Tag Archives: p2p

LimeWire is Back in the Game

That took even less time than I expected. I had a feeling we’d see popular P2P client LimeWire again, but I didn’t think it would be this fast. Reports are surfacing that the software has already been resurrected by a group of self-named hackers. “Not only has a secret dev team reanimated the hugely popular client, but they have also made a few significant changes which make it better and more streamlined than before.”

“Shortly after the software was forced to shut down, a horde of piratical monkeys climbed aboard the abandoned ship, mended its sails, polished its cannons, and released it free to the community.” All dependencies on LimeWire LLC’s servers have been removed, all remote settings have been disabled, the Ask toolbar has been unbundled, and all features of LimeWire PRO have been activated for free. Thus, the creators claim that LimeWire Pirate Edition (LPE) will work better than the last stable version of the old client.

The RIAA better head back to the drawing board.

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The Days of LimeWire are Long Gone

Thanks to a crushing blow in the Federal court system recently, LimeWire will be shutting down their software – effective nearly immediately. The company says it will comply with a court injunction to turn off “the searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality, and/or all functionality” of its software. The company will not only stop offering their current type of software for download… they will also disable copies already installed on consumers’ machines.

As of the time of this blog post, the company had already taken down the relay servers on the Gnutella network. This is what the LimeWire client uses to figure out which other P2P clients have which information. Once that had been done, software already downloaded would be rendered useless in a matter of hours… other than as a media player.

This is a huge step in the right direction as far as big media companies are concerned. What are YOUR thoughts?

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RIAA Slams the Door on Another Music Site – Mulve

Mulve was the hottest music-sharing site to hit the Internet in a long time… may it rest in peace. Within a few days, the site was seeing more than 30,000 visitors a day and they were carrying out around 15000 searches every hour. It wasn’t exactly a P2P site, since nothing was ever uploaded by the users. That didn’t stop the RIAA from shutting it down, though.

Even though Mulve didn’t host illegal files, the RIAA discovered that a tiny element of the site was hosted with US-based Hostgator. As soon as that element was taken offline, the entire site crumbled. “Just letting you know that Mulve has received a DMCA take down request from the RIAA, so it needed to be taken offline,” a Mulve spokesman said.

The developers are reportedly working on changes to make the site better and stronger than it already was. There’s no word yet, though, as to when service may be restored. The data is pulled from insanely fast Russian servers which are connected to the country’s biggest social networking site. It has been reported that downloading from Mulve is as safe as one can get when downloading anything these days.

Now we get to argue and discuss this issue… do you feel that any site such as Mulve should be forced offline? After all, it IS yet another way to pirate music. The files are supposedly completely legal. But morally… can you download something for free that you know you would have had to otherwise pay for?

RIAA Abandons Mass Lawsuits in Favor of ISP Deals

The RIAA has attempted to sue approximately 35,000 people since 2003 – some of those suits being downright heartless: suing single mothers, children, and and a dead person. They are now abandoning this backwards policy and striking deals with ISPs – but the devil is in the details, and the fine print that cannot be ignored.

These deals include the RIAA no longer requiring the identities of those found to be sharing files; instead, the RIAA will now send their emails to the ISP and no longer demand identity information. They will effectively be expecting the ISP to be the enforcers. This new system really is just a different way to do the same old thing. Only this time, the ISP will be doing the dirty work. The new policy that the RIAA has brokered with major ISPs is that of “three strikes and your out” – your ISP may now be able deny Internet access you if you are found guilty by the RIAA.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) suggested that the RIAA support a legal Peer-to-Peer Network in their “Let the Music Play” whitepaper. Users pay a small, monthly fee to legally share music files in whatever method suits them. The EFF states that the fee should be less than $10 per month, based on the fees charged by services like Rhapsody and Napster. “The money collected would be distributed among rights-holders based on the popularity of their music.” As long as users pay for the service, they are free to continue to do what they are doing, legally. This type of system has been done before; radio stations pay a fee for a license to broadcast music with whatever equipment works best. ASCAP was created based on these same premises.

I’m a Rhapsody subscriber for a reason, folks.

Do you support this idea? In what ways do you think the fee for this service could be collected, and would you pay it?

How Can We Wipe out Piracy?

Piracy is becoming more and more of a problem in today’s society at an alarming rate. Some people simply don’t feel the need to pay for what they want to watch or listen to, while others feel they should be allowed to download copies of media they’ve already purchased. Either way, it’s illegal folks… and it’s yourself that you’re hurting. As piracy grows, so does the cost of the media to the public. You may argue that it’s the artists and/or music/movie companies who you’re “sticking it” to. But in reality, it’s the consumers… just like yourself. I asked some of my friends what we can do to wipe out piracy once and for all.

Increase the number of ninjas? – Mattb4rd

No one can – Outsanity

Easy. Tell the big media corps to stop ripping people off and offer the media in formats and at prices people actually are willing to pay for. Problem solved. – Stephen Cropp via twhirl

I think thieves will always be around. I think the important thing is to be respectful of people who support what you are doing and are willing to, within reason, fund it. I’d buy two or three records a month at five dollars a piece. There is no reason for a DVD/BLU Ray/Download to ever be more than the price of a movie ticket. No piece of software should ever really cost more than 200 dollars, especially if your upgrades are paid. Make it easier to buy it than steal it. – Brian Norwood

Let’s work on double-posting first. – Josh Haley

I agree with Stephen. The reason people pirate is because something cost too much. – Outsanity

You’ll be hard-pressed to "wipe out" anything these days. – Josh Bancroft

quot;No piece of software should ever really cost more than 200 dollars" – why? There is software that will increase the bottom line of a corporation by millions of dollars… why only charge 200 for it? You are always balancing price, sales volume and piracy issues… a fixed ceiling isn’t going to change that. – Soulhuntre

Whatever they say on Slashdot most pirates are just plain thieves. They aren’t making a point, they aren’t hero’s of the revolution, they are not digital samurai. They are thieves. As such, nothing will ever wipe out piracy. These same people will go to enormous convolutions to try and explain why stealing a movie isn’t like stealing any other property – but it is. – Soulhuntre

People forget that piracy is no different than you buying the program and you lend me the CD and serial to put on my PC or lending me a DVD or album. So that means the government need to crack down on borrowing. – Outsanity

I think music on Amazon costs about what it should. They give me .mp3s for 8.99 to 9.99. That’s very reasonable. Anyone stealing music when they can get it that cheap is not going to buy music no matter what happens. – Andrew Burd

You simply can’t until services match the convenience of the current systems. And convenience means distributed in nature – not having to fire up iTunes. Amazon’s the closest – they just need an API so developers can build their own music stores on the web. You’ll get dedicated people who become digital DJs – finding all the good stuff. And in return for using Amazon’s platform instead of just linking an MP3, the DJs get referral credits (or cash incentives) from Amazon. – trextor

Indie musician should give away their tracks at lower quality (128kbs) for free on their personal site to build a fan base and charge for high quality (320kbs) tracks for the DJs to use. Then make money off of licensing royalties for commercial use. This strategy stops working once an artist would regularly sell more than about 50K copies of a track / album. – Erica Toelle

And obviously you should be allowed to stream the entire song before you buy, like on Last.fm. Such a platform would effectively kill radio and disrupt the profits they rake in from online streaming – which the music industry won’t be too happy with. Till this is a reality, people will just keep downloading and purchasing casually. – trextor

There will always be cheaters and thieves. Always. The point is to make it easy and convenient for the people who aren’t pirating. That’s how you combat piracy … by treating your true consumers right and not focusing on the few who are trying to ruin it for everybody. – tj hanton

We could make everything free. But it would probably me easier to just remove the damn DRM. Without DRM, more people would make legal purchases. – Bob Blunk

TJ is mostly correct. However, Piracy will cause a much larger shift in Software and Music copyright than simply changing how companies treat consumers. Music piracy is very clearly justifiable since most of the artists make little off CD sales and the majority of profit goes to Record Labels who are becoming outdated anyway. Theoretically an honest pirate community would allow software sharing and use it to check absurd pricing which happens quite often in the software industry. – Brandon Titus

Bob Blunk – there is no real data to support that proposition that I have seen and much practical information that contradicts it. – Soulhuntre

Outsanity – of course it’s different. When one person distributes an album to thousands of people via the internet (the pirate bay, vor example) it is radically different than you lending your friend an album. – Soulhuntre

Wasn’t the US founded on piracy though – wasn’t copyright on foreign works specifically excluded at one time? The other thing to do it stop corporations extending copyright forever, Disney makes a mint off The Brothers’ Grimm but campaigns for changes in the law to prevent it’s works going out of copyright. – Andy Davies

I think @Brian Norwood makes a good point: make buying it easier than pirating it. Or at least try. An example: a company shuts off their DRM servers and *poof* there goes all the music you purchased; the message that sends is "people who buy music are stupid". In this scenario, it is more viable to pirate than purchase. Purchasing music needs to be consumer friendly, not prohibitive. There will always be piracy, but at least make it viable for people who actually want to buy music to do so. – David Adam

Except of course the most recent message is that your purchases are safe. Yahoo is making good on their purchases last I hear with MP3 versions, credits at other stores or refunds – Soulhuntre

I think iTunes is the wrong system. Purchasing DRM music is not something I’ll do. However the ZunePass concept I love.. A small fee and I can get all the music I want and I feel like it’s a media subscription like Fios or Netflix. There is no implication of permanence. In exchange for this I can try out new bands and music at no risk and no incremental cost. If I want to "own" it I can buy MP3 versions. Best of both worlds. – Soulhuntre

When it comes to music, I really think anybody who resorts to piracy is a cheapskate. You can get Amazon mp3s with no DRM for a very reasonable price. It’s easy to do so. I think in terms of music, people need to take a step back and think: you’ll pay 3 dollars for a cup of coffee *every day* or go see a movie for $10, but an digital download of an album is too expensive? Sad, really. – Jason Kaneshiro

What do you think it will take to wipe out piracy? Is it even within the realm of possibility, or are we fighting a losing battle?

Are there any Free Web-Based Virus Scanners?

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What is more stupid… running your face alongside a cheese grater, or running Limewire? I argue that it’s far healthier to run your face on the cheese grater. What can you do if you don’t run an anti-virus on your desktop? Or what if you download something but want to be 100% sure it’s not a malicious file before you install or run it? Is there any other way to protect yourself?

P2P programs are a breeding ground for malware of all types. That’s why I always recommend you stay away from programs like that, not counting the fact that much of what you would download is illegal. I’m just talking about the viruses, trojans, rootkits and spyware that can and will infest your machine.

Anyway, if you come across a file that you’re just not sure of, you may run it through your desktop client. We all know that desktop solutions can have false positives, or totally miss something it really shouldn’t. How can you be sure it’s safe then?

Well, there are a couple of excellent places online where you can test single files. The first of these is VirusTotal. Virustotal is a free service that will run a file through 32 separate anti-virus programs. Afterwards, it will give you a report. The report will contain the results from each AV, the date of the last update of each AV.

There are two blogs found on Lockergnome that you can always count on to keep you up-to-date with the latest information on what Security products are good, what’s in, what’s out and what to stay away from. One is written by Ron’s MVP award area is in Windows Desktop Experience, and Kat’s award is in Consumer Security. Both are well known in their fields, and know what they’re talking about.

If your program reports something as bad that you aren’t sure is… why not take an extra moment to run the file through VirusTotal? What are your thoughts on P2P programs, and even computer security programs?


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Software Piracy

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Matt is a YouTube community member who watches us regularly. He recently sent me a very interesting email, asking about my thoughts on piracy, and how to put a stop to it. Piracy of music, software and movies is rampant these days, and there is just no one sure-fire way to put an end to it.

I had some questions about piracy issues on the Internet today. I watch your videos everyday on Youtube and find them very informative. I noticed that you haven’t done a video on anti-piracy. I was wondering about your thoughts on how software piracy or piracy in general should be stopped on the Internet. Is it the software developer’s responsibility to stop users from cracking their program? Or… is it the users’ responsibility to resist using the program without paying? How can piracy best be slowed down?

My personal thought on this is that piracy will never completely go away. Piracy can be slowed down, but not completely stopped. A lot of software piracy happens because users want to use a program but are unaware of the program’s ability. This motivates them to crack the software to try it for themselves. I think a demo of all commercial software today would help decrease software piracy. I’m sure there are many more motives as to why people crack commercial software. I’m not sure of what they are exactly, but I was wondering about your thoughts on this. Thanks.

Piracy is nothing to joke about. I’ve seen too many people admit that they pirate, and that they’re proud of it. That’s not fair… at all. It is SO much easier to approach a vendor and ask if they have a review or NFR (not for resale) copy. You can write up a review after receiving it. Bang! You have free software… legally. It’s simple. DON’T. PIRATE.
If you don’t want to pay for it, find freeware. Find Open-Source alternatives. Develop your own! In many cases, Open-Source or free software is better than the paid alternative. You’d be better serving the developers and yourself by taking a moral approach to this situation. If you can’t find a legal, free alternative or don’t want to spend the money, then the answer is simple. Don’t use the software!

POST UPDATE After this was posted, I received some excellent thoughts from “Terminator” in our chat room.

I watch your videos on YouTube a lot these days, and I just saw your video about piracy. I am against it in general, but its not the same as stealing a car (or a cup of coffe). Well it is the same, but not through the eyes of the consumers. The problem is that you get a choice. Will you buy this car… or will you take the other one, thats the same, for free. What would you do? I think this is the major problem of software piracy. If you would go to jail or have to pay a lot of money for stealing the software, then everything would be different. I think, or rather, I’m sure we dont need all that pirated software and free movies and all that. People download movies they dont even watch, just because they can. Before downloading was possible, you could still see all the movies on tv when they came out. When I go and buy a movie, people look at me and ask me why I didnt just downloaded it. We got pretty spoiled. We were all fine before that trend began. Of all the people I know in my neighborhood, maybe 95 % dont have even one original piece of software. As you said, there are tons of free programs that are very good and you can use them without spending a buck. If people started facing consequences, then everything would change overnight. Consequences are the key, but not an easy thing to make possible. If we would face them, we would suddenly realize, that we can survive without all that pirated stuff that we “really” needed the other day, and just get freeware versions.


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What is a Torrent? Is BitTorrent Legal?

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MadMike wrote in to ask what exactly a Torrent file is, and whether or not they are legal. He also is wondering how you can tell if something IS illegal or not.

A Torrent file isn’t really a file to download, rather it’s a link pointing to where you can download a file from. Torrenting Torrent is a method of distributing large amounts of data widely without the original distributor incurring the entire costs of hardware, hosting and bandwidth resources. Instead, when data is distributed using the Torrent protocol, each recipient supplies pieces of the data to newer recipients, reducing the cost and burden on any given individual source, providing redundancy against system problems, and reducing dependence on the original distributor.

Now, let’s get into the legalities of Torrenting files. I personally use Torrents to download my Linux distros. By downloading them this way, I get them much faster. It saves the companies hosting dollars. Instead of having to supply hosting for the different distros, the developers can simply put them up on a Torrent, and share them that way. That is perfectly legal. Also, downloading different Virtual Machines for VMWare is legal.

The way you get into illegalities, is when you download something that is being distributed without owner permission. This covers most music, film and programs for a computer. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, such as with Indie music or films. They want their stuff circulated, to bring attention to it. For the most part, though, artists and companies do not agree for you to obtain their material without paying for it.

One other thing to remember is that any P2P type file sharing program can cause you to get malware on your computer. Many files that are available for download have attached viruses, trojans, spam, and the like. Simply downloading the seemingly harmless file and trying to “play” it in your favorite media player can quickly infect your machine.

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File Sharing at College and the Repercussions

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Kat came across an article regarding file sharing on college campuses and the possibility of the schools losing all funding from the Government as a result. As you will see, she got pretty heated in her argument against this. SC_Thor and Wirlesspacket chimed in with us on this, as well. You’ll have to excuse the times they appeared to “talk over” me. I sort of kept forgetting they can’t hear me unless I push the keyboard shortcut I set up for Ventrilo.

According to BroadbandReports.com:

Democrats are pushing a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would force colleges to not only deter p2p use on campus, but also offer students alternative options. The proposal, obviously supported by the entertainment industry, threatens to pull federal funding from schools if they fail to implement “technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.” As you might expect, schools aren’t so keen on risking billions in funding just because they aren’t running their networks the way Hollywood would like.

I know that piracy is rampant, and colleges are breeding grounds for this. Heck, Napster was started in a college dorm room. But is this going too far? More information from CNet:

The U.S. House of Representatives bill (PDF), which was introduced late Friday by top Democratic politicians, could give the movie and music industries a new revenue stream by pressuring schools into signing up for monthly subscription services such as Ruckus and Napster. Ruckus is advertising-supported, and Napster charges a monthly fee per student.

According to the bill, if universities did not agree to test “technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity,” all of their students… even ones who don’t own a computer… would lose federal financial aid.

The prospect of losing a combined total of nearly $100 billion a year in federal financial aid, coupled with the possibility of overzealous copyright-bots limiting the sharing of legitimate content, has alarmed university officials.

Kat feels this is way over the top, and looking at it more, I have to agree. Most likely, this will never pass. If it does, it could very well cause a lot of students to end up not being in college if schools refuse to implement this, and lose their funding. On the other hand… I can foresee quite an uproar if this passes and schools DO comply. Students who don’t own their own computer, or who actually follow the law already… will NOT be happy to be “punished” and charged fees for things they don’t use.

Edit to add excellent comment from Chris Clemons:

Hey Chris. I almost lost my mind reading this post. I was completely unaware of this problem until now and I’m floored by the ridiculousness of it all. If an educational institution wants to get overly political and jump on the bandwagon by further bridging the gap between real life and Hollywood BS where lots of money is still not lots and lots of money and force students who are already hitting up their parents for upwards of $20k a year for more, I don’t think I can watch it happen. Now, I know it is a Democratic issue being passed down to our schools, but something as ludicrous as this should never have even made it past the head of our nation’s most overpaid political celebrities. I truly believe the educational systems should stand up for this debate.

Another edit to add a story and recommendation from MArk:

Hey Chris,
Spring quarter, I was downloading a torrent at school and had some other software apparently still sitting in my queue seeding. One of these was a Norton Ghost bootable image that i didnt even realize was sitting there. Anyways, I get a nasty email from the school saying that I was sharing illegal files that they would turn off my internet access… and that I had to meet with a Dean or some academic affairs committee.

I met with the Dean and he explained to me that there’s an outside agency sitting right on the other end of the school’s internet connection monitoring all the bits and pieces of data, searching for their client’s packets being illegally shared. Yhey saw me sharing Norton and told the university. Basically it resulted in a written acknowledgment that I wont do it again and will remove the offending material.

It was a first offense… of course subsequent offenses would be more severe. The file pretty much just exists for their reference but will never go outside that office if I dont ‘offend’ again.

Also, our school offers a free (to students) music/video subscription service. Ruckus is a site that you just register with your school email and you have access to most hits and almost anything you can think of. It’s a very quick download. It uses wma copy protection and allows you to keep the license for each song for a month after which you (right click) renew it for another month. There’s no limit on the amount of songs you download, and since this option is legal, I was doing downloading at school.

I don’t know. What do you think? What other alternatives are out there? Do you feel this is the answer? Leave me a follow-up comment to this video, or email me at [email protected]

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BitTorrent for Windows Media Center is Coming!

There’s no code to look at right now, but I’m surprised this news hasn’t been picked up anywhere (that I can see)? The author says that there’s currently no download available, but it’s still an amazing application to look forward to – especially if it beats Ted. Here’s some of the features the dev is planning, per the Aufero blog:

  • Aufero uses about fifty sources for its information gathering, a lot of it is irrelevant but over time it gathers more relevant information about present and future. For instance it definitely is worth scheduling the download of “Magnum P.I. ‘trailer'” (scheduled for release sometime in ’07) already today.
  • Notification of relevant events through mail when you are not in front of your TV.
  • Automatic download of videos on your Wish List as Torrents becomes available (give it some hours to monitor activity after something is released)
  • Aufero is written completely from scratch with the sole purpose of being a Vista Media Center application.
  • Seemlessly play non-WMV (eg. XviD etc) on XBox360 using Aufero’s media library (requires TVersity)

Dude. This sounds awesome. Right now, my scheduled torrenting is somewhat of a kludge. I really should get my ol’ Media Center set up again, eh? Maybe I’ll try that beta of Windows Home Server and see if that works well enough…