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Microsoft Piracy Your Rights Online

Microsoft-Funded Startup Aims To Kill BitTorrent Traffic 601

Posted by timothy
from the momma-said-knock-you-out dept.
TheGift73 writes "The Russian based 'Pirate Pay' startup is promising the entertainment industry a pirate-free future. With help from Microsoft, the developers have built a system that claims to track and shut down the distribution of copyrighted works on BitTorrent. Their first project, carried out in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, successfully stopped tens of thousands of downloads. Hollywood, software giants and the major music labels see BitTorrent as one of the largest threats to their business. Billions in revenue are lost each year, they claim. But not for long if the Russian based startup 'Pirate Pay' has its way. The company has developed a technology which allows them to attack existing BitTorrent swarms, making it impossible for people to share files."
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Microsoft-Funded Startup Aims To Kill BitTorrent Traffic

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:34PM (#39987973)

    there fore it is illegal in most western nations
    in canada it would be illegal to use this tech

  • Protocol encryption? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zerothink (1682450) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:35PM (#39987987)
    And what about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrent_protocol_encryption [wikipedia.org] ? It is turnrd on by default in most bt clients and I seriously doubt they can detect what content is distributed over encrypted bt connection ...
  • For ISPs to use? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hmryobemag}> on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:38PM (#39988019) Journal

    I assume this software is meant for use on ISP equipment, because otherwise what they're claiming seems totally impossible.

  • by ClintJCL (264898) <clintjcl+slashdot@gma i l .com> on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:38PM (#39988021) Homepage Journal
    no they aren't. i've been in touch with plenty of tech and online people since the 1980s, and if anything, people pirate less now. more total bytes downloaded, maybe, but a lower percentage of [online/connected] people are pirating than ever in my 30-year view.
  • by multicoregeneral (2618207) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:39PM (#39988037) Homepage
    This isn't the first time they've tried to disrupt file sharing. First, they added whitespace to music files. And that mostly killed Kaza. There has been file sharing since Kaza. Every time there's an iteration like this, the technology evolves, and the previous methods to stop illegal sharing are rendered useless. Honestly, I think this whole business is more of a fetish, or compulsive fascination with file sharing on the part of the old guard, than a solution to any actual problem.
  • by The Snowman (116231) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:46PM (#39988091) Homepage

    The true way to combat piracy is to look at why people are pirating and modify your business strategy so that pirates become paying customers by their own choice.

    They could start by pricing DVDs and Blu-rays reasonably. Next step would be to remove all the crap [tomsguide.com] that goes on between "insert disc" and "watching movie," [i-am-bored.com] which often cannot be skipped without violating the DMCA (I'd like to violate the DMCA, actually, with the business end of a shovel).

  • Re:Peer ban hammer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:50PM (#39988125) Homepage

    "The company doesnâ(TM)t reveal how it works, but they appear to be flooding clients with fake information, masquerading as legitimate peers."

    All it would take is for a client to verify to data in the chunk (probably by it's MD5 or SHA), and if it's busted then try and download it again from the same peer. If it fails the second time then just ban the peer.

    But I imagine they already do this, don't they?

    I never looked deep into BitTorrent protocol - I did examine Gnutella/Limewire, and you might be surprised just how horridly lame and insecure that protocol was. BitTorrent is the next generation after Gnutella, I assume it's better, but I doubt it's the last word in P2P.

    The value of P2P is in the user pool, the protocol can be tincans on strings and it is still an impressive and valuable resource.

    Pirate Pay is aiming to piss in the user pool, forcing the issue of trust... I assume that will be addressed now.

    Some thoughts [mangocats.com] from, oh, maybe 10-15 years ago on the subject.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:55PM (#39988173)

    They could start by selling them. Like you know, in the rest of the world.

    It's all great the US has all these services and that the DVDs and Blu-rays are available there in the first tier (which is still too late). But most of them never even get to Central/Eastern Europe. People pirate here not out of choice but because of lack of options. Also, in a country where a new game costs about the fourth of minimum wage (which is not enough to live on anyway), people are not going to simply become paying customers. Economy of most slavic countries lies in ruins, and that is it.

    Source: I live there and have lived all my life.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:55PM (#39988181) Journal
    Remind me again when performing DoS attacks against 3rd party servers became legal?

    The assorted ISP-based 'filtering' stuff is obnoxious; but quite possibly legal under the 'we do whatever we want, cry about it' clause under which consumer ISPs customarily operate.

    However, if the (rather vague) description provided by this startup outfit is to be believed they are spoofing bittorrent peers and sending some sort of specially crafted misinformation in order to bring communication between multiple 3rd-party systems to a halt. That certainly looks like a DoS attack, if probably a smarter-than-brute-force one. Even if there were actually some standard of proof being applied to determine that the target swarms are in fact 'infringing', vigilante justice is generally not all that legal. Without any such standard, this is a case of a couple of studios hiring some skeezy Russian outfit to perform denial of service attacks against who knows who in support of their bottom line.

    I understand that the law isn't really supposed to apply to people who matter; but surely a felonies-for-hire business model presents some degree of risk to those who go shopping for their services, no?
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @04:03PM (#39988277) Journal
    I get the impression that WMDRM (in its ill-starred public appearance as 'playsforsure') was intended to be exactly the strategy you describe: a multiple-vendors-as-long-as-they-run-windows 'interoperable DRM' ecosystem of media sellers and DRM-blessed devices that would work with one another so long as the PC bringing them together was a Microsoft one...

    Since that didn't end up working out so well, they seem to have gone the route of more overtly sucking up to the content guys. Whether this is because they just really don't want to see the Wintel platform get locked out of the fancy new blu-rays and so forth or whether they see themselves and Hollywood as having the same long-term architectural interest in building platforms that make paying for digital goods non-optional isn't clear to me.
  • by transporter_ii (986545) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @04:13PM (#39988407) Homepage

    First, I rarely bittorent anything, but I recently tried to find an audiobook for my son that is old and no longer being sold anywhere. My experience was somewhat similar to the oatmeal trying to watch game of thrones online: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones [theoatmeal.com]. Audible? No. Amazon? No. Barnes & Noble? No.

    The only places I could find the audiobook were used and costs 40.00 or more for cassette tapes...which I would then have had to convert to MP3s myself. Long story short, thanks to bittorent, my son is now halfway through the book and loves it.

    If someone would have bothered to actually sell the audiobook, I would have forked over money for it.

    This is a prime example of why copyright law should be relaxed on abandoned copyrighted material. They like to bitch about piracy, but they sure don't go out of their way to offer the public what they really want.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @04:14PM (#39988411)

    Not paying protection racketeers would be a great start.
    Because that's what MPAA/RIAA are.

  • Re:Peer ban hammer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @04:47PM (#39988687)

    Actually, isn't there a shiney new law on the books that makes intentionally spoofing an ip address illegal?

    It would be interesting to see someone press charges for this, especially since the connection to microsoft is being publicized.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:20PM (#39988939)

    Well, on the bright side it means a bunch of Russian programmers get to pocket some money from clueless Americans and giggle as their efforts have zero impact on the situation.

    This has been going on since Napster. The exact protocol or technology isn't the problem. If they kill bittorrent, which is unlikely, how many other competing systems are there in the wings that will fill the gap? I can think of five would be successors to bit torrent that would become a big thing overnight.

    The problem isn't the presence of this technology its failing to offer viable video on demand services for your content online at reasonable rates.

    Most people were used to not paying anything BEFORE piracy. What did people pay for television? Nothing. You ignored the ads and the tv was free. Even if you had cable which most didn't the cost was fairly nominal for the basic package. And as to DVDs, wake up... blockbuster and the other video rental stores have died. THAT should tell you something.

    Accept it. The DVD is dead. Embrace video on demand and understand that you can't charge DVD prices for it.

    Hulu was a great idea but you keep starving it. Put ALL your content on it. If you want to keep the brand new stuff off it, fine. But give it everything else and make the service ad supported.

    If you can't make that work as a business model then your whole industry is doomed. Make it work.

  • by The Snowman (116231) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:21PM (#39988945) Homepage

    So $5-$7 for a DVD movie, $15-$16 for TV series is not good value? How low does it and have to be? Zero?

    Some movies are that cheap. Not on Blu-ray though. Not new releases. For a medium that is trivially cheap to make, it's ridiculous to pay $25 or more for a movie when it costs maybe a dollar from factory to store. Given how wealthy the entertainment industry is, I have little incentive to give them more. Yes, I buy movies and go to the theater. But I do it infrequently. We might visit the theater twice a year and buy two Blu-rays per year. Other than that if I see a cheap DVD somewhere (and I don't care about the lack of HD quality) I'll pick one up. But given the effort required, I don't put much time into it.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I still like the physical media. I like that I don't need a cloud that might disappear like a fart in the wind. I pay money, I get a physical disc. Yet I still have to be lectured about not copying illegally after I paid money.

    The worst part about the FBI warnings is that the FBI prioritizes copyright over missing person cases [techdirt.com]. How about you spend less time ruining movie night and more time saving lives?

  • by Cinnamon Beige (1952554) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:44PM (#39989559)
    You might have an easier time first making it so that disuse can cause expiration: instead of a flat term, it becomes whichever happens first, the flat term or a significantly smaller number of years since a significant print run. An electronic release would probably have to be under an inverted rule--a minimum number of sales or period of time, whichever qualification is met last--for counting as a significant print run.

    You could also include a mechanism for a copyright's owner to release prematurely an item into the public domain, and write it off as a loss. It'd serve as a bit of encouragement for the larger companies to consider it possibly better for their bottom line to not do the token print run. You might even see some particularly disastrous bombs hit public domain quite swiftly...
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @07:03PM (#39989695) Homepage

    Does anyone remember Vista? Do we remember why it sucked so badly? I do. It had quite a bit to do with Microsoft trying to appease the demands of the music and movie industries. It resulted in a ridiculously slow and bloated OS that couldn't even run on the newest hardware.

    And does anyone remember what Microsoft's vision did to Nokia? I do. Nokia is still in its death throes but it's dead. Microsoft still doesn't understand that the people don't love them... that, in fact, the people mock them and hate them. And Nokia was a respected and loved brand. Even though their own attempts at the smart phone were unsuccessful, they were inches from giving up and making an Android phone which would have been only as good as the others with the old, respected, Nokia brand. Microsoft combined Nokia's struggle with the hatred of the people to create a poison which has killed Nokia.

    And now Microsoft wants to play with big entertainment AGAIN?! Really?!

    Well, if we crave entertainment, I dare say we will have it... at Microsoft's expense. Even giants like Microsoft can die of a thousand cuts and failures.

  • Re:Peer ban hammer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rabtech (223758) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @07:16PM (#39989793) Homepage

    All the major BitTorrent clients already do this, at least with the data chunks. If a certain peer fails more than a few hash checks it is permanently banned.

    A lot of peers also support dynamic block lists that use known lists of media companies and groups like the one mentioned in the story. The client will periodically download the list and block any traffic from those IPs.

    I couldn't find any technical detail but I assume they are injecting fake data in the initial hash exchange. With the magnet link system all you have is an initial hash and you use peer discovery to find someone in the network who knows what files (and associated hashes) that magnet link hash is associated with (the bit torrent info header from a .torrent file). As far as I know it is using SHA1, although older systems used MD5 in which case you could fake an info reply with crap data that passes the hash, tricking the client into claiming it is an invalid download. But with SHA1 it doesn't appear to be feasible to do on demand, but I wonder if they are using some sort of massive lookup table to do the same sort of poisoning attack? Seems unlikely. It also seems you could use the same logic from file chunks - send the magnet link hash to several peers and if some peers consistently give a failure block them.

    Another potential weak point is peer exchange... If you pretend to be a valid peer but inject just enough of your own corrupted peers in the list (and/or just flood the list with slow responders, etc) you may be able to significantly delay the download or even stop it. For example, have your poison peers hand out correct file chunks at high speed (to get preferred) but make sure that none of them hand out certain crucial chunks or all respond extremely slowly for them. Your client could end up with a peer list mostly of the poison peers and find that it just never seems to finish the download, though it gets to 97% OK.

  • by godglike (643670) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @11:40PM (#39991315)
    Exactly.

    Tell me why trademarks need continual work to maintain, and patents worth BILLIONS last only 20 years but copyright lasts over a hundred years for NO MORE EFFORT THAN INITIAL CREATION.

    What is so special about Walt Disney and Stephanie Meyers that they trump Steve Jobs and Arthur C Clarke?

    Why are Arthur C Clarke's awesome books SOOO much more awesome than inventing geosynchronous satellites?

    How come modern telephones are dependent on Hettie Lamar's expired and now worthless patent but her forgotten films are still "valuable"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:42AM (#39991875)

    Where can I digitally download a new release movie still in cinemas (I'd rather pay for good speakers in the privacy of my own home), when I am in Australia, for a reasonable price ($5 - $15), in a DRM free format that allows me to stream it from a central linux media server to the TV and laptops?

    Are any of those points unreasonable? Nope.
    Are any of those points unrealistic? Nope I do all the above right now.
    Are any of those points able to be accomplished right now? Nope.

    Correction, Yes, Yes, Nope.

    Just because you take what you want now does not make it reasonable or realistic. Big budget movies cost a lot to make, so they use a model that extracts more money up front from those willing to pay, then selling on cheaper and cheaper media until it effectively becomes free on an ad supported broadcast. You could easily wait for the movie to become available in a rentable form and hit your target price, but you choose not to, then try to blame the media companies for not immediately making it available for your private screening room for less than those choosing to see it in a theater (and the quality of teh experience goes out the door when you talk about streaming it to you laptop.

    Face it, you are whining like a 3 year old because you don't want to pay the going rate. Piracy exists, fine, just don't try to justify your behavior with whiny excuses.

  • Re:Peer ban hammer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordLucless (582312) on Monday May 14, 2012 @02:03AM (#39991953)

    BitTorrent is a really nice, elegant protocol (I wrote a client for it once), but the designer's criteria are likely not that of the current users. Bram Cohen was trying to design a protocol for a publisher with limited resources to publish to a lot of consumers. There was resilience baked in, but only for stuff like data corruption over the wire. All the stuff to protect against intentionally-poisoned torrents, decentralization (trackerless torrents), anonymity and encryption have been retro-fitted, generally by third parties, and through informal consent to a standard among the various client devs.

Byte your tongue.

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