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The Courts Government The Internet News

Comcast Sued Over P2P Blocking 268

CRISTAROL writes "Comcast has been sued by a California resident for blocking BitTorrent and other traffic. 'John Hart describes himself as a Comcast customer who has seen performance hits when using "Blocked Applications" targeted by Comcast's traffic management application, Sandvine. In his complaint, Hart says that Comcast severely limits "the speed of certain internet applications such as peer-to-peer file sharing and lotus notes [sic]." Comcast accomplishes this by "transmitting unauthorized hidden messages" to the PCs of those using the applications.' The lawsuit comes on the heels of an FCC complaint over the same issue."
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Comcast Sued Over P2P Blocking

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  • Ha (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kingrames ( 858416 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2007 @11:39PM (#21359075)
    "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

    The article was blocked just a few seconds ago. COINCIDENCE? hmm?
  • by l1nuXB0X ( 895667 ) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:01AM (#21359249)
    Normally I wouldn't put in a comment about P2P and legality, except that the past 3 times I used bittorrent it was legal use and I paid for the downloads. If thats getting throttled, and I'm still paying $55 a month for my comcast cable internets....I'm a little miffed.
  • by Burdell ( 228580 ) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:09AM (#21359299)
    Nobody really wants ISPs to be common carriers. Part of being a common carrier is that you are required to be content-agnostic. Think about what the Internet would be like if ISPs couldn't block customers for spamming, spreading worms, DoS attacks, etc.
  • by cynicsreport ( 1125235 ) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:23AM (#21359401) Homepage
    Going through legal channels is important, but until this makes its way through the courts (which could take a while), I don't think Comcast users are completely helpless.
    What we really need is some clever client-side programming. A p2p client (or standard) that does some clever encryption, sends data hidden through other streams, etc. I'm not a network programming guru, but it seems like these programs can (or should) keep a step ahead of whatever recognition software that gets through the approval process for comcast servers.
  • by moondo ( 177508 ) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:41AM (#21359521)
    Last night I was uploading a file to mediafire.com at about 450kbps and 3 minutes into the upload session my internet connection was cut off. So I had to restart my cable modem. Then I reconnected and went back on mediafire, tried again... same thing happened. I reconnected the modem, then I tried one last time; my internet was cut off till the next day (today). I can only express disgust for Comcast if I was disconnected for uploading a file I needed for work. I didn't call Comcast because I hate being put on hold, but I probably should have verified if it was really them that cut me off. It's just weird that it happened 3 times during an upload session which used some bandwidth.
  • Re:About time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2007 @12:53AM (#21359631)
    "lotus notes" should've been titlecased.
  • by Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @01:46AM (#21360007) Homepage
    Can Comcast block spam? I mean, I'm just wondering. Because it seems like the end result of this line of argument is to give spammers a precedent that says "You must deliver our spam."
  • Re:A good precedent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl@excit e . com> on Thursday November 15, 2007 @01:50AM (#21360047) Journal
    You are going to find that this applies to the expectations of what the court considers to be "an ordinary person". This is a pretty common standard and it eliminates lots of fringe stuff. A while back Toyota ran an advertisement about how low their prices were and specifically used the phrase "for a song". Someone wrote a song, performed it in the dealership and asked for their car. Now please. I believe that guy actually got a car but the courts cut the rest of the claims off pretty quickly using the concept that an ordinary person would not be misled by this. Now try to convince a court that whatever Comcast is advertising that this extends to what you specifically want to use their service for and how they are preventing you from doing so. You are very likely to find out that your fringe case doesn't mean they have violated the law.

    Except that Bittorrent is a very widely-used protocol. The fact that World of Warcraft alone uses it puts that in the realm of "the ordinary person". Said ordinary person doesn't have to specifically know they're using the protocol; if Comcast were screwing with HTTP, they would be messing with a protocol widely used by ordinary people despite the fact that most web surfers don't have the first clue what it is. We're not talking about Gopher here.

    This is in addition to the fact that this mythical "ordinary person" has a reasonable expectation that when (s)he is promised high-speed downloads, that this will occur regardless of the specific technical means used for the download, and that the ISP will not take steps to deliberately interfere with this. One would also presume that the ordinary person would not expect his or her ISP to be deliberately committing what amounts to a denial-of-service attack against its customers by forging packets.

  • by freedom_india ( 780002 ) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @01:53AM (#21360073) Homepage Journal
    Well, when they get 100% of the money for all the services they claim to provide, they better back it up by providing 100% service for all the services they contracted to provide me.
    Because, if they don't i can sue them for False Advertising, Mis-representation of merchandise involved, delibrate intent to defraud, and a raft of state laws.

    Its simple and legal. Use the same arguments they use to make you pay.
    Non-Emotional, robotic motions to legal recourse.

    What it does it matter to them, if i use torrent to download SG-Atlantis or a Linux distro.

    They can't claim to police my activities in the same way Walmart can't question a buyer of handguns in its Keene, NH store just because its store clerk felt like it.

    If i were the person who sues comcast, i would send out a subpoena demanding ALL emails relating to this PLUS pull network administrators on oath to say it.

    I bet Comcast would settle before going to court.
  • Re:Pay to steal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by krazytekn0 ( 1069802 ) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @02:00AM (#21360135) Homepage Journal
    While we're at it we need to block all internet video and picture viewing
    Pictures on the intarwebs = porn

    Everyone else who tries to download jpegs is just trying to get porn. Oh yeah, and there's no possible way to use a web browser without being a criminal, you're making copies of copyrighted content on your own computer in RAM, on the Screen and in your cache and index therefore we should block every kind of internet transfer other than emails and IMs because copying stuff that you wouldn't buy anyway hurts artists! Everyone knows this. It would be in your best interest if you just weren't allowed to use the web or ssh or ... because some people have done illegal things that way.[/sarcasm]

    I know that I was kinda rambling there, but I'm so tired of people who think that P2P is about stealing. I download FREE music (as in speech and beer) over p2p, linux ISOs because I know that guys putting out distros have to PAY for their bandwidth and mine is pretty much unlimited, I'm sorry to all of the artists that I killed by downloading the latest openSuSE dvd. I hope that they're families will one day find it in their hearts to forgive me
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @08:42AM (#21362321) Homepage Journal
    I offer BitTorrent downloads of my Creative Commons-licensed music [geometricvisions.com]. P2P distribution is crucial to me, in that it keeps down my hosting costs.

    My torrents are completely legal because they're posted with the permission of the copyright holder - me.

    When I was using an Eastlink cable modem in Nova Scotia, Canada, the ISP blocked me from downloading my own torrents, so I wasn't able to verify that they were working!

    I think everyone who offers legal torrents, especially non-profit Open Source and Free Software organizations who provide installation isos via BitTorrent, should band together to defeat the blocking of BitTorrent downloads.

    Is there a way we could file a class-action lawsuit?

  • Re:About time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Thursday November 15, 2007 @11:58AM (#21364971)
    i am just waiting for them to lose common carrier status

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"