Microsoft has been granted a patent for a new type of DRM that works over p2p-style networks. By using public/private encryption keys, it could be used to reinvigorate p2p as a legitimate source of content. The patent explains, "Partial licenses are combinable to form a formal license that may be utilized to output the content."
With centralized content repositories, like iTunes, increasingly moving away from DRM, is there a place for this technology? Consumers are savvier than they were when the patent was requested in 2003. The idea of DRM on purchased content is definitely waning. However, the day may come when a legal version of p2p exists utilizing this technology. If that happens, Microsoft could be in a very good position. Could this even have implications for the Zune service? Could there be a bandwidth saving version that uses p2p?
A couple of weeks after eBay agreed to sell 65% of Skype to a group of investors, the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, contrived to gatecrash eBay’s party. Joltid, a company in which the two Skype founders are stakeholders, filed a copyright lawsuit on Wednesday against Skype. Skype's founders retained control over the peer-to-peer technology at the VoIP client’s core even after selling Skype to eBay for $2.6 billion. They had agreed to license the source code to eBay.
Joltid has accused eBay of unlawfully modifying and sharing the source code. An adverse decision could even force eBay to shut down Skype until it can come up with an alternative version. The San Jose-based internet company has said that it is making arrangements to face any such eventuality. However, the presence of a contingency plan should not be construed as a lack of confidence on its part. “We remain on track to close the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2009,” an eBay spokesperson said.
Jammie Thomas is running out of options. Found guilty in 2007 of copyright infringement and ordered to pay $220,000 for willfully making available 24 songs via peer-to-peer, she now owes a whopping $1.92 million following a retrial earlier this year. Surely the Department of Justice would step in and find the nearly $2 million fine unconstitutional, right?
Wrong. According to ArsTechnica, the huge of amount of damages (Thomas ended up owing $80,000 per song) were not intended just to apply to big corporations, but also to "deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights." The only time the DOJ would have a problem with a fine is if it become "so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportional to the offense and obviously unreasonable," something for which a $1.92 million fine for sharing 24 songs doesn't qualify.
"We are pleased the Administration has filed a brief supporting our position," an RIAA spokesperson told ArsTechnica. "Its views are consistent with the views of every previous Administration that has weighed in on this issue."
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is taking a hard stance against peer-to-peer file sharing, claiming the practice is "jeopardizing" national security.
"At any time your computer is connected to the Internet, other computer users with similar software could simply search your hard drive and copy unprotected files. Unfortunately, that is the sad reality for many unsuspecting computer users," said Chairman Edophus Towns.
Towns went on to single out LimeWire, a popular P2P file sharing program, noting a startling amount of sensitive data made freely available by using the app. In addition to music and movies, Committee staff also unearthed federal tax returns, the Social Security numbers and family information for every master sergeant in the Army, medical records of about 24,000 patients of a Texas hospital, FBI files, and the safe house location for the First Family.
Naturally, Mark Gorton of the Lime Group saw things differently.
"I am confident that with LimeWire 5.2.8 any sharing is intentional sharing. LimeWire does not share any Documents by default," Gorton explained.
The Kiwi government seems to have been somewhat precipitate in formalizing a controversial “three strikes” rule meant to discourage copyright usurpation. The anti-P2P law, which was originally scheduled to come into force on February 28, has been pushed back to March in the face of some stiff resistance from a group called the Creative Freedom Foundation and country’s ISPs.
An internet blackout organized by the group has forced the government to reconsider the controversial legislation. The Kiwi government plans to bring it into effect on March 27. However, the government wants the ISPs and copyright holders to see eye to eye on the issue before enforcing the law.
The ISPs are opposing the legislation, which makes repeat copyright infringers liable for disconnection, because they want tainted users to be able to defend themselves (using counter-notices).
The entertainment industry hasn’t met with much success during its battle against illegal fire sharing. It is foolish to believe that industry insiders, including some of the most ardent of anti-p2p zealots, are not cognizant of the futility of their anti-p2p campaign. They are just reluctant to concede that their approach has proved to be ineffective.
Johansen told Dagbladet, a Swedish magazine, that the ongoing fight against file sharing is useless. He believes that as copyright violations continue unabated, a fresh approach is needed - one that is more practical. "No one has ever won a battle when fighting against new technology," Johansen warned.
The report has torrent websites and their users in its crosshairs. It seeks to ban all torrent websites like The Pirate Bay – specifically mentioned in the report, as they “allow downloading of protected works or services without the necessary authorization are illegal.” However, the presumption that the illegality of such torrent portals follows from their illegal use is not entirely incontrovertible.
Ortega not only proposes to saddle ISPs with more responsibility, he wants them to be able to be more powerful than before. He suggests that ISPs be allowed to disconnect transgressors.
A few weeks back we looked at a change within the RIAA that would see it slowly shift away from pursing copyright infringement in the courts on a case by case basis. We are starting to see some evidence to back this up with the sacking of MediaSentry, but an existing lawsuit that is already underway is looking to set an interesting new precedent. Last Week, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner of Massachusetts granted permission to webcast the copyright infringement trial of Boston University student Joel Tennenbaum. It is believed this will be the first time a U.S. federal court has allowed a live video stream of an active trial.
The RIAA claims that unlike a written transcript, "The broadcast will be readily subject to editing and manipulation by any reasonably tech-savvy individual. Even without improper modification, statements may be taken out of context, spliced together with other statements and broadcast (sic) rebroadcast as if it were an accurate transcript. Such an outcome can only do damage to Petitioner's case."
The RIAA also isn’t thrilled with the fact that the video will be distributed by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. This is somewhat understandable when you consider that the center is headed up by Charles Nesson who is also defending Joel Tennenbaum during his trial. "Accordingly, in the name of 'public interest,' the district court has directed the general public to a website replete with propaganda regarding the Defendant's position in connection with this case, and that is specifically designed to promote Defendant's interests in this case," the RIAA wrote.
I doubt I’m going to find many RIAA fan’s here, but do they have a point?
The Recording Industry Association of America has ended its controversial relationship with MediaSentry. RIAA had entrusted MediaSentry with the task of compiling evidence against internet users that inundated the internet by uploading loads of music.
Buoyed by evidence collected by MediaSentry, RIAA has taken around 35,000 internet users to court with accusations of copyright infringement and piracy. The methods that MediaSentry employed infuriated civil-rights activists galore, but the company remained brazen in its defense.
RIAA’s current decision follows its promise to cut down on lawsuits. However, RIAA is ready with a replacement and has reached an agreement with DtecNet Software APS to fill the void created by MediaSentry, which will now be killing time by assessing the popularity of entertainment websites.
Blogger Richard Bennett from the register is issuing a grave warning for all to hear, Bit Torrent has declared war on VoIP and Gamers. Recent policy changes to bandwidth distribution techniques at Bell Canada have the uTorrent developers looking for alternative ways to keep P2P screaming along. The solution they are allegedly pursuing is a shift in the default protocol used from TCP to UDP. Even though uTorrent isn’t the only P2P application, it is widely considered the standard by which other torrent applications are modeled. Changes to it would likely filter down into other Torrent applications sooner rather than later. Should this change come to pass, ISP’s may find themselves unable to effectively manage each user’s bandwidth since only TCP has the proper controls to handle and throttle network congestion evenly.
According to recent estimates, P2P activity accounts for almost 50% of modern internet traffic. According to Bennett, if P2P suddenly becomes immune to congestion control it could cut the bandwidth available to TCP traffic by as much as 75%. As he so plainly points out 25% of the bandwidth for 95% users hardly seems fair. Flooding the net with UDP traffic would, in theory, have an even larger impact on VoIP services and online gaming since it is largely dependent on the use of UDP.
User Datagram Protocol was originally designed for real time transfers of small amounts of data with a low tolerance for delay. Currently the protocol represents only about 2% of all the internet traffic, but uTorrent’s changes could have a dramatic impact on this number. According to Bennett, ISP’s have the ability to monitor and separate P2P UDP traffic, but would require the use of controversial technologies such as Deep Packet Inspection. Since lawmakers and consumers are pushing for the concept of network neutrality, he points out that it becomes even more likely that ISP’s will be forced to implement more aggressive bandwidth caps as a possible solution.