Maximum PC intercepted the following memorandum from a high-level Comcast executive to the company’s Board of Directors. We suggest you read it once, and then immediately delete all traces of this text from your PC. This is seriously twisted stuff.
While it’s no secret that the Australian government is a fan of censoring and filtering the country’s Internet, they’re taking a bold new step this time. They’re planning to block BitTorrent completely.
The move comes from the Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy, who wrote in a blog post that he’s planning to oversee a trial if technology could filter data sent directly between computers as opposed to data downloaded from a central server. “Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial,” said Senator Conroy.
“I'm aware that this proposal has attracted significant debate and criticism – on this blog and at other places in the blogosphere,” Senator Conroy wrote. And how does he plan to follow that debate? “I'm following the debate at sites like Whirlpool and GetUp and on Twitter at #nocleanfeed.”
Yuck. It's one thing to give the spotlight over to piracy and other dirty deeds on a bi-daily basis, but after seeing it all culminate, well, we're going to need to lie down for a little while.
Torrent-tracking blog TorrentFreak recently scoured the undersides of gaming's most illicit tables, putting together a list of piracy's greatest hits. The bottom line: Spore, as expected, took home the golden failboat ticket, while three of EA's other titles made the top five.
Meanwhile, big names like Call of Duty 4, Fallout 3, and Far Cry 2 also felt significant disturbances in their sales. Check out the full list below:
Spore / 1,700,000 / Sept. 2008
The Sims 2 / 1,150,000 / Sept. 2004
Assassins Creed / 1,070,000 / Nov. 2007
Crysis / 940,000 / Nov. 2007
Command & Conquer 3 / 860,000 / Mar. 2007
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare / 830,000 / Nov. 2007
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas / 740,000 / Jun. 2005
Fallout 3 / 645,000 / Oct. 2008
Far Cry 2 / 585,000 / Oct. 2008
Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 / 470,000 / Oct. 2008
Remember kids, only you can prevent PC game piracy. Otherwise, we'll light you on fire. Don't mess with us. We're crazy.
Seven of Hollywood’s most powerful studios which include Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros and Disney are working together to sue an Australian ISP and set a very scary precedent. iiNet, Australia’s third largest internet service provider has been largely credited with rolling out true broadband speeds to residents. Current connection speeds range anywhere from 1.5 to a not so shabby 24 Mbit/s. With all this speed however comes abuse, and allegedly a handful of its users have turned to torrents to saturate these beefy connections with copyright protected video. According to the movie studios represented by AFACT (Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) iiNet is “failing to take reasonable steps, including enforcing its own terms and conditions, to prevent known unauthorized use of copies of the companies films and TV programs”.
Adrianne Pecotic, Executive Director of AFACT claims that they were forced to take action against iiNet seeing as they weren’t pursuing the issue aggressively enough. The studios are demanding that iiNet disconnect known infringers, an action the ISP has so far refused to do. According to an iiNet spokesman, “Our view is pretty straightforward. We don’t condone or support piracy in any form, and people who choose to pirate content should face the force of the law. This is an industry issue, and we’ve been talking with the IIA, and we’ll work with them in terms of handling it.”
iiNet’s CEO Michael Malone strongly disputes AFACT’s claims saying they have merely refused to disconnect users on the basis of an outside allegation. “We can’t go and kick the customer off on the basis of an allegation from someone else’.” The lawsuit was filed in Australia’s Federal Court on November 20th with the first hearings to being within 30 days. A finding in favor of the AFACT will only further empower the studios and might spark future lawsuits abroad.
So has Hollywood crossed the line? Hit the jump and sound off.
Much to the dismay of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of Amercia (RIAA), BitTorrent tracking site The Pirate Bay continues to grow at what might be a record pace. According to the file sharing site, its global user base now sits at 22 million peers strong, up from 8 million just one year ago.
"We would like to thank all the great and persistent uploaders that dedicate time to share," Pirate Bay writes in its blog. "But most of all, we would like to thank you, you and you! For it is all of you out there that makes this site what it is. Together; uploaders, seeders, leechers, mods and admins, we are The Pirate Bay."
Not stopping at a blog post, the file sharing site has applied to be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for its supposed accomplishment. If the number of peers turn out to be real, it would mean that the other legal alternatives -- Hulu, Last.fm, Pandora, and others -- have had little effect on The Pirate Bay.
Do you do a lot of uploading? If so, chances are high it's of the the P2P variety, according to a new study. You'll have to take the research with a grain of salt, as the company who performed the study, Sandvine, is the same one that manufacturered the hardware for Comcast's now infamous intentional throttling.
Be that as it may, Sandvine reports that while P2P traffic accounts for 22 percent of downstream bandwidth, upstream remains much more busy at just over 61 percent. A distant second is web traffic, which only accounts for 17 percent of bandwidth used, according to the report.
"Bulk bandwidth applications like P2P are on all day, everyday and are unaffected by changes to network utilization," says Dave Caputo, Sandvine's co-founder. "This reinforces the importance of protecting real-time applications that are sensitive to jitter and latency during times of peak usage."
Do the numbers surprise you? Hit the jump and let us know.
A few days ago, we reported a novel attack on Will Wright's critically acclaimed title, Spore. The game, which comes inextricably chained to a monolithic slab of DRM, provoked a sea of gamers to crash headfirst into Amazon.com's user review section. Soon, the tides receded, taking with them all but a single star from Spore's user rating. Certainly, this demonstration of gamerly ire was more meaningful than a simple Internet petition, but those brave souls have yet to receive custom apology letters from EA with realistic-looking, printed-on signatures and tear blats, so a rousing success their movement was not.
Now, Forbes sends word that indignant gamers have peeled back their kid gloves to reveal cruel hooks. Where protest failed, they hope that theft will succeed.
"By downloading this torrent, you are doing the right thing," wrote one user going by the name of "deathkitten" on the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. "You are letting [Electronic Arts] know that people won't stand for their ridiculously draconian 'DRM' viruses."
"You have the power to make this the most pirated game ever, to give corporate bastards a virtual punch in the face," deathkitten added.
In addition, the most-downloaded Spore tracker brings with it "step-by-step instructions for how to disassemble the copy protections, along with a set of numerical keys for breaking the software's encryption."
And it's not just embittered hyperbole. Chief Executive Eric Garland of Big Champagne, a peer-to-peer research firm, notes that deathkitten's tactics may very well be working. "The numbers are extraordinary," Garland said. "This is a very high level of torrent activity even for an immensely popular game title."
But the question remains: Is this the right course of action?
BitTorrent has already proved itself a capable technology for distributing large files to the masses, and at least one company is hoping it will prove equally adept at delivering streaming content. Backed with $22 million in funding from the EU and partners, the P2P-Next research group has come up with a zero-server solution for delivering streaming content, and has begun testing the breakthrough technology with its SwarmPlayer software.
After installing the SwarmPlayer application, a user can start watching streaming content by clicking on a "live" .tstream file that connects them to whatever broadcast the file is associated with. The player then downloads and buffers a minute's worth of data, which is then traded with other people in the stream.
If the trial run proves successful, it could open the door to a deluge of broadcasts from anyone with an internet connection without concern for gobbling up oodles of bandwidth. Instead, the onus gets passed back to the ISPs in the long run, so it will be interesting to see what kind of opposition emerges should the new technology build up a head of steam. And it's not all peaches and cream for end users, either. If you think YouTube is bad, just imagine what YouStream would be like.
If you thought internet metering was taking things too far, try being a Virgin ISP customer. In a joint venture with the British recording industry group BPI, roughly 800 letters have been sent out to file sharers subscribed to Virgin, with thousands more on the way. These aren't 'Thank you for being a customer' notices, and instead the envelopes read "Important: If you don't read this, your broadband could be disconnected."
Despite the ominous warning and pressure from the BPI to implement a three strikes policy - where users of file sharing networks would be given two warnings and then disconnected on a third offense - Virgin claims the wording was a "mistake," saying:
"It is important to let our customers know that their accounts have been used in a certain way but we are happy to accept it may not be the account holder that's involved. It could be someone else in the family or someone living in a shared house. it could even be someone stealing Wi-Fi. We are not making any form of accusation." - Asam Ahmad from Virgin
Virgin went on to claim that there was "absolutely no possiblity" it would take legal action against its customers under the current campaign, and that it wouldn't hand over user information "under any circumstances." Normally such strong statements would be comforting, but if that's the case, why send out the letters in the first place?
Find out how recipients of the letters have reacted after the jump.
In today's legal climate surrounding copyright infringement, one thing's becoming clear, and that's to take the plea bargain. Jammie Thomas, accused of illegally sharing 24 copyrighted songs, may wish she had if she can't get a retrial and remains liable for the original $220,000 verdict levied against her. Now it's 26-year-old Daniel Dove who's finding his legal wings clipped in court.
Dove, a former administrator of the now defunct EliteTorrents.com website, opted to plead 'not guilty' to felony copyright infringement and conspiracy charges, but failed to win favor from a federal jury and now faces up to 10 years in prision. Meanwhile, Scott McCausland and Grant Stanley, the two other administrators involved in the suit, each pleaded 'guilty' in 2006 and have already served their respective 5 month sentences.
The Department of Justice accused Daniel Dove of being in charge of a small group of 'Uploaders' tasked with recruiting members to seed illegal content to EliteTorrents' users. Much of the evidence used to convict Dove was supplied by the MPAA, and with another successful high profile conviction notched into the recording industry's belt, we can expect this trend to continue.