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12/28 2009 | 04:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
One of the big downsides of BitTorrent is that you have to be patient. Streams from Hulu start after a few seconds of buffering. Download a file from a torrent site, on the other hand, and you’ll often have to wait hours before you can start watching. “It’s a painful experience for users,” admitted BitTorrent Inc. VP Simon Morris in a recent interview with NewTeeVee, adding that BitTorrent has been pretty much “point-click-wait” instead of the “point-click-watch” experience people now expect from web video.

BitTorrent Inc. is now trying to tackle this issue with a new streaming feature in its flagship uTorrent client. Of course, this isn’t the first attempt to make BitTorrent a little more of an instantaneous experience. In fact, there are a number of ways you can stream your torrents. We tested a number of them and compiled a quick list of five ways to get your streams on. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

12/22 2009 | 01:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
How much does it cost to mess with your customers' torrent downloads? Well, how about $16 million? That's how much Comcast agreed to settle a class action lawsuit against its P2P throttling practice, according to a report from Cable Digital News. From the article:

" The suit alleged that Comcast impaired some P2P file sharing traffic, including some used to transfer movies and audio files. The settlement is currently pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (...)."

Of course, we all still remember the whole drama about Comcast throttling torrents that started in 2007 and ended with an FCC decision against the company in the summer of 2008 (for all the details, read my recap here). One thing that was missing from the FCC's order was any kind of penalty for the cable giant, which is why some called the step toothless and the whole investigation a farce.

Well, looks like Comcast will have to pay up now - at least if enough of its customers are brave enough to admit that they shared files via BitTorrent, Gnutella, Emule or Fasttrack / Kazaa. Users of these file sharing protocols have until next August to register their claims, and forms can be downloaded from this web site. However, don't expect too much dough from the settlement: Each class action member is only entitled to receive up to $16.

12/15 2009 | 11:05 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I'm usually not into boring my readers with a whole bunch of excuses about why I haven't been posting that much. That being said, regular readers of this site might have been wondering: What's going on? Why hasn't P2P Blog been updated more often in the last few weeks, if not months?

Well, a few things happened. I moved to the Bay Area a little while ago, and the move turned out to be epic. Well, or at least it took a darn long time. Honestly, I still haven't unpacked a lot of my boxes.

At least, I can blame it on something other than my own procrastination now: The good people at Gigaomni Media have hired me as the co-editor of Newteevee.com. You may have seen my links to my previous articles on Newteevee.com popping up here ever so often. Well, it's gonna be just like that, but with a whole lot more posts, and a wider range of topics. If you haven't done so yet, I'd highly recommend to subscribe to Newteevee's RSS or Twitter feed. Or both.

So where does that leave P2P Blog? Honestly, I don't quite know yet. I definitely want to keep the site going, but it may get a slightly different focus. Less newsy, more specialized, and definitely more complementary to my work for Newteevee, but also other P2P news sites.

I've never really enjoyed writing about file sharing news that everyone else is reporting about already, and instead tried to find my own niche, with topics that may not be all that popular, but interesting nonetheless - and that's exactly what I'm going to do in the future as well. That being said, it's probably safe to say that there will be time periods when posting will be light. Like right now, for example. But don't worry, I'll be back. In the mean time, let me know what you'd like to read more about -here, as well as on Newteevee.com - by sending any story ideas and tips. Thanks!

12/05 2009 | 04:00 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The EU-funded P2P Next project has started to stream BBC content in true 1080p HD via BitTorrent. The project posted an episode of the BBC’s R&D TV on its technical trial web site this week, with the option to stream it either in regular 480p or full HD-quality 1080p. Users have to first install a plug-in, which is currently only available for Windows.

P2P Next has been working on BitTorrent-based streaming since early 2008, and the project has enjoyed support from a number of European heavyweights. The EU has funded P2P Next with 14 million euros ($20.8 million). The BBC has been an early content partner of the project, and Pioneer has partnered to produce a P2P set top-box prototype. Initial data from the current test is promising, but it also shows there’s still work to be done. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

12/03 2009 | 12:12 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Chinese P2P start-up PPLive has received a new round of funding, totaling about 15 million dollars, according to Chinese media reports. Part of the funding is coming from Shanghai's municipal government. From Marbridge Daily:

"Industry sources say that PPLive has received investment from SAIF Partners, and that previous investors BlueRun Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) also added to their investments. However, Tao did not disclose the investors or investment amounts included in this round."

PPLive apparently also received some strategic investment from Baidu before this new round, but hasn't disclosed that amount either. The company raised around 20 million dollars in previous rounds and tried to get additional financing around a year ago, but instead had to lay off around 10% of its work force due to the economic slow down.

PPLive competitor PPStream recently also confirmed that its trying to raise more money.

12/01 2009 | 04:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Can't wait until the Boxee event next week in New York, where the company will not only unveil Boxee's beta version, but also offer a few more details about the upcoming Boxee box? Well, then how about some super-secret Boxee wire frames?

boxee wire frame

Okay, I'll admit it. That's not actually a wire frame for the upcoming Boxee beta, but part of the design process that led to the current alpha version of Boxee.

And no, it's not really all that secret either: Large parts of Boxee's current UI were designed by San Francisco based Method Inc., and Method's former User Experience Designer Jennifer Ng published this and other wire frames on her portfolio, where I discovered them today by accident.

Still, I find this type of stuff fascinating, and of course I wouldn't mind comparing this to some wire frames for the new beta. So if you got anything to share, send me an email ...

12/01 2009 | 11:31 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Having forced tens of thousands of P2P users to pay up for costly pre-settlement notices, a number of European law offices and and anti-piracy companies suddenly find themselves on the other side of the gun: The German scene news site gulli.com asked local authorities to start criminal investigations against a well-known anti-piracy law office, and even mainstream news organizations like the Financial Times are starting to take notice. The issue at heart could not only derail current anti-piracy campaigns, but potentially even lead to disbarment of the lawyers involved with these cases.

Here's what happened: Two weeks ago, an internal fax with details about the business of Germany's anti-piracy company Digiprotect turned up on Wikileaks.org. The document was supposedly sent by German lawyer Udo Kornmeier, who has been assisting Digiprotect in hunting down thousands of German P2P users, to the U.K.-based law office Davenport Lyons, which has been doing the same thing in the U.K. with evidence provided by Logistep. Both Kornmeier and Digiprotect have publicly declined to comment on the authenticity of the document.

Digiprotect, Logistep, Davenport Lyons and even Kornmeier are well-known for their anti-P2P lawsuits, which typically work like this: A company like Digiprotect or Logistep logs the IP addresses of P2P users that share certain movies or songs. This type of evidence is then used to get ISPs through various legal measures to reveal the identity of these file sharers. Davenport Lyons or Kornmeyer then send out cease and desist letters complete with a pre-settlement offer. Pay 450 Euros, and we won't sue you.

This type of enforcement for cash has been going on for years, and some companies involved have in fact started to use bar codes on their pre-settlement notices to more efficiently deal with thousands of claims. Critics have long suspected that rights holders and the companies involved use P2P as a sort of mass lawsuit cash cow, and in fact another leaked document recently revealed that suing a user for file sharing can be 150 times more profitable than legally selling your work to the same user.

However, the newly leaked fax contained a very interesting detail:

digiprotect leaked fax

The document states that "the whole project is kind of a joint venture where no party charges the other party with any costs." The problem with such a set-up is that the pre-settlement offers are usually based on costs incurred by retaining a law office to pursue the claim. File sharers are asked to pay 450 bucks for a porn movie because it costs money to investigate their IP address and send them the cease and desist letter.

However, German law specifically states that these costs can't be based on the success of the claim. In other words: In order to invoice file sharers for lawyer fees, these fees have to occur and be paid by someone no matter whether a file sharer pays up or not. Invoicing someone for costs that haven't actually occurred could be seen as fraud.

That's exactly what German lawyer Thomas Stadler believes to be going on here. He recently analyzed the work of Digiprotect and Kornmeier on his blog and concluded that it "violates existing laws." Kornmeiers answer? He send Stadler a cease and desist notice, demanding to take down the blog entry in question. Stadler responded by asking other lawyers that have been defending file sharers for assistance, and he's been compiling further evidence against the parties involved. I wouldn't be too surprised if more documents make their way to Wikileaks as well.