You are currently viewing archive for June 2009
06/30 2009 | 01:43 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The first thing that came to my mind today when I was reading the headlines about the sale of the Pirate Bay was Kazaa. Okay, that's not true. The first thing probably was something like "HOLY SHIT!!!" And then I had to think of Kazaa.

Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom sold their wildly popular file sharing network in the midst of a legal battle with Hollywood and the record companies, essentially saving their ass, securing a way to move forward and found Skype and Joost.

Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg are now trying to sell their site just weeks after Swedish court handed them jail terms, and the news broke only days after they failed to get a retrail based on the claim that the judge was biased. However, there's one very important difference:

The Kazaa case was civil litigation, and and the center of the case was Fasttrack BV, a company founded by Friis and Zennstrom. The duo dropped out of their lawsuit by simply selling the assets and closing the company.

The Pirate Bay lawsuit on the other hand was a criminal case against four individuals, and not a corporate entity. That means that the new owners won't actually inherit any part of the lawsuit. They're essentially starting with a clean slate, as I wrote today on

The original owners on the other hand may just have pretty much killed their chances to get the original verdict overturned. Sure, a jury may eventually decide that this isn't really a crime worth a prison sentence, but they'll also ask: If this was really legal, then why did you sell it?

That's obviously a very different outcome than the Kazaa sale. To me it looks much more like the Pirate Bay guys are taking the fall to potentially save the site, and put some more rubust infrastructure in place that would help to keep other sites safe as well.

06/30 2009 | 12:49 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The sale of The Pirate Bay to a Swedish software company, which plans to revamp the site and launch a new business model to compensate rights holders, has most everyone in the P2P community scratching their heads today. Global Gaming Factory X announced that it will buy the site for roughly $8 million, along with Swedish P2P solutions provider Peerialism, which has been developing BitTorrent-based distribution solutions for P2P streaming and downloads. The plan is apparently to use Peerialism’s technology for the next generation of The Pirate Bay.

Countless file-sharing users are now asking: Where does this leave us? Some are wondering if it will lead to the BitTorrent meltdown that we’ve been hearing so much about in the wake of the Pirate Bay lawsuit. And what will happen to all that money? Continue reading on

06/28 2009 | 03:58 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire is encouraging its users to download and share videos documenting the protests against the Iranian election.

limewire vs iranian censorship

The company's P2P client started to display a splash screen late last week that asks users to add videos about the protests in Iran to their shared folders, explaining:

"Iran has been limiting its own citizens' and the world's access to coverage of the post-election protests by blocking sites distributing such material. Peer-to-peer software, like Lime Wire, provides access to critical information and coverage of the events in a manner that the Iranian government cannot effectively block."

Users that click on the splash screen are automatically starting to download a zipped 110 MB archive of videos from Iran. The Zip file comes straight from Limewire's servers, and users are encouraged to unzip and then share it. Some of the videos are pretty graphic, and most of it is clearly shot with mobile phone cameras or small photo cameras. Of course, you'll probably find most of these videos on Youtube as well - unless you're in Iran, and Youtube is blocked ...

I wrote previously about the way P2P networks and file sharing sites are becoming increasingly important in distributing information about the protest movement in Iran. Videos of the demonstrations as well as the violent crackdowns on protesters have been circulating via BitTorrent, and the folks behind the Pirate Bay have even launched a web forum in support of the Iranian opposition.

Limewire doesn't go that far, but the company wants to take a clear stance against attempts by the current Iranian regime to suppress information about the protests:

"The Iranian government has been limiting the free flow of information in the wake of their presidential elections. Lime Wire takes no stance on the election itself, but we strongly believe in internet and information freedom."

06/27 2009 | 12:07 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Joost has announced that it is going to allow third-party developers to add Flash widgets to its video player soon. The Joost Labs blog this week previewed a widget that adds keyword-based Twitter search results to a video. Joost wants to eventually release a widget API that will expose some of the underlying video’s metadata and make it possible to integrate these widgets within the Joost Flash player.

This isn’t the first time Joost is toying with widgets. The company’s P2P-based video application also featured a widget API, but few wanted to develop for a player that had no user base. However, Joost has clearly been thinking about how to make widgets work in the past few years, and some of these ideas could lead to interesting results. Continue reading on

06/26 2009 | 05:33 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Gigaom Pro is featuring an article of mine today, and the tag line is "Music and movie downloaders have more than once proven to be on the bleeding edge of connected consumer tech." It's available to subscribers only, but this short preview might give you an idea of what it's all about ... wait, you're already a subscriber? Then let me now what you think about it!

06/25 2009 | 11:17 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Rapidshare has announced that it's going to appeal a recent court verdict that would force the company to establish stricter filters for copyrighted content. Hamburg's District Court ruled earlier this month that Rapidshare has to remove 5000 musical works that are part of the catalog of the German music rights group GEMA.

The court also found that Rapidshare isn't doing enough to prevent the repeated upload of previously removed works. Rapidshare would have to figure out stricter controls to make sure that these 5000 titles won't get uploaded again.

One of the issues that keeps popping up in these conflicts are links shared in third party forums. GEMA had previously told the courts that it had developed a software to scour web forums and extract links to content shared on Rapidshare. The company however doubts that this software is working:

"It's questionable wether the application can deal with mechanisms to prevent the scraping of links, open encrypted files, accurately indetify audio files or find links in forums that can't be accessed by search engines."

Rapidshare CEO Bobby Chang added that GEMA fighting a futile war that alienates it's own customers. "GEMA is trying to turn back time," he added.

06/25 2009 | 04:57 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Newly elected Pirate Party representative Christian Enstroem will join the group of the European Greens in the EU parliament. The party reportedly got offers to join a number of groups, including a coalition of liberal parties and a leftist group. Representatives of the Green party group had this to say about their new member:

"The Greens/EFA Group is delighted to welcome the Swedish Pirate Party, which shares our principles and values in defending internet users' rights. Christian Engstroem will have an independent status within our group and he has indicated he will support the Greens/EFA position in areas where the Pirate Party has no agenda."

The Greens currently have a total of 54 members in the European parliament. Joining this group should give Engstroem considerably more influence that figthing it out as a lone wolf. It's unclear how the Pirate party's members and voters will take the announcement that Enstroem is going to support Green issues.

However, at least two supporters of the two movements should be qite happy about this decision: The Pirate Bay's Peter Sunde aka brokep had announced that he was going to support the Greens in the recent EU election, whereas his partner in crime (no pun intended) Fredrik Neij aka Tiamo had thrown his support behind the Pirate Party.

06/25 2009 | 12:47 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This could be a big story in the making: JLM Pacific Epoch is reporting that Chinese search giant Baidu is about to release a dedicated P2P search offering. The article, which is literally just two and a half lines long, reads:

"A Baidu (Nasdaq:BIDU) insider said the company plans to release a peer-to-peer (P2P) search service at soon, reports Sohu."

The search site is supposed to offer results from Easymule, which is a Chinese Emule mod published by the folks of the popular Chinese Edonkey link indexing site VeryCD. It's not clear whether this means that Baidu will just search VeryCD, or actually scour the Emule network for content.

Either way, it's an interesting development. The court case against the Pirate Bay led to many comparisons between the torrent site and Google, which the search engine promptly denied. Baidu on the other hand seems to have no problems with becoming a competition for P2P search engines.

06/23 2009 | 04:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German music rights association GEMA has announced yet another court verdict against Rapidshare. Hamburg's district court ordered Rapidshare to remove 5000 songs that are part of GEMA's repertoire. The one-click-hoster also has to make sure that the titles won't be published by its users in the future, according to an article on

Rapidshare has already been using a MD-5 hash to identify uploads and block files that the service previously had to take down. However, the court now found that these measures are not enough to actively prevent copyright infringement.

The court decision has apparently not been published yet, and Rapidshare told that it wasn't able to comment on any details until it had seen the decision. However, CEO Bobby Chang went on record saying that court decisions like these often get overturned.

Rapidshare has been having a mixed record with court cases brought against them by rights holders. The company was able to dodge a bullet when a court forced it in 2007 to simply police a single link site that has since shut down. However, the same court that now sided with GEMA also ordered the company to proactively check uploads for infringement and monitor users that previously published infringing content.

Rapidshare has since started to keep a closer eye on its uploaders, an in fact been in the headlines for providing the contact information of an uploader to law enforcement officials. The company reacted to this by finally publishing a privacy policy earlier this month.

06/22 2009 | 03:59 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There has been intense debate in the western press on how to deal with the graphic images that reach us these days from Iran. Matt Mireles of The Business Insider probably said it best today when he wrote:

"If it were up to CNN and the old school broadcast networks, you would have never heard of Neda, the 16-year-old Iranian girl. She was shot in the heart by Iranian Security Forces as the cell phone cameras rolled and her father stood by. More than some sophisticated Internet filtering program, these guardians of the TV screen were the real censors."

Mireles continued to that these pictures changed the way he viewed the ongoing protests in Iran, and embedded Youtube videos showing the murder - only to have them removed by his editor "for the sensitivity of our readers."

Granted, the Insider is still linking to the videos - but you'll have to log into Youtube and tell them you're over 18 if you follow the links. One has to wonder whether mainstream video sites will sooner or later start to remove some of this footage as well, or possibly lock them behind even higher walls.

Don't expect any of those sensitivity protections on P2P sites. The Pirate Bay has been vocal in its support for the protesting students of Iran with the launch of the forum, and the torrent site is also increasingly becoming a repository for citizen footage from Iran. Case in point, just take a look at this bog post listing more than 50 torrents with videos from Tehran.

06/20 2009 | 11:27 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German Pirate Party may not have fared quite as well as its Swedish colleagues in the recent European election, but it still has something to boast about: Joerg Tauss, who has been in the parliament for the Social Democrats (SPD) since 1994, declared today that he's switching his affiliation to the Pirate Party. That makes Germany the first country with a pirate as a member of parliament.

Tauss has been one of the most knowledgeable experts on IT policy in the German parliament. He served as the spokesperson for the SPD's education and science working group and was a founding member of the party's online-only "virtual local chapter."

Tauss left the Social Democrats after the party helped to pass a law mandating ISPs to block a number of websites with DNS block lists. The law aims to stop child porn, but Tauss and other critics have argued that it's the first step towards an extensive Internet censorship regimen. These fears are not unfounded: Conservative politicians have repeatedly raised the idea to also censor websites distributing violent video games, and the entertainment industry has been lobbying to block the Pirate Bay and other file sharing sites.

Tauss' membership will definitely give the German Pirate Party some additional publicity - but it may not all be good press. The politician found himself in the spotlight in March when police raided his offices and private residence in search for child porn. Tauss later admitted that the police found illegal child porn during these raids, but has since maintained that he just wanted to familiarize himself with the inner workings of this scene and that he tried to infiltrate and take down a child porn distribution group. The case against Tauss is ongoing.

The whole affair got mixed reactions from Germany's Internet activists. Some have called his behavior stupid at best. Others however have wondered about the curious timing between the raid and the new censorship bill, which could have gotten much more scrutiny with Tauss uncompromised.

Germany's next federal election is at the end of September. Joerg Tauss has already announced that he won't run for office again. The German Pirate Party will have to fight to keep his seat after Tauss leaves: It only won 0.9 percent of the vote in the EU elections. It needs at least five percent in the federal election to send representatives to Berlin.

06/20 2009 | 02:55 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The war on piracy can be a scary thing, especially if you’re a creative caught between the front lines. Hollywood would love to rid the world of file-sharing. Your audience, on the other hand, seems to consist mostly of pirates that download movies for free, watch unauthorized clips on YouTube and subscribe to Netflix just to make use of their DVD burner.

So how do filmmakers react? Well, some of them have started to embrace piracy and published their own works on sites like The Pirate Bay. Their motivations vary: Some just want to give back to their fans, others don’t like the studio system, and some never would have gotten distribution in the first place. The result, however, is always the same: free movies! For details and download links, read on. Continue reading on

06/18 2009 | 02:04 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
French P2P start-up ZSlide has just announced that it is shutting down its torrent hosting service Vipeers and the Bittorrent-based personal file sharing service Podmailing. From the Vipeers blog:

"The VIPeers / Podmailing beta-test has been suspended, enabling our team to do a complete overhaul. VIPeers will be back with a brand new file sharing service integrated into Pump, our Video software for Windows XP/Vista which is currently in private beta."

ZSlide started its foray into the P2P space with Podmailing, a service that enabled users to send files to email contacts via BitTorrent. Podmailing was using Amazon's S3 service as a backup, so users didn't have to be online at the same time to facilitate the transfer, and in fact files could be downloaded from a website as well. (On a personal note, I used Podmailing quite a bit to transfer media files to clients, and it frequently saved my behind because it was able to upload data even when everything else, including FTP, failed.)

ZSlide initially had plans to open source Podmailing to make the Bittorrent protocol extension available to other developers as well, which would have made it possible to include private file transfers into clients like Vuze, but the company instead concentrated on another project ...

... called Vipeers, which was essentially Podmailing plus public sharing. Vipeers users could host files and make them available via Bittorrent as well as through the Vipeers web site. The service was forced to scale back its offering soon after its launch due to high bandwidth bills, but it made a kind of come-back when it launched ...

... a social network for sharing files privately with your contacts. ZSlide CEO Louis Choquel told me back then that Vipeers was going to be more closely integrated with existing social networks in the future, and it tried to monetize through premium services. Vipeers was also going to be a center piece of another ZSlide project called ...

... Pump, which is essentially a Bittorrent client focused on video viewing and sharing. Pump has been in private beta for a while and recently got some nods from Techcrunch via its French blog.

As you can see, that's a lot of projects right there, and ZSlide has shifted focus multiple times. That's not really unusual for a start-up, and it may be further proof for the fact that personal file hosting and sharing services are notoriously tough to monetize.

However, the same can be said about clients. You really need a large user base to make money with a Bittorrent client, and even market leaders like Bittorrent Inc. and Vuze have to resort to things like tool bars and porn to pay their bills.

Moreover, the bar is really high for a new entrant. Miro has established itself as a really good video player for people who don't care too much about the P2P technology that's running under the hood. uTorrent and other minimalist clients like Transmission attract the hardcore P2P crowd, and Vuze is sort of a bridge between the video and the P2P world.

It looks like ZSlide wants to use personal sharing within Pump as a competitive advantage to get users to switch. Somehow I doubt that this will be enough to make a dent, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see what else the company has up its sleeves.

06/17 2009 | 11:26 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Swedish Pirate Party has been the big winner of the European election, if only by headlines: The party got more than 7% of the votes in Sweden, which is enough for at least one seat in the European parliament.

However, Sweden wasn't the only country where pirates were on the ballot. Germany also had its own Pirate Party competing in the election, albeit with slightly less success. The German pirates got support of 0.9 percent of the country's voters, which is enough to get state funding but less than the neo-fascist Republikaner party as well as the Animal Rights Party.

These results are especially remarkable because Germany's major political parties are about to pass major Internet censorship legislation this week which has led to a massive wave of online activism, including an online petition that attracted more than 130,000 signatures.

Germany has also been the country that has seen by far the most aggressive lawsuit campaigns against file sharers, with some estimating that more than 100,000 file shares have received threats of lawsuits and costly settlement offers by record labels, software makers and porn producers.

One would imagine that this is enough to motivate people to vote for a party that wants to legalize file sharing and keep the Internet uncensored. So why didn't the German Pirates get any more support? A few German bloggers have spend the days since the election with analyzing the situation, and in turn unearthed a few interesting clues.

Alexander Svensson of took a look at the statistics published by election officials. Turns out that the Pirate party was most successful in cities with Universities where the general electorate tends to be higher educated and younger, but less likely to have kids.

piratepartei vs gruene
(Img courtesy of

However, only about two percent of the voters supported the Pirate Party even the most popular pirate hot spots. one reason for this may be that there's strong competition: The Green Party got an average of 16.2 percent of the vote in the 64 districts that netted the Pirates the most votes. The Greens did lose 0.3 percent to the Pirates, but that wasn't enough to make a dent.

Of course, those statistics may not completely explain why the German Pirates couldn't repeat the Swedish success story. Some German bloggers believe that this may have to do with the lack of a distinct profile. Torsten Kleinz put it this way:

"Reading the party's political program is unfortunately disappointing. There's not much more in there than free downloads on the subject of intellectual property rights (...). Sure, it mentions nice things like 'supporting culture' - but the Pirates don't really have a clue how this is supposed to work."

Svensson seems to agree, and adds that the Pirate Party is not only lacking coherent positions:

"It is one of only two parties (the other one being the Senior's Party) that didn't have a single female candidate for the European Election."

Wait, even the Party of Bible-Devoted Christians had a more diverse list of candidates than the Pirate party? Oups. I guess the German pirates really have some work to do if they want to be more successful in the coming federal election.

06/16 2009 | 03:51 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Rapidshare has officially announced the availability of its API a few days ago. From the press release:

"This will enable private and professional developers to incorporate RapidShare technology quickly and easily into their tools and integrate upload functions in music and video software or games, for example."

The API is documented on the Rapidshare website, and developers can try out the features with a Perl script that allows them to upload files to the service.

Rapidshare has long had the image of a file sharing haven, but it has been trying to establish itself as a more reputable personal hosting provider in recent months. One of these steps has been the publication of a privacy policy last week.

06/16 2009 | 01:36 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It’s betarrrr: The guys behind The Pirate Bay have officially announced the beta test of their virtual private network (VPN), dubbed Ipredator, which makes it possible to use BitTorrent anonymously. All traffic will be encrypted as well, so your ISP won’t be able to snoop on your packets.

Ipredator costs 5 euros ($7) per month, and will initially only be open to 3,000 lucky beta testers. Another 180,000 potential users have signed up for invites, however, and The Pirate Bay team has promised to let all of them in within a month. That’s a pretty lofty goal, however, and one has to wonder whether Ipredator will really be able to meet its users’ expectations. Continue reading on

06/16 2009 | 12:15 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German parliament is slated to vote on a bill this week aimed at cracking down on child pornography via the establishment of a mandated DNS block list. Representatives of the two parties that compose the country’s coalition government agreed on a final version of the bill late Monday night despite massive opposition from online activists and ISPs. Critics argue that DNS blocking is ineffective and fear the list could be the first step towards massive Internet censorship. Continue reading on

06/15 2009 | 11:33 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Tribler team recently published version 5.1 of it's Bittorrent client with a much-improved search function. Tribler, which is developed by around two dozen scientists at the TU Delft, features P2P-based search to make web-based Bittorrent index sites and search engines obsolete.

tribler 5.1 ui

P2P-based search obviously has the advantage that it can't be taken down, but Tribler competes on another field as well: It aims to be much faster than any web-based index.

Tribler's lead scientist Johan Pouwelse told me that the client now responds to 99% of all queries within 1.5 seconds. Response times like these are enabled by the architecture of the client, which uses semantic clustering to reply to search requests in a timely manner.

tribler response time

I tested the new client a little bit today and can confirm that search results appear almost immediately. However, the overall number of search results still seems to be really small, probably because not too many people actually use Tribler. In fact, I didn't get any search results at all a few times - probably because Tribler wasn't connected to its overlay network anymore.

Tribler has been developed as a research project at the TU Delft for a number of years now, and the team behind the client has certainly done a lot to advance Bittorrent file sharing. A previous version of the client featured a P2P-based, recommendation system that would discover new content for you based on your download history.

However, Pouwelse and his team decided to deemphasize this feature concentrate on improving search. Some of the social features are still used under to hood to optimize users' search results, but Pouwelse told me that these functions will become more explicit in future versions of the client. One example will be content-based channels that Pouwelse describes as "P2P RSS."

His overall quest however is too keep things simple. "Bittorrent is ideal for video, but was always lacking this Grandma-friendlyness," he told me. "Central to the ease of use is fast (...) search."

06/13 2009 | 03:41 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Bollywood, wrestling, anime, B-movies, art-house cinema, Asian action flicks and porn, lots and lots of porn — whatever you’re into, there’s bound to be a private torrent tracker for it somewhere. These private BitTorrent communities often work by invitation only and try to stay under the radar of both rights holders and the downloading masses. But does this exclusive approach to online piracy really work?

That’s the question three French researchers are trying to answer. Sylvain Dejean, Thierry Penard and Raphaël Suire from the University of Rennes infiltrated 42 private torrent trackers to figure out what made them tick. The trio published the results of its work in a new study titled “Olson’s Paradox Revisited: An Empirical Analysis of File-sharing Behavior in P2P Communities,” and the paper is good news for long-tail proponents and file-sharing enthusiasts alike. Continue reading on

06/11 2009 | 12:02 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Rapidshare got a lot of flack earlier this year when reports surfaced that the one click hoster had cooperated with German law enforcement officials, providing them with the IP address of an uploader, which eventually led to a raid of the uploader's residence.

One of the issues at hand was that Rapidshare had never really told its users what kind of data it exactly collected, and for how long these logs were kept. The company did provide some answers when P2P Blog asked about its logging policies, but ordinary uploaders were still kept in the dark, because simply didn't feature any privacy policy. Back then I wrote:

"(A)nswering these questions is already a big step to make the service more transparent to its users, and one can hope that a formal privacy policy will eventually be available as well."

Well, guess what? Rapidshare listened. The company officially announced a few days ago that it's from now on including an "easily understandable, yet legally binding" privacy policy on each Rapidshare page. From the site's news section:

"What is happening to your data behind the scenes? (...) Our support team also receives a lot of questions about data privacy, and quite a number of rumours are circulating on the internet. Therefore, we have set ourselves the goal of handling this topic as transparently as possible."

The policy itself doesn't feature any surprises for anyone who has followed the recent controversies, but it's quite clear on which data it does and doesn't keep. Rapidshare clarifies that it keeps the IP address of the uploader for every uploaded file, but doesn't keep track of the downloaders of any of the files it hosts:

"In no case will we store information about which data has been downloaded by which IP address or Premium Account. (...) If anyone should legally try to force us to monitor customers to such an extent, we would gladly go through all levels of jurisdiction in order to avoid that."

However, Rapidshare won't quite put as much energy into fighting orders to hand over IP addresses of uploaders to law enforcement officials:

"If we are legally obliged to turn over information about the origin of a file, we will fulfill that obligation. The legal circumstances will be evaluated individually in each case. Without a legal basis, no information will be given to third parties."

06/10 2009 | 02:23 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A German court has ruled that a user can't be criminally prosecuted for files that he unknowingly shared on a P2P network, according to The case in question was about a user who had downloaded some "violent pornography." The file sharing client he used for these downloads automatically shared files saved in its incoming folder with other users of the network, but the defendant maintained that he hadn't been aware of this function.

A lower court found him guilty nonetheless, arguing that an active user of a P2P client should be able to understand how it works, including the fact that it might share all downloaded data. The District Court of Oldenburg however disagreed, ruling that the name of the "incoming" folder suggested that these files weren't also going out to other users.

As interesting as it is to see judges argue about the semantics of shared folders, the decision won't likely have a big impact on other file sharing lawsuits in Germany. For starters, German law doesn't have the same concept of precedence as US common law.

Also, most file sharing lawsuits in Germany are based on civil cases against defendants ever since the country changed its copyright laws last year. The only reason this one became a criminal matter is that German laws prohibit the distribution of violent pornography.

06/10 2009 | 01:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
P2P video streaming is a lucrative business - if you're in China, that is. Shanghai-based PPStream has announced that it's expecting revenue of about 10 to 12 million US-dollars for this year, according to Marbridge Consulting. PPStream's Q1 revenue was 200% higher than the previous quarter, and 300% over the same quarter a year ago. PPStream announced that it's been profitable since this spring, according to the report.

There's also an interesting tidbit in the article that may explain some of those healthy numbers. 50% of PPStreams advertising is apparently for online games - an indicator for the fact that PPStream's audience is fairly young and that P2P TV is increasingly replacing traditional TV for young adults in China.

PPStream isn't the only company raking in big bucks with P2P TV in China. Competitor PPLive has also been very successful, atracting up 30 million active users per month. PPLive is now planing an expansion into western markets and recently hired Microsoft's former Senior Director for Online Services Vincent Tao as its new CEO.

06/10 2009 | 12:00 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Apple's Wordwide Developers Conference is still going on until the end of this week, but the cat is already quite literally out of the bag. The new 10.6 version of OS X, also known as Snow Leopard, leaked onto torrent sites just one day after it got introduced to the developer community.

The presentation of Snow Leopard was one of the highlights of Apple's keynote yesterday. The new version of the Unix-based operating system is supposed feature better performance and integrated Exchange support, among other things. OS X 10.6 won't be in stores for another three months, but preview build that was introduced on Monday can already be found on various torrent sites.

Crunchgear reported yesterday
about Snow Leopard popping up on a private torrent site, but writer Nicholas Deleon refused to say where he found the torrent. He did however post a screen shot, and commenters quickly identified the site as the private Bittorrent music community The torrent quickly spread to rivaling music site, and finally found its way onto the Pirate Bay a few hours later, where it is currently attracting more than a thousand leechers.

It's unclearer than ever how much harm this torrent will cause to Apple, if any at all. Microsoft has been very successful with it's public beta tests for the upcoming Windows 7 operating system, persuading millions of users to install the beta testing version of the OS, which will eventually prompt to install a retail copy.

Apple on the other hand has always been pretty greedy with it's beta versions, distributing upcoming versions of its operating systems only to selected developers. However, the company decided to offer a special upgrade price of only $29 for users of the current OS X version 10.5 for the first time. One could speculate that this is at least partially a reaction to the popularity of OS X on torrent sites. And it seems to be working. One of the Pirate Bay users commented:

"Will seed until the end of time... or at least until I can pick it up in store. At $29, why the hell not. ;o"

06/09 2009 | 02:58 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
How’s this for a deal? is starting a public contest for its next TV commercial, and the two lucky winners will both get Amazon gift certificates for $10,000 each. The web retailer is soliciting 30-second video spots until July 17, after which both a jury and the general audience will crown one winner. Voting for the audience price will begin mid-August, and the final winners will be announced Sept. 21.

Granted, Amazon isn’t exactly the first company to crowdsource its TV or web video commercials. In fact, video contest site regularly lists dozens of contests from major brands and online startups alike. Some offer pretty substantial cash prizes, while others promise anything from a backyard barbecue set to a month of free rent. However, Amazon doesn’t seem to go down the contest route just to save money by not hiring a professional production company. The company clearly wants you to go all out. Why else would it reference the Three Wolf Moon shirt? Continue reading on

06/09 2009 | 10:57 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Cisco published the results of its Visual Networking Index Forecast today, and it looks like our ever increasing hunger for bandwidth isn't gonna stop anytime soon. The network gear maker is predicting that the world's Internet users will eat up 56 exabytes per month in 2013. That's about five times of what we consume now.

A lot of this growth is driven by online video. In fact, online video sites will eventually become the single biggest cause for bandwidth consumption. They will take the reign from, you guessed it, file sharing networks, which are currently still dominating global IP traffic. P2P will continue to grow, but not as the same pace as online video, which will dominate by 2011, as you can see in this nifty widget graph from Cisco:


Cisco also shared some interesting findings about regional differences. Here's a quick comparison between the traffic consumed by file sharing in the US, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

regional differences

I'm not entirely sure if I should believe the China values, but it seems to be entirely possible for hyper-connected Korea to eventually overtake the US.

And, just in case anyone was wondering:

mobile p2p

Mobile file sharing is going nowhere. There you have it.

06/08 2009 | 12:31 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Transmission, my favorite Bittorrent client on my old and slow Mac Mini, just got even better: The cross-plattform (OS X and Linux) torrent client supports DHT support for public torrents starting with version 1.70 that got released last Friday. The Transmission team followed up that release with version 1.71, which includes a few bug fixes.

transmission logo

Transmission is a little bit like the uTorrent client OS X never had - very lean and resource-friendly, and it also has a great Web UI that can even be used on mobile devices.

And just as a quick explanation for the everyone new to Bittorrent: DHT stands for Distributed Hash Table, which essentially means that Transmission uses a P2P network to facilitate file transfers in case a tracker server becomes unresponsive.

06/08 2009 | 11:00 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Carphone Warehouse CEO Charles Dunstone chimed in on the UK's debate on how to deal with file sharing, and his message was quite frank: The whole idea of stopping P2P is pretty naive. Users would just share content through other means if ISPs were forced to control file sharing, Dunstone told the Guardian late last week. "It is a game of Tom and Jerry and you will never catch the mouse", he added. Carphone Warehouse curently owns the UK's largest ISP TalkTalk, but the two companies are scheduled to part ways.

So what should the entertainment industry do? Dunstone believes it's all about educating users and offering them viable alternatives. Of course, those aren't exactly new ideas either, and there has been some intense debate about the effectiveness of warning people not to share files. The UK's Lord Carter, who is currently preparing a report on how to deal with P2P, recently went on the record stating that telling kids to stop file sharing is "a waste of time."

Lord Carter's report is scheduled to come out later this month, but there's been an intense political debate about file sharing for more than a year now. British record labels were hoping to implement a Three Strikes policy that would force ISPs to disconnect file sharers after three offenses, but this idea has been pretty much ruled out by Carter and other politicians.

Entertainment companies recently came out with a new proposal to address the concerns against Three Strikes: The new plan calls for slowing down the net connections of repeat infringers instead of disconnecting them outright - an idea that has also been proposed by music industry executives in Germany. Carphone Warehouse CEO Dunstone thinks that's rubbish: ""If you try speed humps or disconnections for peer-to-peer, people will simply either disguise their traffic or share the content another way," he told the Guardian.

06/05 2009 | 11:43 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Niche game publishing company Linux Game Publishing has announced that it will start offering downloadable games as rentals as well as for sale, according to the German Pro-Linux magazine. Games like X3, Jets'n'Guns and Sacred will be made available through reseller's webistes, and users will be able to purchase keys to play the games. Okay, you might ask, but what would happen if someone bought a key, only to lose the unlocked copy due to a hard disk crash? Linux Game Publishing is promising to make games available for re-download indefinitely.

I know, that's a pretty bold promise, especially since the company could go out of business some day. Well, no worries: Linux Game Publishing has committed to making games available via Bittorrent if it ever had to close shop. Nice idea, but there's one caveat that might seriously impact the availability of seeds for these titles: The P2P-distributed games will also be locked, so only legitimate owners will be able to play them.

This isn't exactly the first time game publisher is embracing P2P. Even some of the biggest companies in the industry use Bittorrent and similar protocols to distribute demos and updates for their titles. Word of Warcraft for example is using a dedicated "Blizzard downloader" based on the Bittorrent protocol.

Some indie game designers have also started to embrace piracy as increased promotion, or even completely changed their business model in order to make money with ads rather than sales.

06/05 2009 | 11:16 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Microsoft’s bandwidth needs have been growing anywhere from 30-100 percent per year, and the biggest growth factor is online video. That’s one of the interesting tidbits revealed keynote by Microsoft’s Jeffrey Cohen that Dan Rayburn pointed to this week. Two years ago, only 10 percent of all data delivered by Microsoft and its CDN partners was video, according to Cohen. Next year, Microsoft estimates it to be 55 percent.

Cohen shared these numbers with the audience of the CDN Summit 2009 last month. He also outlined the company’s work on building out its own Edge Computing Network (ECN) to deal with these increased bandwidth needs, explaining that Microsoft plans to deliver 60 percent of its data for all of the company’s services from its own Edge Network by next year. Continue reading on

06/04 2009 | 05:11 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It looks like the Swedish Pirate Party has secured the support of at least one of the three co-founders of the Pirate Bay. Fredrik Neij aka TiAMO published a post on the Pirate Bay blog yesterday to get people to go to the polls:

"I urge everyone to vote in the European elections! Show us what you think!"

eu election

Neij currently lives in Thailand. He wrote that he had to go to the embassy to make his vote count, with the not so subtle subtext that others shouldn't make up excuses if he had to go through all this trouble. He also shared that he voted for the Swedish Pirate Party, which is expected to get anywhere from 5.5 to 7 percent - more than enough to be seated in the EU parliament.

However, not everyone is throwing his support behind the Pirates. Pirate Bay spokesperson Pete Sunde aka brokep came out as a supporter of the Green party a week ago, and Torrentfreak reported today that the Green party has been campaigning to legalize file sharing for years.

06/04 2009 | 10:50 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The verdict is out: The world loves the Palm Pre. Okay, Engandget does, and Walt Mossberg seems to like it as well. One of the features that consistently gets the thumbs up from reviewers is th Pre's ability to sync your media files through iTunes. Here's what Engadget had to say:

"In essence, the process works exactly as it would if you were using a standard iPod. You get options for (un-DRM'd) music, TV, movie, podcast, and photo syncing just as you would on an Apple device, and in our experience, the actual process was no different."

Some have speculated that Palm somehow got Apple to license access to iTunes, but the reviews make it clear that this is not the case. Instead, the Pre simply identifies itself as an iPod. In fact, Jon Lech Johansen was able to obtain the code that the Pre uses to facilitate the iTunes sync, and he doesn't think it will last very long:

"The root USB node (IOUSBDevice) still identifies the device as a Palm Pre (not visible in the image above). This means that Apple can very easily update iTunes to block the Pre."

Check out Jon's blog for the actual code.

06/03 2009 | 12:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Here we go again: Canada-based P2P company Peermatrix published a press release today touting itself as "the Google of P2P ads". I've previously written about the fact that most forms of P2P advertising are much more like spam than like Google, and Peermatrix is no exception. Here's how the company's product works, taken straight from the press release:

"The software works similarly to Google AdWords, creating ads that match whatever a file sharer is searching for. Say, for example, an advertiser has a video ad for a car named “CarAd.mpg”. If a P2P user searches for “The Fast and the Furious” the PeerMatrix software will return a search result to the user indicating that a video file called “The Fast and the Furious.mpg” is available… regardless of the actual name of the video file."

Of course, that's not at all how Google Adwords works. Peermatrix injects "ads" into search results without telling people that they're in fact downloading an ad. Google on the other hand has always been very clear about separating search results from ads. That's the reason the company came up with that whole don't be evil slogan. From Google's 10 core principles:

"Advertising on Google is always clearly identified as a "Sponsored Link." It is a core value for Google that there be no compromising of the integrity of our results"

And the whole idea of tricking people into downloading files that they don't want by pretending it is something else? That's the worst kind of deceptive SEO, and anyone trying to do the same on Google would get banned in an instant. Here's what Google tells webmasters:

"If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, (...) your site could be removed entirely from Google's index."

There you have it. Spamming P2P networks does not make you the next Google, no matter how much you'd like to be the next Larry Page.

06/03 2009 | 11:24 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Is it time for a for TV shows and movies? That’s the question a new online video platform called is raising. Whiwa is a video community based on scrobbling –- the act of automatically tracking your media consumption habits and sharing them with the world — that is at the core of’s social and recommendation features.

Whiwa is run by two developers out of the Czech Republic. The duo told me they have a lot of plans for their platform, but at this point it’s clearly still very experimental. However, the idea behind it is certainly interesting, and it begs the question: Could a movie site like this eventually become as big as Or is video just too different of a beast than music? Continue reading on

06/02 2009 | 03:19 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I guess imitation really is one of the sincerest forms of flattery: The folks behind the Pirate Bay announced a VPN project called Ipredator when Sweden enacted strict copyright laws also known as the IPRED legislation on the 1st of April this year. So what did French Internet activists do when their politicians voted for anti-file sharing legislation in May? You guessed it, they launched a VPN service of their own.

The French forcing ISPs to disconnect file sharers after three cases of suspected infringement is called HADOPI, and the VPN service that's supposed to prevent such disconnects goes by the name IDOPAH. The service is currently in a private beta, and it developers are writing about their work towards a commercial launch on their blog.

What's interesting about the blog is that it also deals with rather touchy subjects for VPN providers. The most recent post asks the question: How can you provide truly anonymous VPN services without aiding the distribution of child porn?

The IDOPAH developers don't seem to have an answer yet, but they're apparently considering to keep some sort of log on a server that would dstroy the data unless it's accessed by the admins themselves. It remains to be seen wheter ideas like this will go over well with potential users of IDOPAH.