Bittorrent Sync is a Dropbox-like service through which the bittorrent protocol is used to synchronize all your devices. I recently used it to receive a large file from a friend in Los Angeles, and I was amazed and delighted by the speed an ease with which it came down. Bittorrent is calling for alpha testers to help it refine the product for its official launch.
Correction: An earlier version of this story got it wrong. I misremembered how the Bittorrent Sync product worked and erroneously believed that it used a cloud of bittorrent users to cooperatively share synch duties for one another.
It's exciting to see a more decentralized, redundant approach to cloud computing. Of all the resources we use with our computers, bandwidth is the scarcest and most fraught (since it's controlled by evil phone companies and mined by lawless spies). Storage, meanwhile, is fantastically abundant -- hard drives get so much cheaper so much faster that it's sometimes mindboggling. Many of us have storage to spare, and swapping that for cloud-based storage for backup, sharing and collaboration makes good sense.
The Bittorrent Sync architecture is reminiscent of the Freenet Project, a classic censorship-resistant file-sharing technology. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
Now that evidence has surfaced suggesting that Guardaley, a disgraced firm of German copyright trolls, is secretly behind the legal actions of notorious US trolls like Malibu Media, the US plaintiffs are running scared, asking judges to dismiss their cases before they can be dragged into a discovery process that might confirm the link.
Guardaley is seriously toxic in the USA, and any suggestion that they were pulling the strings of US plaintiffs would likely be enough to get any case booted -- and possibly result in sanctions for the lawyers representing the trolls.
The defendants in a case over downloading the B-movie Elf-Man has presented evidence that not only links Guardaley to the suit, but also suggests that Guardaley was one of the seeders of the Elf-Man bittorrent file. In other words, they were sharing the file while acting as representatives for the copyright holders, making the downloads they're suing over authorized, and not infringing.
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Jamie from Vodo writes, "We've launched Otherworlds, our first indie
sci-fi bundle! This pay-what-you-want, crossmedia collection includes the
graphic novel collecting Cory's own 'Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now',
Jim Munroe's micro-budget sci-fi satire 'Ghosts With Shit Jobs',
Robert Venditti's New York
Times Bestselling graphic novel 'The Surrogates', and Amber Benson/Adam Busch's
alien office farce, 'Drones'. Check out the whole bundle and choose your own price 5%
of earnings go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation!"
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In Florida, District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro has dismissed a suit brought by notorious porno-copyright trolls Malibu Media on the grounds that an IP address does not affirmatively identify a person, and so they cannot sue someone solely on the basis of implicating an IP address in an infringement. This is a potentially important precedent, as it effectively neutralizes the business-model of copyright trolls, who use IP addresses as the basis for court orders to ISPs to turn over their customers' addresses, which are then inundated with threatening letters. The porno copyright trolls have a distinctly evil wrinkle on this, too: they threaten their victims with lawsuits that will forever associate the victims' names with embarrassing pornographic video-titles, often with gay themes.
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In a surprisingly sane ruling Washington District Judge Robert Lasnik found that an IP address is not sufficient evidence of the identity of a copyright infringer. The case involved the B-movie Elf-Man, whose production company have gained notoriety through trollish attacks on people alleged to have downloaded the movie over bittorrent.
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Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 Magazine
sez, "A few weeks ago, 2600 made its entire archive of radio shows available for free on the web in high fidelity. The response to this has been so great that the bandwidth charges have now gone through the roof. So in order to offset this, 2600 is appealing to the file-sharing community to use BitTorrent technology to distribute these files
instead of traditional downloading from a single website. This is being done in the spirit of showing the world how file-sharing makes content more accessible, cheaper to manage, and quicker to download - concepts that fly in the face of the mainstream media's interpretation. Defining torrents as nothing more than a tool for piracy is a great way to make people afraid of it. Once its true uses and power become more widely known, the world can benefit in so many ways. Getting these radio shows out to the world will be a small accomplishment, but an inspirational one."
Senior executives from Netflix have explained their method for choosing which programs to license for the service: they buy the rights to the most-pirated shows in each territory, because that's where the demand is.
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The latest release from Chuck D and Public Enemy is the Public Enemy BitTorrent Bundle, where you trade your email address for access to a torrent of "Get Up Stand Up," featuring Brother Ali, as well as "the song's music video, outtakes, and 37 multitracks." Public Enemy wants you to remix the track and upload and share your own mixes, too, and will reward the best remixes with a variety of prizes ranging from an official PE release and studio equipment to an editorial feature on BitTorrent and some PE swag.
Yo! Bum rush the torrent, with a boost from Public Enemy
sez, "The Pirate Party of Canada has uncovered that IP addresses from within the RCMP and Industry Canada are used to download copyrighted material
. The point here isn't that they are downloading, it's that because all we have are IP addresses we don't know who is actually doing the downloading."
Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin reviews the new BitTorrent BitTorrent Sync, a peer-to-peer-based Dropbox replacement that's now in public alpha testing. BTSync uses the BitTorrent protocol to keep the files on several computers synchronized, and the actual file-transfers are robustly encrypted so that no one -- not BitTorrent Inc, not your ISP, and not a hacker -- can sniff them as they traverse the Internet and invade your privacy. There's no central server for the police to seize or for hackers or backhoes to knock offline, either. Brodkin's review is comprehensive and makes this sound like a hell of a product.
"Since Sync is based on P2P and doesn’t require a pit-stop in the cloud, you can transfer files at the maximum speed supported by your network," BitTorrent said. "BitTorrent Sync is specifically designed to handle large files, so you can sync original, high quality, uncompressed files."
In the pre-alpha testing that began in January, 20,000 users synced more than 200TB of data. BitTorrent Sync clients can be downloaded now for Windows, Macs, Linux desktops, and Linux-based network-attached storage devices. Mobile support will come later.
Setting the client up is easy. No account is required, but a randomly generated (or user-chosen) 21-byte key is needed to sync folders across computers. After installing the application and choosing a folder to sync you'll be given a string of random letters and numbers that should be typed into a second computer to sync the folder...
BitTorrent Sync creates private, peer-to-peer Dropbox, no cloud required
Streaming video is one of the holy grails of torrent-style distribution systems, where everyone who requests a file from a server is directed to other downloaders who have already received pieces. This is a highly scalable architecture, since it means that the more people trying to download at once, the faster everyone's download becomes. But because the pieces arrive out of sequence, you have to wait until the file has been completely transferred before you can use it.
Now, BitTorrent has introduced a new "Live" service that is designed to allow for ready streaming of videos using the same underlying principle. This has enormous potential for disruption, as it lowers the barriers to entry for running your own YouTube-style service by several orders of magnitude. It's still a bit techy and hard-to-use, but that's only to be expected this early into the release cycle.
One of the goals of BitTorrent Live is to make it possible for the public to send video to thousands of people, all over the world. From dissidents reporting on uprisings to soccer moms who want to send video of a game to family and friends, everyone is included.
The main upside compared to centralized live streaming services is that BitTorrent Live won’t shut down or be interrupted when the audience becomes ‘too large’.
“Current offerings fail with large audiences but with BitTorrent Live every viewer that joins a swarm extends its reach by sharing pieces of the video to other viewers. It becomes more robust with larger audiences and there are no costs associated with the addition of users,” Knoll told us.
“We’re aiming for this to be a democratization of streaming technology,” he adds.
Viewing live streams requires people to install the BitTorrent Live app, which is used to share video with others who are watching. The install process is pretty straightforward and the streams we were able to check out worked fine.
BitTorrent Premieres New Live Streaming Platform
The BBK BitTorrent box is a €90 set-top Android box that can stream content downloaded over BitTorrent directly to your TV; it can pull programming from the wider Internet, or from computers on your local network:
The first ever certified Android-powered BitTorrent box aims to change this. After the initial December launch was delayed, the BBK BitTorrent box officially goes up for sale today.
While we have seen devices that support BitTorrent downloads before, this is the first one that can can also stream content downloaded through uTorrent and BitTorrent clients on the local network.
This means that users can play content downloaded by uTorrent and BitTorrent directly on their TV. Below is a screenshot of the user interface, displaying the various BitTorrent clients the device can connect to wirelessly.
Since the device supports DLNA, users can also access other media libraries including the one from rival BitTorrent client Vuze and Apple’s iTunes.
Certified BitTorrent Box Brings uTorrent to Your TV
(via O'Reilly Radar)
The Internet Archive has partnered with BitTorrent to publish over 1,000,000 of its books, music and movies as legal torrents. It's a huge whack of legal content in the torrentverse, and a major blow to the schemes of entertainment execs to have the whole BitTorrent protocol filtered away to nothing on sight. From the Internet Archive's blog:
Over 1,000,000 Torrents of Downloadable Books, Music, and Movies
BitTorrent is the now fastest way to download items from the Archive, because the BitTorrent client downloads simultaneously from two different Archive servers located in two different datacenters, and from other Archive users who have downloaded these Torrents already. The distributed nature of BitTorrent swarms and their ability to retrieve Torrents from local peers may be of particular value to patrons with slower access to the Archive, for example those outside the United States or inside institutions with slow connections.
A high-level summit of the torrenting world's elite release groups -- the groups responsible for the highest quality, earliest infringing video releases -- has resulted in a consensus on dumping the venerable Xvid codec (a video compression scheme) for x264, requiring the torrent-downloading public to rethink which tools, devices and converters they use. Here's the official consensus. Torrentfreak's Enigmax has more:
The document – ‘The SD x264 TV Releasing Standards 2012′ – is extremely detailed and covers all sorts of technical issues, but the main controversy stems from the adoption of the x264 codec.
“x264 has become the most advanced video codec over the past few years. Compared to Xvid, it is able to provide higher quality and compression at greater SD resolutions,” the rule document begins.
“This standard aims to bring quality control back to SD releases. There are many standalone players/streamers such as TviX, Popcorn Hour, WDTV HD Media Player, Boxee, Xtreamer, PS3, XBOX 360, iPad, & HDTVs that can playback H264 and AAC encapsulated in MP4,” the doc adds.
From February 22nd and earlier in some cases, release groups including ASAP, BAJSKORV, C4TV, D2V, DiVERGE, FTP, KYR, LMAO, LOL, MOMENTUM, SYS, TLA and YesTV began releasing TV shows in the new format. Out went Xvid and avi, in came x264 and MP4.
BitTorrent Pirates Go Nuts After TV Release Groups Dump Xvid
The Pirate Bay has moved away from serving torrent files. Now it serves "magnet links," which are the addresses of Internet users whose computers have Torrent files; when you want to download a file, you first download its torrent from other users, then the file itself. This means that the Pirate Bay is no longer serving links to files that may infringe copyright -- now it serves links to links to files that might infringe copyright. This also has the effect of shrinking TPB's database to 90MB -- small enough to fit on a ZIP cartridge, and trivial to torrent, mirror or proxy in places where TPB is blocked.
While a torrent-less Pirate Bay may sound like small disaster, in reality not much is going to change.
“It shouldn’t make much of a difference for the average user. At most it will take a few more seconds before a torrent shows the size and files,” The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak today.
“Just click the red button instead of the green one and all will be fine”
Torrents that are only shared by a handful of people (<10 ) will remain available for now, to ensure that the files remain accessible. For magnet links to work at least one person in the swarm should have the complete .torrent file and a BitTorrent client that supports magnet links.
"We put the 10 peer limit in just in case someone who created a torrent has an outdated client that doesn't support magnets. By now all common torrent clients support magnets," TorrentFreak was told.
The Pirate Bay, Now Without Torrents
Boing Boing's managing editor Rob, not Bob, but Rob, Beschizza speaks on the Russian television news network RT about Megaupload, ACTA, the global copyfight wars, and the high-flying hijinks of Kim Dotcom.
The IP addresses assigned to the Canadian Parliament have been implicated in several copyright-violating BitTorrent downloads. The 188.8.131.52 – 184.108.40.206 IP block was seen to be in BitTorrent swarms for movies, Windows cracks, Adobe Premiere, ripped CDs, and many other files. The IP records were retrieved from YouHaveDownloaded, a Russian database of IP addresses seen in copyright-infringing swarm. Other YouHaveDownloaded queries have yielded evidence of illegal downloading at the RIAA, the official residence of Nicholas Sarkozy, the Department of Homeland Security, and several MPAA member companies.
“It’s pretty funny, given that this very same group of people is working on harsher copyright law with Bill C-11, ” says former Pirate Party Candidate for Vancouver Centre Travis McCrea, “It just highlights how absurd and unenforceable this copyright monopoly is. Just as in the Hurt Locker lawsuit, we can tell where the files were downloaded but it is impossible to tell which individual is responsible.”
PRESS RELEASE: Copyright Infringement in Canadian Parliament
TorrentFreak continues its prolonged spelunk through the database compiled by YouHaveDownloaded, a list of participants in infringing BitTorrent swarms, indexed by IP address. Today, it's a look at what's been downloaded by the IP blocks controlled by the RIAA (who have advocated that ISPs should be required to disconnect customers whose networks are used in copyright infringement) and the Department of Homeland Security (who sloppily confiscated several domains without due process because they were believed to be involved in copyright infringement). Predictably, both are hives of depraved piracy.
After carefully checking all the IP-addresses of the RIAA we found 6 unique addresses from where copyrighted material was shared. Aside from recent music albums from Jay-Z and Kanye West – which may have been downloaded for research purposes – RIAA staff also pirated the first five seasons of Dexter, an episode of Law and Order SVU, and a pirated audio converter and MP3 tagger...
By now it probably comes as no surprise that staff at the Department of Homeland Security are also using BitTorrent. In fact, we found more than 900 unique IP-addresses at the Government organization through which copyrighted files were downloaded.
RIAA and Homeland Security Caught Downloading Torrents
Further revelations from the YouHaveDownloaded
BitTorrent logger: six infringing BitTorrent swarms included computers logged into the network of the official residence of French President Nicholas Sarkozy
. Sarkozy, of course, pushed for the HADOPI law that allows whole households to be disconnected from the net if their network is implicated in three copyright complaints. Note that there's no proof that anyone who was downloading these files got enough of them via the Sarkozy network to turn into a recognizable video or audio file; nor does it mean they were a member of the Sarkozy household. But the HADOPI law doesn't make this distinction, and who am I to argue with Sarkozy's favorite Internet law?