Content owners tend to speak frequently about the huge problem that p2p donwloads have caused for their businesses. A recent recording industry report said the music business would "struggle to survive unless we address the fundamental problem of piracy." A new report from NPD group, however, lets us all know how big of a problem piracy really is. As it turns out, only 9% of American internet users are pirates.
What do you think of when you hear the word “BitTorrent”? For a lot of people, the word connotes illegal activities. But if you ever need to lawfully host a large file for others to download and don’t have the bandwidth to let them download it directly, BitTorrent—which reduces the strain on your own hosting by allowing users to help upload the file at the same time as they download it—is a great way to distribute it. Here’s how you can create your own BitTorrent file.
According to TorrentFreak, the MPAA, in cooperation with Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, claims to have shut down 12 torrent site in the US today. The catch, however, is that no one seems to have noticed, and the MPAA isn't naming the sites. If a site of any significance is suddenly closed down, sites that follow such actions are flooded with tips. As of yet, no one has noticed any "missing" torrent sites.
The MPAA is working closely with BREIN because the Dutch group have become adept at getting torrent sites removed in Europe. In those cases, as with these ones, complaints are made to the hosting providers of infringing sites, often leading to their removal. BREIN claims that they do not release names because many sites simply relocate to new hosting and begin again. At which point we have to wonder what the point is.
Some observers doubt the sites were active torrent trackers. The MPAA has been silent on the issue of these phantom sites. Have you noticed any torrent sites (where you get your Linux ISOs, right?) disappearing?
According to TorrentFreak, Google has begun actively censoring file-sharing related terms in their instant and autocomplete services. The Big G had hinted recently that "piracy related" terms would be getting the boot, but we're rather surprised they followed through. From now on, terms like torrent, rapidshare, and utorrent will not show up in autocomplete or instant results. Users will have to actually press enter (the horror!).
This isn't just of concern because you have to completely type in 'Ubuntu torrent' to find your Linux-y goodness. It is also about the fact that Google has assembled a fairly wide variety of words that will trigger the instant search to shut off. It's just like if you were typing a forbidden pornographic term. Google pretends to have no idea what you are talking about until you press enter.
Legitimate companies like BItTorrent Inc and Vodo are also affected by this move. Jamie King, founder of Vodo said in a statement, "Google already showed it will censor for the highest bidder — China Inc. springs to mind. Now it’s doing it for MPAA & Co.” We can't say if this is going to really decrease traffic that much, or that it's going to satisfy the copyright holders. But it does leave a bad taste in many people's mouths. How do you feel about this?
It was just recently that the US Justice Department stepped in and shut down over 80 domains suspected in the distribution of counterfeit goods, or copyrighted content. Now the US intellectual property czar Victoria Espinel is saying we can "expect more of that". This announcement predictably won the praise of the entertainment industry, and will likely reignite debate on the COICA bill in congress that would expand federal authority to seize domains.
This effort is being framed as an effort to protect consumers and jobs, but we feel that more accurately describes the sites trafficking in counterfeit goods. Sites suspected of copyright infringement tend to be harder to pin down. For instance, one site taken down in the last round was only an indexer of existing torrent sites. It did not host any torrents, content, or run a tracker.
It's hard to see where the line is on the tubes these days. The administration is also talking up efforts to take down online pharmacies that are selling illegally copied drugs. We just find it odd that pirated content is being limped in here. How do you feel about these domain name seizures?
The US government today has seized 77 domains for various types of copyright infringement, TorrentFreak reports. Many of the site were selling blatant knock-offs of popular clothing lines. So no one operating those sites can really feign ignorance of the situation. One site on the list, however, is a little more confusing. Torrent-Finder was taken down in the action, having its content replaced with the same takedown notice as all the other sites.
It's fairly simple these days for enforcement agencies to call a torrent site infringing. It's been done many times. But in this case, Torrent-Finder does not host a tracker or any torrent files. It's only function is search. All the search results from existing torrent sites are displayed in an iframe. This may be a subtle distinction lost on those not familiar with the technology. But in practice this is a huge difference from sites like The Pirate Bay. it brings up some interesting questions. For example, is just linking to a torrent site considered infringing behavior?
“My domain has been seized without any previous complaint or notice from any court!” the owner of Torrent-Finder told TorrentFreak. His site has been resurrected on another domain, but it is unclear if it will stay up. This may just be a hint at the kind of actions we can expect if COICA is passed next year.
It turns out that your nosey neighbor isn't the only one interested in that cache of 100 million Facebook profiles that showed up on torrent trackers. Some major companies that you do business with are getting the package as well. By connecting to the torrent and recording IP addresses that are also in the swarm, some have noticed the extent of interest here.
Among the companies seen downloading the data are Apple, Boeing, Church of Scientology, Disney, Intel, Pepsi Cola, Sony, and Viacom. It is worth noting that the mere fact that connections from these companies are present, does not mean this is a sanctioned action. All it means is that someone inside the company is downloading it. But our experience with corporate IT leads us be suspect Pepsi and Disney aren't in the habit of allowing employees to go around downloading torrents on their own.
The Swedish Pirate party announced back in May that they would be providing hosting for torrent site The Pirate Bay. Now they are taking things a step further and are expected to run the site's business from within the Swedish Parliament. The Swedish Constitution, they say, would protect this endeavor with its guarantee of legal immunity for actions undertaken as part of a party's political mandate.
The Pirate Party stresses the issues of government transparency, privacy, free speech, and copyright reform. An election is coming up soon, so much of this could just be political bluster. Still, they sound pretty serious. "We can never accept the copyright industry’s way of systematically and legally harassing anyone who tries to build next-generation industries," said Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge.
It seems The Pirate Bay just won't die, no matter how many battles they lose. There's always someone to clean things up and fill in the missing pieces.
An organization known as the US Copyright Group has issued lawsuits against thousands of alleged movie pirates. The organization represents an alliance of independent film producers, with backing from the Independent Film & Television Alliance. The group is expected to file another round of lawsuits (possible as many as 30,000) in the coming weeks. The really troubling thing here is almost all of these are so called “John Doe” cases with IPs as the only identifying information. The group is trying to force ISPs to hand over names. Thus far, only one ISP has cooperated, resulting in 71 names. Using so called “pre-settlement” letters; the US Copyright Group has so far gotten five of those people to pony up some cash.
This scheme seems to be aimed at casting the widest possible net to increase the odds of scaring someone enough that they settle an automated lawsuit. This practice has been common in Europe for some time, but this is the first time it has reached American shores. Even the RIAA has abandoned suing individuals, but this new trend is growing. "We're creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel,” said lawyer Jeffrey Weaver.
The US Copyright Group is using a new software technology that monitors large Torrent swarms and logs IP addresses. By moving ahead with these large numbers, they hope to reach a stable cost/benefit ratio. They really do see this as a revenue stream. Unfortunately, this means ISPs have a huge burden to be the middle men processing the complaints. Does anyone want to play devil’s advocate and defend this practice?
Surely you are aware the p2p networks are crawling with nasty malware. It’s almost enough to make you go elsewhere for your copyrighted public domain content. The MPAA and RIAA are of the opinion that people running torrents are a bunch of pirates that deserve what’s coming to them. The makers of Limewire, however, feel differently and have licensed the AVG antivirus engine to provide real-time scanning of downloaded files.
Limewire accesses both the Gnutella and BitTorrent protocols. The pro version of the software will be the one getting the security upgrades. Users of the free edition will still be on their own. Files scanned with the integrated scanner will be labeled as “Protected by AVG”. The software will make no distinction between legal and illegal files.
Look, we’re all for fewer people having malware and getting caught up in botnets, but is paying for a p2p app with integrated virus scanning the way to do it? Maybe suggest your p2p loving friends use a free security solution like Microsoft Security Essentials instead.