03/12 2009 | 11:40 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
A new version of the P2P plug-in Littleshoot makes it possible to download torrents right from within your browser. The software runs on Macs and Windows PCs and works with IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. It even offers Gnutella and Youtube integration as an added bonus. Continue reading on Torrentfreak.com.

03/09 2009 | 12:04 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
I'll be attending the Emerging Technology Conference in San Jose during the next four days, where I'll hopefully do lots of interviews as well as write a few stories for some other outlets. Who knows, maybe I'll even find some time to Twitter.

The conference used to be called the O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer and Web Services Conference, but P2P hasn't really played a big role in recent years anymore, so don't expect too many updates here this week. In any case, feel free to ping me if you happen to be at ETech as well ...

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03/06 2009 | 12:17 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Ars Technica published an intriguing piece by Nate Anderson today predicting that file-sharing programs like the new version of Lime Wire will lead to users just swapping files among friends. These private sharing networks are oftentimes called darknets, and Anderson believes that entertainment companies should be afraid of them because they puts users out of reach of their P2P investigations. People that don�t share their files publicly can�t be sued, and darknet-like features in applications as popular as Lime Wire could have a dramatic impact on the entertainment industry�s efforts to enforce their rights online, Anderson believes.

I have a problem with this argument for a number of reasons: First of all, it�s overstating the need for darknets. Users haven�t felt like they had to hide in the past, and I don�t think they�ll go underground now that the music industry has announced its intention to stop filing lawsuits. Secondly, darknets just don�t work all that well for video content. And finally, looking at person-to-person file-sharing features through just your darknet glasses is severely underestimating their potential to make P2P more social. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

03/05 2009 | 05:06 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Internet access providers willing to take part in the RIAA's new initiative against file sharing should take notice of some new reports from France: The French business paper Les Echos reported in late Feburary that French ISPs expect to spend up to 16 million dollars per year on enforcing the country's proposed three strikes regulations, according to a summary report compiled by my colleagues from Futurezone.

France has been on the forefront of this approach that aims to send warning notices to file sharers and punish repeat infringers with cutting off their Internet connection. Three strikes was originally based on a voluntary cooperation between ISPs and the music industry, but rights holders have been pushing for this to become an enforceable law for over a year now.

A bill requiring providers to cooperate with record labels could be discussed in the French parliament as early as next week. The Paris-based daily La Liberation estimates that the bill could trigger around 10,000 warning e-mails, 3000 letters and 1000 decisions about Internet cut-offs per day.

However, non-compliance wouldn't exactly come cheap for ISPs either. The current bill wants to fine ISPs more that 6000 dollars per declined warning message or unenforced cut-off request.

03/04 2009 | 12:10 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
HP has decided to shut down its online backup and file sharing service Upline, according to Computerworld.

hp upline logo

The service already stopped backing up files last week, but HP will keep its Uline servers online for another month. The Computerworld article quotes a HP spokesperson with the following words:

"HP will keep the file-restore feature of the Upline service operational through March 31, 2009 ... in order for customers to download any files that have been backed up to Upline."

HP was only in the backup and sharing business for a year before shutting down Upline. Of course, Upline isn't the only such offering that has been shuttered: AOL shut down its XDrive service last summer, citing the lack of "monetization levels necessary to offset the high cost of (its) operation." In other words: Running a backup service is just too expensive.

Strongspace, Mediamax and Omnidrive also all closed last year. And Box.net, which seemed ready to embrace many of the customers left in the cold by these closures, is now refocusing to concentrate on business customers.

03/04 2009 | 12:05 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Half of all British kids use file sharing networks to trade music, according to a new study by the UK-based security company GSS. Most of these kids were aware of the fact that The Pirate Bay isn't quite the same as iTunes, according to a GSS press release:

"When questioned about the legalities of downloading music, nearly all of the children understood that there were legal and illegal methods that could be used to download music. Over half admitted to using P2P software to download music illegally rather than using programs such as iTunes."

Of course, research like this is usually somewhat self-serving: GSS is making its money by helping corporate customers to secure their networks, and the company believes that music-trading teens are the newest danger for corporate IT security.

How so, you might ask? GSS believes that file sharing is a major source of virus infections, referring to the fact that 20 percent of all kids that took part in its survey admitted accidentally downloading viruses from file sharing networks. Of course, the tricky part about viruses is that they tend to spread, so all it takes is a parent and a USB drive. From the press release:

"An organisation's security is only as strong as its weakest link, and the home PC may be a huge threat to an organisation's data."

So what's the lesson to be learned from this? Maybe that your kids should have their own PCs?

03/02 2009 | 09:04 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Schools across the country have been wondering what to do after the licensed college music service Ruckus abruptly shut down about a month ago. Ruckus had official relationships with around 250 schools nationwide, and some of them have been using the service as a carrot to defend restrictive file sharing policies that outlawed the use of BitTorrent and similar protocols.

The official student newspaper of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently mourned the service with the following words:

"Ruckus was a valuable asset to this campus, helping to deter students from pirating music by offering them an acceptable and legal source of music. By providing students an alternative to illegally downloading music, it helped everyone; the Dean of Students Office had less work legislating issues regarding copyright laws, and the concern that students could be prosecuted for violating such intellectual property laws was diminished."

The Polytechnic Online even asked students to "refrain from downloading music illegally." However, it had an interesting suggestion what to do instead: Just use Seeqpod instead.

Of course, Seeqpod has been sued by Warner Music and EMI for alleged acts of infringement ...

03/01 2009 | 09:40 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Hacked web sites. Angry ABBA singers. Charges of media bias. Hundreds of flower bouquets for an expert who testified on behalf of the defense. The Swedish Pirate Bay trial has largely been an entertaining spectacle, especially for anyone who doesn�t speak Swedish. Both sides have been playing to the media, telling us that they�re winning and that their respective enemies are making a fool of themselves.

The truth, of course, is a little more complex. The trial has been going on for two weeks, and closing statements from both sides are due over the next few days. But don�t hold your breath for this to be over anytime soon. It could take weeks for the court to come up with a verdict, and the outcome is far less predictable than either side wants you to believe. Which is why in order to really find out what�s going on, we asked an expert. Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

02/27 2009 | 02:03 PM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
If someone told you he�d pay for your FiOS Internet connection in exchange for you putting a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server full of Russian movies in your living room, would you do it? And if someone told you that a network of residential NAS drives could serve your startup�s video needs better than Amazon�s S3, would you believe him? The Bay Area-based video startup Russart believes it can make the case for both.

Russart just introduced a pretty unusual infrastructure play called �People�s CDN� (PCDN) that is entirely based on such residential nodes. The project is still in its infancy, with only two servers up at this time, but Russart CEO Oleg Sinitsin told me the plan is to eventually deploy up to 1,000 nodes, offering competitive rates to content publishers and sharing revenue with the people serving the content. �We are a people�s venture,� he wrote me in an email, �and people like to be rewarded.� Continue reading on Newteevee.com.

02/27 2009 | 12:01 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Register's Andrew Orlowski is trying to stir up a controversy by claiming that there's a dark secret related to the media's coverage about the Pirate Bay case. Apparently, no one has been mentioning that one of the defendants is a right-wing extremist. From his article:

"But there seems to be something about Pirate Bay that no one wants you to read: its debt to one of the most notorious fascists in Europe."

At heart of the issue is Carl Lundstrom, heir of the Wasabrod empire and backer of various right wing groups in Sweden. The prosecution is trying to make the case that Lundstrom financed the Pirate Bay. Lundstrom's lawyer and the rest of the defense team instead insist on Lundstrom only playing a minor role in the project. And Orlowski is trying to convince us that copyleft activists and their supporters in the media are trying to hide Lundstrom's politics from the public:

"(N)o English language coverage of the trial has mentioned this."

Oh really?

"Never far from controversy, it has been reported that Lundstr�m has supported political parties on the far right." (The Local)

"The oldest of the quartet, 48-year-old Carl Lundstrom, is already known in his homeland as a right-wing celebrity millionaire." (Forbes)

"He inherited a fortune built on crispbread, and has a long history of involvement with extreme rightwing politics." (The Guardian)

"A fourth person indicted is the Swedish business magnate Carl Lundstrom, who has been called a right-wing extremist by the Swedish press." (me on Newteevee)

02/24 2009 | 09:57 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
Have you ever felt like an idiot because you couldn't manage to transfer files from one computer to another within your local network? I know I have. It sounds like an easy task at first, but then one of them is a PC and one is a Mac. Or you don't have the administrator privileges to share data on one of the machines. Or Windows is just having a bad day.

The LAN file sharing application P300 can help you with any of those problems, and many others as well. It's local file sharing on steroids, complete with search, a Web interface and local chat.

pic of p300 ui

P300 is a Java-based, so it runs on Windows, OS X and Linux. It operates as a stand-alone app without the need to install anything on your local machine. You can even start it as a JavaWebStart process straight from your browser.

P300 automatically finds new hosts on your local network via UDP, but you can also always add individual hosts via their local IP address. Don't want to share your files with everyone in your office? No worries, P300 also makes it possible to selectively allow or deny access to certain hosts.

P300's interface is admittedly a little bit minimalistic: Upon starting the client for the first time, all you get to see is an empty host list and two buttons, one of which promises access to P300's configuration. The other button fires up a browser to access the P300 web interface.

pic of p300 file browser

The fact that P300 has so many different interfaces makes it a little confusing (did I mention you can also use WebDAV for accessing files through your Finder or Windows explorer?), but it also offers you different tools for different use cases.

pic of p300 browser ui

I tend to use the web interface if I'm looking for a specific file somewhere, but switch to the client UI for downloading entire folders. Configuring P300 works best with the web UI, network-wide search on the other hand is something the client itself is better at.

pic of p300 search

Speaking of search: This is definitely a feature that makes P300 a must-have. Want to know if one of your buddies on your local dorm network shares a certain song? Just search the entire network in the matter of no time. Looking for something more specific? No problem, you can also restrict your search to a certain host.

pic of p300 search

The chat is an added bonus that I don't really need, but it could come handy in an office or campus LAN type of setting. I'm much more intrigued by another feature that the P300 author has been hinting at for a while: Secure, Jabber-based Internet-wide file sharing. That's admittedly not a new idea. In fact, Limewire is supporting this very function with its new version. But P300 is very lightweight, and it could even become something like the uTorrent of personal file sharing if this is done well.

02/23 2009 | 09:58 AM
Posted by: Janko Roettgers
The Dutch P2P streaming site Myp2p.eu has prevailed in a court case against pay TV provider C More Entertainment AB, according to a forum post. Myp2p.eu is popular with sports fans that want to watch soccer, football or baseball games online.

The site doesn't stream these competitions itself, but instead links to shows streamed through Chinese P2P streaming clients like Sopcast or PPStream. It also provides instructions on how to use these clients.

Myp2p.eu started to take down links to games of the English Premier League and other competitions late January after it had been sued by C More Entertainment in a Dutch court. However, all the links are available again. From the site:

"We won the case against C More! The Dutch court ruled that C More mistakenly initiated injunction proceedings because the case was to complicated, both factually as well as legally. C More was ordered to repay us all our legal costs."

This will most likely not be the last case against Myp2p and similar sites. The Guradian reported recently that the English Premier League is stepping up its fight against streaming media piracy, and other leagues aren't sitting idle either. US-based Major League Baseball reportedly has three people on staff that do nothing but search for unlicensed streams.