P2P Plagues Service Providers

BALTIMORE -- ISPCON -- Power Web Connect, a local ISP in Wisconsin, is one of many service providers across the U.S. getting slapped with legal notices by media giants like Warner Brothers to shut down customers that are swapping peer-to-peer (P2P) files protected by digital copyright (see Application Killers).

This hot topic was the center of debate at the ISPCON conference yesterday, where it emerged that a recent Power Web Connect user was wrongly accused by Warner Brothers of illegally distributing its movies.

“Warner Brothers came after us… They gave us an IP address of a customer and told us to shut them down,” says a spokesman for Power Web. “We checked it out and the customer was a 72-year-old woman with no clue what was going on.”

The case is ongoing. Warner Brothers is apparently still hassling Power Web Connect with nasty letters citing the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as grounds to cancel the customer. Warner Brothers was not immediately available for comment.

Officials at Copper Valley Telephone Cooperative in Alaska say it has also run into P2P problems with content providers. “We get several letters a week about this,” says a spokesman for the company. He declined to provide more details. Other service providers at the session nodded their heads in solemn agreement.

Legal experts say the peer-to-peer file swapping issue facing service providers is about to get worse in light of the U.S. government’s decision earlier this month to side with the record industry in its dispute with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

New York-based Verizon -- the largest U.S. telephone company -- and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have been in court since September, arguing over whether Verizon should be forced to help crack down on the online song-swapping phenomenon that record labels blame for a decline in CD sales.

”If the Verizon case goes the wrong way, ISPs can expect to receive unlimited requests for data on their subscribers,” says Chris Hoofnagle, legal counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C.

Verizon argues that the law only applies to Web pages stored on its computers, not the "peer to peer" networks like Kazaa that merely travel across its wires.

”You don’t shut down a highway because people are moving drugs down it… It just doesn’t make sense,” says Joseph Price, legal counsel with Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, a firm that specializes in telecom law.

It looks as if the Justice Department disagrees.

Meanwhile, the RIAA is singing for joy. ”The government's filing supports the proposition that we have long advocated: Copyright owners have a clear and unambiguous entitlement to determine who is infringing their copyrights online, and that entitlement passes constitutional muster," crows Matthew Oppenheim, senior VP of business and legal affairs for the association. "Verizon's persistent efforts to protect copyright thieves on pirate peer-to-peer networks will not succeed." [Ed note: no, no, no, no, no!]

Aside from the legal issues, there are also new technical concerns popping up with P2P file sharing that will cause service providers more headaches.

According to Yuval Shahar, co-founder, president, and CEO of P-Cube Inc, which makes a router that can control and monitor P2P traffic, the problem is getting worse. "We've migrated from MP3 files to complete videos and games, where the average file size being transported has gone from a few kilobytes to hundreds of megabytes... The increased popularity of these services and file sizes is killing the service providers," he says.

In addition, the original P2P protocols were easy to detect, because there was a fixed number in the header of the packet that signaled a Napster session. Today, P2P protocols bypass this as they no longer use known port numbers, Shahar claims: "They are much, much smarter... P2P traffic is pretending to be real Web traffic now."

— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Boardwatch

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gea 12/5/2012 | 12:10:46 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers Well they shut down Napster and that sure worked to eliminate P2P...that caused file sharers to move to non-centralized systems such as Gnutella.

And now there are already P2P systems which will encrypt or otherwise dice-n-slice shared files, so that it will be literally impossible to determine what files are being shared, or even IF files are being shared, and by whom.

Clearly, RIAA thinks its "sending a message" to file sharers, but what it doesn't seem to understand is that the message people are getting is not the one they're sending.
or_tech 12/5/2012 | 12:10:39 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers P2P applications are causing debate not only on the copyright/legal issues, but on how can IP networks evolve to better supports the bandwidth requirements of these apps.

It is indeed questionable if the RIAA is going in the right path and is not thinking how to 'join' (as it is doubtful that they 'beat' this). What is not questionable is the today's broadband networks do not have the infrastructure to sustain the growing usage of these applications.

There has been a growing needs with service-providers to find ways to optimize their network usage and moderate the use of P2P traffic -- otherwise the performance deteriorates and other 'broadband killer apps' (like telecommuters/VPNs) start to suffer.
Dr.Q 12/5/2012 | 12:10:38 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers Amen!

The RIAA has one objective: protect its monopoly. They fought tooth and nail to prevent the introduction of audio cassette recorders to the consumer market, claiming it would promote music piracy. They eventually learned they could sell billions of dollars of music casettes. They fought the introduction of DAT (digital audio tape) in the early 1990's, and won that battle. They torpedoed the second-hand CD retailers because they feared it would cut into their sales.

There is an easy way for the RIAA to eliminate 99% of digital piracy -- don't release music in a digital format. The music industry chooses to release in digital format because there is a multi-billion dollar market for it.

The internet era has is changing the economics of the recording industry, which threatens the entrenched monopoly. The proactive response is for RIAA to change their cost structure, but I agree that they are too staggeringly stupid to consider this.

- Dr.Q
rtfm 12/5/2012 | 12:10:36 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers (Sorry for the reposting, but it fits in here much better. . .)

As to "why aren't the artists complaining," a surprisingly good analysis and point-of-view is presented by Courtney Love


Essentially, the Record Companies are the problem. Not P2P.

cyber_techy 12/5/2012 | 12:10:36 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers There has been a growing needs with service-providers to find ways to optimize their network usage and moderate the use of P2P traffic -- otherwise the performance deteriorates and other 'broadband killer apps' (like telecommuters/VPNs) start to suffer.

Is this a copy and paste from Ellacoya website?
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 12:10:34 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers Essentially, the Record Companies are the problem. Not P2P.

This over simplifies the problem. I am no fan of the content refineries but the problem has as much to do with our social behaviors. We want consumer gadgets and convenience.

Todya, P2P is being used primarily to pirate yesterday's mass media content. Mostly because the catalog is deep and its very accessible.

Any new distribution network system most make it more convenient for society to purchase content and must pay the supply chain. Unfortunately, neither the record companies nor INTC has solved the problem. Instead everybody fights over scraps and nothing new is created.
mha101 12/5/2012 | 12:10:33 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers TippingPoint (www.tippingpoint.com) appliance - really stops them dead!
gea 12/5/2012 | 12:10:32 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers Well, its going to be very interesting to see what Apple and Steve Jobs' have up their sleeves. Rumor has it they may buy one of the giant record companies, but even if they don't they clearly plant to "seemlessly integrate" P2P, iPODs, and all sorts of other stuff. So imagine some kind of MSN-like ISP that also allows its members access to all sorts of old and new music/files, and then by clicking on a browser icon the newest batch of tunes zips into an iPOD. If it works, cool. But if it doesn't I won't shed a tear, and neither will any other professional musician I know.
sevenbrooks 12/5/2012 | 12:10:32 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers
I am sorry but this is a stunning post. Is this the same rjmcmahon who wants the telephone companies to plow a useless technology in the ground so he can get what he wants? Why should the Record Companies get to make a profit? Is it not their social obligation to provide the music at or below cost?

mha101 12/5/2012 | 12:10:32 AM
re: P2P Plagues Service Providers TippingPoint (www.tippingpoint.com) appliance - really stops them dead!
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