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German P2P Traffic Rebounds
June 21, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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There’s a recurring theme in the file-sharing community. Shut one network down, another will take its place. This has remained a constant since P2P and file-sharing became a mainstream source of media under Napster. Now a long lost opportunity for the music industry to avoid the nightmare it currently faces, Napster’s demise would set into motion the growth of file-sharing we see today.

The policy of shutting down networks and threatening network administrators with lawsuits has changed little since the lessons learned from Napster. At Napster’s peak, approximately 1.5 million simultaneous users traded music on this network. By today’s P2P standards, Napster is a relatively small network as Gnutella, eDonkey, FastTrack, WinMX (during its height) and BitTorrent have all exceeded its population. The latest computation from Big Champagne, a P2P tracking firm, estimates that approximately 9.7 million individuals simultaneously traverse the P2P landscape at any given time. This number does not include the population of BitTorrent, which at a minimum adds an additional 3 million individuals.

Fluctuations in the P2P and overall file-sharing population are not unusual following wide scale enforcement actions. FastTrack, for example, has been on a continuous rollercoaster following the RIAA’s continued efforts against unwitting members of this network. However eDonkey2000, a more advanced P2P protocol, absorbed much of FastTrack’s former population and has become a standard for sharing large files. The next logical step in the entertainment industry’s tactics then shifted towards eDonkey2000.

On May 23, 2006, German authorities with technical assistance provided by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry), launched one of the largest raids in file-sharing history. The most critical target of this raid was Razorback2, which functioned as one of the largest eDonkey2000 indexing servers. At its peak, it was home to approximately 1.2 million individuals, sharing 170 million files. Additionally, German authorities throughout the hinterlands searched 130 premises, confiscating evidence in the form of computers and hard drives. The IFPI reported these individuals were providing over 8,000 files each to the eDonkey2000 community. Furthermore, over 3,500 individuals were citied for distributing unauthorized material online.

ssive raid had its desired affect. According to German firm IPoque, which provides network monitoring and P2P throttling technology to ISPs, P2P traffic declined dramatically after the raid. Observing data compiled by IPoque’s PRX hardware, the level of P2P traffic dropped 15% after the raids. The sampling was collected from the activities of approximately 250,000 individuals, traversing both small local area and wide area ISP networks that employ IPoque’s PRX hardware.

Yet approximately 10 days after the raid, the predictable happened. The decline in P2P traffic stopped and began to plateau. Several days later, P2P traffic once again was on the rise. Only 21 days after the massive raid, P2P traffic was once again at the identical level previous to the events of May 23.

While the press release provides advertising fodder for P2P obsessed network administrators, empirical evidence provided by the eMule client reflects eDonkey2000 network resources remain stable since RazorBack’s elimination (currently ~4.5 million users, ~600 million files.)

Following the raid, John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of IFPI stated the following:

"No one should be surprised that we are stepping up our campaign in this way. The music industry has run numerous education campaigns aimed at audiences from parents to schools and internet users. Most people clearly know that file-sharing without permission is illegal - unfortunately it takes legal actions such as this make a real impact on behaviour. Today, there is every reason for music lovers to download legitimately. There is a huge choice of legal services available to consumers. There is really no excuse for stealing music online."

It appears the German populace, and indeed the world, have a different philosophy on the issue of file-sharing. Throwing money at the problem in the form of continuous enforcement actions and lawsuits are showing their overall ineffectiveness. A shift in strategy that addresses the limitless demand of consumers and refrains from assuming the guilt of over 10 million individuals would likely prove more successful.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: International
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Statistics/Analysis

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