The unbearable lightness of BitTorrent

“If you steal films and music, copyright companies ‘will have your IP address within three hours,”said Mitch Featherston in his post.

File sharing isn’t the same as stealing: no one has been deprived of something they used to own.

 And in the meanwhile, “Anyone using file-sharing service BitTorrent to download the latest film or music release is likely to be monitored, UK-based researchers suggest,” says  the BBC

Mitch’s item linked to a Mail Online story by Eddie Wrenn which states:

  • University’s three-year study shows an average of ‘three secretive monitors’ watching you download
  • ‘Almost everyone that shares popular films and music illegally will be connected … and will have their IP address logged’
  • ‘…What is done with this information in the long-term only time will te

The  school in question was Birmingham University and its  study  “indicates that an illegal file-sharer downloading popular content would be logged by a monitoring firm within three hours,” says Wrenn.

The Mail pic  (right)  has someone entering  the search term  ‘Harry Potter’ into a dialog box  on infamous  indexing site The pirate Bay.

Says the caption,  “A user downloads files from The Pirate Bay (posed image): Research at the University of Birmingham suggests there users are being logged on behalf of copyright holders.”

Of course, TPB  is  very far from being the only game in town, and even if it were,  punters certainly wouldn’t be using a ballpoint to enter the search term 🙂

( And don’t worry: My link is via  a  proxy ;))

Not only but also,  “most public BitTorrent (P2P) file sharers have their file transfers monitored by a third party organisation, such as Rights Holders for the purpose of taking copyright enforcement action against broadband ISPs and their customers,” observes  ISP Review, adding,  [and]  “the data collected is far from reliable.”

What of the paper, The Unbearable Lightness of Monitoring: Direct
Monitoring in BitTorrent
by Tom Chothia, Marco Cova, Chris Novakovic, and Camilo Gonz´alez?

It states in conclusion:

“In this paper, we examined the current state of BitTorrent monitoring. We in-
troduced several novel techniques for identifying peers that perform monitoring
and validated them on large datasets.We determined that copyright enforcement
agencies use indirect monitoring (confirming the results of earlier studies) as well
as direct monitoring (a novel contribution of our work) to determine users’ ac-
tivity. From our experiments, we derived a number of interesting properties of
monitoring, as it is currently performed: e.g., that monitoring is prevalent for
popular content (i.e., the most popular torrents on The Pirate Bay) but ab-
sent for less popular content, and that peers sharing popular content are likely to be monitored within three hours of joining a swarm.”

“Finally, we found that publicly-available blocklists, used by privacy-conscious BitTorrent users to prevent contact with monitors, contain large incidences of false positives and false
negatives, and recommended that blocklists based on empirical research are
used over speculative ones.

(with apologies to Mitch ;))

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