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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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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.

05/13 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

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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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.

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."

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.

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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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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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.

Bittorrent developing closed-source version of client software

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.

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.

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)

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)

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.

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.

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".

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

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.

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!

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?

Post Limewire download links on Twitter

07/13 2009 | 06:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I'm usually not a big fan of third-party Twitter services that don't use OAuth (as frequent readers of this blog surely know), but I do have a soft spot for weird Yahoo Pipes mash-ups (as long-time readers of this blog might remember), which is why I think that the Magnettweet Pipe is actually pretty cool.


It does what it says which is tweeting about a magnet link and then using some Tinyurl magic to actually start the download, provided that you have Limewire set as the default program to open magnet links. And it seems to work most of the time ...

So who did this little hack? Well, none other than Jason Herskowitz, Limewire's new Vice President of Product Management. Good to see someone still hands-on involved despite having such a fancy job title.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Behind the scenes at Joost

04/02 2007 | 02:14 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
No, I don't have any more Joost invites. Guess people will just have to wait until early May whenever Joost comes out of beta. Unfortunately watching the Joost commercial that recently popped up up on Youtube doesn't really make up for the real thing either.

It did however help me to discover some great Joost interviews that someone posted to Youtube two months ago. The interviews seem to be part of a series called "Behind The Scenes at The Venice Project". I'm not sure who did them, or why they have been completely overlooked - each video only has about 300 to 700 views so far. But the clips are definitely worth a look.

The interview below is featuring Henrik Werdelin, EVP at Joost. You'll find interviews with Joost CTO Dirk-Willem van Gulik, Operational Engineering Director Sander van Zoest and Co-founder Janus Friis directly on Youtube.

: Looks like the folks at Joost did those videos themselves. There are better quality versions available at the official Joost Blog (Thanks, Matt!)

Update: Check here for Joost invites.

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.

Google helps to test whether your ISP blocks Bittorrent

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

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

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

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

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

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

German book publishers want Rapidshare on country-wide net censorship list

04/24 2009 | 12:25 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Here we go again: German book publishers are tying to force local ISPs to block Rapidshare and similar websites through a controversial new Internet censorship bill. The bill, which received the backing of the German government two days ago, is meant to crack down on child porn with a centralized DNS block list that would include 1500 or so illegal child porn websites.

However, music industry representatives have already demanded that file sharing websites hosted in other countries should be added to the list as well. A representative of the German book publishers association (Boersenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels) used a media law forum in Cologne to add Rapidshare to the list of sites he'd like to see blocked.

"I don't see any other way than access controls to get to platforms like these that are based in foreign countries," said Boersenverein chief counsel Christian Sprang according to ISPs should charge their customers for the costs of instituting these block lists. Sprang also called one-click-hosters like Rapidshare part of the "Internet mafia", and complained that ISPs would finance these services with ad buys on their sites.

Rapidshare is based in Switzerland, but has in the past shown the willingness to engage with rights holders in Germany. The service has been processing take down requests, and there are reports that claim that Rapidshare has also cooperated with German law enforcement officials that tried to hunt down the uploader of an unreleased Metallica album.

Leechpack: Cloud downloading for Rapidshare, Megaupload and torrents

02/24 2010 | 12:29 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Leechpack is soft-launching a new service to remotely download files from one-click hosters and torrents sites this week. The site offers similar services as or, but adds sites like Rapidshare and Megaupload to the mix, making it possible to download files from these services without jumping through unnecessary hoops.


Registered users of the service can simply add links to torrents or files hosted on one-click hosters, and Leechpack will automatically start to download the content to its own servers. I tested Leechpack with a number of files from different sources in recent weeks, and sometimes it takes little while until a transfer starts, but transfer speeds generally seemed to be very fast. The same goes for the actual download speeds once you transfer a file to your local hard drive, which would regularly max out my (admittedly not super-fast) DSL connection.


One interesting feature that sets Leechpack apart from its competition is that it automatically tries to find local matches for your content. Just enter the link to a torrent or file, and Leechpack will automatically suggest files that other users of the service have downloaded before, which are immediately added to your library if you're finding what you were looking for. However, that's a big if: Leechpack currently seems to suggest a lot of files that don't really have anything in common with the file you're trying to download.

Leechpack also uses its index of locally stored content to generate lists of recently downloaded files as well as most popular downloads, and it offers its users the option to directly search this index for keywords - a function that will likely improve as more people sign on, but that could also open the service up to huge liabilities. Then again, has offered a similar feature for quite a while now, and it's still in business.

Speaking of business: Leechpack does offer a trial membership, but the service isn't free for regular users: Users have to pay 9.99 € (about $13.50) per month, which gets them 30 GB of traffic for downloads to their own machine as well as 30 GB space on Leechpack's servers.

Blockbuster photo getting famous

11/10 2006 | 06:46 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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.

German Pirate Party gains first seat in country's parliament

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

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

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

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

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

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

German rapper threatens to hunt down porn pirates

10/06 2008 | 01:23 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The German copyright protection company Digiprotect has been reaching out to the adult industry community in the US, offering free evidence gathering and legal representation in cases against suspected European file sharers. Digiprotect account manager Thomas Hein advertised his company's solution in an editorial on the adult industry site this week, where he wrote:

"Litigation might not seem to be a nice way of doing business, but dramatic circumstances sometimes require drastic action."

The drastic action Hein is speaking of are mass-scale lawsuits against file sharers that swap as little as one MP3 file or movie. Germany and the UK have seen hundreds of thousands of such lawsuits in recent years. Most of them were initiated by a small group of law offices and content protection companies in the name of local rights holders, but companies like Digiprotect have been reaching out to US rights holders as well. One porn company that has previously worked with Digiprotect is John Stagliano Inc, also known as Evil Angel.

Digiprotect and similar companies rely on a loophole in the European legal system that allows rights holders to combine cease and desist notices with invoices, charging users hundreds of Euros for each instance of infringement and threatening much more costly lawsuits they don't pay up. Hein explained on XBiz that these cost notices allow his company to offer its services free of charge to rights holders:

"Digiprotect finances the operation and generates its income as a percentage of the amounts recovered from violators. Thus, the company can not only finance itself, but also be profitable because of the amount of lawsuits instigated on its customer's behalf."

This tactic of mass lawsuits as a business model has been criticized by European politicians and law enforcement agencies in the past. Germany recently changed its copyright law to make it harder to sue people that share only a few files, but the effectiveness of these changes still has to bee seen.

One little-known detail of Digiprotect is that it is directly associated to a music label called 3-P that was founded by the German rapper Moses Pelham. 3-P and Digiprotect share office and web space as well as employees. Pelham is amongst other things famous for breaking the nose of a controversial German TV show host after being called the N-word by him.

Akamai in brand name conflict with Azureus developers

04/17 2007 | 01:02 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Speaking of Red Swoosh: Akamai did get some new opportunities when they bought the P2P company, but they also got themselves a potential conflict with some open source Bittorrent developers.

Red Swoosh has been working on a browser-based Bittorrent client called Foxtorrent. Turns out there is already another Foxtorrent project out there that is working on a Firefox frontend for Azureus. A few days ago the Foxtorrent members wrote an open email to the Red Swoosh folks:

"Gentlepeople: Please change the name of your software to something else. The name FoxTorrent is already taken. "

Doesn't sound too threatening, does it? Which is why I think Akamai should be good sports about it too - and just drop the disputed name. After all, there are plenty of other names still available. Akamaitorrent would be an obvious choice, but it's a little too long if you ask me.

But what about Akatorrent? Sounds cool, hasn't been used - and it even offers some opportunities for word plays, as in:

"We use an efficient content delivery technology (aka torrent)."

The Oil of the 21st Century

10/15 2007 | 09:37 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Remember 0xdb? The same folks who brought you this highly experimental yet very interesting P2P-based film database are organizing an event at the end of this month in Berlin that is called "The Oil of the 21st Century." It's about a new era of copyright warfares - and the new class of irregular combatants that you meet in file sharing networks and at pirate cinema events these days.

oil of the 21st century

From the website

"'Intellectual Property is the oil of the 21st century' - this quote by Mark Getty, chairman of Getty Images, one of the world's largest Intellectual Proprietors, offers a unique perspective on the current conflicts around copyrights, patents and trademarks. Not only does it open up the complete panorama of conceptual confusion that surrounds this relatively new and rather hallucinatory form of property - it must also be understood as a direct declaration of war."

The conference itself is on the 26th, 27th and 28th of October, with a preview being given at the 18th. Everything is going down in Berlin, but there will also be follow-up events in Umea, Sweden as well as Bombay, India. Sounds like a really interesting series of events. I won't be able to make it to any of them, but I hope there will be some kind of video documentation available afterwards ...

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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RIAA quotes in Usenet lawsuit

10/16 2007 | 06:22 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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Some folks like to think of Usenet as the file sharing world's fight club. Rule number one: You don't talk about Usenet - or else the RIAA will quote you in their next lawsuit, one might add. Slyck's Thomas Mennecke just received the dubious honor of having one of his texts treated as evidence in the lawsuit against

slyck in lawsuit

From the lawsuit:

"Newsgroups are widely touted - in numerous publications, Internet postings, and other media - as a great source of infringing material, one that is superior to P2P services. See, e.g., Thomas Mennecke, "Bittorrent vs. Usenet", Jan. 9, 2007, available at (comparing Usenet favorably to Bittorrent as a piracy tool)"

Of course the whole notion that rights holders wouldn't be aware of something as old and popular as Usenet is somewhat silly. In fact, record labels and movie studios have been sending cease and desist letters to Usenet providers for years - here is an example from early 2002. The only one who has been ignoring this inconvenient truth are users who are downloading content from Usenet providers, simply because they enjoy relative anonymity. At least for now.

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Flashback: Interview with Soulseek programmer Nir Arbel

11/21 2008 | 03:30 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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Torrentfreak reported yesterday that the French music industry has sued Soulseek after also taking Vuze, Limewire, the long-defunct Morpheus and the open source hosting site Sourceforge to court. Soulseek has been a well-known secret amongst music sharing enthusiasts for a long time. The system initially just focused on electronic music, but now serves many non-mainstream niches.

I've been following Soulseek for a long time and in fact still have physical copies of the first two Soulseek Records releases in my CD shelf. I also did an early interview with Soulseek founder Nir Arbel in 2002, which at the time got published by the German electronic music magazine De:Bug. Obviously a lot of things have changed since then, but I think at least parts of the interview are still relevant, which is why I decided to re-publish it on P2P Blog in light of the lawsuit, minus a few parts that aren't that interesting to this adience or don't make sense at all anymore six years later.

One should note that I wasn't able to find the original transcript of the interview on such a short notice, which I believe was done through the Soulseek chat. Fortunately someone decided to re-translate it to English after De:Bug published it in German. There is a chance that the back and forth between the two langages introduced a few inaccuracies, but I think it's worth reading nonetheless - especially when t comes to the last question. I tried to get back in touch with Nir today to get an update, but haven't heard anyhihng back. I'll publish an update as soon as I do.

So here we go:

DEBUG: With which filesharing networks did you as a user feel more comfortable?

NIR: I love the audiogalaxy design very much. Features like the artist-orientated clubs or the possibilty to write comments on tracks. That s extremely community-orientated. KaZaa is some technological wonder, but the community-features are even worse then in Napster.


DEBUG: And what do musicians and record companies say about soulseek?

NIR: Most of them either don t know about soulseek or they don t care. Up to today none of them took a position. Once we got a polite letter from Warp with the request to filter out some special tracks, but that was all.

DEBUG: What did you answer them?

NIR: I explained to them, it wouldn t be technivally possible, cause the server doesn t care about search requests. And that we re a very small and very specialized filesharing community. That our case would be more to inform us mutual about new music, then to steal music, we otherwise would buy. These days i had this suspicion that this might not be true. So i asked the people within our messageboard in a poll. It seems that pretty everyone of us is buying at least as much music as before soulseek. A small minority is buying less. That confirmed me that we help the genre. I hope that labels for electronic music and their musicians can acknowledge that.


De:Bug: Can you tell us something about the architecture of Soulseek?

Nir: Sure, but I can t promise, that it will be the same when this interview will be published. While working for Napster, I have learned a lot about the pros and cons of systems with centralized servers. When decentralized networks got suitable for everyday life, I looked at them in order to make Soulseek scalable. Soulseek is now a hybrid of centralized and decentralized networking. That means that it can be shut down as easily as Napster. But a Soulseek server is scaling much better than a Napster server. Besides, we have features that are only possible in a centralized system, e.g. the chat rooms and the system of recommendations.

De:bug: How can someone picture the division of work between central server and decentralized network?

Nir: Soulseek works with two different, nearly completely disjoint networks. The centralized one, in which every user is connected to the server, and the decentralized one, in which the server operates as a top node, but almost every user is connected to another. This decentralized network inherits the inquiries und looks more like KazaA than Gnutella.


De:Bug: What are you going to do about the future of Soulseek?

Nir: Absolutely nothing. I m enjoying it as a platform for learning and experimenting. Maybe I ll get sued, or maybe I won t feel like it someday.

De:Bug: What would happen, if someone is going to sue Soulseek?

Nir: I d give up and release the source code.

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Spiralfrog launches worst "viral" campaign ever

05/22 2008 | 04:59 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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Remember Spiralfrog, the licensed and DRMed P2P music platform? Apparently no one else does, which is why the company decided to start a viral advertising campaign with a new site called The Flash-heavy site features an awkward intro with a club bouncer that looks like the company's accountant, but it gets even worse once you are inside.

The whole point of the site is to show off different playlists of free (as in beer with a DRM hangover) music, so they came up with the idea of dancers representing different styles. It's kind of like those odd cut-out virtual girls you were supposed to install on your desktop back in the Nineties, minus the nudity.

picture of spiralfrog club dancer

So where's the viral part? You can exchange the face of a dancer with your own and email it to a friend. Or you can do what I did and use the face of Spiralfrog Chairman Joe Mohen instead.

Here's what the Spiralfrog press release had to say about the campaign:

"This campaign gives music fans the tools to become part of the SpiralFrog brand experience and connect with music in an inspiring way."

Of course that's exactly what users that get their tunes from Limewire and Bittorrent have been missing out on: A brand experience. Great that somebody has finally filled the void.

(via Hypebot)

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Put your content on P2P platforms before others do

01/24 2008 | 03:30 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
P2P platforms before others do'">Add comment
Wired reports that a hacker who goes by the pseudonym DMaul used a script to download thousands of private photos and is now distributing those photos via The Pirate Bay. From the article:

"A 17-gigabyte file purporting to contain more than half a million images lifted from private MySpace profiles has shown up on BitTorrent, potentially making it the biggest privacy breach yet on the top social networking site. (...) DMaul made two smaller files available as direct downloads. One of them examined by Wired News contains more than 32,000 images ranging from the mundane to the intimate: vacation photos, infants in bathtubs, teenagers mugging for the camera."

There is an obvious lesson to be learnt from this: Just labeling content as private on a site with millions of users doesn't mean that others won't access it. If you really don't want others to see it, don't upload it to a third-party server.

But what of you want to give some people access to your pictures and videos without sharing them with the whole world? One solution might be to use secure, distributed storage systems like that offer encryption to safeguard your content while at the same time making it accessible to all your Facebook friends.

I've previously writen about the idea of becoming the personal storage backbone of your social graph, and I'm pretty sure that we are going to see the interest in platforms like these grow with every data breach on Myspace, facebook and Flickr. Now systems like just need better APIs to directly plug into your social networking profile.

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Video game publisher: We'll use DRM, but there's always Bittorrent ...

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

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

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

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

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Weedshare auctions off IP, failed business model

03/15 2008 | 12:02 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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Defunct P2P music startup Weedshare is auctioning off its assets consisting of its brand, its operational data, four web servers and some IP including a patent sharing agreement with Microsoft. The company is trying to find a buyer interested in taking over all the assets, but the patent sharing agreement seems to be the potential money maker here, with minimum bids starting at 105,000 USD.

Weedshare used to distribute DRMed music files through file sharing networks. The company allowed three free plays before users had to buy a track. It also developed some sort of pyramid scheme to reward users for sharing its music.

It was no secret in the industry that Weedshare wasn't really making lots of money, but the auction leaves no doubt about how little success the company had: Weedshare was only able to sell 35,000 tracks in four years of operation. Weedshare used to sell tracks for as little as 0.50 USD, so the company really didn't make any money at all.

Weedshare shut down in spring of 07 and initially blamed Microsoft for its failure because its DRM system wasn't compatible with the newest Windows Media Player version. The Weedshare folks now seem to understand that the whole idea of selling DRM-protected music through file sharing networks wasn't all that great either. They recently posed a message on a Weedshare-related Yahoo group that in part read:

"Lesson learned: even benign DRM is a bad idea. All forms of friction must be eliminated for authorized file sharing to work."

(Thanks, Rob!)

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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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Three strikes: Five minutes per court decision

07/01 2009 | 12:39 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
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France's government is gearing up for a new version of the controversial HADOPI legislation that would force ISPs to disconnect file sharers after three offenses. HADOPI's original version was struck down by France's Constritutional Council earlier this month because it enabled rights holders to police P2P networks without a judge's oversight. The council ruled that this procedure, also known as Three Strikes, was unconstitutional because it didn't guarantee suspected offenders a fair trial.

A new version of the law currently proposed by the French government would address these concerns by having a judge decide whether or not a file sharer should be disconnected. These decisions would however be made in a fast track trial that would only give a judge five minutes for each case on average. All in all, each case should require about 45 minutes of work, according to an official government study, is reporting.

That doesn't sound like much time at all, but it still adds up, especially if you want put a dent into the phenomenon of millions of users sharing files online. The original HADOPI plans called for 250,000 blocked Internet accounts per year. The new proposal is slightly less ambitious and only calls for 50,000 decisions per year. The government study still estimates that it would take 109 new full-time positions, including 26 judges, to deal with these cases. One can easily imagine the total cost to reach tens of millions of dollars.

We'll have to wait and see whether French politicians are still eager to support the bill with this price tag attached. France wouldn't be the first country to drop Three Strikes because it's simply too expensive. British regulators estimated earlier this year that implementing Three Strikes would cost about 2.5 million GBP per year. The UK government eventually abandoned the idea of Three Strikes and is now favoring solutions that would require less oversight.

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Senator wants to force universities to install P2P filters

07/23 2007 | 12:02 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
P2P filters'">Add comment just published a really interesting article about a recent amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization Act. Democratic Senator and senate majority leader Harry Reid introduced an amendment to the bill that deals with "campus-based digital theft prevention." The amendment would essentially keep track of the state of copyright infringement at every university that receives federal funds and force the schools with the worst track records to take proactive measures against infringement.

Reid specifically wants to single out 25 universities that receive the highest amount of DMCA takedown notices - something that is strikingly similar to a list the RIAA published earlier this year. Those 25 schools would then have to teach copyright to their students, report back to the federal government about the success of these lessons and tweak their anti-piracy message if it isn't successful enough.

But wait, that's not all. Schools would also have to tamper with their students' net access. From the proposed amendment:

"Each eligible institution (...) shall (...) provide evidence to the Secretary that the institution has developed a plan for implementing a technology-based deterrent to prevent the illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property."

Companies like Safemedia and entertainment industry lobbyists have been making their rounds in Washington lately to get P2P filtering on campus mandated by law. Looks like these effords are starting to pay off.

But what do people working in higher education actually think about this idea? doesn't like it at all:

"It is clear to me, that we, not our congresspeople or the Secretary of Education, are in the best position to judge and implement what works best for our campus and our students. That may include technological devices or it may not and they should not be mandated. Please contact your senators. Let’s not let the RIAA, MPAA, and others micromanage our campuses."

Update: Looks like Harry Reid has withdrawn the amendment.

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