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PeerGuardian 2.0 Goes Beta
February 24, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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As most know by now, the MPAA and RIAA are actively engaged in suing members of the file-sharing community that provide a multitude of files for upload. While it is difficult to ascertain their exact tactics, anyone who leaves a file-sharing application running for and extended period of time, allows for numerious uploads and has hundreds or even thousands of files shared is a good canidate for being sued.

With continuous pressure being exerted on the P2P community, various and inventive countermeasures have been developed to avoid the RIAA and MPAA. These include:

A) Leaving FastTrack (Kazaa/Grokster) and heading over to a smaller, less obvious network.

This is probably your smartest move. The RIAA is concentrating most of its efforts against FastTrack. If you can avoid this network, the chances of getting caught are considerably less.

B) Sharing fewer files.

While sharing is what makes P2P go around, sharing fewer files is better than sharing none at all. If you happen to have 1,000 songs in your shared directory, sharing several hundred will make you less of a target. So far, the majority of RIAA targets have 800 or more shared files.

C) Hiding your shared directory.

Many file-sharing applications allow others to browse your shared directory, choose the option to disallow this. If Joe Blow can browse your shared directory, so can the RIAA.

D) Sharing in communal or trusted network.

"Why expose yourself on BitTorrent or FastTrack when you share with friends?", some may ask. If you share with only those you trust or know, the chances of being sued by the MPAA or RIAA are virtually non-existent. Many have decided to share soley on DirectConnect, the Newsgroups or IRC, thus nearly avoiding the copyright industry all-together.

E) Using PeerGuardian.

This is where the controversy begins. In order for the RIAA or MPAA to have a case against you, they need to download a sample of files. Although One file is enough to find an individual libel for copyright infringement, they typically go for six or seven. They acquire these files from by simply downloading them – whether by accessing one's shared directory or by performing a search query.

The theory behind PeerGuardian is to block “bad” IP addresses from one’s computer. If you can block the RIAA’s or MPAA’s IP addresses, you can share in relative safety.

However, as many have noted, there are several serious flaws with such a concept. One, PeerGuardian uses a public databank of IP addresses from Blocklist.org. The RIAA and MPAA can (and probably do) keep track of this and simply alter their IP to one not listed.

Second, the “bad” IP list relies on individuals providing the information. Unless individuals continuously provide IP addresses that belong to the copyright industry, the list can grow stale very quickly. In addition, there is dubious quality assurance incorporated into this list – unless one blocks entire domains, there is no way to guarantee an IP address is indeed “bad.”

Third, IP addresses change all the time. Most likely the RIAA and especially the MPAA are intelligent enough to use dynamic IP addresses. What could be considered a “bad” IP address today might be your neighbors IP address tomorrow – and now she or he is blocked from sharing files.

PeerGuardian is far from fool proof, and the advantages it provides remain questionable. Never-the-less, the concept is intriguing and perhaps with serious advancements, it might one day offer a viable solution to combating the RIAA and MPAA. In an effort to achieve that advancement, PeerGuardian 2.0 Beta has been publicly released. You can read the press release and new features below:

Hello friends,

The Methlabs staff are proud to announce that the PeerGuardian version 2.0 public is now officially available on our website. PeerGuardian 2, the child of the original PeerGuardian has been in development, from scratch, for more than 7 months. The original PeerGuardian was developed many years ago, but this new system is more accurate, sophisticated and efficient than any previous version.

This beta release is intended to the last stage before a definate 2.0 release. We think that our testing stages will have removed any bugs within the code, but we welcome all feedback from our users.

WHAT IS IN THE BETA?

PeerGuardian 2 requires no driver installation, yet blocks IP addresses at a far higher speed than was previously available - never above 1% CPU on most test systems. On Windows 2000 and greater PeerGuardian 2 blocks at a kernel level, acting against every protocol used within the windows system. On Windows 98 or Me it blocks TCP only* with the same high performance of the Windows 2000 version.

* due to technical reasons, kernel blocking in 98/ME is not feasable

WHAT IS STILL TO COME?

The plugin system is still not complete, and some improvements to the GUI are yet to come. Other than that, the application is fully functional. A Linux/OSX version of PeerGuardian 2 is currently in development.

SIMPLICITY

PeerGuardian 2 is now totally automatic. You do not need to install a driver, simply run the program without any visits to the control panel. The new startup wizard makes things easier than ever.

More detailed settings can be configured from the interface, including logging and the ability to prevent websites from being blocked. A single IP address may be allowed for a period of time, or permanently, solving the problem of bad IP addresses, and our new reporting and database management systems mean that you can play an active roll in preventing friendly IPs from being added.

BLOCKLIST.ORG DATABASES

The current P2P format database has been in existence since the original PeerGuardian was devised, and is now somewhat dated. Some changes and additions made to the database have made things worse, not better, and we've decided something needs to be done. A new binary format database has been developed, which massively reduces the length of time it takes to download the database. Our new IPDB (IP Database) pages are also open at http://blocklist.org, allowing the user to submit ranges for inclusion in the database, and for ranges to be voted good or bad, and marked as incorrect.
We hope that via community effort we can turn the sometimes inaccurate database into a much more accurate tool.

OPENNESS

PeerGuardian 2 is Open Source, meaning the program code is available online for anyone who wants it. Not only does this allow you to make modifications or even branch off into your own project, but it encourages peer review of the code making sure any bugs are eliminated swiftly. Because PeerGuardian 2 is Open Source, you can rest assured there are no back-doors or spy-ware included.

We hope you enjoy PeerGuardian 2, feel free to comment on our software, and distribute it among your friends.

Sincerely,
Joseph Farthing and Cory Nelson on behalf of the Methlabs staff.


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