Ten years ago a group of four Microsoft engineers took to the stage at a security conference in Washington, DC, and presented a paper titled “The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution”. In this paper, the authors made a compelling argument describing how the rise of information technology would make it easier and faster for people to share files, and how DRM would do little to slow the process down. At the time this premise was a bit controversial, and as the authors openly admit, it almost cost them their jobs.
BitTorrent, and the words “legit” are rarely seen in the same sentence, but the company behind one of the world’s most popular peer to peer downloading clients is hoping 2013 will be the year this all changes. Matt Mason, executive director of marketing for BitTorrent claims he’s been working non stop with content companies for the last several years, and is looking for ways to warm relations, and create partnerships to distribute content legally. As you would no doubt imagine, this is a bit of an uphill battle given how often the company’s products are used to share files illegally.
Battered and beaten up in court, peer-to-peer file sharing service LimeWire has agreed to pay $105 million in damages to major record labels, the Recording Industry Association of America announced. The settlement ends a jury trial that began last week to determine the amount of damages LimeWire would owe, which could have ended up being 10 times the amount of the settlement, or more.
Some in the music industry may have discovered that it's pointless to beat a dead horse, or in this case, a defunct file sharing service called LimeWire. Mark Gorton, founder of the once immensely popular peer-to-peer file sharing service, settled a copyright infringement suit brought on by more than 30 publishers, including those associated with EMI, Sony, and Vivendi.
U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood essentially issued a death sentence for LimeWire after finding the peer-to-peer software firm guilty of copyright violations and issuing an injunction against he company in October. The obituary will have to wait.
According to a report in the Hollywood Reporter, LimeWire's attorneys have been busy trying to get third-party licensees to fork over a bunch of documents, everything from contracts and royalty payments, to accounting books and internal company communications. One of the firms being targeted is Amazon, though the etailer is reluctant to cooperate.
"Amazon's contention that it need not produce revenue information and communications regarding its agreements with Plaintiffs because these documents are equally obtainable from Plaintiffs is wrong on the facts and the law," attorneys for LimeWire wrote in a statement. "The Subpoena requests documents that could not be within Plaintiffs' possession, e.g. purely internal Amazon communications regarding its licensing agreements with Plaintiffs placed on their copyrighted works."
LimeWire claims it has a right to these documents in order to defend against the RIAA's claim of $1 billion in damages. The argument here is that these documents and internal communications could help determine what took place while negotiating over licensing songs for sale, which "could illuminate Plaintiffs' views as to the true value of their works."
Straight and to the point, BitTorrent Inc. announced that the BitTorrent Mainline and uTorrent client software combine to serve 100 million users every month, TorrentFreak reports.
On any given day, 20 million users from over 220 countries load up one of the clients, while also distributing 400,000 new clients every day. That adds up to a lot of users, and a lot of game demos and Linux distros (and perhaps one or two illicit downloads...).
"This is an exciting day for our team. Our vision is to build a complete technology ecosystem comprised of software, content, and devices designed to connect modern creators with a massive digital audience," BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker said. "This milestone highlights the size of our user base and the power of our software."
Both clients are free, though it's estimated BitTorrent Inc. rakes in millions of dollars each year through the optional installation of an accompanying toolbar.
Things weren't looking so well for LimeWire, the peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing service the RIAA managed to shut down via a court order last month. But according to TorrentFreak.com, a secret development team has gone and brought LimeWire back from the dead, while adding a few changes in the process.
"On October 26 the remaining LimeWire developers were forced to shut down the company's servers and modify remote settings in the file sharing client to try to harm the Gnutella network. There were then laid off," a source told TorrentFreak.
"Shortly after, a horde of piratical monkeys climbed aboard the abandoned ship, mended its sails, polished its cannons, and released it free to the community."
The latest version, blatantly known as LimeWire Pirate Edition, is making the rounds via BitTorrent. TorrentFreak's name-less source says the new version differs from the original in that all dependencies on LimeWire LLC's servers have been removed, remote settings have been disabled, the Ask toolbar unbundled, and all features of LimeWire Pro have been activated for free. There's also no adware or spyware, basically leaving the core app without all the cruft, or so the source says. It also underscores the never ending battle between the MPAA/RIAA and file sharing community.
While this new version wastes no time beating around the bush, the real LimeWire founder (Mark Gorton) has been trying to reach a settlement agreement with the RIAA and music labels to turn LimeWire into a legit music distribution service, laying off 30 percent of its workforce in the process.
The Wi-Fi Alliance announced Monday that it has begun certifying products for compliance with the Wi-Fi Direct standard, aimed at enabling router-free instant networking among Wi-Fi enabled devices (a la Bluetooth). Technically, Wi-Fi Direct does not dispense with access points, but merely relies on a software-based alternative, called Soft AP, allowing any Direct-enabled device to act as an access point.
A Wi-Fi Direct connection is not only way more uncomplicated than traditional peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connections (ad hoc), but it is also much more secure. It is being tipped by many to be Bluetooth’s replacement -- and not without good reason. Bluetooth simply can’t match Wi-Fi Direct in terms of range and speed.
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 World Series might be over (congrats Philly fans), but baseball fever is apparently sweeping through France in the form of a "three strikes" copyright enforcement proposal gaining ground in the country's Senate. The pitch is this: Get caught downloading illegal content a first time and receive an email from the ISP with a warning. A second strike earns a written letter via snail mail, and a third strike means you're out. Of course, in baseball striking out is only temporary until the next at-bat, and for internet surfers caught breaking the law three times, they'd have to wait a year before having their internet connection turned back on.
The controversial legislation is receiving widespread support with a cross-party vote showing 297 in favor of the new law and only 16 voting against. That leaves it up to the French National Assembly to vote on and decide the proposal's fate. If it should pass, the French government could find itself at odds with the European Parliament, who earlier this year shot down the notion of cutting off repeat offenders.
Think this type of legislation could ever fly in the U.S.? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.