Sky blocks the Pirate Bay – Pointless and hypocritical?

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Its now a few days since Sky blocked its customers from Pirate Bay after the High Court ruling encompassing UK ISP’s.

In the time its taken for ISP’s to get their act together and ban it, already, numerous other methods of access have become available rendering the initial ruling effectively useless and serving to do nothing but bring more publicity to the Tracker that refuses to go down no matter where the pressure comes from.

With that in mind, it was interesting to read in the Telegraph a press release from Sky in relation to this ban:

We have invested billions of pounds in high-quality entertainment for our customers because we know how much our customers value it….It’s therefore important that companies like ours do what they can, alongside the government and the rest of the media and technology industries, to help protect their copyright.

Source: Telegraph

So the question now needs to be asked, if Sky did indeed feel this way why did it take a High Court ruling in order for them to ban it? Why had they not banned it themselves years ago? And in addition, why did Sky take so long after the ruling to actually get the block in place?

A suspicious minded person might say that Sky knew if it had banned the Pirate Bay before it was ordered by a court, it may have seen its customers go elsewhere.  Where’s the ban on the other “big name” Trackers if Sky feels this way?

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.

Microsoft take-down requests – needs its own house in order first?

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By now its common knowledge that Google has released publically, figures on the takedown requests it has recieved from copyright holders and their affiliates.  Microsoft figured heavily in this release which is what I wish to look at a little closer and maybe offer some alternative reasoning to the requests themselves.

Firstly, this article is not about the rights or wrongs of IP.  Regardless of your views on file-sharing and copyrighted material/law, I ask those be put to one side for the moment.

I think the one thing we can all agree on is that there are alot of searches (possibly through Google) whereby users are looking for “warez”.   Lets consider something else (again in the ethos of common ground) – as the current law stands, it is perfectly reasonable for Microsoft to make a take-down request of Google, like the idea of copyright or not, currently there is nothing to stop Microsoft (or indeed anyone else) requesting that material/link or whatever gets removed.  Now here though is where further consideration asks some questions which don’t seem to make sense.

Lets say Microsoft is concerned about copyright infringement and file-sharing – whilst they can (as stated above) make requests of Google, one would expect then that they would have cleaned up their own house first (or at least at the same time) – let me explain.  Try a Bing search for MS office on PirateBay – you get a direct link.  If Microsoft is so concerned about its IP then surely its own product should be a top priority to purge of such links?  But then if you consider it further, possibly not.

If we are agreed that Bing would like a slice of the pie that Google has in terms of search numbers and we agree that there are a considerable number of people using Google to search for “warez” – would it be suspicious minded to think that if Microsoft can make numerous takedown requests of Google, whilst keeping Bing “intact”, those that search for warez will be more likely to move over to Bing and thus bring value in terms of usage to Bing?  Whilst that may simply be a creative idea in respect of the recent news, it strikes me as strange that after all those take-down requests of Google, that Microsoft hasn’t even done something so simple as remove all PirateBay entries from its own product.

Maybe there’s someone who can explain why Microsoft hasn’t even seemed to take the most simple steps in keeping its own house in order whilst it is busy tackling Google?  Or maybe someone could say what it actually is that Microsoft is asking Google to take-down?

Personally, I think Microsoft products are moody enough without using a “cracked” version.  I remember the misery of being a Windows user with all the malicious code out there (and I was using a genuine version).  To use Microsoft products and trust in the integrity of a “cracked” version, is akin to putting your wedding tackle into a lions mouth and flicking its love-spuds with a wet towel (Credit for quote: Arnold Rimmer, Red Dwarf)

Do as I say, not as I do!

Some Microsoft Advocates often refer to Linux/FOSS users with the derogatory term “freetard” and even if we look past at the apparent double standards Bing employs in comparison with requests made of Google and we ignore the millions of Windows users using the uTorrent client and downloading copyrighted material, we need only look to Microsoft themselves and a very interesting article by torrent freak, who, after researching a few Microsoft IP addresses, find that records show, their machines have been very busy downloading copyrighted material for free too.  Hypocricy? Would we expect anything less from a company that employs a man someone like Steve Ballmer?

In relation to piracy, it’s alleged by TorrentFreak:

Look up a range of IP-addresses assigned to Microsoft and enter those into the search form on YouHaveDownloaded one by one. While we expected that it might take a while to find one, we already had a handful of offenders after two dozen tries.

Source: http://torrentfreak.com/busted-microsoft-harbors-bittorrent-pirates-120527/

Priceless, but hardly surprising.  And in light of “warez” seemingly ok if they are linked in Bing results, should we have expected anything less from Microsoft? – I’ll let you decide.

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.

“Piracy” & Privacy – Can the UK ever get it right?

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With ACS:Law and its current issues that it has to deal with and the DEB which appears about as well thought out as the flight of Icarus, we learn that the UK may find itself in court over privacy breaches on the internet.  We all remember Phorm and the fuss around it, so it comes as no surprise (albeit a little delayed) that the European Commission is finally getting the matter into a court room.

Alex Deane of Big Brother Watch is reported to have said:

It is humiliating that we have to rely on the European Commission to point out the problems with Britain’s privacy laws…..What is clear is that UK internet users were being regularly snooped on to help companies target advertising, which amounts to a massive intrusion on our online privacy

Source: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/842695-internet-snoops-put-britain-in-the-dock

What a great place the UK is for Web users.  We have reports of law firms making “requests” for information about accounts alleged to be downloading pornography with personal details linked to that pornography leaked on the Web.  Phorm with its Webwise allegedly snooping in on your browsing usage for directed advertising and the DEB looming on the horizon…..what a lovely picture of “Digital Britain”.

As the Metro (source above) reports it:

Britain is being taken to court for flouting European rules on internet privacy after ignoring warnings about online snooping for 18 months.

and we have yet to see what “treats” are in store when the DEB comes into play.

“Digital Britain”?  In terms of getting it right online,  we are not even analog.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Piracy Bill – Has Ed Vaizey actually considered this issue at all?

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The Telegraph is reporting today on how the Digital Economy Act will be met in order to tackle online piracy or copyright infrigement.  You can read the Telegraphs article here. People may remember that its proposed that alleged infringers of copyright are sent a number of warning letters before sanctions and eventually a ban is put on their connection.

Ed Vaizey the minster responsible for these plans had much to say in an interview on this matter, so lets start with:

Protecting our valuable creative industries, which have already suffered significant losses as a result of people sharing digital content without paying for it, is at the heart of these measures


I come from a view of anti-infringement, I always have.  Over the two years of this blogazine Ive always supported a stance of anti-infringement and have engaged in many heated debates with people who don’t agree.  I have not/do not support in any way the infringement of copyright.

So as someone with this stance, I would now simply ask – Avatar a flop was it?

I could be wrong but despite a plethora of screeners, r5’s et al being released, Avatar made a rather large sum of money and if that was not enough, its due for a re-release with extra’s very shortly…for a second sitting if you will.

Ive often said when countering a “pro-piracy”  view that you cannot judge what copyright you should infringe just on the basis of how much money the product has made, but conversely, this loss of revenue does not seem evident in any of the products I have seen touted as a huge success, yet at the same time having trackers stuffed to the gill’s with torrents of them.

Harry Potter suffered significant losses too?  I pick these two titles in particular because I don’t think it can be argued that out of all the infringing material being shared these two would rate rather highly in popularity.  I could also cite many other examples.  I won’t.

The Digital Economy Act serves to reduce online copyright infringement through a fair and robust process and at the same time provides breathing space to develop better business models for consumers who buy music, films and books online.

So this is then going to be instead of ACS:Law and similar firms conducting alleged speculative invoicing is it?  I wouldn’t think so, as far as I can tell, this is as well as.  So ontop of the possibility of a ACS:Law letter popping through your door fishing for evidence, you are also going to have a warning letter on behalf of the DEA telling you not to do it too?  A double whammy of an allegation if you will.

I wonder if Mr Vaizey agrees that the file sharing ethos is a good one, since by saying “provide breathing space to develop better business models” suggests that the ones that are in place (in Mr Vaizey’s opinion) are not good.  And what of this “breathing space”? How long do these people need? p2p tech is not exactly bleeding edge, its been around for a considerable amount of time.   Badly thought out Mr Vaizey, they’ve had plenty of breathing space and I don’t see how this will help at all.

Consumers should not be picking up the tab for the enforcement of copyright laws that will benefit the music industry to the tune of millions of pounds.

Now maybe here Mr Vaizey is making a joke that I don’t get.  If the ISP is to pick up the tab for 25% of the costs for this “enforcement” where does he think the money will come from if not passed onto the customer?  Whilst that may be fair for the repeated copyright infringer, how is that fair on me or anyone else who thinks that the material “infringed upon” is not even worth a download for “free” and on the rare occasion when they are interested in a title, actually goes out and buys it?  – I think far from help enforce an anti-piracy message, many people will just say “stuff it, Im footing the bill, I may as well jump in too”.  Just like in my view, the person who came up with the idea of knock off Nigel, when you get people who really don’t know the subject trying to solve it, you only end up looking silly when it backfires.  (For those that don’t know, Knock off Nigel was an ad campaign against piracy, that turned into a cult classic and even gave piracy a little kudos)

But Mr Vaizey is apparently not finished:

The previous government admitted any extra cost on internet service providers may push up the cost of broadband, making it unaffordable for thousands of vulnerable consumers who need internet access to get vital services and cheaper deals.

And this won’t Mr Vaizey? Come on.  Whether overtly or covertly, this cost will be pushed onto the consumer, it’s not rocket science.

Of course Mr Vaizey probably wouldn’t want to speculate on the inevitable flood of appeals where, as we have seen in the past, people are wrongly accused of infringing copyright and the alleged “free” appeals process.  Another question that needs to be asked, if you are a small company and the copyright holder of material are you going to be expected to foot this bill in the same way as say Warner Brothers should you see your product be uploaded onto a tracker or similar?  It may be an insignificant cost for Warner Brothers to foot some of the bill for this latest scheme, what of the small company with a small turnover?  Are copyright owners to be means tested to find out how much of this 75% they pay?


The idea of the government getting involved in an issue (which to be fair) I believe knows little about, stinks of a repeat of the HIPs scheme and we all saw how that ended in tears.

Unfortunately whilst Mr Vaizey is believing his letter campaign for file sharing accusations is going to solve the problem, has he considered that people may simply switch to Usenet and/or XDCC as a means of obtaining their material….of course he hasn’t, I don’t think he will understand any technology that hasn’t been mentioned to him by companies with million pound turnovers.

Remove the sharing element of obtaining copyrighted material and you keep Mr Vaizey and ACS:Law letters from your letterbox.  Of course the vagueness of this whole scheme and its unanswered questions could encompass Usenet, but surely if the sharing element is removed from the downloader, Mr Vaizey and his campaign is rather a waste of time?

And thats not even including the infringers that know how to hide their identity.

A costly exercise which will serve no purpose.  Copyright infringement needs to be discussed with level heads and people who actually know the subject inside out, not blanket vague ideas and an elasterplast.

Whilst Mr Vaizey plays anti-infringer, people like you and me who don’t infringe copyright foot the bill.  After looking at the takings made by Avatar and similar, maybe the answer is:   Make decent material and people will buy, try to get away with any old rubbish and you can forget making a profit.

And maybe Mr Vaizey should be reminded of a pre-election comment of Nick Clegg in regards to the Digital Economy Act, reported by Techradar:



classic example of what’s wrong with Westminster

Source: http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/david-cameron-to-kill-the-digital-economy-act–688918#ixzz0zXEmjTKd

Whatever Mr Glegg thinks the Digital Economy Act is, you have until 2011 before its implemented.

I’ll leave you to consider, if , like me your anti-piracy stance has lost its sympathy for copyright holders.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

No P2P for Irish Vodaphone customers? – and then a change of mind?

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Vodaphone, the provider of mobile and broadband services has allegedly prohibited the use of p2p protocols on its networks albeit verbally.  Whilst a p2p blow to the phone service would be bad enough, the fact that they have taken the step to hit the desktop services aswel would be for many, a step too far.

Looking past the customers that would be driven to other providers who have not taken this stance, I would like to address a point raised by The Mad Hatter and where previously my own lack of foresight negated to consider a potential problem when p2p was linked with “piracy”.

About a month ago, fellow tech writer The Mad Hatter remarked in my comments section that the relationship created by anti-piracy groups between p2p and piracy had an intention of endangering the p2p ethos as a whole.  I dismissed this at the time and cited that many trackers (in the case of BitTorrent) which do not infringe copyright and for this reason, p2p will never be attacked itself.  Now it appears I was wrong (or certainly that there could be a distinct possibility in the foreseeable future).  The terms Vodaphone had stated seem to have no regard for the content of the data packets and have opted for a blanket ban on all p2p trafic – lawful, unlawful or anything inbetween.

The issue is was reported on Torrentfreak, and whilst this prohibition appears to be in the T&C only, not a physical ban users obviously still could make their own judgement call on if they followed it.

Torrentfreak (which reports on these matters) followed up the article with enquiries to Vodaphone and there now appears on the boards to be a clarification:

Hiya folks,
We’ve recieved clarification that there will be no restriction on peer to peer usage, the information there is incorrect, and is currently being removed.

Source: http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=67878640&postcount=31

Could this “clarification” be as a result of Torrentfreak enquiries and the realization that customers might move?  Could the original “prohibition” been placed to exonerate Vodaphone of any possible legal responsibility in the case of a civil action against one of its customers?  But more importantly was this “two liner” press release shoved out quickly as damage limitation for a change of heart?  Certainly the fact that the Vodaphone representative can’t spell “received” would suggest that to me thats the case.

Whilst Vodaphone may be a popular provider (and this matter now “resolved”- no pun intended) looking at recent complaints from customers it appears that there are signal issues in some area’s of the country with the Vodaphone service, so maybe regardless of their stance on p2p, you may want to visit here first.  This is a selection of allegations about poor Vodaphone service from that link:

I live in a rural area in North Dorset and have never had any luck with my Vodaphone dongle. I often have have to wait 2 mins or so to view a web page and sending emails are impossible. I took the laptop into town and tried to use it and It still was as bad and within view of a vodaphone mast!


Vodafone… Mobile “”Broadband?””,,,,, not even close


Ive been trying to use my vodafone mobile broadband dongle for two months. The average upload/download speed is 4.8kbs, thats right, kilobites. If youve been thinking of buying, dont waste your money on vodafone.

So regardless of the stance Vodaphone takes on P2p, it won’t really matter for these customers (if the complaints are accurate).

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

NewsBytes – Saturday 28th August 2010

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XP RIP 25/10/01 – 22/10/10

It seems Microsoft is going to retire Windows XP on 22nd October – no, really this time! As reported by one of the few MVP’s I have respect for:

…Windows XP, up to this point, was one of the most popular versions of Windows and continues to dominate the desktop PC market.  However, Windows 7 is making steady progress to eventually overtake it…

Source:  http://www.windowsobserver.com/2010/08/25/windows-xp-sales-to-end-on-22-october-2010

To which I would remind everyone that it’s not surprising since the majority of new machines purchased will be Windows 7 OEM whether you like it or not.  (Read here for a related article)

Warner & Disney being original?

Maybe.  Its being reported that Disney and Warner are going after agencies that advertise on “illegal” Bittorrent trackers.  Since everyone else has failed to make a dent on the piracy issue, this latest tactic just won’t work.  By demonizing the file sharer with actions of the past, what has happened is a community has been created.  Just look at the way ACI or TBI are written about on the net.  In fact TBI seems to have pulled out of the file sharing “work” due to the massive bad press it generated.  I would say the file sharing community is now a rather powerful voice on the Net and its all been created (in my opinion) by the tactics of some instead of reasoned discussion at the time to find a solution.

Disney and Warner (I would expect) will find that the community “monster” they have helped to create will further turn against them and even if they were successful, does anyone really believe that in the absence of adverts trackers/indexers would disappear anyway?

Torrentfreak reports:

There have been many innovative anti-piracy strategies over the years, from simple scare tactics to high profile hammer-blow aggression, from ISP pressure to the more recent attempts at domain name seizure. This week, a new tactic has been witnessed in the United States – an attack on those who provide financing for file-sharing venues – the advertisers.

Source: http://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-sues-advertiser-at-movie-piracy-site-100828/

The LHC Lives on!

A lawsuit against the LHC has been rejected by a court in Hawaii.  Concerns in the suit about the dangers of the LHC are reported to have no evidence offered to back up them up.

Softpedia reports:

A Court in Hawaii has just rejected a new lawsuit brought against the Large Hadron Collider. The plaintiffs failed to produce any evidence that the machine is dangerous, the ruling says…….The decision was passed down on August 24, by a Hawaiian appeals court. The judges said that the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) could not be held responsible for any ill side-effects that may derive from using the LHC.

Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Lawsuit-Against-the-LHC-Overthrown-154098.shtml

Microsoft and its phone skeletons?

Microsoft has phone woes? if it can’t sell you phones you want to buy it can jump on the coat tails of those that do (Android) since it doesnt appear that anyone is particularly excited about Windows Mobile 7.

Readers to Openbytes will have read my experiences of WinMob and maybe understand why Microsoft products (phone in this case) are not looked at too favorably.  Just remember, if you are at Redmond….Don’t mention the f’Kin phone and there will be a chair coming towards you on Mobile 7 launch day if you mention it!

Dr Schestowitz says in his report which covers these topics and much more:

…So, why is Microsoft so desperate to make Android Microsoft dependent? Well, it’s because their own phones are failing and market share is falling. Microsoft’s mobile reality is gloomy. Vista Phone 7 [sic] won’t change much, definitely not with its reliance on Silverlight..

Source: http://techrights.org/2010/08/27/dot-net-on-android-msft-approved/

You’re all sued! – Paul Allen shows you how to make friends?

Interval Licensing – a firm owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is allegedly suing Google, Apple and Facebook (and others).  No, not to become the most unpopular man in the IT but because its claimed they have violated patents.

The patents involved allegedly are:

— U.S. Patent No. 6,263,507, for “Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data.”

— U.S. Patent No. 6,034,652, for “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”

— U.S. Patent No. 6,788,314, for “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”

— U.S. Patent No. 6,757,682, for “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.”

(From Reuters)

Reuters reports that one of the named companies said:

…an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS201024637120100828

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

DCC, Bittorrent and Usenet – Is Bittorrent so great?

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The days of Micronet are long gone.....were you one of its members?

I’ve written many articles touching on this subject, but I wanted to look at it with a little more detail as whilst we see a massive surge in Net traffic in regards to file sharing ; as is often the case, has the best tech “won”?  Since the vast magority of file-sharing on a p2p network is infringing copyright, it seems relevant that this article covers this topic encompassing all file sharers, lawful or not.

I don’t want this article to be one of debating the rights and wrongs of copyright law, nor if  “all data should be free” , I’ve made my stance on copyright infringement very clear and whilst I think there are massive flaws in copyright law (and the means in which its enforced) I cannot condone nor support infringing of copyright.  If the law changes, great.  If it doesn’t, people shouldn’t intentionally infringe on copyright just because they don’t happen to agree with the law that governs it.  This article hopes to look at the tech from both sides of the argument.

Regardless of what you download though, I want to look at if the praise millions give to BitTorrent is actually deserved.

Before the days of the Internet when computers with 48k were deemed sufficient, I was one of a few who were accessing Micronet.  Little did I know at the time (when I was downloading lawfully free software onto tape) was that I was taking the first steps into what would be a global phenomena and eventually something which would become so large, even the best of ISP’s could buckle under the demand to feed their end users hunger for data.

Whilst the web has become a multi-media experience and moved on from it’s “Ceefax” looking roots, this article is to focus more on some of the file-sharing technologies and ask the question; Is BitTorrent so great?

In the early days of BitTorrent, trackers were fewer in number and the technology was a rather unknown entity to anyone who didn’t have a computing hobby everything was going along very nicely……

Things changed though, when the average Joe got into the action and went quickly downhill from then on.   Law firms such as ACS:Law can cast their proverbial nets out into a swarm, collecting the copyright infringing fish who really don’t have much of a clue as to the implications of their actions – too busy in a gorging frenzy of a media rich diet containing movies, music and games….

Happy times for those that seek to generate revenue from these infringing fish, bad news for everyone else whose connection strains under the weight and whose experience of most trackers is a mass copyright infringing files.

Whats great about BitTorrent?

I would suppose that the one “advantage” of BitTorrent is that there are no costs for “hosting” files or bandwidth, but this is does make you very reliant on there being seeders within the swarm.  How often have you entered a swarm, only to have the seeders make an exit and leave everyone else with a partially completed file?

In the days of the Amiga, sharing was in the main achieved by post. Could we see a return since BitTorrent is so open for many?

It’s often touted as a way to “speed up your downloads, make them fly!” which to me who has used the tech over a number of years and  was one of the “first of the few” when it came to adopting it onto my desktop has never seen evidence of.   I still regularly use Linuxtracker, but over all the years of using BitTorrent, Ive yet to see this blisteringly fast speed (or at least speeds which outdo anything that I get from Usenet or even DCC)

We have to also consider that BitTorrent provides a rather simple means (for those who download copyrighted works) for companies such as ACS:Law to make money.  Would we have these cases at all if average Jo had stayed away from the tech? and if there is to be a clampdown with legislation on the technology itself, can we not blame the millions who use it download copyright infringing material?

So when taken like this, what is so great about BitTorrent?  I think it comes down to simplicity of accessing /finding materials and it happens to be the tech that the mainstream has jumped on, since it is rather simple to understand.

But Private trackers are safe!

No they are not (in respect of private trackers and “warez”)  For the most part “private” trackers are simply public trackers which require login and have a ratio.  Are people really believing that the same companies who harvest IP’s on public trackers can’t join the private ones?  after all, you have.  One could even argue that private trackers are more “damning” as it would be simpler to build up a portfolio of evidence on an individual with often less peers in the swarm and more of a community in them.  I won’t dwell on this point though, because my argument is that BitTorrent is not such a great tech as some like to promote.

Looking at Usenet/DCC

So now we look at alternatives to BitTorrent.  Usenet, the home to many offers far greater speeds than anything I have achieved with the BitTorrent protocol.  Recently I downloaded a collection of Amiga demo scene tracks which was approximately 250mb in size.  Grabbing the file from Usenet binaries, I saw speeds of approximately 500k per second on my connection.  Comparing it like for like on the identical file on a public BitTorrent tracker, I maxed out at around 130k per second –  This wasn’t helped by the fact that there were only 2 seeders in the swarm, but even so, it highlights my point of the peer being dependent on the seeder (and other sharing peers) in order for the transfer to be effective.  Usenet has no such issues – providing the file hasn’t dropped out of the retention period (and with most providers that’s around a couple of years) then I can guarantee a fast transfer.

Usenet is also different to BitTorrent in that you are not sharing anything.  Regardless of if the file infringes copyright or not, you are merely downloading from your Usenet provider.  Ever seen a file sharing civil action that involves someone merely downloading?  – I wouldn’t think so.  ACS:Law et al cannot operate within this environment.  There are plenty of .NZB trackers out there (and you can see NZB creeping into some of the more “traditional” BitTorrent indexers) – I would argue with anyone that says Usenet is not as simple as Bittorrent providing you are using the right client.

Luckily, average Jo either hasn’t yet discovered or can’t comprehend Usenet.  As I’ve said before in previous articles, I think that will change and the blame will lie squarely on the shoulders of companies like ACS:Law who have been involved with pursuing allegations.   If companies had realized ways to work with this emerging technology then they may not have been having such an issue today.  If users migrate to Usenet (or even jiffy bag trading), the game is completely over.

I think the level of legal aggression being shown by some who seek to stop (or more importantly) generate revenue from copyright infringing file transfers will force users to look for alternative means to share these files.  In the days of the Amiga it was done by post, hooking up with a contact and then sending numerous disks in exchange.  Arguably for most people the 2 day delivery of the postal service and the amount of material you can stuff into a jiffy bag, makes the postal service a far more efficient (and speedier) option if people sat down and thought about it.  20 x DVDr or 94.2 gig….2 days to arrive to target.  How long would it take you to transfer 94 gigabytes of data via BitTorrent?

All file sharing is piracy! - That's what some would like you to believe and the mere mention of BitTorrent or Usenet has you labeled instantly. The truth is that not all users are. Its a shame that in an effort to curb "piracy" the result is merely possible migration to other techs.

So now we turn to IRC and in particular DCC.  For many this was the defacto way to get files.  People who liked to think they belonged to the “scene” would loiter in the relevant channels waiting for an announce to display a file they wanted.  DCC offers a direct connection to the sharer, so there are no swarms and the downloader does not even go through the IRC server they are connected to when they handshake.  Whilst in theory this is great, the problem encountered is that once a sharer hit’s their maximum, you will be queued.  This could mean a long wait.  DCC has been made more “userfriendly” by having “trackers” of sorts which index the channel & user serving material.

Issues of IRC aside, just like Usenet, there is no sharing issue for the downloader, there is no public swarm and except for the person sharing the file, there’s nothing that a law firm could harvest.  IRC for “warez” has mainly been left alone, firstly because of it’s relatively small user base and secondly because if anyone is sharing copyrighted material, they are clever enough to hide their identity through a proxy or other means.  The same cannot be said for BitTorrent when the average user is sharing the latest movie whilst broadcasting their IP to anyone who enters the swarm.


Regardless if your file sharing need allegedly infringes copyright or not, I don’t believe there is any compelling evidence to show BitTorrent being either the be all and end all or the “best” method.  Sure, Usenet will see you probably having to pay a subscription fee to a provider and DCC will probably see you queued for a period of time whilst you await your file, but with the speeds one can expect from Usenet and usually decent speeds achieved with DCC,  is BitTorrent so much better or even better at all?

The only advantage that I see is the ability to distribute a file without having to worry about hosting costs and with the way BitTorrent has won the hearts and mind of the average Jo, it would not surprise me if tougher legislation directed at the tech is not in the near future.

Speaking as someone who spends much time following the topic of “piracy” and fascinated with the justifications on both sides to support their views, I can say that my experience over recent times supports my opinions.  Over the last year, I’ve seen a rise in .nzb trackers.  In newsgroups which traditionally had copyright free or freeware material I am seeing a rise in the infringing material being published and certain newsgroups having tb’s of the latest movies/games/music are being talked about in more mainstream forums.

I’ll let you decide on the best tech, but maybe at least consider my point.  BitTorrent is hardly the second coming of file sharing mechanisms.  I would like to hear from a person that can argue otherwise.  Lets remember how long Usenet has been with us and how many p2p services it’s seen come and go during its life.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

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