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RoadRunner Blocking Use of Kazaa 659

Posted by timothy
from the remember-lessig's-morpheus-server dept.
An anonymous reader submits: "You should know that RoadRunner is quietly blocking the use of Kazaa in certain markets. Particularly in Texas, they have some sort of port scanner in place which scans for Kazaa activity and then disables use of that port, rendering the program completely useless. Grokster, iMesh, and all other FastTrack programs are similarly affected. Yet RoadRunner is not disclosing the practice in any way. Not only that, I'm troubled by the possibility of them arbitrarily choosing to block other programs in the future. If this becomes more widespread, they will have many angry (and former) customers." The poster provides these four links to forum postings with more information: one; two; three; four.
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RoadRunner Blocking Use of Kazaa

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  • What to do??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msaulters (130992) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @10:48PM (#3879692) Homepage
    As a user of Roadrunner in Austin, I don't see that I have much choice. Yeah, I can dump them, but then who do I use for high-speed access? DSL is priced higher, has terrible performance in the area. In fact, most of the DSL users I know have switched to Roadrunner. On the other hand, if they start blocking all the programs that make high-speed access worthwhile, there's not much point in paying $40/month to use it.
    • Re:What to do??? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kurowski (11243) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:00PM (#3879743) Homepage
      what do you mean you don't have "much" of a choice? you have the quintisential (sp?) choice of the consumer: cheap, fast access through an isp with poor service, or more expensive, slower access through an isp that doesn't suck. most americans seem to go for the numbers- less money and more speed must be good, right? well, just keep thinking that way while you watch the utility of your net connection degrade until it's only good for viewing banner ads. then you'll regret the fact that the competition has gone under since nobody appreciates quality service...

      not much of a choice... sheesh!
      • Re:What to do??? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jandrese (485)
        Often times the choice isn't between Cable and DSL, rather the choice is between Cable and Modem/T1/ISDN. Modem is of course almost unacceptably slow for people who become accustomed to Cablemodem speeds (or even dorm ethernet speed). ISDN and T1 tend to be priced in the stratosphere (and ISDN is frequently only somewhat faster than modem and priced per megabyte and minute.)

        I know locally if ComCast wants to start screwing it's customers even worse than usual the only choice we'll have is to go back to modem. In case anybody has any illusions let me spell it out: modem sucks. I don't want to loose my cablemodem, and I don't know what I'll do if I start getting screwed too hard.
    • Re:What to do??? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tonywong (96839) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:33PM (#3879907) Homepage
      Instead of limiting programs and ports, ISPs should implement another scheme that monitors your traffic amounts and limits the speed in inverse proportion to the amount that you've transferred.

      That way they can run uncapped cable modems. Infrequent users get maximum speed and transfer rates, moderate users get moderate transfer rates, and heavy users (eventually) get slow transfer rates.

      To avoid a congested high speed consumption situation, resets of the rates are done on a rolling basis so everyone has a different monthly reset. A web page should give you your current stats (up, down traffic, current speed cap, amount transferred, reset date etc.)

      That way everyone can be happy, running servers or p2p apps, and if they want to use up all their high speed bandwidth they can be stuck with modem like speeds for the rest of the month without suspension of service. I think you'd find that people who are serving without concern for bandwidth will all of a sudden monitor their own traffic a lot more.

      This also takes the ISP out of the content monitor police service and relegates them to a bandwidth metering service, which is all they and everyone else wants them to do.
      • A better idea (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Proc6 (518858)
        How about the cable companies offering speeds they can support users taking advantage of? The cable companies keep offering faster connections, then denying users the ability to use the speed. Just give everyone a solid 60 kps or whatever their pipe can stand and forget about it. That's what DSL providers do more or less.
    • RoadRunner Austin recently re-opened port 80 after a few months of blocking it off completely due to one of the various Microsoft IIS server exploits. Now I don't have to take 8080 onto all the URLs I give out...
    • Even if they were to block all the programs worth using, it would still be worth paying $40/month. My reasoning behind this is that it would cost me ~$20 a month for a second phone line, and then $20 more for an ISP. It comes out about the same, and you still get fast connection to other pages and games.

      If my Kazaa were blocked, I'd just use Gnutella (which I do anyway), IRC, or just get some plain-old leech FTP.
  • Legality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daemones (188271) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @10:50PM (#3879698) Homepage
    At what point of blocking a person's internet capability does this become a breach of contract? Once people realize that I can swap files using HTTP, will they remove my ability to browse the web?

    I don't have a contract handy, so if it's covered so be it; But if it _is_ in your contract then maybe you should re-think who you pay $50 a month.
    • Re:Legality (Score:5, Funny)

      by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <relyo.nhoj>> on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:00PM (#3879740) Journal
      You are only supposed to use it for email and web access, and on the ports they designate for this. You aren't allowed to delete spams, or close popup ads.

      Anyone doing anything else, is obviously an evil hacker, and thank god the good legislators in this country have realized that all hackers are terrorists. You're all evil.

      Yes, I'm being sarcastic. The really annoying part though, is that I'm too close to the mark, in how these ISP's think...
    • Some contracts have a no-server clause. In that case they would probably be allowed to block this program- P2P programs run as a server.
      • Re:Legality (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Darth_Burrito (227272)
        Most Road Runner outlets have a no server clause. They've had one in the aup for at least 3 years. When I first signed up with them, I hadn't done my research. I asked the sales rep if I could host web/ftp servers and she said she didn't see why not. I asked the tech who installed the same question and he confirmed that it was ok to host servers. Later a friedn told me it was against the aup and sure enough it was. At one point I switched over to DSL and then back to Road Runner. Again I asked the Road Runner sales/techs the same question and they always said it was ok. The following is an excerpt from a nebraska branch of Road Runner. It looks like they may have different terms depending on what market you are in:

        Road Runner AUP [cablelinc.com]6. Customers are strictly prohibited from running server-based applications on Residential Road Runner accounts. This would include, without limitation to the running of HTTP Web servers, FTP servers, Gaming servers, SMTP and POP Mail servers, Domain Name Servers, Chat servers, etc.

        When a business tells you one thing and then does something completely different after you become a subscriber, are there ever any consumer protections that kick in?
        • Re:Legality (Score:2, Interesting)

          by jbolden (176878)
          Depends on the state. I know in PA the written document would take precedence over the verbal. In Cal the easiest to understand and most clear document generally takes precedence and in case of direct conflict you get to pick which document on a point by point basis. So yes you would have been protected.

          You could try taping the next "yes" you get. RR might be forced to upgrade you to a business level plan :-)
    • Re:Legality (Score:3, Interesting)

      "At what point of blocking a person's internet capability does this become a breach of contract? "

      If you're interfering with other people's connections, then you are breaching contract. I'm not talking about bandwidth hogging, I'm talking about IP addresses.

      Let me share a little experience I had with you. I had Kazaa running for a couple of weeks to get some eps of MST3k. When I turned it off, I discovered my IP address was being bombarded with hundreds and hundreds of kazaa users sending requests to the port Kazaa used. The number of these requests was so high that I could barely use the internet, and Quake was a joke.

      If ATT&T had rotated addresses, somebody else would have inhereted my garbage. Imagine that for a sec: One day, your internet connection goes to crap, and AT&T has no clue as to why. Chances are pretty good that'll cause customers to blame AT&T's service without realizing the true cause of it.

      In that case, it is possible that your use of Kazaa could severely interfere with other people's internet experience. The more Kazaa users there are out there, the more likely it is going to happen to somebody. The one who gets burned the most is the ISP.

      I don't agree with what they're doing (personally I think they should send me a cable modem that has a built in firewall so I can stop the kazaa traffic myself), but I understand it.

      Only the ISP's know what their real intentions are, but that's something else to consider when you use a prog like that. Now you know why I stopped using it.
      • Re:Legality (Score:4, Informative)

        by erpbridge (64037) <<steve> <at> <erpbridge.com>> on Sunday July 14, 2002 @02:13AM (#3880431) Journal
        Of course you had Kazaa users traffic bombarding your machine. The way Kazaa works is it queues up a transfer, and retries it every so often (just like almost all other P2P programs these days). After X number of retries (probably 10 minutes), it assumes you are not available, and removes you from the list. So, you'd have all this queued traffic attempting to connect to a non-existant node (your machine) using the Kazaa port.

        This would be made even worse if you had any uploads/downloads being worked on when you closed Kazaa. The machines you were uploading to would suddenly not see you there, and attempt to reconnect, similar to the queue machines mentioned above.

        You also have to take into account the Kazaa indexing capabilities, and remember that anytime someone wants a file, they do a search of random nodes on the network. (FastTrack was, and still is, originally based off a customized variation of Gnutella protocol.) You would still have machines attempting to search your node for shared files, until it filtered through the machines closest to you in the Kazaa network infrastructure that you were offline and should be removed from the tree.

        Also, were you functioning as a SuperNode? (If you chose any type of connection other than 56K modem when setting up Kazaa, it automatically enables SuperNode.) SuperNode acts as a index reflector for slower nodes (namely 56K modems). They look toward the SuperNode nearest them to perform searches on their behalf and to hold their index lists on their behalf. This is done to try to cut back the problems Gnutella had with 56K users cutting back network efficiency.
        These 56K users (of which there could have been quite a few) were probably lost because their SuperNode wasn't responding on first try, so they were probably trying to reconnect... and other machines out there were trying to hit your SuperNode to get the index list for those 56K machines.

        Yes, you'd continue to get Kazaa traffic for a little bit of time after you shut it down. That's the nature of the program. However, the problem you suggest, about rotating IP's, would not be an issue unless your ISP had their DHCP server set to expire leases at 15 minute intervals and not allow renewal on the same IP address. Even so, the traffic would die down as soon as the changes filtered through the Kazaa network tree that your node no longer existed. This would not take DAYS, as you suggested.
  • by John_Booty (149925) <johnbooty@b[ ]yp ... g ['oot' in gap]> on Saturday July 13, 2002 @10:52PM (#3879709) Homepage
    True, but they don't really care about losing file-sharing customers. They eat up a disproportionate amount of the bandwidth, and they probably lose money on most of these customers.

    Now I'm not agreeing with this ISP - this action totally sucks for the reasons the original poster outlined. They need a more diplomatic solution... a slightly-higher priced service plan that allows use of such programs, or maybe they could just throttle traffic on those ports. And above all else though, they need to disclose this practice- otherwise it's completely unethical, PERIOD.

    But the point is they really don't care about losing that kind of customer from a business sense.
    • by $carab (464226)
      Parent makes a very insightful point:
      Roadrunner is saying "fuck off" to these customers, and they dont give a damn about whomever gets pissed off by this.

      Users who get pissed off are going to be the largest consumers of bandwith - that 10% that consumes 90%. This is also why ISPs block ports 80, 21, etc.

      I fully agree with the Roadrunner on this issue. It makes a great deal of sense if you look at it from a buiness perspective. The number of consumers who feel so adamantly about file-sharing that they will jump ship is relatively small - an overwhelming amount of net users dont even know what the hell "ports" are. Oh, and Roadrunner wont hafta service any more of those irritating DMCA-violation RIAA letters.
      • Roadrunner is saying "fuck off" to these customers, and they dont give a damn about whomever gets pissed off by this.

        The problem of course is that they will also piss off the occassional users of p2p software, that don't place much burden on the network. It seems a better idea would be to do the same thing that Optus cable here in Australia is doing.

        Simply throttle the speeds on the ports in question. Low end users can still get access to p2p, and don't mind so much about the slower speeds, and the high usage p2p customers are still forcefully moderated in their usage

        Ray

        • by Chemical (49694)
          The problem of course is that they will also piss off the occassional users of p2p software, that don't place much burden on the network

          Wouldn't bother me, an occasional mp3 downloader, if SBC did this to my DSL. I would go back to what I did before the days of Napster et al: IRC - the original black market of the internet. The thing about IRC is that everyone knows what is really used for- porn, warez, and mp3s- It's just that nobody seems to care. And the best part is that it doesn't have enough mainstream press to draw any attention to itself. It's an all around winner!

      • Before I comment on this, I just want to be clear that I don't support blocking of ports etc. However, my use of Kazaa opened up some insight into how it works, and why ISP's would kill it.

        I used Kazaa solidly for a couple of weeks, trying to get a few eps of MST3k. When I was done, I shut down Kazaa and moved on. When I went to go play Quake, I noticed I had low ping times, but I was still getting intermitting lagging that was ruining my game.

        I figured out what happened. Kazaa users were constantly bombarding my IP address with requests. This was happening so often that my connection was getting lagged from it. If AT&T had switched over my IP address, some other user would have gotten all that garbage. It is very possible that this isn't about bandwidth at all, but it's affect on other customers.

        Only the ISPs really know for sure, but it is understandable, tho regrettable.
      • I don't see what the problem with running a web server on a cable connection or ftp is. Most cable ISPs have your upstream capped to a much lower speed than your downstream. Also, most other people are going to use the majority of their bandwidth downstream anyway. The problem isn't the people that are serving the files, but the people that are getting the files. They're sucking up much more bandwidth than the people who are merely hosting.
      • Corporate BS (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kasparov (105041)
        ... if you look at is from a business prospective.

        It's responses like this they REALLY get to me. I'm assuming that you (like me) are a U.S. citizen. In this country, so many people think that if there is a legitimate business reason for taking an action, then it must be justified. I can't even begin to say how much this pisses me off. Yes, I understand that businesses are in business for one thing--to make money. But there are so many more lofty goals that people should pursue. Capitalism is not the be all end all of morality.

        What ever happened to people who started a business because they wanted to provide a service to the community? They worked at a profession because it meant something to them. When did we all adopt this middle-management company man attitude that a company is entitled to profit at other people's expense?

        Yes, Roadrunner has the right to do what they want with their service. But if they are selling "Internet Access," then they should be selling "Internet Access." They don't advertise "Web and FTP access." But obviously it doesn't really matter what they advertise, because it's more profitable if they fudge a little bit. Well, bull shit. I've had enough. I'm sick and tired of Corporate America(TM) and their never ending pursuit of profit. Their are some things that capitalism is ill-equipped to handle. With more and more corporate mergers in the works (which equals less and less choice for consumers), it looks like customer service may be one of those things.

        • Re:Corporate BS (Score:4, Insightful)

          by thales (32660) on Sunday July 14, 2002 @02:34AM (#3880488) Homepage Journal
          " What ever happened to people who started a business because they wanted to provide a service to the community?"

          They are providing a service to their community. Cutting off the bandwidth hogs is going to result in faster service, at no extra cost, to the remainder of the people using the service.

          P2P is a cool idea, but face it, the vast majority of it's users are just trying to snag copyrighted material without paying for it. They don't give a damn about the Artist, they don't give a damn about other users on the network, they don't give a damn about any negative effects like DRM that may result from their activities.

          Nice rant about companies persuing profit. How about the profit the "pirates" are making. Songs that would have cost them thousands of dollars. If they can download $100.00 worth of songs a day or $3000.00 a month that gives them a profit of $2,950.00 after paying the ISP's bill. Tax free. Funny how I don't hear them being blasted for being greedy little shits who only care about making a profit.

    • And above all else though, they need to disclose this practice- otherwise it's completely unethical, PERIOD
      How much you wanna bet that this type of thing is covered in the Terms of Service for the service?

      I bet there is a clause like: "You agree that to protect the SERVICE we may restrict your usuage to reasonable levels. Additionally users agree not to run any "servers" or "services" that use upstream bandwidth".


      If thats in there, or something like it, than its disclosed. And its ethical.

      Period.
      • "You agree that to protect the SERVICE we may restrict your usuage to reasonable levels. Additionally users agree not to run any "servers" or "services" that use upstream bandwidth".

        Upstream bandwidth? Oh you mean like e-mail?

      • by waytoomuchcoffee (263275) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:14PM (#3879822)
        There is a clause in the TOS restricting bandwidth, at least in the San Antonio RR TOS [rr.com].

        Subscriber acknowledges and agrees that Time Warner Cable shall have the right to monitor bandwidth utilization (i.e., volume of data transmitted) arising out of the Service provided hereunder at any time and on an on-going basis and to limit excessive use of bandwidth in order to effectuate these provisions and other terms hereof

        Scary stuff. They, and only they, decide what "excessive use" really is.
        • Heh, what are they gonna do, send out an e-mail. "You've used 125GB of bandwidth this month. Do you think this is effective?" Of course they decide what excessive use is.
        • "They, and only they, decide what "excessive use" really is."

          Even so, I think they'd have a hard time justifying that a certain P2P application always qualifies as "excessive use" no matter what. For example, if I were to hop on to KaZaA just long enough to download a single 5 MB file (such as an mp3), my bandwidth usage is going to be significantly less than if I download a single 51 MB file via HTTP (such as the latest update for Day of Defeat). So they're limiting users even in cases of non-excessive bandwidth usage, which wouldn't be protected by that TOS clause.

    • No real choices (Score:2, Informative)

      by BuildMonkey (585376)
      Here in central Fort Worth (700,000 strong), within walking distance of a University (Texas Christian University) we have only two choices: dial-up or Charter cable modem. DSL is NOT available in this area, despite being within 4 miles of downtown. Charter has consistently downgraded serivce in the three years its been available, with two steps-down in speed (3Mbps -> 1 Mbs -> 128 kbps), changing from static IPs to DHCP, and going from unrestricted to port blocking (no mail servers, web servers, etc.) If they offered a higher class of service (static IP, ability to run servers are important to me, 128 kbps isn't a big problem) I'd jump on it. They keep talking about adding better service tiers, but never get around to it.
    • by Chasuk (62477) <chasuk@gmail.com> on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:50PM (#3879977)
      I work for an ISP in the Pacific Northwest, and we block access to all p2p file-sharing programs.

      These programs {KaZaA, etc.) are blocked because the owners feel that they promote activities which are immoral and wrong. Yes, that _is_ the primary reason. If you can demonstrate to them that you have reasons for using a p2p file-sharing program which do not violate their principles, then they will remove the block for you individually.

      As a beneficial side-effect, getting rid of, or limiting the 5% of our users who used these programs, saved us over 50% of our bandwidth. We are not weeping at their loss.
      • by waytoomuchcoffee (263275) on Sunday July 14, 2002 @12:01AM (#3880032)
        I work for an ISP in the Pacific Northwest, and we block access to all p2p file-sharing programs. These programs {KaZaA, etc.) are blocked because the owners feel that they promote activities which are immoral and wrong.

        You are basically saying the medium is immoral somehow, without regard to the message. Given this logic, you can just as easily say FTP, HTTP, email, usenet, and every other port can "promote activities which are immoral and wrong". Hell, I would guess that kiddie porn is transmitted through each of the above protocols everyday, so why aren't you blocking them?

        Why stop there? Most of the files transmitted through p2p can just as easily be sent through the mail on a disk. Why not ban mail?

        It's pretty sad when your users have to "demonstrate" their piety to use a particular protocol. What ISP did you say you worked for again?
        • by Chasuk (62477)
          If ftp, http, e-mail, usenet, etc., had been designed for the *primary* purpose of aiding and abetting thieves, then my employers would not be in the ISP business.

          I am not defending their decision, but nor am I condemning it; they are following their own conscience, and I admire anyone who values principle over business considerations.

          The reason I contributed to this thread was not to engage in a discussion regarding the morality of exchanging warez via a p2p network, but rather to indicate that RoadRunner might be blocking access to KaZaA for reasons that hadn't been yet suggested.

          Not all businesses are run by predatory immoral bastards.

          To further clarify, I have not expressed my own views regarding p2p file-sharing because it isn't relevant within the context of this thread.
          • To further clarify, I have not expressed my own views regarding p2p file-sharing because it isn't relevant within the context of this thread.

            I realize you are not the ISP you work for. However, while you are distancing yourself from their decision, you also said that "we are not weeping at their loss". You can't have it both ways.
            • by Chasuk (62477)
              I realize you are not the ISP you work for. However, while you are distancing yourself from their decision, you also said that "we are not weeping at their loss". You can't have it both ways.

              When posting hurriedly in the middle of the night, it is often difficult to remember which hat one is wearing.

              Okay, that isn't the only explantion for my "I/we" dualism.

              I personally feel that sharing warez across p2p network is theft, and is justifiably discouraged. Let me add, however, that I consider it theft because consumers agree that it is. If you buy a piece of software covered by a particular EULA, and that EULA specifically forbids sharing copies with friends or strangers, then the only moral option is to return that software if you disgree with that contract. Whether you consider the contract fair or not is irrelavant, as is any other consideration (those who whine that the EULA can't be viewed before purchase, as an example). Virtually all EULA's contain such restrictions, so it shouldn't take a brain surgeon to realize that the Warcraft III EULA probably contains the same restriction.

              I know that returning opened software can be difficult or impossible. If I bought a product which did not allow me to view the EULA beforehand, and I later objected to its provisions, I would first attempt to return the software. If return was impossible, I would protest to the software manufacturer. If they did not accomodate me, I would feel free to make as many copies as I could and distribute them widely. Consider these "spite" or protest copies, if you will, but I do believe that the principle is more important than the law, and, after attempting to right a wrong within the framework of the law, and failing, it is my natural inclination (and perhaps obligation) to ignore the law while attempting to change it by reasonable means.

              ON THE OTHER HAND, the software industry does complain too much. The vast majority of software traded on p2p networks is traded by individuals who would never have bought it in the first place, but the thrill is in the collecting. As they were never potential customers, no theft is involved no matter how many copies they produce or cause to be produced. It is only theft when the software manufacturer has been denied their (due) profit.

              I consider that the profit is "due" any time you, as a customer, agree to a EULA. You agree to a EULA everytime you purchase a product 1) with the foreknowledge that it will have an unnaceptable EULA and you buy it anyway, 2) or when, to you HONEST SURPRISE, you find the EULA unnacceptable but do not take reasonable measures to return it for a refund.

              As I said before, if they don't honor their EULA by refunding your money when the EULA indicates that it will, then make as many copies as you want. Your obligation to them has ended.

      • by marxmarv (30295) on Sunday July 14, 2002 @12:31AM (#3880131) Homepage
        These programs {KaZaA, etc.) are blocked because the owners feel that they promote activities which are immoral and wrong.
        Would you mind naming this ISP, so that the rest of us can, uh, give them our God-fearing Merkin-loving business?

        -jhp

      • by Baki (72515) on Sunday July 14, 2002 @02:19AM (#3880450)
        An ISP should not intervene in what is right and what is wrong to transmit/receive. Once they start doing that, IMO the ISP ackknowledges that they are responsible for what happens on their network, whereas normally the ISP is just a medium .

        Also, if this becomes widespread, you can be sure that the filesharing apps shall be changed such that they are hardly to track to discern from 'normal' WEB usage.

        Should the amount of traffick be the real point (thus money/costs being the issue): that is legitimate. In that case the only logical (though impopular) solution is to introduce limits on monthly bandwidth usage, and have the cusomer pay per amount of data.
    • by PacoTaco (577292) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:58PM (#3880020)
      It's important to remember that most ISPs pay upwards of $500 per megabit for upstream traffic (usually more, depending on volume). If one leech is eating up an entire megabit by themselves, then the ISP will need 10 or more "regular" customers just to break even on bandwidth costs. This doesn't even take equipment amortization, administrative overhead or tech support into account. P2P could kill consumer broadband if it gets out of hand.
      • It's important to remember that most ISPs pay upwards of $500 per megabit for upstream traffic (usually more, depending on volume).

        $500 per megabit? I don't think so. It only costs about $500/mo these days to get a T1 line with many gigabytes of upload quota per month. You sir, are full of shit.

        Now if you mean Mbps, you are still full of shit, because it's cheaper than that if you just buy a single T1, and everyone knows that buying anything in bulk gets you a discount. Maybe not a large one, but you are still overstating the case.

        Finally, name me an ISP that actually lets customers have a megabit of upstream these days, outside of a colo or similar. Typically speaking the upstream rate is limited to 128kbps or 384kbps on almost all services, including cable modems. For instance, DOCSIS cable modems can do (theoretically) 11mbps upstream and 45mbps downstream, but most providers (including mediacom, my current provider) limit you to 1.5mbps downstream and 128kbps upstream.

        The fact that you can limit bandwidth means that you should not ever pay metered charges. Just limit me to the amount of bandwidth you think I should use, and go away. Offer lower bandwidth limits for less money, and vice versa. This is the only acceptable way to manage a system which started out as flat rate; going from flat to metered is unethical as it is a bait-and-switch method. In some cases, it is actually illegal to substitute something blatantly different from the original product.

        I think your price estimate is ridiculous, and you haven't actually said anything with "megabit". I know ISPs don't pay $500 for a megabit of upstream traffic. Do you mean gigabit? I find even that hard to believe, but it's closer to being within the realm of possibility. Or if you're talking about overall capacity (Mbps) then you're still on crack, but it would make more sense that way.

  • ...would I be allowed to run not only file-sharing servers, but a mail server, httpd server, and sshd?
    • So for $20 extra bucks would I be allowed to run not only file-sharing servers, but a mail server, httpd server, and sshd?

      I wonder how much extra it would cost for them to simply carry generic data.

      -
  • because I haven't yet seen any sort of trouble with Kazaa on my connection in Austin. A couple of months ago, however, I did notice trouble where Grokster would simply stop working. Rebooting the machine seemed to fix the problem, but it would invariably happen again after an indeterminate period of time. Perhaps that was a warm-up exercise.
  • Is that they eat up a large amount of the upstream, which when is being maxed by a large number of customers will begin to have a negative effect on the downstream for other customers. Beyond this, you are not allowed to run a server with their residential service so if your sharing your violating your contract.
  • Running a "server"? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:04PM (#3879762)
    I guess if you get completely technical, it could be considered a breach of contract. Most ISPs have clauses against running servers of any kind on their networks. P2P programs could be considered servers since they "serve" content to other clients who want it. I'd say they are justified, but it still kinda sux...

    Oh well, at least the RIAA didn't force it on them, they had the initiative to do it on their own...

    • Who is Road Runner's largest client? Who owns the cable co's in the cities discussed?

      My guess is that RIAA didn't have to do squat. Now you know why letting large media conglomerates own everything in sight is a Bad Idea(tm).

    • I guess if you get completely technical, it could be considered a breach of contract. Most ISPs have clauses against running servers of any kind on their networks. P2P programs could be considered servers since they "serve" content to other clients who want it. I'd say they are justified, but it still kinda sux...

      But what if I use AOL Instant Messenger (AOL/TW owned of course) to directly transfer a file to another AIM user? That is also a kind of P2P, and my PC is technically acting like a server. Would they be justified in blocking that?
    • Server clauses are total bull. They're basically generic "prevent any activity we don't like or find remotely inconvenient" clauses. Why? Well, what exactly is a server? Something that listens on ports? Ooops, you just banned ICQ, AIM, and normal FTP, in addition to countless other programs. Something intended to provide data in response to remote requests? Oops, same problem, and you've also just banned web browsers.

      So, please, tell me. What exactly is a "server"?

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:06PM (#3879777) Journal
    How many people use Kazaa for stuff that's legal that couldn't be obtained through other avenues? I've yet to find even one.

    Napster was actually used legally by some people (albeit a far cry from the majority), I've never met anyone who's used Kazaa for anything but media piracy.

  • Really? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rupert (28001) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:06PM (#3879780) Homepage Journal
    The symptoms they describe (gradually decreasing download speeds) don't sound like RR activity to me. If I were an ISP and wanted to block a port it would be blocked. I can't imagine RR going to great lengths to effect a bandwidth fade when they can just shut the whole thing off.
    • Well, my guess is: what the users who report gradual fade-off are actually witnessing is the client's use of a running average to tell you at what kps you're downloading. If I'm leeching at top speed, and the connection goes down, it's going to take a while for the client to report "0 kps" as it will perform an average over time of how fast my download is going.

  • by ViceClown (39698) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:06PM (#3879783) Homepage Journal
    Im not trying to troll or draw flames but by the letter of the law - trading copy-writed music is illegal. I'de rather have the music swapping services shut down then have the record companies try more wide-spread cd protection that would further limit legitimate fair use. Im not saying I agree with the way the system works now... but Im not going to cry when I can't use music-swappers illegally anymore.
    • Im not going to cry when I can't use music-swappers illegally anymore.

      Just to play devil's advocate: What about all the people who did use the service legally? There were plenty of people (myself, for instance) who actually downloaded music to test it -- and then bought it. And I also downloaded music that wasn't owned by the RIAA -- the content authors agree to let their music be distributed.

      No, you're only going to cry when they go after something you use. But by then, you'll be lucky if anybody's going to have a shoulder for you to cry on.

      "They came for the communists, but I wasn't a communist. They came for the terrorists, but I wasn't a terrorist. They came for the hackers, but I wasn't a hacker. Then they came for me, because I was the last one left."
  • Come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scott1853 (194884) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:08PM (#3879791)
    The discussions are the result of a single post saying it's not working. Most replies to the primary posts say that everything is working fine for them. Other provide technically inaccurate information such as Kazaa "slowing down" before it just completely stops and then attribute that to port blocking. How about some general skepticism here before ranting about some mega-corp stomping all over the end users rights. Here's one of the initial posts:

    "The only way i can search is if i log off and on real fast on kazaa. Doing that i can get one search off. I resume downloads fine jus no searches. I'm running XP if that helps. Can anyone please help. Thanks"

    Hmmm, XP, and it works for a couple seconds and then stops. Yeah, rights, there's somebody at the RR NOC sitting there watching all traffic and manually flipping a light switch that controls your port 1214.

    The second post linked to in the article is of about the same quality only by a jumpy conspiracy theorist. I couldn't stand to read the other 2.
    • You bring up a good point. I haven't read the posts in question, and don't use kazaa myself, but I used to read the kazaa bug report forum. This slowdown problem has apparently plagued *some* kazaa users since way back when, since that (or variants thereof) was a common complaint on the bug forum.

  • by kmellis (442405) <kmellis@io.com> on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:10PM (#3879803) Homepage
    "If this becomes more widespread, they will have many angry (and former) customers."
    And probably an even larger number of happier customers who suddenly notice that they have bandwidth again.

    P2P is cool in theory; but in practice people are using it merely to move around huge pirated mp3s and mpegs and as a result a small number of users are consuming a grossly disproportionate amount of bandwidth. It's a tragedy of the commons. See previous /. stories on how this has already played out at college campuses across the US (and elsewhere).

    I'm in Austin, and I've actually switched away from Road Runner to SBC ADSL. Why? Because, of course, the bandwidth I saw decreased dramatically over the years since I was an early adopter; and they were charging me too damn much money, anyway. I don't get a ton of bandwidth with my ADSL connection, but the service is more reliable, and it's less expensive. And so far, I've not seen any port blocking or scanning for servers -- something I've been hearing about from the cable side of the fence.

    Honestly, I'm ambivalent about a lot of these issues as my idealistic and practical sides of my personality come into conflict. Ideally, I'd like the consumer's access to the internet to be pretty much like what it meant to be hooked up to the interent in the good old days before it became commoditized -- the internet was designed for hosts to be servers, not just clients or even peers. I should be able to run my own web server, my own smtp and pop/imap server, my own nntp server, my own streaming multimedia server, share my filesystem, run distributed applications, network games, P2P apps....whatever. To me, that's part of the whole point. On the other hand, as a practical matter, there still isn't enough bandwidth available for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to use their home internet connections this way. Yeah, there's a lot of dark fiber -- but none of it is the last mile connections. And some people are consuming far more networking resources than they are paying for. That's a legitimate problem, and it certainly can't be justified on the basis of a need to share files that are illegal in the first place.

  • by slakdrgn (531347) <cabe AT drgn DOT net> on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:16PM (#3879833) Homepage
    I live in Orlando, Fl. and luckly haven't had any of these problems with roadrunner, atleast not with KaZaA but will soon prolly change, from what I understand after looking over the groups, is they are in a test phase.. this may just be problems on the backbone (hey, anything is possiable) but the way most ISPs are going I doubt it. This doesn't really bug me as much as the fact I can't get Road Runner buisness class (mainly cause I want a staic ip/ability run servers, no ports blocked) but it seems within the past 30 days they have adopted a new policy.. it apears they want you to have a valid florida business license for atleast 90 days, plus a few other annoying hoops. So even if you want to pay for accelerated bandwidth use, ability to run servers, etc.. you can't.. unless you have a business license.. If only I could get DSL where I live.. *sigh*

    I think they should disclose this stuff. But I think the reason they don't is because, they know there is ligitment uses for this app, tho (and lets be honest) many (not all) people do not use it for thoes ligitment uses. It kinda reminds me of the dialup days and when napster was getting bigger.. ISPs use to add "This is not a dedicated dialup connection, you can only be connected x amount of hours (usually 300 or so) per month" to their terms of service. Now its kinda like saying "You have a dedicated connection, but you can't do this and this and this or that.." oh wait.. they already say it.. *sigh*

    If your not gonna let me do what I want with my $50.00/mo, then atleast let me upgrade.. Mabey they assume non-business customers wanting business bandwidth will only use it for warez/hax0ring?

  • As per my understanding, all the software has to do is use a different port. Then the ISPs will change to blocking the new port... and so on and so on.

    The end user who wants to trade files has a lot more time, and would probably win in the end. So the ISP is either going to have to give up, or block all but a few commonly used ports, which would make users extreamly angry any time a new Internet utility came out that uses a new port.

  • by Mordant (138460) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:45PM (#3879960)
    Modern routers and layer-3 switches have Quality-of-Service, or QoS, features, which allow specified types of traffic to be policed at any desired rate.

    So, if one can identify the ports/protocols used by the lusers in question, one can then use QoS features to rate-limit the appropriate ports so as to make file-swapping useless, -without- blocking the ports.
  • Come now... Most slashdotter's consider themselves to be elitest in one area or another in the realm of electronics, so it should be no big deal to simply use the ports that the ISP's HAVE to allow... or just use IRC.

    Anyways, where I live, people have been uncapping thier modems and I feel it becuase I am a gamer. I say GOOD FOR THE ISP! I remember one isp saying "1% of our customers use 20% of the bandwidth." If anything, kazaa needs to come with the settings set to NO UPLOADS ALLOWED becuase i'm sure most people that are quite ignorant are a majority in the bandwidth hogging. All in all, I just want a low ping to frag the rest of you in Q3... but isn't that what we all want? (aside from downloading resevoir dogs of course :)
  • So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) on Saturday July 13, 2002 @11:53PM (#3879993) Homepage Journal
    How long before these types of services start streaming over port 80? Are they going to examine the actual packets to make sure they are valid web traffic, or do you think they would actually block all port 80 traffic?? Feel free to pick any port used by some other service instead of port 80 (or better yet, just stream valid html back and forth over port 80, with a web file sharing service gateway out on the net)
    • Re:So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by B. Vhalros (468243)
      Actually, many cable ISP's (AT&T for instance, atleast around here) already do block port 80, on the incoming any way. Any packet sent to my port 80 will be eaten by their routers before it ever reaches me. Is this annoying? Yes, now I have to run my webservers on port 81.
  • by psych031337 (449156) <psych0.wtnet@de> on Sunday July 14, 2002 @12:01AM (#3880031)
    ...and I'm not sure why /. published this? The links are more are less free of any real substance. Timothy, some personal beef with RR?

    What does not make sense to me is:

    -if they want a port blocked, it would be blocked (no short functionality, no slowdown of transfers but a termination of transfers)
    - lots of people say kazaa and other p2p actually works for them, but browser http traffic on port 80 sucks big time
    - blocking the port would send people to just use another one - continous scanning with a script is possible, but in that case it makes no sense to piss the customer off, they could just regulate that port down some kbytes
    - from what the users say this more or less sounds like heavy load balancing problems, lack of bandwidth or routing problems. and some things the users describe sounds like an OS screaming to be reinstalled ("...rebooting seemed to solve the problems...")

    sent from .de's fastest EuroDOCSIS cable modem network - 2MBit up/2Mbit down
  • Well, I hate to break it to you all, but TimeWarner/AOL probably is NOT reading these Slashdot posts. If you want to have an impact, "send feedback" to your local Road Runner service. I sent this message to the the Rochester Road Runner "Feedback" form:

    To whom it may concern:

    I've heard on slashdot ( http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/07/14/02 37258&mode=thread&tid=153 ) that Road Runner is blocking certain ports which use file-sharing and other types of internet software in certain cities, particularly Texas. I am e-mailing you to express my disapproval of that, and to tell you that I will strongly consider changing services should Road Runner do such in Rochester. I am paying to get access to the internet and other internet users, not that portion of the net and other users which TimeWarner/AOL thinks appropriate. You should be in the business of providing a bandwidth service, not determining how your users use that bandwidth.

    Sly tricks like this and other forms of architectural control by ISP's is a sure way to severely anger customers. Other than blocking specific programs like KazaaLite, WinMX, or Gnutella clients, other despicable tactics would be providing faster access to sites which TimeWarner was affiliated with, slower access to sites of rivals (i.e., DSL home pages). What's next, is TW going to use its power over architecture to mandate that its users connect to RR with Windows/Mac through Internet explorer, and not on alternate OS' such as Linux, BeOS, etc, nor through alternate browsers like Mozilla (which I'm using now)?

    These types of architectural controls are just the sort of nightmarish 1984 dystopia Lawrence Lessig described in "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace".

    I urge you not to not to use such architectural controls here in Rochester, and to abandon those ill-sighted attempts elsewhere.

    On a separate note, I'd also like to ask TW to start trying to build architectures which allow a dynamic ballance of upload/download bandwidth depending on what a user does. I.e., at any given time, if at any given time a user has access to up to 500 KB/s of bandwidht total (upload and download), why should it be split up into 400 KB/s download and 100KB/s upload always, even if the user is not downloading anything but uploading something? In other words, you should engineer architectures to adjust the download/upload bandwidth alotted depending on what the user is doing.
  • Here in Australia our often favourite Cable ISP, Optus@Home, has a nice descrete policiy of capping P2P bandwidth. That practice combined with their recent data caps put them definatly out of the good isp category. :(

    Any Optus@home users wondering why they cant get more than 2k/sec on average in kazzaa? Now you know...

    ps. This is not confirmed, i have a friend in the network centre that is what he claims...
  • More To Come (Score:4, Interesting)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Sunday July 14, 2002 @12:33AM (#3880133)
    Expect more stuff like this to happen. Here's why:

    Collusion of ISPs - Remember the story last month where the leading companies in the Cable internet Biz got together? Think the only thing they talked about was capping bandwidths lower? Call it the OPEC of the internet. A handfull of companies control the fastest growing, and only viable, highspeed internet access. They can either backbight each other or agree to sell under terms where everyone gets a profitable piece of the pie

    Market consolidation. look to see even more consolidation in the industry. Bandwidth providers combining with connection providers and maybe even content providers. The market is unhealthy with all the instability on Wallstreet many companies are ripe for takover or ready to deal.

    My friends, the days of the "good deals" are over. Cable internet providers know they own the future of internet access and are making sure that future is profitible to the max. Look at it this way, what choice do you have?

    • Re:More To Come (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OneFix (18661)
      I hope you're right, because then the .gov will be forced to file an anti-trust suit against the cable companies.

      You know, there's a reason why those laws exist, and yes, they have a history of "looking the other way", but the abundance of broadband is probably going to change the industry (not as much as HTML / HTTP), but when Joe Six Pack has broadband, it will probably prompt a major re-growth in the industry.

      The funny thing is, not everyone has broadband right now...alot of /. users don't see this, because they hang around with other geeks that are more likely to have broadband.

      When did you see a site that actually put the "power of broadband" to good use.

      I don't know of many. Oh, we see a few things like higher bitrate streaming video or always-on apps, P2P, etc... But in general, the industry is still opperating at 56k...

      And then again, I'm sure the DSL providers can't wait for this...most places that have Broadband Cable either have or are getting DSL. The biggest reason most ppl have gone with cable is the speed, but that can change. Free markets necessitate lower costs and higher quality over a period of time. It's just the way it works. So, if RR pisses off the 5% of their users that most likely bring about more than half of their business, then they will be forced to change policy or drop the service.

      I have RR broadband, and I'm not worried in the slightest. If they become too "difficult", I'll jst switch to DSL/Wireless/etc...And I'll take all of my friends and family with me...
  • by NetGyver (201322) on Sunday July 14, 2002 @12:44AM (#3880173) Journal
    Cable companies complain that power users use too much bandwidth and thus drowns out normal to light users. So they impose restrictions such as this to curtail it.

    Cable companies also said that cable itself would be free of commericals, however it's all i see now-a-days on the tv. Even premium channels like HBO et al promised in their beginnings that it would be commerical free. But even they have commercials. I mean, that was one of the big incentives to pay that premium price.

    It wouldn't matter if its a handful of power-users who use kazaa or any other p2p, or those power-users who utilize cable modems for streaming media, such as music and video, which is WHY BROADBAND WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SO GOOD AT.

    Thing is people, they designed a system, and promised you all you can eat for a flat fee per month. Around here at least it wasn't $x.xx per MEG/kbps, it was just like the 19.95 dialup ISP deals that is common place today outside of AOL, MSN and Earthlink.

    What would the cable companies do if Broadband (totally legit) media took off with consumers, and people started really USING the bandwidth that is given to them? They'd start restricting just like their doing with Kazaa and other p2p's now. Same thing different usage.

    I don't understand why they can't just cap their customers to X kbps and make sure everybody can reach that max and be done with it. At least then you have your limit, and you can utilize all of the bandwidth that is given to you.

    I have Adelphia cable, and I use it well. However i am capped at around 60kbp or so, but every so often i can reach up to 90kbps to 120kbps depending on the time of day, in my case it's after midnight to the wee hours of the morning.

    I haven't been sent any letters or anything to indicate that i'm a "bandwidth hog" (thank god) but I think differnet cable companies have different setups and polices.

    Cable broadband I don't think has reached the commodity status yet. But I really dislike the "pay per meg/kbps" model.

    I'd pay for the "a limit and all i can eat within that limit" model though. Just like dialup and the 19.95 deal, just more bandwidth and more money. None of those weird ass restricitons. I think that's what i'm getting now, at least until i'm notified and told otherwise.

    I don't think I make much sense, but maybe i can make some change.
  • If they are trying to avoid copyright lawsuits, they are actually making it worse for themselves. By censoring my online communications, they also assume responsablity if I send hate mail, download warez and so on. On the other hand, if they are worried about bandwidth - well why would people get high-speed access if they were not going to use bandwidth? I bet most customers will at least occasionally download audio or video. They can cap the total bandwidth and document the limits but it has nothing to do with what exactly I am doing - sharing files or videoconferencing.
  • Shared resource (Score:2, Interesting)

    by groundclutter (227351)
    quoted from: http://securityscan.sec.rr.com/policy.htm
    The Internet is known as a "shared resource", and Road Runner accounts operate using these resources. Excessive use or abuse of these shared network resources by one customer may have a negative impact on all other customers. Misuse of network resources in a manner, which impairs network performance, is prohibited by this policy and may result in termination of your account. You are prohibited from excessive consumption of resources, including CPU time, memory, disk space and session time. You may not use resource-intensive programs, which negatively impact other customers or the performance of Road Runner systems or networks. Road Runner reserves the right to terminate or limit such activities.
  • Anybody who is angry about Roadrunner blocking their p2p file sharing should cancel their sevice, and tell them why. If no other high speed service is available, groups of former subscribers could get together, and start a Motorola Canopy Wirelss ISP of their own. Slashdot posted a story about those [slashdot.org] a while back. No one should continue to do business with a company that won't give them what they are paying for. Pull the plug.
  • I heard an ad on the radio this afternoon, for roadrunner, advertising how "with roadrunner high speed online, you can download music for your road trip".

    So, on one hand, to get people to sign up, they're touting broadband for downloading music, but once you're paying for the service, they yank the carrot away. Cute. And they wonder why AOLTW debt is trading around junk levels.
  • From the complaints ("I can get one search through, and then it slows down"), this sounds like one of those "traffic shaping" systems has been inserted in the data path somewhere. Maybe a bandwidth limit has been imposed for Kazaa traffic.

    Packeteer [packeteer.com] can do things like this to traffic. See their management-level Flash presentations. It's a quality-of-service system, with a "lousy service" option. There are other vendors; I have no idea whether RoadRunner uses Packeteer, but there's a good chance that they have something comparable.

  • by AlastairBurt (3604) on Sunday July 14, 2002 @04:55AM (#3880764)
    I think there is a case for mentioning the basic principles at stake here, even if they have been discussed on Slashdot before. They are anyway so important that they should be repeated as often as possible. Communications providers should not be liable for content and should not be able to control it. Anything else is dangerous folly.

    Horrible crimes are committed using the road and telephone system -- crimes almost as bad as file-swapping, such as murder and rape. But the people responsible for the roads and telephone system are not liable for these crimes. To some extent this a question of practicality -- the telephone operators cannot listen in to all conversations -- but more importantly it hard to see how vetting telephone conversations according to there content is compatible with a democratic society.

    But somehow, for some greater good, such as the protecting the five major labels' total control of music distribution, this principle is being abandoned for ISPs. I think this is a slippery slope. In a land such as the US, with so many lawyers and politicians susceptible to lobbyists with big cheque books, is hard to believe that other bodies will not want to tell the ISP's what they can deliver to their customers. I am sure there are other forms of content that could conceivably hurt some company's profit margins.

    Even if Americans feel they have to violate the principle of non-liability of communications providers for some overriding greater good then they must surely build in some accountability into the system. Internet communication is becoming so important that the terms of service should be regulated. In particular, they should written in such a way that that ISP service can only be denied when the ISP can prove beyond reasonable doubt that some heinous crime, such mailing a friend a MP3 file, has been committed. Just blocking a port because you think that someone might do something illegal on that port should not be permissible.

    In general, however, the principle should be defended that communications providers are in no way liable for what is being communicated and they should not be allowed to tailor their service based on the content. If file-swappers hog bandwidth, use traffic shaping to limit their bandwidth (and put this in the terms of service). ISP's should not be snooping on what private parties communicate amongst themselves or otherwise be making guesses about the use of bandwidth -- at least in a democratic society, which the US makes some pretense of being.

  • Bandwidth (Score:5, Informative)

    by RickHunter (103108) on Sunday July 14, 2002 @09:37AM (#3881199)

    As other posters have pointed out, this is very probably a few users with technical problems blaming it on their ISP.

    However, this entire issue is a red herring. Roadrunner, as with most cable ISPs, caps upstream and downstream bandwidth. I'm not going to be able to transfer enough over my cable connection, even if I saturate it, to make much of a difference for others nearby. Now, if everyone on my block did this, then we'd notice a problem. But at that point, demand for bandwidth has exceeded the available infrastructure, which obviously did not anticipate people actually using the bandwidth they were told they had.

    As for cost, this is also a bad argument. Yes, you can buy a large pipe for some incredible sum-plus-usage-costs for "business use". You seriously think major ISPs pay the same incredible sum for bandwidth? Many have peering arrangements, and for those, more traffic is better - you get more other providers wanting to peer with you. Even if you don't, your bandwidth is so cheap that a sizable percentage of your customer base saturating their connections 24/7 probably wouldn't cost you more than $500 a month.

    (To say nothing of the rediculousness of charging for bandwidth usage anyway. Bandwith isn't a non-renewable resource. Any bandwidth not used in a given time interval is wasted and unrecoverable.)

    No, to see why this is happening, follow the money. Who gains by preventing citizens from having an easy avenue for sharing music and video? The media cartels. Who's hurt by preventing it? Their indie competition. Wow, what an astonishing coincidence!

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