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Great Moments in P2P History - 2008
December 31, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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So what can be said about the year 2008 in file-sharing? It’s been a long year for the P2P community. While there were no earth shattering events on the scale of 2006’s raid on The Pirate Bay, there were enough developments that kept things interesting.

January

Although it’s not often times for celebration in the P2P world, MiniNova, perhaps the largest BitTorrent indexer, found cause. In January of 2008, it celebrated 3 years online. It would be the first of several achievements for MiniNova, however, its success is tempered against its legal situation against the entertainment industry.


ISP filtering of P2P traffic became an even hotter issue, as large providers such as AT&T indicated they would help take on the fight against unauthorized file-sharing. However, the move isn’t totally altruistic. ISPs have a lot to gain in tempering P2P traffic, such as controlling the exploding volume of bandwidth consumption.


The year started off well for The Pirate Bay. With over 10 million users, TPB is far and away the largest P2P network. How much larger could the network possibly get?

February

In the cat and mouse game of copyright enforcement, the entertainment industry, through the IFPI, successfully forced the Danish ISP Tele2 to block access to The Pirate Bay. Although the site is blocked, TPB manages to employ a successful countermeasure and traffic from Denmark actually managed to increase.


The “Three Strikes” policy begins to pick up steam in the United Kingdom, as copyright holders are running out of ideas in their efforts to stem piracy. According to the policy, uploaders would be given a warning each time they are caught sharing unauthorized files. After the third warning, their internet account would be disconnected. A similar policy is being attempted in the United States, but few are taking it seriously.


The HD DVD/Blu-Ray format war finally came to an end, with Blu-Ray emerging as the victor. With downloadable high definition movies becoming more readily available, including portable memory such as SD cards and USB drives, Blu-Ray’s victory may soon be superseded by other technology.

March

TorrentSpy, one of the largest BitTorrent search engines, has ceased operations. According to Justin Bunnell, administrator and owner of TorrentSpy, the decision was made out of a desire to protect the privacy of its users - not because of any legal influence. Yet in May, the MPAA won a $110 million judgment against the indexer.

May

Tanya Anderson, an accused P2P pirate, was awarded attorney fees in her fight against the music industry.

"Andersen should be awarded attorney fees in the amount of $103,175. Andersen's Bill of Costs in the amount of $4,659 should be APPROVED."

Her successfully fight helped prove that using IP addresses as evidence against the P2P community does not constitute rock solid substantiation.

June

EliteTorrents was one of the largest and most popular BitTorrent trackers during 2003-2005. Administrators of the site were responsible for uploading the prerelease of Star Wars, Episode III, Revenge of the Sith, 12 hours prior to its theatrical release. The repercussions of their actions were swift, as on May 25, 2005, the collective efforts of the MPAA, FBI, local police and US Customs forced the site off line and took the administrators in custody during operation D-Elite.

Daniel Dove, an EliteTorrents admin, was convicted by a jury of his peers for criminal copyright infringement. His fellow administrators Scott McCausland and Grant Stanley pled guilty rather than face a jury trial. Although he faced up to 10 years in prison, he was only sentenced to 18 months – still far longer than the 5 months his fellow admins received.

July

SourceForge mixed up the awards categorizes this year, and Vuze and eMule were once again nominated. This year, SourceForge decided to have some fun with the awards categories, and P2P finds itself representing many of the more interesting choices. In a prestigious category, SourceForge's community nominated Azureus as one of the finalists "Most Likely to Be the Next $1B Acquisition." The SourceForge community also nominated eMule as "Most Likely to Be Accused of Patent Violation" and "Most Likely to Get Users Sued".

August

In October of 2007, a study by the Associated Press confirmed the suspicions of Comcast customers, who believed their BitTorrent uploads were being throttled. Accusations of blocking BitTorrent were initially denied by Comcast. After the Associated Press study was published, Comcast clarified their position, and said that BitTorrent uploads were being “delayed” as a result of their network management policy. The culmination of grievances against Comcast resulted in a formal complaint to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) by Free Press and Public Knowledge. After a dramatic testimony, Net Neutrality advocates were celebrating, as 3 of 5 members of the FCC council affirmed that Comcast had violated such principals.

“Commission concluded that Comcast has unduly interfered with Internet users’ right to access the lawful Internet content and to use the applications of their choice,” the FCC’s ruling states. Specifically, the Commission found that Comcast had deployed equipment throughout its network to monitor the content of its customers’ Internet connections and selectively block specific types of connections known as peer-to-peer connections.


According to Davenport Lyons, the law firm representing Topware, one of the hundreds of file-sharers accused of sharing "Dream Pinball 3D", was fined "£6,086.56 plus costs and disbursements of £10,000", or ~$32,000. Much like the RIAA's legal pursuit of uploaders, the individuals were given a chance to settle for considerably less. Unlike the situation in the United States, however, the defendant was unable to successfully defend herself. It is not known whether she simply ignored the chance or tried to fight the allegation in court.

September

MiniNova’s success continued in 2008, as the indexer broke past the 6 billionth torrent download milestone. Although MiniNova has only been around for 3+ years, the total number of torrent downloads have been piling up at an impressive rate.

October

If BitTorrent and eDonkey2000 were suddenly wiped off the face of the Earth, very little of file-sharing would remain – at least according to ipoque's 2007 P2P study. Ipoque is a European based Internet bandwidth management firm, similar in many ways to Sandvine. In their 2007 P2P study, P2P technology continues to be the overwhelming Internet protocol – in terms of bandwidth volume. Its strong growth continued in 2007, however, the rate was not as vigorous as in 2006.


isoHunt, the embattled BitTorrent indexer residing in Canada, passed a significant milestone - albeit one that went largely overlooked. As it currently stands, isoHunt indexes over 1.1 petabytes of information. If you're trying to wrap your head around the volume of information necessary to fill 1 petabyte, that's 1000 terabytes, or a dump load of DVDs.

November

It's an end to an era of sorts for BitTorrent, Inc. This may not necessarily be a good or a bad thing, but it's an interesting thing for certain. Ashwin Navin, Co-Founder and President of BitTorrent, Inc. has stepped down from his position, but will retain influence within the company as a Board Director.

Ashwin came to the BitTorrent team during a crossroads of the company's history. It was 2004, and all hell was breaking loose in the P2P community. The entertainment industry was aggressively pursuing communities such as SuprNova, ShareReactor and LokiTorrents. Surprisingly, BitTorrent was spared a similar fate, thanks largely to the direction provided by Ashwin. A month later, the BEN (BitTorrent Entertainment Network) closed its doors - signaling to some that BitTorrent Inc. might be in big trouble.


In contrast, The Pirate Bay (TPB) enjoyed another milestone, breaking the 25 million user, or peer, barrier. Only two weeks earlier, TPB surpassed 20 million users, and in January of this year, broke 10 million users. The growth of TPB has been stratospheric, and in less than a year, has more than doubled the size of this already impressive file-sharing network.

December

In October of this year, Newzbin reported that it was anticipating legal action against its Usenet indexing service by a yet unnamed entity. Over a month later, Newzbin reported that it has been sued by the MPA (Motion Picture Association). The MPA is the international version of its US-based counterpart, the Motion Picture Association of America.

According to Newzbin, the indexing service has been suspending some reports due to complaints - something that community members have noticed over the last several months.

"You may have noticed that recently we suspended a number of existing reports. This was done after receiving notification from the MPA that those reports were potentially of their copyrighted works. This suspension will remain until the reports are verified not to be infringing."

"Despite this, in the last week, we received notice that the MPA have filed for an injunction against us. We are thus now going through the motions of filling out paperwork etc and will see what happens next. There's not much else to tell you at this stage; we'll keep you posted."


Indexing reliability has returned to eDonkey2000, as The Pirate Bay resurrects a long time favorite, ShareReactor.

"For those of you that are not high (yet), this means ShareReactor is back, hosted by the good folks of The Pirate Bay," a news post on ShareReactor.com reads. "If you liked ShareReactor, have a party and spread the word (and send us pictures of it and any leftover cake... mmm cake...). If you had no clue about ShareReactor, this is your chance to get to know it."


With lawsuits, bandwidth throttling and politicking consuming the P2P community, the newsgroups are becoming a more attractive source of information. Giganews is one of the providers leading the charge, and in the process, gathering an impressive following.

"During September 2008, Giganews completed storage upgrades which increased retention levels to 240 days," Giganews reports. "Shortly thereafter, Giganews' upload traffic jumped to a sustained level averaging well over 400 megabits per second, representing more than 4.3 terabytes of new user generated content and discussions per day. Giganews has seen steady upload growth throughout the decade, but the pace following the recent storage upgrade exceeded all expectations."


2009 will mark the 10 year anniversary of Napster’s initial release. 10 years later, file-sharing continues to evolve and revolutionize the way we share information online. The next 10 years should prove to be just as remarkable.


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

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