Virtual Earth. Since then, Tao has acted as senior director for Microsoft’s online services division.

PPLive is one of the largest P2P video-streaming platforms in China, with some 20-30 million active monthly users. Tao relocated from Seattle to Shangai, where PPLive is based, just a few days ago, and he told me on the phone that he’s excited about the Chinese market. “The opportunity there is unprecedented,” he explained. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

05/22 2009 | 11:47 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
My colleague Liz Gannes published a great piece titled "Copyright Meets a New Worthy Foe: The Real-Time Web" over at Newteevee today. The main premise: Traditional DMCA take-down notices can't keep up with Ustream and Justin.tv anymore. Users can just jump onto streams in no time, and live events may be over before anyone could even send out an appropriate notice.

One of the aspects of the article that found really intriguing was the combination of the live web and the social graph:

"Ustream CEO John Ham says he’s seen live video feeds go from zero to a million viewers faster than ever before after being shared on Facebook and Twitter."

Liz doesn't present a definite solution to this problem, probably because there isn't just one, but she does hint at a few possibilities, one of them being this:

"(I)t’s not easy for people who start aligned as enemies to become friends. If sports leagues were to embrace Justin.tv as their viral marketing engine…well, that would be something."

That might work, but though Liz is right, it probably won't happen anytime soon. And of course it wouldn't solve any issues related to P2P live streaming.

But here's another idea: If people exchange those links via Twitter and Facebook, then why not concentrate on those sites instead of the streaming platforms? I'm not suggesting that Twitter and Facebook should block certain links or anything like that. In fact, that would be a really bad idea.

Instead, how about promoting licensed and monetized live-streaming alternatives on social networks? Alternatives that allow users to enjoy videos with their Facebook friends or Twitter community, instead of a bunch of random chat users on a live streaming site?

If content can't be taken down in real time, then the only answer might just be to put that same content up yourself - and let the real time web know about it.

05/21 2009 | 12:01 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Luxemburg's Root eSolutions pulled the plug on dozens of torrent and file sharing community sites after receiving legal threats, according to a gulli report. Some of the more popular sites affected by the measure are www.torrent.to, www.relfreaks.com, www.flashload.org, www.datensau.org, www.sceneload.com and www.ddl-scene.com.

A representative of the hosting company told gulli that it received a court order to take down the sites, complete with the threat that the police would confiscate 30 servers if Root wouldn't act. Root was able to inform the owners of the sites affected before the take-down, but apparently no on acted upon the warning. Since them, some admins seem to have taken some initiative, as some of the domains redirect to new hosts, albeit without the original sites in place.

The hosting company spokesperson told gulli that some of the admins would probably just move their sites to German or British hosting providers, but expressed doubt that such a step would offer any more protection because those companies would have to follow the same European Union copyright directives.

05/19 2009 | 03:42 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Germany's Pirate Party has started a video contest to find the best ad for the countries upcoming federal elections. Creative video producers will be able to upload their videos to a new site called Piratenspot.de, where the general audience will vote on it. The winner will see his or her clip broadcasted on major TV networks, thanks to election laws that give political parties free ad space on the airwaves.



The clip embedded above is the Pirate Party's official ad for the current European parliament election contest. As you can see, there's still some room for improvement. However, creative video producers should be aware that even the best video may not reach the airwaves at all: The Pirate Party still needs 46 percent of the signatures necessary to take part in the election contest.

(via gulli)

05/18 2009 | 12:01 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
That didn't take long: The new Danger Mouse album Dark Night of the Soul found its way onto various torrent sites this weekend after reports surfaced that the Hip Hop producer won't be able to legally publish the record due to a dispute with the major label EMI.

dark night of the soul

NPR's website reported last Friday that Danger Mouse recently collaborated with Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous as well as Iggy Pop, Vic Chesnutt, Nina Persson and various other musicians for an album that was supposed to be accompanied with a 100 page photo book by David Lynch. However, it wasn't meant to be. The artists got into trouble with EMI, according to the project's website, which reads:

"Due to an ongoing disput with EMI, Danger Mouse is unable to release the recorded music for Dark Night of the Soul without fear of being sued by EMI. Danger Mouse remains hugely proud of Dark Night of the Soul and hopes that people lucky enough to hear the music, by whatever means, are as excited as he is."


You gotta admit: By whatever means does sound much classier than just saying: Please torrent my album! However, Danger Mouse was apparently worried that some fans wouldn't get this almost Malcom X-like reference to file sharing, which is why he came up with another brilliant plan: Dark Night of the Soul still gets released at the end of May - as an empty CD-R. The project's online store explains it this way:

"Due to an ongoing dispute with EMI, Danger Mouse is unable to include music on the CD without fear of legal entanglement. Therefore, he has included a blank CD-R as an artifact to use however you see fit."

However you see fit: A number of file sharers got the message and started to seed the album on various torrent sites. The first few uploads were rips of a stream hosted by NPR, but there's also at least one copy of the album with a slightly higher MP3 bitrate, which is currently seeded by hundreds of users on the Pirate Bay. The original uploader simply linked to a few news stories about Dark Night of the Soul and commented: "Lets try that again shall we :P"

05/15 2009 | 04:23 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
P2P video startup Vuze quietly launched an adult video download service called Studio HD earlier this year. Studio HD offers an unlimited number of HD porn video downloads for a monthly fee that are subsequently facilitated through Vuze’s BitTorrent client. The company told me that Studio HD is a template for other premium services it plans to launch.

A premium adult outlet seems to be logical step for a company like Vuze, given the popularity of porn on P2P networks, but it’s also another indicator of how difficult it is to monetize P2P. Vuze has raised a total of $32 million in funding. Plans to sell rentals of major TV networks didn’t work out, and Vuze was forced to lay off 24 people last year as well as move out of its costly downtown Palo Alto, Calif., office space. And while Vuze (aka Azureus) used to be the most popular BitTorrent client, it has lost steam to competitors like uTorrent. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

05/15 2009 | 10:39 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Apple created a little bit of an uproar this week when it refused to approve a BitTorrent application for its App Store. The company explained the rejection by saying that this “category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing third-party rights,” but many have since lamented that Apple’s real motivation may have been to get people to download videos from its iTunes Store as opposed to torrent sites.

Well, guess what? You can still access all the free and legal torrent goodness with your iPhone and iPod touch simply by using your mobile Safari browser. We’ll show how to download torrents from your mobile and even convert every download to an iPhone-friendly video format. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

05/14 2009 | 04:53 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This one seems to be a little older, but I hadn't seen it before:



(via @ekai)


05/14 2009 | 03:48 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
My recent review of the remote torrent download service Btaccel.com has led to quite a few readers asking for more invites. The makers of Btaccel told me that they had to improve their infrastructure a little first, but now they're ready to sign up new users for the current alpha test.

Just in case you missed it: Btaccel essentially lets you download torrents onto their servers, from which it can be downloaded with any plain old web browser. The service is currently limited to registered alpha users who can download 100 GB for free. Paid premium models are also in the works.

You can read my complete review here - or just go straight to Btaccel and sign up with the invite code "p2p100", which is good for another 250 invites.

05/13 2009 | 04:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Looks like the market for anonymous Bittorrent solutions is getting more and more crowded: A new service called Superchargemytorrent.com is offering to anonymize your Bittorrent usage for five bucks a month by rerouting all of your torrent traffic through its servers. A two day test membership costs just a dollar.

pic of supercharge my torrent

And no, this is not just about piracy: A service like this will also bail you out if your ISP or your campus network operator is messing with Bittorrent traffic.

What's interesting about Superchargemytorrent is that it's based on a Socks proxy server, meaning that you don't have to set up a VPN connection for all your Internet traffic, as it is the case with Torrentfreedom, Ivacy and other competitors. Instead, you just enter the proxy server's address and your credentials into uTorrent or Vuze, and you're ready to go.

Why does that make a difference you ask? Because many web offerings nowadays depend on localization in one form or another. Let's say you use a VPN provider with servers in Canada. Sounds good in theory, but it also has the consequence that Hulu.com won't let you watch any of their clips anymore. To them, it will look like you're Canadian.

I had a chance to test the service over the last couple of days, and I didn't really notice any difference in speed compared to a regular Bittorrent connection. That being said, I do have a rather slow residential DSL connection. FIOS users may see different results.

Of course, whether one uses a service like this is ultimately a question of trust, and I must admit the Superchargemytorrent.com website doesn't exactly look like something I'd want to invest my life savings in. However, I did have a small problem during sign-up, and the support staff was very helpful - even though I have a feeling I wasn't actually talking to the lady pictured on the site ...

05/12 2009 | 04:19 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Are illegal downloads hurting or helping sales? This question has been debated for years - a decade, in fact - in regards to MP3s and movies. Some people have always argued that any download is a promotion in disguise, while others have lamented that each unlicensed copy equates a lost sale.

It looks like we're about to see a resurgence of this debate with the advent of new electronic book readers like the Kindle. Jason Kinkaid recently wrote on Techcrunch that the Kindle DX's ability to display pirated PDF books will make the $500 device a success, and the New York Times reported today that pirated books are "a new and frightening territory" for authors and publishers. Of course, no article on the subject would be complete without a quote from Cory Doctorow insisting that piracy is great.

So what is it? Will pirated books lead to the demise of the publishing industry, just as MP3s did with the music industry? Or are we gonna see more sales because of free copies? IT publisher O'Reilly Media and publishing giant Random House wanted to find out on their own, so they started to study lots and lots of data on the subject. The findings of this research were published this week in form of a report titled "Impact of P2P and Free Distribution on Book Sales." The results in a nutshell: P2P isn't nearly as dangerous to the publishing industry as many people think. Yet.

oreilly book piracy
Chart (C) Brian O'Leary / O'Reilly Media, used with permission.

The authors of the report tracked eight O'Reilly books about subjects like Ubuntu, Python and Ajax - stuff you'd think would be popular with the file sharing crowd. However, it took 20 weeks on average until a book showed up on either a Torrent tracker or a PDF hosting site like Scribd. And sales generally went up after a book showed up on these sites, if only for around six percent on average. The books also never stayed popular on torrent sites for a long time, suggesting that P2P at this point in time doesn't have any long term effect.

The report also looked at e-book give-aways as a way to increase the awareness and eventually the sales numbers of a book. The results of these findings suggest that free PDFs can significantly help to market a new book, and even give books that have been on the market for a while a second marketing push. In one case, a book saw sales increase by 155 percent because of a free download.

"Increasing the number of people who know about a book, it can be argued, also increases the number who will buy the title," the study concludes. However, things can change, and piracy could eventually hurt at least some publishers, like the ones depending on selling expensive text books. And of course, things could change if PDF piracy is really gonna get more popular.

Luckily, it looks like we're gonna have a little more time until then. Time that publishers could use to come up with new business models. Or they could just follow the music industry, trying to fight windmills.

05/12 2009 | 09:51 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Every family has someone who does all the tech support — you know, the guy who gets a call Friday night at 9 p.m. if Aunt Emma’s LCD picture frame doesn’t work. Chances are, if you read this blog, you are that person. Well, guess what: Your life is about to get even busier. San Francisco-based backup software startup Cucku wants you to safe-keep all of your family’s data.

Cucku has been offering a Skype-based buddy-to-buddy backup solution since late last year. The company is rolling out version 2.0 today, which includes multiperson support, as well as a neat sneakernet component as an answer to those slow upload rates we’ve been complaining about. Cucku is trying to establish itself in a crowded and increasingly brutal backup and storage solutions market, with companies like Crashplan and Zoogmo already offering buddy back-ups. But Cucku may be onto something with the idea of pairing up novices with more experienced users. Continue reading on Gigaom.com.

05/11 2009 | 04:47 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Many newspaper publishers are hoping for the Kindle to save their industry, but the Canadian Globe and Mail has started to embrace a different kind of medium to deliver its news: The paper just uploaded a torrent featuring four audio podcasts and a video documentary to Mininova.org. The torrent is tracked by the Pirate Bay's trackers.

The Globe and Mail has been working on an ambitions web series about "The Download Decade" that is chronicling the launch of Napster back in 1999 as well as the things that happened in the years after in regards to file sharing. Part of this effort were a bunch of interviews with people like Napster founder Shawn Fanning, former Napster CEO Hank Berry, mash-up musician Girl Talk and others.

The Globe and Mail's website is directly linking to Mininova, making it clear that this is not some sort of semi-sanctioned work of a Bittorrent-loving employee. The download itself, which totals 192 Megabyte, is named "From The Globe and Mail: The Download Decade - Part One", so we should't be too surprised to see more Globe and Mail content pop up on Mininova in the near future.

05/11 2009 | 03:27 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
CNet has an interesting interview with the BBC's Head of Digital Media Technology Anthony Rose today that deals with the present and future of the iPlayer. Rose shares some specifics about the aggregate bandwidth use of the iPlayer and the percentage of users that access the service with their mobile phones, but he also has some intriguing things to say about P2P:

"P2P did work very well for us, but times change and our saying we're not using P2P now doesn't mean we will never want to use it again. We may find, for instance, that we use multicast for live video or a live P2P in the future. The one thing that's constant in the tech world is that things change, and as of today, direct download makes the most sense for us. But things may change in the future. "

The iPlayer was initally based on Kontiki's P2P technology, which the BBC finally ditched last December after pretty much concentrating on the web version for a long time. However, the BBC has also been cooperating with the P2P Next project on a possible open source P2P streaming solution.

05/11 2009 | 09:22 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
One of the great advantages of having a HTC G-1 or a similar Android handset as opposed to any other, more restrictive smart phone (*cough* iPhone *cough*) is that Android offers you full access to your phone's SD memory. This means that you can actually save files to your SD card, either by mounting it as a mass storage device with the help of a USB cable or through wireless downloads.

Of course, you can also use the USB cable to get files off your Android handset. But what if you don't really know where that darn cable is? What if you want to back up your files straight to your NAS drive without firing up your PC first? Or what if you want to quickly share some files with a friend? That's where LAN sharing comes in handy. Luckily, there's already a few neat Android Apps that let you share files on your local network. Here's a quick overview:

On Air

On Air fires up an AppleTalk / WebDAV server on your Android handset, making it possible to simply add your phone as a server to your Mac OS Finder or Windows Explorer. The app is as minimalistic as an app can be: It only offers one button to both launch and shut down the file server. It also shows it's local IP address as well as the port used to access the server, but I had no problems to auto-discover On Air with my Mac.

screenshot of on air

You can use any user name to connect to the On Air Server, and a random password is shown in the bottom right corner of the screen. I had some occasional disconnects with On Air, but my Wifi connection may as well be at fault for that. Overall, I really like the simplicity of this app. Definitely a keeper. And did I mention it's free?

ES File Explorer, also known as ManagES

This is a File Explorer for Android that offers the ability to launch Samba shares as remote drives, which is a great way to mount a share on your local network. I had some trouble accessing my NAS through ES File explorer - the app initially said it wouldn't work, but then suddenly showed a second SMB server online which it could access without reentering the user credentials.

screenshot of es file explorer

Transferring files worked fine afterwards, with the exception of a really large transfer that just didn't go anywhere. Unfortunately, there was no option to cancel file transfers, so all I could do was restart my phone and pray for the integrity of my SD card. Streaming audio isn't supported, so you have to copy those MP3 files before you can give them a listen, but I didn't find that too much of a down side. A little more challenging are the sub-menus to access simple things like copy and past, but there are some keyboard short cuts for more frequent users. ES File Explorer is also a free app.

SwiFTP

SwiFTP is a simple FTP server for Android. Just set a user name and password, launch it, and you're ready to access it with any FTP client from a machine within your LAN. Of course, Windows users can also just add the FTP server as a network place to their Explorer, and OS X users can do the same thing through their Finder's "Connect to Server" option. You can even access it through your browser by simply entering the server URL in your address bar, which is a great way to show off your camera snap-shots.

screenshot of swiftp

I especially like the ability to restrict access to certain directories, which should give people paranoid about opening up their entire SD card some peace at mind. The server log didn't seem too useful to me as it didn't actually tell me which files were up- or downloaded or which IP addresses were accessing the server, but that's only a small issue. Overall, I found this free app to be a great addition to my G1.

More coming soon

These three apps are a great start for LAN sharing, but I'm sure we'll see more specialized apps in the future. iTunes library sharing anyone? Or how about an app that makes it possible to selectively share files with other Android users within the same LAN, maybe even with a buddy list? The possibilities are endless. Drop me a note if you find something great popping up on the Android Marketplace.

05/09 2009 | 03:25 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Would you be willing to pay your ISP five bucks a month to be allowed to download as much as you want from torrent sites and other file-sharing hubs? The idea of legalizing P2P through such a flat-rate licensing scheme has been getting more and more traction within the music industry in recent months. Noank Media CTO Devon Copley believes his company can be an essential part of such a flat-rate model.

Noank, which demonstrated some of its technology at the DCIA’s P2P Media Summit in Los Angeles this week, builds tools that help to measure what kind of files users consume in flat-rate licensing environments. However, there’s something particularly intriguing about Noank’s solution: It works for video as well. Even the most vocal proponents of legal P2P rarely dare to suggest that Hollywood’s movies should be paid for by an ISP fee, but Copley believes such a development is inevitable. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

05/08 2009 | 10:55 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There's always been a lot of semantic hair splitting regarding the way people describe file sharing: Is it really sharing if you don't have to give up anything? Can you really call it stealing if nothing is missing?

Maybe those controversies can explain why the makers of File-Swap.com took a very literal approach to file swapping: The site lets you upload a file - and gives you a random file in return.

pic of file-swap.com

The service seems to be up for a couple of years already, which could explain why the maximum file size for uploads is capped at 500k. Of course, the makers of File-Swap.com probably also tried to avoid any rights issues with MP3s and videos - you just can't swap your Wolverine copy with this service.

It's still fun though, especially because the results are really surprising. The first thing I got from the server when I tried it was a picture that seemed to be part of a weird ad campaign for bread, of all things. Definitely not something I would have knowingly downloaded from a P2P network. :) Let me know in the comments if you find anything good.

05/07 2009 | 03:01 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Spanish P2P activists have taken to the streets repeatedly in recent weeks to protest against the country's music rights holders crack-down on P2P community sites. Spanish music rights group SGAE recently succeded in shutting down the two ED2K link sites Elitemula.com and ETMusica.com.

P2P activists in Bilbao thanked them for this with multiple actions in front of the local SGAE office. Here are some photos of a small demonstration back in April:

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(Photo CC-BY-SA Joseba Martos)

And here's another action in May during which activists gave out DVDs with pirated movies:

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(All Photos CC-BY Mario Pena Zapatería)

05/07 2009 | 10:32 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The developer of Bitlet.org, a browser-based BitTorrent applet, has started to test an experimental P2P video streaming client. Bitlet’s video applet is fairly limited in its support for video codecs, but video publishers willing to trans-code their clips can already use it to save substantially on bandwidth costs.
The whole idea doesn’t seem to go over so well with BitTorrent traditionalists, who argue that streaming makes BitTorrent’s protocol less efficient and that apps like Bitlet may slow down other BitTorrent clients. Bitlet’s developer Daniele Castagna doesn’t think this is a big problem. Bitlet may prioritize its traffic differently, but it still acts in the spirit of BitTorrent, he told me.

The whole idea of such an applet doesn’t seem to go over so well with BitTorrent traditionalists, who argue that streaming makes BitTorrent’s protocol less efficient and that Bitlet may slow down other BitTorrent clients. Bitlet developer Daniele Castagna doesn’t think this is a big problem. Bitlet may prioritize its traffic differently, but it still acts in the spirit of BitTorrent, he told me today. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

05/06 2009 | 04:47 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The European Parliament has voted against a so-called Three Strikes policy of disconnecting file sharers, with an overwhelming majority insisting on a judicial review before any ISP disconnects its users due to file sharing allegations, as Ars Technica and Torrentfreak are reporting.

This decision has given online activists hope that they will be able to prevent Three Strikes laws being passed in France, the UK and other European countries. Ars quotes a French Internet activist saying that "the French 'three strikes' scheme, HADOPI, is dead."

Seems like the French government hasn't quite gotten that message yet. France's secretary of culture Christine Albanel has already declared that her government still wants to pass the controversial HADOPI legislation. Albanel believes that the decision of the EU parliament has "no effect" on HADOPI, according to futurezone. She also said that there is "not a single country on the world" that guarantees its citizens Internet access.

05/06 2009 | 02:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Some of you may have followed my tweets from the DCIA's P2P Media Summit Los Angeles on Monday, but I thought I'd reproduce some of the key quotes of the day here for everyone else:

"The entertainment industry has always tried to gain monopoly power."

Mitchell Edwards, Bittorrent CFO

"Kodak died within four years. The same is gonna happen to the major media businesses too."
Steve Lerner, founder of P2P Cleaner

"How many record company execs does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is none, they don't like change."
Ron Berry, E-Commerce adviser of the Isle of Man

"Youtube would save 324M dollars in 2009 if they switched to P2P."
Adam Fisk, Littleshoot

"Blanket licensing is the worst solution, except for all the others."
Devon Copley, Noank Media

05/05 2009 | 06:32 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Ordinary file sharers have largely been spared by Hollywood and its world-wide partners so far, but it looks like this is about to change: Germany-based movie powerhouse Constantin Film has started the first mass-scale enforcement effort against file sharers. Constantin has been identifying more than 10,000 file sharers as infringers in recent months, and it has started to send threatening letters to about 500 of them, according to an article published in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The company is using these letters to demand out-of-court settlements, asking for 800 Euros (about 1000 USD) per infringing work as well as the promise to not commit any further acts of infringement. Downloaders that don't pay up can expect a full-fledged lawsuit.

Constantin Film is Germany's biggest motion picture production and distribution company. IMDB credits it as the production company of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Resident Evil: Extinction, DOA: Dead or Alive, as well as countless German titles. It also has Germany-wide distribution rights for Hollywood flicks like Michael Clayton and Basic Instinct 2.

Constantin executive Bernhard Burgener told the newspaper that his company has been going after file sharers since March. Burgener called the 1000 USD his company is demanding from file sharers "largely symbolic." Accused file shares that don't quite make as much money as him may disagree.

Mass-scale copyright enforcement through costly out-of-court settlements has been pioneered by the German music industry, who recently broadened its focus and is now also targeting Rapidshare uploaders. The tactic was quickly copied by porn studios that have been targeting tens of thousands of German file sharers in recent years.

However, if there's one lesson to be learned from those music and porn enforcement campaigns, then it's that rights holders don't just want to crack down on German downloaders. In fact, the very same enforcement companies that have helped to make Germany the testbed for a taking no prisoners approach of intellectual property protection have also started to export these tactics to other countries, leading amongst other things to thousands of threatening letters to UK residents accused of downloading video games. It wouldn't be too surprising to see Constantin go after file sharers in other countries as well.

05/05 2009 | 11:27 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The UK were long thought to be the second European country to implement so-called three strikes legislation, but the idea to stop file sharing with a cooperation between ISPs and rights holders seems to be getting less and less popular: The UK's Lord Carter, who has been in charge of figuring out solutions against online piracy, recently told music industry professionals that he doesn't believe sending warning notices to file sharers will have any effect, according to Music Week. The trade magazine quotes him with the following words.

"It is a waste of time telling young people that swapping music is illegal."


Carter also noted that the idea of a Digital Rights Agency, which was supposed to oversee three strikes ore similar tactics against file sharing, is quickly losing support. Carter said the idea had been "torched by some", according to Music Week. That seems to be a thinly veiled reference to record labels which recently have been complaining about the potential costs of such a regulatory body.

The idea behind three strikes is to send warning messages to suspected file sharers, and potentially disconnect them from the Internet if they chose to ignore two such warnings. The music industry has been trying to get such a policy implemented around the globe, but these efforts have been met with a lot of skepticism both from ISPs, and increasingly politicians as well. German government officials for example called the idea a "completely unreasonable punishment."

Lord Carter is scheduled to publish a final Digital Britain report in June that will give us a better idea of the future of P2P lawsuits and three strikes in the UK.

05/04 2009 | 09:52 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I just arrived at the DCIA's P2P Media Summit LA. I won't be doing any live blogging unless something really spectacular happens, but I might share some quick impressions via Twitter (twitter.com/jank0).

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05/03 2009 | 05:17 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Imagine you’re watching a movie via Internet-based VOD, one of those flicks you choose purely for the action scenes. Problem is, the dialogue is horrendous. What do you do? Skip ahead, of course. Such skipping can be a major technical challenge, however, especially if your VOD provider uses P2P technology to deliver its video streams. But five researchers from Spanish ISP Telefonica and UC Irvine have come up with a way to solve this problem.

The gang of five have developed a system called “Kangaroo” that promises to deal with jumpy VOD viewers by improving the architecture of the underlying P2P network. Kangaroo was field-tested during the 2008 Olympics, and its technology was presented at the 8th International Workshop on Peer-to-Peer Systems in Boston last week. While the details of this technology are admittedly a bit geeky, they help to understand why previous P2P VOD efforts like Joost and Babelgum failed and why smaller providers like Global Media Services/GridCast and MediaMelon need big content partners to make P2P work. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

05/01 2009 | 02:28 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is premiering this weekend, and Hollywood insiders are even more infatuated with ticket sales than usual. The movie is expected to make anywhere from $75 million to $100 million, with early reports putting last night’s midnight earnings at $4.4 million, a number that Deadline Hollywood calls “amazing.”

There will plenty to celebrate for 20th Century Fox if Wolverine becomes the box-office hit that some are predicting. For one thing, we’re in the midst of a global flu outbreak, complete with 24-hour news cycle panic and a vice president suggesting you should by all means avoid confined and crowded spaces. You know, like theaters. And then there’s the fact that Wolverine has been available online for a whole month now, which again raises the question: How much do these leaks really hurt box office sales? Continue reading on Newteevee.com.