Re: BitTorrent


I don't know how much you've followed the geeky details of what's happening, but the battle over this technology appears to be accelerating. The MPAA is going berserk, targeting the tracker sites that tell people what's being shared. One of the most popular sites, Supernova, recently pulled all of its links; today it announced a new program, Exeem, that distributes the tracking function. It looks to get real interesting.

Posted by: Grant | Link to this comment | 12-30-04 8:12 PM
horizontal rule

Yeah, I downloaded eXeem today, hoping to play with it, but it still requires some sort of beta serial number. But BitTorrent is the first file-sharing program I've seen where it's not immediately obvious how it can be shut down, or how its users can be prosecuted.

Once again, if the distributors would just get on the ball, they wouldn't need to prosecute, and could make plenty of money. If I want a movie, tell me what else the star has been in; let me watch a scene from that something else; link to the soundtrack; let me buy it; charge a premium to see a TV show a day before it airs; charge me to download an entire season of my favorite show...and I'm not even being creative here...whatever they do, they don't have ten years to do it.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-30-04 8:47 PM
horizontal rule

I don't know why you don't see how users can be prosecuted: your IP address is visible to anyone who's connected to the same torrent you are. It would be a lot more troublesome to prosecute people (since you'd have to connect to lots of individual torrents), but neither BitTorrent nor eXeem (from what I've read) protects the user's identity. I believe that Bram Cohen thinks people shouldn't use BT for copyrighted materials for exactly that reason.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-30-04 10:20 PM
horizontal rule

re: Napster days are here again: yeah, it's called Soulseek. The strength of bittorrent is its weakness: you have to know where to find the torrents, and you can't browse.

One of my coworkers swears by FTP. Everything old, etc.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-30-04 10:24 PM
horizontal rule

Ah, thanks, Ben. I've never actually used bittorrent. But I was thinking that it would be very hard to prove that someone had downloaded an entire file. Is that wrong?

And what's special about Soulseek?

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-30-04 10:34 PM
horizontal rule

I'm not sure. Trackers monitor your upload/download ratio, and to do that they have to monitor how much you've downloaded. But they expire, and (since I don't run one, or really know much about how they're run) I don't know if the data is saved, and I doubt very much that it's visible to other users. But if it is saved and whoever was hosting the tracker was subpoenad, and your ISP confirmed that you had the IP that was connected at time t, then it could be established not only how much you had downloaded, but also how much you had uploaded to other people. The neat thing (from this perspective) about bittorrent is that if you've got only, say, half the file, what you have is probably useless, since it could be every other chunksize worth of the file, not just the first half--there'll be gaps all over the place.

As for Soulseek: for some reason it seems to be mostly under the ??AA radar, even though it uses a central server! And the server's apparently located in the US! I don't know how well it works for movies and tv, but in the music realm it's quite broad. The model is old-skool all the way (I understand that there are more end-user-visible features on the windows client, though): you search for your terms, you can download files or folders, save users to a userlist (downloads are all from single users), and can (this is, for me, the best) you can browse other users' shares.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-30-04 10:53 PM
horizontal rule

Geek Boy, is there a way to hide your ISP? I believe I've heard about such things, no clue as to whether they work. Proxies, maybe? (I've never been very good at computers.) I'm guessing the answer is negative, because it stands to reason that if proxies worked to hide your ISP, then this knowledge would be more prevalent. Unless of course they do work, only it's difficult to use them.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-30-04 11:14 PM
horizontal rule

Tor. Doesn't exist yet. There used to be an anonymizer at (& probably elsewhere) but I believe they were all special-purpose (email, web browsing, &c). her hand Neal Stephenson, who would know, has one of the characters in Cryptonomicon log in to a general-purpose anonymizer, so maybe they exist or existed as well.

There used to be a company, I think in Canada, called Zero Knowledge (Systems, maybe). They may have been an anonymizer, but then again, they may just have done data storage. The name was a reference to the techniques they used. No one, themselves included, would be able to have any knowledge about what their clients were doing, only that they were doing. They charged a pretty penny for their services, though, and I think they don't exist anymore.

Any such system would slow your connection down, and you might still be susceptible to traffic analysis, too.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-31-04 8:19 AM
horizontal rule

Zero Knowledge used to do online privacy for end users, but have changed their business model, I think. Here's an old article about their offering.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-31-04 8:30 AM
horizontal rule

That's what I guet for talking out of my ass, I suppose.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-31-04 8:33 AM
horizontal rule

Cool, thanks.

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-31-04 10:11 AM
horizontal rule

"guet". Shit.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12-31-04 10:18 AM
horizontal rule