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Comcast Pays Out $16M In P2P Throttling Suit 176

eldavojohn writes "Comcast has settled out of court to the tune of $16 million in one of several ongoing P2P throttling class action lawsuits. You may be eligible for up to $16 restitution if 'you live in the United States or its Territories, have a current or former Comcast High-Speed Internet account, and either used or attempted to use Comcast service to use the Ares, BitTorrent, eDonkey, FastTrack or Gnutella P2P protocols at any time from April 1, 2006 to December 31, 2008; and/or Lotus Notes to send emails any time from March 26, 2007 to October 3, 2007.' $16 million seems low. And it's too bad this was an out-of-court settlement instead of a solid precedent-setting decision for your right to use P2P applications. The settlement will probably not affect the slews of other Comcast P2P throttling suits, and it's unclear whether it will placate the FCC."
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Comcast Pays Out $16M In P2P Throttling Suit

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  • Ummmm.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @09:27AM (#30534464) Journal

    I'm a Comcast customer, I was throttled, I've never used my connection to download music or movies (TV shows and OSS only), and I still don't think I want to apply for my $16 pittance.

    Prediction: The sharks who ran this class-action suit aren't going to be satisfied with $6.4 million (the usual 40% of $16 million), and they're going to make a few more bucks sell the names and details to RIAA/MPAA so everyone who receives their $16 will be slapped with a $999999 gazillion lawsuit for illegal file sharing. Most of the P2P users end up disconnected and eventually homeless after the spate of ruinous P2P lawsuits, Comcast gets to dump their heaviest-bandwidth users, everyone wins except the granny whose next door neighbor mooched off her WiFi and got a copy of Avatar.

    "A strange game. The only way to win is not to play."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @09:52AM (#30534620)

    Comcast in my area will start cutting connection to your modem if you use full bandwidth bittorrent for more than a few minutes. Reset your modem, and you're fine for another couple minutes, then it's out again.

    If you turn off bittorrent, or throttle the settings back to rediculously low levels (say, 384 kbps download and 32kbps upload), there's no problem at all. If I pull a couple hundred megs down off a website or do a huge ubuntu update at full speed (1.8megabytes a second or so) I never have any problems, It is completely obvious that it's heavy bittorrent usage that 'causes' this.

    Really makes me wonder who the hell "Comcast Extreme 50" is for. I see those signs all the time around here and can't figure out who they are expecting to buy those. Who the hell needs 50mbps downloads except bittorrent users... and Comcast has made it clear they will do everything possible to discourage bittorrent usage, they just keep changing the tactic. now it's 'connection quality' issues.

  • Re:Typical! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:20AM (#30534852)
    Not only that, but it basically immunizes them against further lawsuits on the issue. Sometimes, I think some of these class action suits are the result of a collaboration between the companies and some lawyers. The lawyers get a big payday, the companies get immunity from anymore lawsuits, and the consumer gets screwed.
  • Re:Typical! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @10:35AM (#30534978)

    There's also Linux distributions. I can honestly say that I downloaded several Linux ISO's over the previous year via Bittorrent. I can't say that's ALL I downloaded, but I did use it for that :).

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:18AM (#30535408)
    PPalmgren's suggestion is certainly worth investigating, but have you tried throttling your upload speed on your client? I had some serious problems until I cut way back on my upload speed and that made things calm down. I have no issues with downloading as fast as possible, but things start to get very bad for me if I allow the default unlimited speed on uploads. I have AT&T and not Comcast, but maybe you might look into that and see if it makes any difference.
  • Still going on? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ornlu ( 1706502 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @11:46AM (#30535666)
    Oddly enough, I'm moving to Houston in a week, so I need to sign up for an ISP. Comcast is the only cable provider in the whole city, so they've got the market cornered on speed. I did the whole "chat now" thing that popped up when checking availability. I asked about bandwidth caps and P2P throttling. They referred me to a tech hotline. Here's the gist of the conversation with the CS tech rep: I've got 3 questions, 1) To your knowledge, does Comcast throttle P2P traffic? 2) To your knowledge, does Comcast cap the monthly bandwidth for connections? 3) To your knowledge, does Comcast block any incoming/outgoing ports? They replied: "I've never heard of throttling or 'bandwidth'. What do you mean by those?" I then had to explain what bandwidth was... to a cable co tech support "guru". I'm definitely not signing up with this incompetent & abusive company that feels no obligation to actually meet its TOS. A couple questions come do to my mind however: Are they still blocking P2P? Would they admit to further throttling if they are doing it?
  • P2P for all updates (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drew30319 ( 828970 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @12:49PM (#30536260) Homepage Journal
    I've wondered for some time (and often aloud, but nobody has ever responded) as to why more software updates aren't done via P2P?


    (1) It's more efficient for everybody (I would imagine that bandwidth for folks like MS / AVG / even SourceForge would be lower by at least a magnitude of ten)
    (2) It further legitimizes P2P
    (3) It forces ISP's hand in treating bittorrents like all other traffic

    While I appreciate that the tin-hat-wearers may believe that the MPAA / RIAA wouldn't want such a move I wonder if there are technical aspects of which I'm unaware?
  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @01:03PM (#30536462)
    I had that problem. I use Comcast Business. I found that when they upgraded my speed from 6mbps to 12mbps my WRT54G router would crash if I used bittorrent. It turns out they are giving me 20mbps with it reaching 30mbps at times. I upgraded my router to an AR670W (not the best choice, but it was cheap) and my problems just went away. There was no question that the router was the problem.
  • Re:Typical! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @01:49PM (#30536926)

    Your suspicions are correct. My company actually initiated one of these class actions after getting sued by an unscrupulous customer with an unscrupulous lawyer. Their case had no merit whatsoever, but it was about the 5th such case - clearly seeking an "it's cheaper to settle than litigate" settlement. We got the unscrupulous lawyer to bite on the idea of owning a class action suit. We then answered his subpoenas, helped him contact the class and get certified and then settle. It immunized us from any future specious lawsuits and only cost about $1million net. We had already spent that much winning the previous 4 lawsuits, so it was a no-brainer. We cleaned up 10,000 cases and gave each customer a pittance and the lawyer got a decent payday even though he's a complete incompetent boob who was only looking to scam ten or twenty thousand in nuisance money from us in the first place. It actually worked out OK. It would have been better if there weren't dishonest people out there looking to cheat you, but absent that, it was a brilliant way to solve a problem that threatened to bleed us dry by a thousand paper cuts.

  • Re:Typical! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gerald ( 9696 ) on Wednesday December 23, 2009 @02:12PM (#30537182) Homepage

    $16 isn't a lot. However, I'm still going to apply for the settlement and will make it part of a larger donation to the local food bank and/or homeless shelter. I encourage you to do the same.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky