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11/20 2007 | 06:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Has Mark Cuban been dancing with the stars a little too much lately? Cuban just published an "open letter to Comcast and Every cable/Telco" on his blog in which he demands that said telcos block P2P traffic. Because, you know, the tubes are clogged. Says Cuban:

"As a consumer, I want my internet experience to be as fast as possible. The last thing I want slowing my internet service down are P2P freeloaders. Thats right, P2P content distributors are nothing more than freeloaders. The only person/organization that benefits from P2P usage are those that are trying to distribute content and want to distribute it on someone else's bandwidth dime."

His proposed solution: Block P2P traffic for everyone - and then charge some extra fees to the few subscribers who can't go without their Joost, Bittorrent or Skype:

"P2P is probably the least efficient means of distributing content in the last mile. Comcast, Time Warner, etc should charge a premium to those users who want to act as a seed and relay for P2P traffic. After all, that is why P2P is used, right ? For content distributors to avoid significant bandwidth and hosting charges. That makes it commercial traffic far more often than not. So make them pay commercial rates."

Yes, this is the same Mark Cuban who used to be an early investor in Redswoosh and who bankrolled the EFF's defense of Grokster. At least I think he is. Maybe ABC replaced him with a double that dances better but talks more trash? In which case I'd suggest that the new Mark Cuban goes back and reads up on his own blog about the magnificent future the old Mark Cuban used to foresee for the P2P space. Back in 2005 he wrote:

"The ability for emergency relief workers to distribute videos of instructions on how to deal with a situation will be an invaluable application. In a car wreck and need instructions on how to apply a bandage or worse? Over the next 10 years 911 will be able to distribute a video with instructions to you and those around you and talk you through it. P2P is the most bandwidth effective distribution solution."

Unless, of course, your ISP decided to block it. But that would of course be your fault. You should have just gotten a premium bandwidth plan before you got into that car accident, you freeloader!

08/15 2006 | 06:29 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Prague based P2P company Allpeers is gearing up for their public beta. They are in the process of inviting 50.000 registered testers during the next few days, they are spreading invites amongst readers of various blogs - and they announced there will be no more major updates befor the beta launch. So it's probably a good time to take a final peek behind the curtain and write up a short review.

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05/13 2008 | 12:42 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire CEO George Searle announced an ambitious plan to pay rights holders at the P2P Media Summit in Los Angeles last week. His company plans to split the revenue of its upcoming contextual advertising platform with record companies. Labels will get as much as 40 percent of the money Limewire is going to make with Google Adsene-type ads.

fanmedia 1

Limewire has been working on integrating contextual text ads into its P2P client for a while now. Searle publicly announced these plans late last year at another DCIA conference in Los Angeles, and he used last week's event to reiterate some of his key points: Limewire's 80 million users generate an estimated five billion search requests each month, putting the P2P client in the same league as search engine giants like Google and Yahoo. In fact, Limewire would be the third biggest search destination in terms of unique users, ahead of and, if it was a website.

Of course, it's not - and that's why it hasn't made any money from this search activity up until now. This however is going to change soon. Searle told his audience in Los Angeles that Limewire wants to incorporate contextual ads into its client within the next month. The ads will be at the top of the search results, but clearly marked as advertising. Ads will initially be used to promote Limwire's new music download store, but advertisers should be able to buy these spots soon as well.

fanmedia 2

The advertising program will be run by a separate entity called Fanmedia. It will sell CPC ads against keywords, just like Google does with Adwords. Fanmedia will take a 20 percent cut of the total revenue per click and then pass on 40 percent to Limewire and 40 percent to the rights holder associated with the ad in question. So if someone buys an ad for a Ladytron ring tone (you know you'd want one) and pays a dollar per click for it, then Ladytrons's label would get 40 cents for every click. "This is the first time that revenue would be shared with rights holders", Searle told me after his presentation.

Of course, not all of the rights holders will be on board. Limewire was sued by the major recored labels in late 2006. Many other P2P compaines decided to settle and fold in face of such a lawsuit, but Limewire seems determined to battle it out and has been significantly expanding, starting new ventures like the Music Store and the social publishing platform Limespot.

Searle conceded that Fanmedia will have to do with what he called "participating rights holders", meaning indie labels. The promise of additional income should certainly help to close those deals. And Searle believes that there's enough cash to be made for everybody with systems like Fanmedia. Contextual advertising could eventually become bigger than the entire music business, he said.

fanmedia 3

Part of the plan is to eventually expand the ad network beyond the Limewire client to other P2P clients and even websites like music blogs and social networks. One can imagine that Limewire will test this on its own web properties first. The company not only has a social network for bands and musicians in the making, but is also running a reasonably popular blog about New York's indie music scene.

Finally, Limewire is also working on a UI redesign, and the new client will apparently include a web browser. This certainly makes even more sense in light of its contextual advertising plans, and it will be interesting what the company comes up with. Searle said the new UI would come "hopefully this year".

Check out more photos from Searle's presentation below.

fanmedia 4

fanmedia 5

08/25 2008 | 11:10 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Torrentfreak is featuring an article about the "dark side of P4P", essentially saying that the technology that's been proposed to make P2P more effective within an ISP's network will eventually lead to tighter control on intellectual property, with the end goal being to filter out unauthorized file transfers. Torrentfreak's Ernesto writes that the researchers behind P4P might have some good ideas, but that the entertainment industry will eventually turn the technology into an anti-P2P tool.

I disagree with him on this one, as I've written here before. To be fair, nobody will really know how P4P will look like until it's deployed, but my understanding has always been that it won't be mandatory, meaning that P2P vendors can chose to ignore the recommendations a P4P system gives them. That's not really a setup that sounds like a good copyright filter to me.

There's one other point in the Torrentfreak article that's very much up to interpretation. Ernesto quotes the P4P mission statement with the following words:

"[to] Determine, validate, and encourage the adoption of methods for ISPs and P2P software distributors to work together to enable and support consumer service improvements as P2P adoption and resultant traffic evolves while protecting the intellectual property (IP) of participating entities"

His conclusion is that this is about protecting the rights of the MPAA's members, since the association is an observing member of the P4P working group.

I think there is a much simpler explanation: ISPs view the architecture of their networks as trade secrets. P2P vendors like Joost on the other hand are secretive about the inner workings of their clients. That's why P4P is build as being a neutral entity that doesn't transmit complete network maps or protocol specifications, but only helps to find the closest links in particular instances.

Of course, all of this comes back to a point I made earlier on this blog: P4P not only needs to win over ISPs and P2P vendors, but also consumers, and they haven't really done a great job in doing so. Part of that is to be frank about privacy - even if it means to take fire from the entertainment industry that would like to see other solutions in place.

05/29 2007 | 12:20 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The French Council of State decided last week that record companies can automatically track P2P users that share more than 50 files within 24 hours and keep their records for further legal proceedings.

The decision comes as a blow to the French National Commission for Data protection and the Liberties who ruled in the fall of 2005 that automatic surveillance of P2P networks violates local privacy laws.

French file sharers aren't too happy with the decision either. Some folks have now started a civil disobedience protest called "51 fichiers" (51 files) against the ruling. The website explains:

" calls any France internet user who wants to protest against this decision to share at least 51 files that are freely distributable (e.g.: published under a Creative Commons license, or that are public domain) and keep them on the P2P system until 'something happens'."

Guess France-based P2P internet label Jamendo might see a whole bunch of new users soon ...

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05/15 2008 | 05:12 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This is actually pretty amusing: Inside Higher Ed is reporting that the Missouri University of Science and Technology has instituted a novel approach against P2P file swapping. Students that want access to P2P networks have to take an online quiz about copyright first. Answer the randomly selected questions right, and you'll get six hours of P2P access. From the article:

"When students pass the quiz, P2P access is granted within 10 seconds for use by any program, whether it’s a game or software program that needs to download an update, LimeWire, BitTorrent or another program. From that point on, there’s no way for the university to monitor whether users’ file-sharing activity is legal — but, on the other hand, there’s also no way for them to claim ignorance."

The downside is that even copyright experts can only get a total of eight P2P sessions per month, meaning that they won't be able to use BitTorrent for longer than 48 hours per month. Of course that doesn't really matter once you're in a dorm and able to pool your resources - after all, gambling taking part in a multiple-choice copyright enforcement effort is much more fun if you do it with friends.

(via Broadband Reports)

Supporters of P2Pnet have started collecting money to help Jon Newton with his defense against Sharman Networks. So far they got about 400 bucks, and some prominent support as well: Cory Doctorow has promised to donate 100 dollars.

I still have very mixed feelings about this whole affair: It's unfortunate Sharman is unleashing the lawyers against Jon. But it's bordering the grotesque to paint the whole thing as a freedom of the press issue hat might influece the future of online media in Canada and beyond.
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07/18 2007 | 04:44 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Slyck, P2PNet and Torrentfreak are reporting today about a European legal case that could have implications on the way file sharers are treated on the continent. From Slyck:

"European file-sharers - or at least those residing in the European Union - are on the cusp of a major victory against the powers that be. Advocate General Juliane Kokott has submitted her option to the European Court of Justice that Spanish copyright traffic cop Promusicae is not entitled to the identities of alleged P2P pirates. (...) Organizations such as Promusicae could find their ability to pursue alleged file-sharers severely hampered, considering that a majority of these cases fall under civil jurisdiction."

This isn't entirely correct. Copyright infringement can be pursued as a criminal as well as a civil matter in most European countries, just like it is the case in the US. Copyright holders prefer civil litigation simply because those cases can be settled outside of the court - and most people tend to settle for a few thousand bucks rather than fight.

Rights holders have been looking for ways to expedite these civil cases since they started suing P2P users. Specifically, they'd like to be able to give a list of IP addresses to an ISP and demand names and addresses in return, which is exactly what the music industry tried to make the Spanish ISP Telefonica do in this case.

Telefonica refused, and the case ended up in court, where it went all the way to the Court of Justice of the European Communities. The Advocate General of this court now sided with Telefonica.

Most of the European file sharing cases aren't fought this way though. The German music industry for instance has initiated more than 20.000 criminal cases against alleged copyright infringers. Record labels use these criminal cases as a tool to get the identity of the alleged file sharers and then additionally slap them with a civil case.

The future doesn't look so good for European file sharers either: The EU council is working on a new copyright directive that would treat file sharers like commercial bootleggers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/03 2008 | 12:02 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
French new media start-up Zslide is launching the private beta of a free Bittorent-powered file hosting service called Vipeers today. Vipeers is in part based on Zslide's private P2P service Podmailing, which combines server-based file hosting with Bittorent distribution. Vipers however goes one step further, offering unlimited downloads via Bittorrent and HTTP.

I was able to test Vipeers during the last few days and must say that it is a really attractive service, especially compared to one-click-hosters like Rapidshare and Megaupload. Users do have to register for an account first, and the current private beta phase also requires an invitation code. Readers of this blog can use the code P2PBLOG66 to register.

pic of vipeers uploader

Vipeers uses a Java-based uploader to transfer your files to the company's servers, which makes it possible to resume uploads in case you accidentally close your browser or your Internet connection is interrupted. You can also use a new version of the Podmailing client to upload your files, which among other things offers the ability to upload whole directories at once.

The service automatically generates a torrent file and all the necessary links once your file is completely uploaded. Users not only get a direct download link to the torrent file, but also the link to a generic landing page as well as various buttons for blogs and social networks.

pic of vipeers links

The Vipeers landing page gives users the ability to either download a file straight through their browser, or via Bittorrent or Podmailing. Check out the landing page I did for a Creative Commons-licensed copy of my (German language) book Mix Burn & R.I.P. by clicking on the blog button below:

File sharing & torrents by VIPeers

One interesting aspect about Vipeers is that it is completely based on Amazon's S3 and EC2 architecture. Download a torrent from Vipeers, and you're actually using an Amazon EC2 server as a tracker and an S3 server as a super-sized seed box. That's especially great for content that isn't insanely popular. Rare torrents that would die quickly on regular torrent sites are sustainable on Vipeers because Amazon always offers a seed from its servers.

Amazon's infrastructure is also pretty cheap, especially when it comes to the initial costs of scaling your infrastructure. But of course it's not completely free, and serving huge files is going to cost you eventually, even if you use P2P to offset some of the costs. One-click-hosters like Rapidshare have proven that you can make money with file hosting, but they make users jump through painful hoops in order to optimize ad revenue.

Vipeers wants to take a different route. The service doesn't feature any ads at all, and it doesn't make you wait and stare at obnoxious count-downs until you can download your files. Zslide's Louis Choquel explained that his company instead eventually wants to offer premium services. He told me that Vipeers is still working out the details, but mentioned some examples: "Limits on the volume of data you can store at any given time, limit on hosting duration and the possibility to download faster. This makes sense and it is fair to our users", he told me.

So how about he legal side of the service? One-click-hoster Rapidshare has been struggling with court defeats lately, and video hosters like Youtube have found themselves in court because of the uploads of their users as well. "I am not saying that running a file sharing / Bittorrent / P2P service like Vipeers is going to be an easy ride", acknowledged Choquel. "But I think it is worth it. Making it easy with Vipeers to share using Bittorrent is our modest contribution to the Internet. I believe in technology and progress, so I think that a little controversy should not stop us. We are building the future of media and knowledge distribution."

07/08 2009 | 12:59 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Washington-based conservative Progress and Freedom Foundation has published a study titled "Inadvertent File-Sharing Re-Invented: The Dangerous Design of LimeWire 5" today that makes Limewire sound like the most dangerous application ever.

Limewire's features help "identity thieves, pedophiles, terrorists, and spies," "can also grant reduced jail sentences to dangerous pedophiles," and "knowingly (inflict harm) upon children and their families," according to the study. Scary stuff, all thanks to what has been called inadvertent file sharing, meaning that users share some files they didn't really mean to.

Limewire has gotten some heat for inadvertent file sharing before. There've been congressional hearings about the subject, including one earlier this year. The company responded to its critics by redefining the way its new version 5.0 shares files - but that didn't please the Progress and Freedom Foundation's Thomas Sydnor. "No prior version of LimeWire inflicted such serious risks upon so many of its users and their families," he writes in the new report.

So what is all of this about? Limewire 5 introduced the idea of a content library that by default isn't shared with anyone. Users have to take an extra step to select files within the library and share them to make them available for download via the Gnutella network. At the core of Sydnor's criticism is a feature that makes it possible to share bulk selections of these files by clicking on "share all with P2P network":

"The design of LimeWire 5 centers upon a premise that verges upon lunacy: LimeWire 5 presumes that most users really want to be one click away from “sharing” all of the audio, video, image, and, (perhaps) document files stored in their My Documents folders and all of its subfolders—in other words, their entire collections of popular music and movies; all of their family photos; all of their home videos; and many or all of their scanned or faxed business, medical, legal, and identifying documents. "

Of course, one could debate whether the option "share all with P2P network" is really that unclear. Sydnor thinks that it's written so small that you could easily get confused and share everything when you'd want to unshare all of your files.

He forgets however to mention that Limewire 5 offers multiple ways of monitoring which files you're sharing. Each and every file comes with an icon that visualizes its status. It's green if you share it and grey if you don't. Secondly, there's a whole menu entry in the side bar called "P2P network." Click on it, and you'll see all the files you are sharing with the world in one list. Doesn't really get any easier than that.

But that's not all. Did you notice how Sydnor writes that users "(perhaps)" share documents by accident. That's because by defition they don't. Limewire makes it impossible to share any pdf, txt, doc or xls files through Gnutella without changing a setting under "Tools

"Most consumer and business scanners and multi-function copier-printers can save scanned documents in bitmap, TIFF or JPEG formats. Scanned documents can include very sensitive or personal records like tax returns, business records, financial data, legal documents, medical records, lists of account numbers and passwords, and identifying documents."

Sure, that's possible, even though I'd assume that most scanners by default save documents as PDF files nowadays. However, users still have to explicitly share these files. One should probably also point out that all of the previous stories about massive breaches through inadvertent file sharing focused on actual document files. The blueprint of Obama's helicopter wasn't leaked through a scanned BMP file, and those 150,000 tax returns that the Today Show supposedly found on P2P networks weren't JPEGs either.

But wait, that's not all: Sydnor stretches the definition of sensitive information even further:

"By definition, most music collections will tend to contain a lot of popular music—and almost none of it will be legal to “share” over the Gnutella network. Consequently, when entire collections can be “shared” at once, audio files become 'sensitive.'"

Riiiiight. Michael Jackson MP3s are pretty much the same as Social Security numbers ...

It's not really a surprise that Sydnor deems audio files that valuable. The Progress and Freedom Foundation foundation has a track record of copyright maximalism, and one has to wonder whether its repeated attacks against Limewire aren't really just attempts to rid the net of copyright infringement.

The foundation is funded by entertainment industry heavyweights like EMI, Viacom, Vivendi and Sony Music. Those companies apparently pay enough money to fund 27-page studies that boil down to one single point of criticism: Limewire 5 has a "share all" feature that may or may not be used to accidentally share files.

Well, I got good news for Mr. Sydnor. I've recently had a chance to take a look at the upcoming Limewire version 5.2, which includes further refinements of the new Limewire UI. One of them is that the "share all" button is gone. Somehow I doubt that this will stop Thomas Sydnor from plotting new attacks against Limewire ...

10/11 2006 | 06:05 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Paidcontent published an "interview with the pirate king" today, the king being Bittorrent CEO Ashwin Navin. In the text writer Jeremia Kiss reported that Bittorrent is employing 32 people now and that their new content distribution platform will launch at the end of the year.

One detail Kiss mentioned was previously unreported tho. From the text:

"There will be plenty of changes to improve the user experience and the new service will no longer be open source."

This caused a bit of a stir in the P2P world, with P2Pnet rumbling about "BT's relegation to the dark realm of closed systems". It's also a bit surprising because much of the success of Bittorrent is based on it's Open Source license, which allowed software deveopers from Azureus to Opera to develop their own clients.

P2P Blog asked Bittorrent Inc. for a clarification, and the company's Director of Communications Lily Lin replied:

"We are committed to maintaining an open-source reference implementation of BitTorrent. That hasn't changed. To power our new retail marketplace and for other technology implementations, there will be an enhanced, closed-source version of the BitTorrent client."

This certainly makes more sense than going closed source completely. One can assume that the "technology implementations" have to do with the previously announced cooperation with Cachelogic, allowing Bittorrent to maintain localized superseeds of licensed / commercial content.

It's hard to tell yet which, if any, effect the development of an improved but closed source client will have on Bittorrent's client market share. But it's probably safe to say that it won't help to improve the already strained relations between Bittorrent and other vendors.
10/18 2006 | 01:27 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There was a tiny little detail the folks from Mediaservices forgot to mention during their press conference yesterday. What's that, you ask? Well, only that is starting to offer their entire catalogue for free.
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Wurldmedia closes shop, PeerImpact is history

01/15 2008 | 12:00 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Liz Gannes is reporting at Newteevee that the Roo Group has just completely dismantled Wurldmedia - a start-up that used to run a walled garden P2P platform called Peerimpact that let consumers buy DRM-protected songs. Peerimpact at one point offered prospective customers songs for 9 Cents a pop, but that apparently didn't persuade anyone to sign up either.

Roo closed down Peerimpact soon after it acquired Wurldmedia back in February 2007 and instead tried to incorporate the P2P features into its B2B platform. Liz writes at Newteevee that the entire Wurldmedia team got laid off and its offices got closed. Roo doesn't want to say good-bye to P2P completely though. Here's what CEO Kaleil Isaza Tuzman had to say in a public statement:

"Our goal is to provide our clients with the most efficient and cost effective delivery system available; and as such, we will provide P2P options for our clients through business alliances with P2P providers as opposed to developing these competencies internally."

Legal UK P2P service Wippit shuts down

09/05 2008 | 04:21 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Wippit, a UK-based P2P service that sold music through subscription packages, has finally shut its doors. A company spokesperson told the Distorted Loop blog that Wippit "succumbed to tough market conditions" and eventually became a victim of its own vision and optimism.

pic oh wippit shut down notice

I'd suspect that the absence of a clear value proposition for end users might have something to do with the failure as well. Wippit originally marketed itself as a legal alternative to file sharing networks like Napster, but always had a far to little catalog to compete.

It tried to change this by moving more towards the model of a centralized download store, even selling music from EMI, but those tracks were DRM-protected and couldn't be swapped. It also experimented with home-made ringtones and apparently even had a limited number of video downloads. I reviewed the service early on, but found it confusing and too limited.

Add to that the fact that Wippit used anti-P2P sentiment to market its own service, taking cheap shots at companies that advertised on P2P sites, and you begin to understand why not enough people were sharing Wippit's vision and optmism.

(via dmw)

Will Baidu soon search P2P networks?

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.

Korean search engines: We won't publish ads for file sharing services anymore

07/23 2009 | 09:14 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Korean serch engines and portal sites have agreed to ban ads of P2P and web-based file sharing services, according to a report from The article is admittedly not very clear on the details, but it seems like major search and content portals like and have agreed to not publish any ads for file sharing services on their sites anymore. Major advertising networks seem to be in the mix as well. From the article:

"Overture Korea, the largest ad agency, stopped ads, Google Korea is preparing for related policies. In fact, web hard and P2P ads will be eliminated from most local internet services."

Korea has been sort of a unique case in terms of file sharing for a number of years. 90 percent of Korea's households have broadband connectivity, with speeds typically around 40 to 50 Mbit. However, Koreans don't really use these ultra-fast connections for P2P file sharing. Instead, they simply upload content to web-based storage services, also known as webhard services.

Some of these services are operated by reputable technology companies. is for example run by LG, and it apparently won't have to fear the new advertising ban:

"(P)ortal companies would stop illegal webhard and P2P ads but (..) webhard for individual storage will be continued regardless of copy right material distribution."

UK artists "vehemently oppose" three strikes

09/04 2009 | 02:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember all those ads a few years back with artists telling you that downloading the song is the same as stealing a CD in a store? Times are changing, and people are getting wiser: Three UK groups representing songwriters, performing musicians and music producers have come out with a strong-worded statement against renewed plans to institute a three strikes policy in their country.

The Featured Artists Coalition, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and the Music Producers Guild count musicians like Kate Nash, Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney and Elton John amongst their members, just to name a few, and their joint statement is worth reading in full:

"Response to the Department for Business Innovation & Skills Consultation on Legislation to Address Illicit Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File-Sharing from the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and the Music Producers Guild (MPG)

The above organisations, who between them represent the people who write, perform and produce music believe that the protection offered by copyright to recording artists, composers and songwriters is vital if the UK is to continue to be at the forefront of the global music industry. Copyright serves to nurture the writer and artist and those who invest in their creativity.

However we have serious reservations about the content and scope of the proposed legislation outlined in the consultation on P2P file-sharing. Processes of monitoring, notification and sanction are not conducive to achieving a vibrant, functional, fair and competitive market for music. As a result we believe that the specific questions asked by the consultation are not only unanswerable but indicate a mindset so far removed from that of the general public and music consumer that it seems an extraordinarily negative document.

The very fuzzy estimates for the annual benefits of such legislation (£200 million per year) make clear that such estimates are based firmly upon the premise that a P2P downloaded track equals a lost sale. This “substitutional” argument is, in reality, no more than “lobbyists’ speak”: it has little support from logic and no economist would seek to weave such a number into a metric aimed at quantifying a ‘value gap’ for the industries challenged by P2P.

In contrast to the lack of any credible evidence for the size of the substitutional effect, there is evidence that repeat file-sharers of music are also repeat purchasers of music, movies, documentaries etc. Recent research by MusicAlly has demonstrated the continued popularity of the CD as the purchased product of choice by many music fans. This combined with the continued significance of the CD in the revenue balance of record labels, suggests a much more complex equation in which file-sharing may erode sales, but where it may also promote other revenue streams. For this reason it is dangerous to view the downloading of music as the direct online equivalent of CD sales.

Of equal concern are those elements of the consultation that estimate the cost of implementing the proposals. The estimate of between £65 and £85 million for the first year contained in the consultation is likely to be a gross underestimate of how much such a system will actually cost owing to the complicated nature of the system proposed. This figure (if just compared with recorded music) represents somewhere between 10-15% of the market value after accounting for fixed costs such as CD manufacturing and staffing and, in the light of our comments above, is clearly disproportionate to any possible benefit. Even if the music industry is expected to fund only 50% of this cost, it is still disproportionate to any possible new revenues based on the system proposed.

Much online activity surrounding the sharing of music often coincides with a great deal of fan support for the artist concerned. The centrality of the artist in the new music ecology is such that the lobbying by labels to continue to try to sue or sanction music fans must be placed in a broader context of those fans’ behaviour. It must also be seen in the context not of the loss to a particular business constituency but whether it represents a real loss to the economy as a whole.

A file-sharing fans’ economic contribution to an artist’s career may focus around the purchase of merchandise and tickets to live concerts – the irreplaceable experiences which contribute to artists’ success, even though this will not compensate the creators of the music and lyrics directly unless they are also performers. The loss of appetite for the purchase of CDs is not mono-causal and cannot be blamed on file-sharing alone. The increasing competition for the recorded music fan’s pound that comes from the purchase of other products such as video games, and DVDs all contribute to a shift in spending on recorded music. This shift in focus does not necessarily mean that overall the creators’ revenue is reduced, nor that the UK economy is negatively impacted.

What the consultation’s proposals singularly fail to do is differentiate between the downloading and sharing of music by music fans, on a non-commercial basis, and those who seek financial gain or commercial advantage from such activity. This second group of “commercial” P2P users and facilitators should be pursued with the full force of the law as is the case with illegal CD plants in the offline world. Ordinary music fans and consumers should not be criminalised because of the failings of a legacy sector of business to adapt sufficiently fast to new technological challenges.

Looking backward for insight into how we adapt mass-production product models to the digital age of access and services has been a major obstacle to progress over the past decade. We must begin to look forward to business models that we cannot even imagine yet.

As creators’ representatives we are willing to be partners with government in exploring and navigating the opportunities and challenges brought by digital technologies. What we will not be a party to is any system that alienates our members’ existing audience and potential new audiences.

We see forward looking developments such as the Digital Britain Test Beds being sponsored by The Technology Strategy Board as key opportunities to remove the blinkers of the music industry incumbents and welcome the innovators to ensure some progress in this sector of the market.

In the light of the above we vehemently oppose the proposals being made and suggest that the stick is now in danger of being way out of proportion to the carrot. The failure of 30,000 US lawsuits against consumers and the cessation of the pursuit of that policy should be demonstration enough that this is not a policy that any future-minded UK government should pursue."

(via Music Ally)

Kidz Bop drops lawsuit against Limewire

09/26 2009 | 12:04 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Music label Razor & Tie Entertainment, knwon for its Kidz Bop compilations, has dropped its lawsuit against Limewire, according to a story from Razor & Tie had sued Limewire about a year ago, at the time calling the file sharing software "a breeding ground for copyright infringement of unprecedented magnitude."

What led to the change of mind? Limewire and Razor & Tie wouldn't tell Billboard any details about the new withdrawal of the lawsuit, but Limewire CEO George Searle told the music industry publication that he views conflicts like this one not as legal issues, but business issues. In other words: Limewire promised Razor & Tie something that made financially more sense than a full-blown legal war.

Limewire has been steadily working towards partnerships with music labels in recent years. The company opened its own music download store early last year and integrated the store front directly into its client last December.

However, Limewire doesn't just want to sell a few MP3s to file sharers. The company also has ambitious plans to launch a pay-per-click contextual advertising network in its client and on its growing list of web properties. The network is supposed to share its revenue with musicians and record labels. Searle introduced these plans 16 months ago at a DCIA event in Los Angeles, and the company has since followed suit by trying contextual ads within Limewire to promote its own download store.

Limewire has been keeping mum about the launch date of its ad network, but the company has been operating a new stealth subsidiary based in Sunnyvale for around a year. The end of the Kidz Bop lawsuit could mean that Limewire is ready to roll out contextual ads on a wider basis rather sooner than later

Machsend: File sharing in your browser, powered by Browserplus

10/12 2009 | 12:20 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Somehow I missed Machsend when it got released in July, but it's worth a look, if only to see browser-based file sharing based on something else than Java.


Machsend makes it possible to share files directly through your browser. Just drag and drop a file onto the Machsend website, and it will generate a unique Url to share with your contacts. Files will be available as long as your browser is open. From the Machsend website:

"The transfers are peer to peer - straight between the two clients and aren't relayed or proxied."

Granted, this isn't exactly a new idea. There have been numerous browser-based P2P apps in the past, with some offering pretty much the same as Machsend, while others bring BitTorrent or even streaming video to the browser. One thing that makes Machsend unique is that it's based on Ruby and Yahoo's Browserplus extension. Browserplus is essentially a plug-in that gives web apps file acces and other desktop-like capabilities.

Also interesting for P2P enthusiasts: Machsend's developer recently blogged about how he is using TCP NAT traversal.

For sale on Ebay: The guitars that rocked the Bittorrent world

11/30 2009 | 11:55 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor is selling most of his studio and live equipment on Ebay. The auction site currently lists around 20 guitars, and each item is accompanied by the following explanation:

"This is the equipment from the Nine Inch Nails touring Gear and studio rig that we are no longer in need of. (...) We will be listing hundreds of items over the next several weeks such as guitars, keyboards, amplifiers, drums, staging, anvil cases, cables, rack/outboard gear, guitar effects, pedal boards. So keep checking in on our auctions."

nin guitar

Some of the auctions already reached prices way over market value of the instruments, as noted by the Guardian. The paper explains:

"Nine Inch Nails have long enjoyed an interactive relationship with fans. Reznor has given away albums, leaked professionally shot live footage, and was for a long time one of music's most candid Twitterers. If Nine Inch Nails are no longer using some of their equipment, it seems they would rather see it in the hands of fans than gathering dust in a warehouse."

In fact, NIN has been embracing Bittorrent to distribute music and reach fans like no other band. Trent Reznor gave away multiple Creative Commons-licensed albums via torrent sites like The Pirate Bay. NIN also leaked a giant, 405 GB torrent with uncut HD footage, and the band even started up its own torrent tracker to fully utilize P2P.

In other words: NIN are Bittorrent's first rock stars, and these are the very guitars that rocked The Pirate Bay. Still need a present for the NIN-loving P2P enthusiast in your life? Then check out Reznor's auctions here.

Windows Vista: P2P is coming to your subnet

01/30 2007 | 12:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Today's the day: Windows Vista is finally being released, and millions of eager computer users will run to Bestbuy to grab a copy just stick with what they have, just as they have done before.

Of course new PCs will be equiped with Vista from now on, so we'll see some new technology reach the marketplace eventually. Part of it will be Vista's integrated P2P networking. Vista offers functions like People Near me to discover and eventually collaborate with other Vista users in your own subnet.

I know, I know. Sounds like Bonjour, doesn't it? Well, People Near Me might now be that original, but Windows has a far bigger market peneration than OS X - and there is a ton of P2P developers for Windows out there that might use this for some interesting new close range applications.

You'll find a more general overview about Vista's P2P technology at CNET and some example code at

0xdb: The ultimate P2P-powered film database

08/14 2007 | 02:18 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
File sharing activists like to argue that swapping music and movies is not just about getting content for free, but about preserving the world's knowledge in a decentralized fashion. Some folks from the Pirate Cinema Berlin now decided to put their money PHP coding skills where their mouth is and created a huge database for films that are available on P2P networks called 0xdb.


From the 0xdb website:

"What the 0xdb provides is, essentially, full text search within movies, and instant previews of search results. The core idea behind the 0xdb is that file-sharing networks can not only be used to download digital works, but also to just retrieve information about them. Even though most movies in the 0xdb are copyrighted, and many of them are practically inaccessible for legal reasons, the monitoring of peer-to-peer traffic allows the 0xdb to identify and index these materials."


Yes, you read that one right. Full text search. 0xdb makes use of the subtitle files people share on P2P networks to make movies searchable by keywords, which actually is pretty damn clever. Subtitle files are already time-coded, so all 0xdn does is mapping the subtitles against time-stamped screenshots of the movies.


0xdb also offers a somewhat abstract timeline of each film that is based on pixel-based renderings of the movie, with each second representing one pixel on the screen. Users are able to navigate through the timeline and request short Flash clips from each scene.

There are also flash clips available in scene mode, which obviously raises some copyright issues. 0xdb does refer to fair use principles and they might have a good case - after all, the site doesn't allow any movie downloads, and the clips are more like quotes than anything else. Finally, many movies listed right now aren't indexed yet, and most of them shouldn't even be on the radar of big rights holders. The site looks more like the database equivalent to an art house theater that specializes in showcasing 1960ies French cinema than anything else.


0xdb does also collect additional material about each movie, including posters and credits, and the site is linking out to a bunch of other sites to provide some more background info. One final feature that I really like is the maps view - it basically shows locations related to a movie on a Google map. All of this makes 0xdb a really interesting project, if only to show of what's possible once you make all knowledge universally available online.

Update: I've noticed a high number of referrers from 0xdb in my server logs. Turns out that the 0xdb index page sometimes redirects visitors back to the previous site when they click on the enter button, probably due to some weird Javascript bug ... it should work the second time around though. You can also try to go the 0xdb about page first and then click through to the main site.

Porn industry bands together against Bittorrent

09/07 2007 | 04:19 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
It's been a well-know fact that a lot of the content swapped on P2P networks is porn. Even so, adult entertainment companies have been on the sideline of the fight against P2P piracy, leaving the mass lawsuit campaigns to their colleagues from the music industry and relying on mainstream Hollywood for anti-piracy lobbying.

porn industry against torrent sites

It looks like this might change soon though. AVN is reporting that 65 porn industry representatives met in Los Angeles Wednesday to discuss their options in the fight against piracy. From the article:

"Several figures estimating the extent of piracy of adult material were mentioned at the meeting, and the consensus seemed to be that piracy accounted for about a $2 billion loss from the estimated $50 billion gross income from adult material worldwide."

Some of the producers at the meeting thought that the situation was even more serious. AVN quotes Megan Stokes from Shane's World saying:

"As the younger people who know exactly how to do this [download content] keep coming further and further into our bracket, I would suspect that within the next five years, there's not going to be anybody that we're trying to sell product to that doesn't know how to download it for free."

Some of the companies present apparently expressed reservation against a too aggressive legal strategy, arguing that instead the porn industry needs something like iTunes to make it easier for people to buy single scenes. There were also mixed feelings about DRM.

Five companies nevertheless decided to go forward and form a lose alliance with the goal of eventually establishing an industry association to initiate anti-piracy lawsuits. Part of that would be actions against commercial infringers that sell bootleg DVDs.

A web forum started by the companies in question makes it clear that they definitely want to go after P2P piracy as well. The forum alfready lists various Torrent sites, and members are encouraged to "take screenshots of the suspected infringements".

Could Twitter go P2P?

05/08 2008 | 12:12 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
There's been an interesting debate in the blogosphere this week about ways to decentralize Twitter. The reason behind it are obviously Twitter's frequent outages and the lingering question whether the system will completely break down once Paris Hilton joins. Or even Perez Hilton, I guess. Techcrunch sums up the conversation in this post and writes:

"The key weakness in Twitter (and therefore opportunity for a new decentralized approach) is the fact that so much Twitter activity occurs off Users are getting very used to using desktop clients (Twitterific, Alert Thingy, Twhirl, etc.), IM, SMS, and other interfaces to talk to Twitter. Those third party applications can be tuned to lock in to the new decentralized Twitter-like service instead or in addition to Twitter itself."

Long time P2P delevoper Adam Fisk however thinks decentralizing Twitter is a bad idea. He writes:

"Martin Fowler’s First Law of Distributed Computing continually rings true: don’t distribute your objects. Why? Because it’s hard."

It would be especially hard in a case like Twitter, because you would end up distributing data that isn't really meant to be distributed in a P2P fashion, says Fisk:

"Distributed computing has shown itself to be particularly useful for moving around large files. In Twitter’s case, you’re working from the opposite extreme: processing a high volume of tiny messages. This screams centralization."

There might be a compromise out there though. One way to solve the Twitter problem would be to leave the service centralized for network-wide communication, but establish a decentralized version for near-field communication. Spanish developers are currently working on a P2P messaging application called Fluid Nexus that doesn't even use the Telco's networks. Instead, it relies on Bluetooth to broadcast messages to nearby users.

Fluid Nexus is made with an activist and relief worker user base in mind, and it certainly makes sense for these scenarios. It really doesn't matter in the grad scheme of things whether Jason Calacanis' 24.000 followers can read every single message he spits out. The world doesn't end if Twitter doesn't work in cases like this one.

Relief work on the other hand, or pro-democracy demonstrations against repressive regimes, call for decentralized Twitter-like systems that can't be censored and don't just switch to LOLcats every time the message load spikes. Of course this would work great a a conference back channel as well. The Fluid Nexus team is currently developing an Andoid client, so we might see this ready to use for next year's conference season. Here's a quick video overview:

Fluid Nexus on Android from Nick Knouf on Vimeo.

Verizon CTO: We don't want to throttle legal P2P

06/27 2008 | 04:21 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Cnet has an interview with Verizon CTO Mark Wegleitner today that was supposed to be about the FIOS success story, but a good deal of it is talking about P2P, which is interesting in itself. Here's what Wegleitner had to say about Bittorrent throttling:

"It's sort of a glass-half-full situation. Degrading traffic for one application enables another to work better. But we have to allow people who use the peer-to-peer applications for lawful and legitimate purposes to do so."

Does that mean that Verizon would be open to interfere with illegal P2P traffic - something that AT&T previously was willing to do? Wegleitner doesn't say, and Cnet writer Marguerite Reardon doesn't ask. Still, and interesting interview, if a little vague on the details.

IETF could tackle IPS's problems with P2P

07/21 2008 | 03:57 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Pando- and Verizon-backed P4P approach to optimizing P2P traffic for ISPs and downloaders alike might be a big hit with some access providers, but many file sharers are still skeptical.

Maybe this will change once the Internet Engineering Task Force, or short IETF, is going to get involved with these efforts. P4P proponents are planing to make their case at the 72nd IETF Meeting in Dublin at the end of July, with two so-called "Birds of a feather" meet-ups being scheduled to address Techniques for Advanced Networking Applications and Application-Layer Traffic Optimization.

The idea to get the IETF involved is not new. Pando CTO Laird Popkin told me a few months back that the IETF could be a good non-profit to run the iTracker servers in a P4P environment to make sure that privacy concerns are addressed. The draft statements written for the IETF meeting also go out of their way to address any concerns that P4P-like technology could be used to control file sharing. From the ALTO draft:

"However, ALTO is completely optional for P2P applications and its purpose is to help improve performance of such applications. If, for some reason, it fails to achieve this purpose, it would simply fail to gain popularity and would not be used.

Even in cases where the ALTO service provider would decide to maliciously alter results returned by queries only after the solution has gained popularity (i.e. it behaves for a while to become popular and then starts misbehaving), it would be fairly easy for P2P application maintainers and users to revert to solutions that are not using it."

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

08/13 2008 | 01:40 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Law enforcement officials from several German states have told local press in recent days that they won't pursue the vast majority of file sharing lawsuits anymore. A spokesperson of the state prosecutor of Nort-Rhine Westphalia told the online magazine earlier this week that P2P users won't have to fear any lawsuits if they don't share files on a "substantial, commercial" level.

The criteria to determine whether P2P users reach this level are both the number of files shared and the specific value of the shared files. From the interview:

"The economic value of a music file is about one Euro, whereas a movie is valued at about 15 Euro. Based on that we define a commercial level as damages greater than 3000 Euro."

Does that mean that you can now share up to 3000 MP3s without getting sued in Germany? Well, not exactly. Another indicator for so-called commercial infringement is the specific nature of the files shared. Sharing a movie that has not been released theatrically in Germany could get you in trouble even if you don't share to many other files, according to the prosecutor's spokesperson.

North-Rhine Westphalia isn't the only state in Germany that chooses to ignore small-time file sharing. Similar regulations are also put in place in Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt as well as in Berlin. The regulations are a reaction to hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against file sharers that have been filed by rights holders in recent years. North-Rhine Westphalia's prosecutor told that one of three offices in his state has received 25,000 lawsuits in the first half of this year alone.


Update: Why did Germany have such a high number of P2P lawsuits in the first place? Read all about it here: Monster vaginas cost German tax payers millions

Interview with Littleshoot's Adam Fisk

11/24 2008 | 01:24 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Former Limewire developer Adam Fisk is officially launching his new browser-based P2P service Littleshoot this week. Mashable had a good first review of the service last Friday, and a post on Lifehacker also seems to have generated quite a bit of interest. I met up with Fisk in Los Angeles late last week did a short video interview about the service for P2P Blog.

Littleshoot is in short a browser-based P2P service that is based on the open source SIP protocol. The service also offers search and download capability for various other media services, such as Youtube, Yahoo's video search and Limewire / Gnutella.

It features a nifty integration of Yahoo's Flash media player, making it possible to play back MP3s you download right in your browser. One interesting technical aspect about it is that it making substantial use of Google's App engine. Fisk is also working on a Twitter integration right now that will make it possible to share media files through Twitter in your browser.

You can hear more about all of this in the interview - that is if the coffee house noise deoesn't distract you too much. I guess I gotta get myself a good lapel mic.

Plazes relaunch

07/04 2006 | 08:22 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers relaunched today while everybody else was hanging out at the beach, having barbeque or crying with Odonkor. Good timing to deal with last-minute bugs, indeed. Plazes is something of an location enabler based on Wifi access points. It allows you to describe your unique location (Plaze) and then recognizes it through your router's MAC address.

How is this P2P? Good question - and easy to answer. Plazes enables people to use their location as an additional bit of information when it comes to personal publishing, putting photos on Flickr or various ways of discovery (a.k.a. hooking up). So it not only brings people together, but at the same time allows geographic collaborative media. Which might not technically be P2P, but it's definitely something I'd call social P2P. Using technology to make the net a two way street.

The relaunch itself was a little overdue. So many things changed in terms of mapping and location lately, and the old interface really wasn't up to it anymore. The folks at Plazes showed me an early screenshot of the new site design back at Etech, which was very, very Web2.0. Color fades, pastel, all the works.

Compared to those early attempts, the new Plazes interface almost looks like a Google service - and that's not only because the Google's maps are displayed very prominently. It's simple, makes use of big fonts and looks kind of square. Useful, but not pretty. In that it is a little bit like, even tho the sites don't really look alike.

Upon login users are greeted with a dashboard that displays their location and discovered Plazes in their neighbourhood on a big Google map. Further down on the page you'll find buddies. A little too hidden for my taste, but then you can always get a list of them through your Plazes application.

The main theme of the relaunch is mapping,which seems to be a smart move. Plazes does't want to be a dating platform like Meetro, so they put the emphasis on the locations and not the people. Open the tab "Browse Plazes", and yoo get to see a map. Open "Browse People", and, again, you get a map. Of course you can get a list as well, but the mesage is clear: It's all about location.

One danger is that Plazes might take itself too serious. The previous website invited people to playful browsing - opening random Plazes that were displayed on the front page. The new site focuses on your current neighbourhood. Which makes sense if you are often at different locations. People working at home end up just seeing the same three or four other Plazes users nearby. It would be good to have some options for your dashboard. Some incentives to actually contribute to the system, some showcase of other Plazes.

I believe the real test fo Plazes will be how useful it is to other developers. The service will only grow to a useful size if others integrate it into their own services, which might be web- or application based. Or probably both. Once we see such integrations happen, the Plazes web interface will become sort of a backdoor. Like that admin area of your blogging software. It's not pretty, but it works.

Libraries use P2P for digital archiving

10/09 2006 | 01:33 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Anyone who ever had a hard disk failure knows: Digital archiving is tough. Of course you promise yourself to do regular backups. Maybe you even have a complicated system in place that secures all your files every day. But when Murphy strikes, chances are that all of this won't help you and you'll end up with some digital memory loss.

Losing files sucks - but at least you're not the only one that struggles with this problem. Libraries, broadcasters and other types of archivivists increasingly fight an uphill battle anaginst data loss. Some even preseve technology itself in order to presevere data, as the LA Times reported recently:

"The difficulty and cost of the process prompted WGBH, Boston's public broadcasting television station, to hedge its bets. It purchased 6-foot-tall, 1960s-era video recorders and shrink-wrapped them in cold storage to ensure a way to play back a unique collection of Boston Symphony concerts from 1955 and an interview series hosted by Eleanor Roosevelt, featuring such luminaries as then-Sen. John F. Kennedy."

US libraries now started using P2P technology for digital archiving. Some researchers at the Stanford University developed a system called LOCKSS - an acronym that pretty much explains it all: "Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe"

LOCKSS essentially works as a web proxy and distrubuted archive for scientific journals that are published online. Once a user of a library computer that has LOCKSS installed accesses a participating journal, the content is stored locally and then distributed over the LOCKSS network.

Interesting about this process is that LOCKSS uses some kind of quality control. The different machines of the network compare their version of a document and then vote on the integrity of the archived material. Incomplete or damaged copies are then replaced by the version that is voted best.

This picture from the LOCKSS website illustrates this process:

LOCKSS quality control

Obviously LOCKSS has tpo deal with copyright issues. Digital versions of scientific magazines are oftentimes very expensive, and most pulishers wouldn't be too happy about a free distributed archive of their content. LOCKSS ues the original login mechanisms of the publishers to deal with these aspects.

However, makers of LOCKSS also prepare for a time when publishers might not be available to grant access to their content. They are in the early stages of building a much bigger archive called CLOCKSS, that would be free to everyone under certain circumstances. From the website:

"Content archived in CLOCKSS nodes will be made available following a “trigger event” that could result in long-term disruption of availability from the publisher. Upon such a trigger event, the publishers and librarians decide collaboratively whether stored materials should be made available for a limited or an indefinite period. Materials, when available, will be available to all."

The idea apparently is to build a dark archive that will only be made available once the original archives are destroyed or inaccessible due to natural disasters - kind of like a last-resort P2P network.

Map of P2P companies

11/03 2006 | 02:16 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
This is a test of the Platial Mapkit mentioned here earlier. Feel free to add your own locations.

Update: Apparently the map doesn't display correctly (or at all, for that matter) with Safari. Firefox for OS X works fine tho.

Limewire wants ISPs to enforce copyright

07/25 2007 | 12:02 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire chairman Mark Gorton had a bad day on Tuesday. Gorton appeared in front of the Committee for Oversight and Government Reform to talk about P2P safety and leaks of classified information on file sharing networks. CNet reports that he "was assailed for allegedly harming national security". From the CNet article:

"The most scathing criticism came from Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who launched into a lengthy monologue in which he deemed Gorton 'one of the most naive chairmen and CEOs I've ever run across. (...) Mr. Gorton, you seem to lack imagination about how your product can be deliberately misused by evildoers against this country.'"

Oups. That hurts. Gorton promised to do a better job about educating users and designing Limewire to avoid unwanted sharing of sensitive information.

His prepared statement also offers an interesting twist on the old fingerpointing game. Gorton told the Committee that ISPs should be forced to take a tougher stance against sharing of unlicensed content. From his statement:

"Internet Service Providers, ISP’s, are a unique point of control for every computer on the Internet. Universities frequently function as their own ISP’s, and a handful of universities have implemented notice based warning systems that result in the disconnection of users engaged in illegal behavior who ignore multiple warnings. These universities have sharply reduced child pornography and copyright infringement on their campus networks. Similar policies could be mandated for all ISP’s in the United States. "

Gorton goes on by saying that the US Congress should pass laws to force ISPs to enforce copyright. This sounds like a dangerous idea to suggest - especially in times where politicians and lobbyists are pushing for government-mandated P2P filters on the ISP level. Granted, Gorton only wants ISPs to cut off repeat offenders. Investigating those offenses would likely still be done by rights holders. But he might just end up getting more than he can swallow.

Netgear and D-Link team up with Bittorrent

01/07 2008 | 10:54 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I've alluded to this in my weekend column over at Newteevee, but now it's official: Bittorrent announced today at CES that D-Link and Netgear both are becoming Bittorrent device partners. The two companies have integrated the Bittorrent SDK Kit into some of their NAS products, and Bittorrent certified some of their routers for their "for its ability to share high-speed Internet connections and link multiple home users on a network", as the D-Link press release reads.

Bittorrent teamed up with Netgear at CES a year ago already, but back then it was kind of a non-announcement. Netgear simply started to promote the Bittorrent store as a download option to customers of some of its products, but there was nothing really substantial in terms of hardware features.

This years' announcements are somewhat more significant. Having a Bittorrent-enabled NAS is obviously a great idea, and some of the previous implementations done by the hardware manufacturers on their own seemed to be lacking in features and speed. The now-announced NAS devices won't however be able to use the Bittorrent DNA streaming features at least for some time as far as I understand.

Business-wise, the router certification might even be more important for Bittorrent. The company aims to expand its reach beyond the hardcore P2P scene to people who don't necessarily know anything about port forwarding, UPnP and the maximum number of connections - and setting up routers in a way that they are P2P-ready will not only benefit Bittorrent and its DNA efforts, but also other P2P vendors and open source projects.

Limewire working on integrating store in P2P client

03/25 2008 | 12:29 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Limewire's newly launched music store might get integrated into the company's popular P2P client rather sooner than later, judging from first traces that popped up in a recent version of the software. Limewire's current stable release numbered 4.16.6 includes an entry in its Options menu that allows users to set a download directory for purchased songs.

limewire store

Limewire has always said that it wants to include context-relevant links to content from its download store into the client. This menu entry hints at a possible use of the Limewire client as a download manager for the store. The store's Terms of Use currently don't allow customers to use any download manager.

The same Terms of Use coincidentally also don't permit to share content from the download store through the client, but the software doesn't stop you from sharing the directory for store purchases manually. Limewire's copyright filter also doesn't seem to filter out the complete store catalogue. I was able to search for and download songs from at least one artist available on the Limewire download store.

Web-based tool to test your broadband connection for Bittorrent throttling

03/29 2008 | 05:26 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Testing whether your ISP is throttling Bittorrent used to be a rather complicated undertaking. The EFF came up with a guide that, among other things, asks you to "disable TCP and UDP checksum offloading and TCP segmentation offloading." Riiight.

The Live CD previously mentioned on P2P Blog simplified tests quite a bit, but it still involved teaming up with another user of the same ISP. But things are becoming even easier with a new web-based tool developed at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Saarbruecken, Germany.

test your isp

From its website:

"This test suite creates a BitTorrent-like transfer between your machine and our server, and determines whether or not your ISP is limiting such traffic. This is a first step towards making traffic manipulation by ISPs more transparent to their customers."

Users just have to run a Java applet on their machine that tries to up- and download data via Bittorrent to and from the Institute's server. The tool tests different ports, so users will know whether their ISP is just blocking a certain port or interfering will all Bittorrent transfers.

comcast bittorrent throttling

P2P Blog tested the tool from residential Comcast line, and it accurately diagnosed a manipulation of the upload traffic. So how is your provider doing? Go ahead, run the test and let us know in the comment section!

Is P2P green?

04/28 2008 | 08:34 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers recently interviewed Bittorrent CTO Eric Klinker about the company's cooperation with Comcast. The interview happened to be recorded on earth day, so's Andy Plesser also asked about the environmental impact of P2P. Klinker was very optimistic, saying that utilizing end user's PCs makes it possible to buy and run less servers. You can watch the complete interview below.

I'm personally not so sure if P2P is really that green. Sure, buying less servers and running less data centers sounds like a good idea, but oftentimes it's just much easier to clean up a centralized resource than a decentralized one.

Google is already working on plans for alternative energy-powered data centers, but it will be a long time until every single user can access green energy. Also, users that keep their PC running 24/7 in order to download and seed torrents just don't seem like the pioneers of a green computing movement to me, but maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?

Former Pink Floyd manager: It's time to end P2P lawsuits

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

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

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

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

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

Zattoo to launch browser-based version

03/18 2009 | 12:44 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Zattoo is about to follow Joost in its footsteps and launch a browser-based version of its P2P TV service, according to the German online magazine

Zattoo apparently wants to test the browser-based approach with a limited number of users before a wider release is made available online. And who would use the new web platform? Casual users and women - at least that's what the folks at Zattoo believe, according to

Zattoo is a live P2P streaming service that so far launched in eight European countries. Zattoo has had less problems that Joost with its P2P technology because its users watch the same channels at the same time, making it essier to distribute the video data. The company announced three million registered users last July, and has since started to roll out premium services in some countries.

However, the service doesn't seem to be popular everywhere. Zattoo announced in early March that it will leave Belgium because of lack of interest of local Internet users.

Essayrunner sells school papers found on Limewire

07/02 2009 | 03:19 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Would you pay ten bucks per month for the chance to access thousands of school papers that your teachers won't find with a simple Google search? is betting that some folks will, and it is using the Gnutella P2P network to build a business based on this idea.


The site is basically a giant archive of essays, currently promising access to over 140,000 school papers. There are dozens of essay sites with names like out there, and many students have started to upload papers to sites like Scribd. Essayrunner however offers an interesting twist: The site scours the Gnutella P2P network for essays shared via Limewire and similar file sharing clients. From

"Because of Limewire's complex distributed nature most of the essays are not available on the network at any given time. EssayRunner scours the network for files 24 hours a day 7 days a week so you don't have to. EssayRunner is a mirror for Limewire content. "

A site like Essayrunner obviously brings up a whole bunch of legal issues. Most people use Limewire to download music and videos, and documents are more often than not shared accidentally (in fact, newer versions of Limewire don't share any documents by default to prevent inadvertent file sharing.)

Essayrunner does have a take-down policy, promising to remove any content at the request of the original author, but one has to wonder whether such an author will ever know that their articles are hosted on Essayrunner in the first place.

But wait, that's not all: Adding to the murky picture is the fact that the owner of the domain previously tried to spam file sharing networks in order to prevent copyright infringement. He started a Sourceforge project called kNewt about a year ago that was supposed to scour torrent sites for popular file names and then pollute Gnutella with fake files using these names. From the kNewt website:

"For several years open source developers have continued to release versions of p2p software that protect against varied threats, such as spam, but fail to prevent the distribution of copyright files. Should open source software create problems or solve them? Should open source solutions that are mainly used to subvert copyrights be hosted on sourceforge?"

Luckily, his plea for deleopers to "corrode the effectiveness of the Gnutella network to distribute pirated works" got completely ignored, and kNewt never evolved beyond the concept stage. After all, how would Essayrunner have found all those papers in a network of rusty tubes?

Vuze, Amazon and Google support FCC net neutrality rules

10/19 2009 | 10:02 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Vuze's CEO Gilles Bianrosa joined 26 other CEOs and execs from new media companies like Google, Amazon and Skype today to support the FCC's upcoming net neutrality rules in an open letter to commission chairman Julius Genachowski. The letter reads in part:

"We believe a process that results in common sense baseline rules is critical to ensuring that the Internet remains a key engine of economic growth, innovation, and global competitiveness. (...) America’s leadership in the technology space has been due, in large part, to the open Internet. We applaud your leadership in initiating a process to develop rules to ensure that the qualities that have made the Internet so successful."

It's not a big surprise that Vuze would applaud new FCC net neutrality rules. In fact, that's exactly what the company called for when it filed a petition with the FCC over Comcast's Bittorrrent throttling back in early 2008. Vuze continued to push for this cause by releasing a plug-in to measure ISP interference with P2P protocols in March of 2008. Bianrosa writes about this today:

"As a small start-up, this government advocacy takes up valuable time, resources, and executive bandwidth. However, the Vuze team firmly believes that the net neutrality cause is well worth our efforts. (...) At the end of the day, Vuze simply wants a level playing field."

A little more surprising is perhaps that the letter was also signed by former Bittorrent Inc. president Ashwin Navin, whose then-employer teamed up with Comcast in early 2008, declaring "that these technical issues can be worked out through private business discussions without the need for government intervention." But hey, one can always change ones mind, right?

Oscar screeners, extended

02/03 2009 | 10:50 AM
Posted by: Guest column
Every year Andy Baio does a very cool thing, he tracks how quickly the films nominated for the Oscars got leaked online to P2P networks. It’s interesting for a number of reasons, but primarily for demonstrating how unreliable the actual Academy members themselves are in keeping Hollywood’s goods off the Internet. Every year the results are relatively similar: usually within a week, or sometimes a bit longer, after an Academy screener is released a version of the movie is available for download via Bittorrent (to say nothing of Usenet, Rapidshare, etc.).

pic of movie posters

What would be interesting to see, however, is if the illegal downloading activity spiked after the nominations came out, to see if the file-sharing community is as affected by the hype surround Oscar nominations as the box office often is. Alas, that would be very difficult to study with any great confidence since the data is not really available. In general, though, the most reliable analysis of Bittorrent behavior is provided by TorrentFreak in their weekly top 10 lists, which generally show a strong correlation between mainstream audience taste and downloaders’ preferences, with some notable exceptions, that is, pretty much anything Science Fiction.

A couple of categories get overlooked by Andy, however, including the documentary and foreign nominees, and also whether any of the nominated films are available in HD resolutions. The documentary and foreign films are easy to skip since they barely appear on the radar of most film-goers to begin with, and HD is not something that is too relevant to Andy’s study as all of the official screeners are standard definition DVD’s.

As someone very interested in foreign and documentary films, however, I wanted to see what I could find out about their availability for download. The reality of file trading community is that while it tends to reflect a young, male, tech-savvy demographic, it is also vast, diverse, and maturing. Napster was almost 10 years ago, and the first large-scale video sharing happened after 1998 with the release of DeCSS, early versions of DivX, and The Matrix DVD.

In other words, there are a large number of file traders who have been doing it for some time, and their tastes have likely developed as well. It would not surprise me if there is a large amount children’s video available for download, as the initial generation of traders got older and started having kids. But fundamentally, a savvy video downloader likely has a far better library of available content than any one legitimate service could possibly provide, and that includes the relatively esoteric world of foreign and documentary films, and while not every one of the Oscar nominees are currently uploaded, quite a few of them are.

Two of the documentaries and three of the foreign films have been leaked as screeners, so exactly half of these two categories combined. Better than the rest of the nominees to be sure, but there clearly is some interest at least in these films.

leak dates spreadsheet

On the question of HD, since none of the screeners were in high-def, the leaks of the nominated films in better resolution versions tracks when they became available commercially. My guess is that this situation will change in the future as more Academy members become comfortable with Blu-Ray. After all, Oscar films are precisely the kinds of movies that benefit from a better visual presentation and while seeing them in the theaters would be optimal, if home viewing is the only option, Blu-Ray is certainly preferable to standard DVD. Of the feature nominees in all categories, 13 are available in HD (720p, h.264 codec, mkv container), including two of the documentaries, although none of the best picture films that usually come out closer to the end of the year.

hd leaks spreadsheet

It will be interesting to see what the future holds. How quickly will the studios switch to Blu-Ray for their screeners? My guess is not very quickly as Blu-Ray adoption in general is still pretty weak. Will the studios try other forms of DRM? None the previous systems worked, so that remains unlikely. Maybe a future studio will try to allow streaming of a potential nominee to Academy members, a sort of a closed Hulu approach. That might actually keep the content off P2P networks, but would be difficult to set up and maintain, and might not work for the notoriously non-techy Academy.

This post by Bruce Lidl originally appeared on Bruce is an expert in PR, marketing, community outreach, and social media and especially interested in the intersection of HD and P2P.

AllofMP3: IFPI's favoured enemy

06/14 2006 | 12:28 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Russian download site has gotten a lot of press lately: First it went offline for a couple of days, leading to speculations of a shutdown. Just a few days after Allofmp3 returned from the dead, which was answered by the music industry by announing further legal proceedings. Even the New York Times reported recently about Allofmp3, carefully describing the site as "possibly illegal".

Of course every mention of in the press is driving more customers to the site. So why would the music industry help Allofmp3 with their advertising? Because the Russian website will have to shut down this fall, and IFPI is just waiting to claim this as their victory.

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Swedish Pirate Party launches VPN service, calls it "World's First Commercial Darknet"

08/14 2006 | 01:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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The Swedish pirates seem to have learned their first lesson in politics: It's all about the spin. Today the Pirate Party announced the launch of the "World's First Commercial Darknet" through a Swedish company called Relakks. From the press release:

"Today, the Swedish Pirate Party launched a new Internet service that lets anybody send and receive files and information over the Internet without fear of being monitored or logged. In technical terms, such a network is called a "darknet". The service allows people to use an untraceable address in the darknet, where they cannot be personally identified."

Upon closer inspection this darknet seems to be nothing more than a VPN service that is marketed to end users. From the Relakks website:

"The Service consists of an encrypted VPN tunnel between your computer and RELAKKS. The IP-number you receive from your existing ISP is only used to connect your computer to RELAKKS, from there on RELAKKS substitute your existing IP-number with a new IP-number from RELAKKS."

This actually nothing new at all. One company marketing a similiar service (bundled with other features) aggresively to P2P users is the German Nutzwerk AG.

The Relakks website doesn't really hype the P2P and "darknet" factor of it's product too much, instead just stating that it allows you to "use clients and applications anonymously on the internet". How anonymous you really are isn't too clear either. Their legal section states:

"RELAKKS then have to hand over the subscription information entered by you (but that’s all). RELAKKS do not store any subscribtion information about you except what you entered yourself when signing up for the RELAKKS Safe Surf service. For Swedish authorities to force RELAKKS to hand over “traffic data” including your RELAKKS IP at a specific point in time, they will have to prove a case with the minimum sentence of two years imprisonment."

Now does that mean that they save login information, IP numbers and traffic data or not? And for how long are they keeping the information they save? You would expect that a privacy service offers a better worded privacy policy ...

Another thing that isn't really clear is the connection to the Pirate Party. The party states that it will get some share of th Relakks revenue, but the Relakks website doesn't say anything about that. Also, I'm obviously no expert in Swedish politics, but the idea of a party directly profiting off of a company's product seems a little odd to me - especially if the company would gain from the party being elected.

Finally, who is Relakks? The company's website doesn't offer any imprint or contact information. The registry data however reveals that is owned by Labs 2 - a Swedish broadband aplications developer whose products include "service infrastructure (including portal and business systems) and complete systems to present TV, film and music." I guess they forgot to add that whole thing about the "World's First Commercial Darknet". Or maybe that just doesn't ring that well for a publicly traded company.

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Allofmp3 vows to continue despite tougher copyright laws

09/01 2006 | 01:20 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A few weeks ago I proclaimed that would give up it's current business model by September 1st. Turns out I was wrong - for now, at least. But things are changing in Russia, at least when it comes to the letter of the law. Russia toughened it's copyright law back in 2004, but a few key amendments were delayed to take effect today.

These amendments deal with the protection of ponorecordings on the internet - an area that was before left unaddressed, allowing and similiar sites to use collective licensing provisions similiar to those a radio station would use for music licensing. Now what exactly is changing today, and which effect will this have on music download platforms? Actually, it's pretty complicated - which is why I asked an expert.

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P2P seismography

09/08 2006 | 01:44 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
P2P seismography'">Add comment
This is neat: Some Austrian scientists have built a Tsnuami warning system by interconnecting hard disk shock monitoring data in a P2P fashion. Networkworld reports:

"As part of their operation, hard disks measure vibrations in order to keep the read-write head of the disk on track. These measurements can be read from some hard disks. The Tsunami Harddisk Detector captures this vibration data and shares it with computers in other locations connected via a peer-to-peer network to determine whether an earth tremor is occurring."

Of course the idea of using PCs for gathering seismographic data isn't entirely new. SeisMac uses the Macboook's motion sensors to display seismographic data on your screen. But turning this into a distributed application is actually pretty clever.

The Tsunami Harddisk Detector website is down right now - but it will be interesting to see how accurate the system is after all those Slashdot readers have installed it on their PCs.

(via /.)

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Rob Lord: Songbird will be more disruptive than Firefox

10/30 2006 | 01:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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Firefox 2.0 is causing quite a stir these days. The browser has been downloaded more than two million times since it was officially released last week - and the debate is heating up about whether the upgrade is worth it or not.

In the shadows of this ruckus another Mozilla offspirng hatched a few days earlier: Songbird version 0.2, called the developer preview, was released a good week before Firefox 2.0. Songbird promises to be an extraordinary media player. Open Source, XUL-based, easily extendable, and with some unique networking features.

Some of these features are already included in the 0.2 release. But of course it's an early preview, mostly targeting developers, so one shouldn't expect CD burning capabilities or anything else too fancy. Early Firefox adopters might remember Phoenix. It's like that, but with music. And a better mascot.

A few weeks ago I had the chance to sit down with Songbird founder Rob Lord and chat with him about his plans for the Open Source player. He told me about his vision of the media web, Songbird's business model and the similarities and differences between Songbird and Firefox.
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Earthlink: Turn off that bacon radio

11/10 2006 | 02:09 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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There haven't been too many updates too this blog lately. One reason is that I've ben crunching away on a couple of projects. Another is that on Wednesday morning my DSL connection went out.

I didn't really like the timing of the outage, because I still had a lot of work to do. So I borrowed some of my neighbour's spotty wireless signal (thanks, pal), and checked the Earthlink support pages, where I learned that everything was fine. No outages. So decided to use their chat-based support to tell them that in fact there was an outage. Big mistake.
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Blockbuster photo getting famous

11/10 2006 | 06:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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A few weeks ago I discovered a photo on Flickr that showed a Blockbuster storefront defaced with a pro-P2P graffiti. The photo wasn't under a Creative Commons license, so I contacted the photographer and asked for permission to republish it here.

He not only said yes, but alo changed the license of the photo to CC-BY. The photo got susequently picked up by Torrentfreak, Waxy and quite a few other blogs. It has since been viewed by more than 3300 people on Flickr.

Now the picture got reprinted by Spanish Newspaper La Voz de Asturias - but somehow the paper forgot the proper attribution. La Voz apparently likes piracy as well.

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Germany: P2P lawsuits cost taxpayers millions

11/11 2006 | 01:52 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
P2P lawsuits cost taxpayers millions'">2 Comments
The German music industry has filed thousads of lawsuits against P2P users. Separately, some game softare makers sued tens of thousands of suspected file sharing users in Germany. This huge wave of lawsuits is starting to take its toll on the German legal system, reports.

The State Attorney General of Northrhine Westfalia Roswitha Müller-Piepenkötter now said that taxpayers have to pay millions to ISPs alone in order to get the information necessary for these lawsuits. In Germany an ISP can bill law enforcement officials for the work that is necessary to find the corresponding personal data connected to an IP address at a given time.

Usually these fees are in the range of 35 to 40 Euro (about 45 to 50 USD). But since rights holders sometimes sue tens of thousands of users at the same time, the total costs are in the hundreds of thousands per single enforcement action.

German righs holders use criminal lawsuits against unnamed defendants to get ISPs to reveal the identity of file sharers. Once the music industry has the names of the alleged sinners they start another civil lawsuit - only to settle it soon after against the payment of a few thousand Euros.

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