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P2P - Filesharing / 5 Ways To Download Torrents Anonymously
« on: August 21, 2010, 10:42:56 am »
5 Ways To Download Torrents Anonymously
Written by Ernesto on August 19, 2010!+Mail

With anti-piracy outfits and dubious law-firms policing BitTorrent swarms at an increasing rate, many Bittorrent users are looking for ways to hide their identities from the outside world. To accommodate this demand we’ll give an overview of 5 widely used privacy services.

With an increasing number of BitTorrent users seeking solutions to hide their identities from the outside world, privacy services have seen a spike in customers recently. Below we’ve listed some of the most-used services that allow BitTorrent users to hide their IP-addresses from the public.

The services discussed in this post range from totally free to costing several dollars a month. The general rule is that free services are generally slower or have other restrictions, while paid ones can get you the same speeds as your regular connection would.
VPN (paid / free)

Hundreds and thousands of BitTorrent users have already discovered that a VPN is a good way to ensure privacy while using BitTorrent. For a few dollars a month VPNs route all your traffic through their servers, hiding your IP address from the public. Some VPNs also offer a free plan, but these are significantly slower and not really suited for more demanding BitTorrent users.

Unlike the other services listed in this article, VPNs are not limited to just BitTorrent traffic, they will also conceal the source of all the other traffic on your connection too. Ipredator, Itshidden and StrongVPN are popular among BitTorrent users, but a Google search should find dozens more. It is recommended to ask beforehand if BitTorrent traffic is permitted on the service of your choice.
BTGuard (paid)

BTGuard is a proxy service that hides the IP-addresses of its users from the public. The service works on Windows, Mac, Linux and as the name already suggests, it is set up specifically with BitTorrent users in mind. Besides using the pre-configured client, users can also set up their own client to work with BTGuard. It works with all clients that support “Socks V5″ proxies including uTorrent and Vuze. In addition, BTGuard also includes encryption tunnel software for the real security purists.

After these words of praise we’re obligated to disclose that BTGuard is operated by friends of TorrentFreak, but we think that should be interpreted as a recommendation.
TorrentPrivacy (paid)

Torrentprivacy is another proxy service for BitTorrent users, very similar to that of BTGuard. It offers a modified uTorrent client that has all the necessary settings pre-configured. The downside to this approach is that it is limited to users on Windows platforms. TorrentPrivacy is operated by the team and has been in business for more than two years.
Anomos (free)

“Anomos is a pseudonymous, encrypted multi-peer-to-peer file distribution protocol. It is based on the peer/tracker concept of BitTorrent in combination with an onion routing anonymization layer, with the added benefit of end-to-end encryption,” is how the Anomos team describes its project.

Anomos is one of the few free multi-platform solutions for BitTorrent users to hide their IP-addresses. The downside is that it’s not fully compatible with regular torrent files as Anomos uses its own atorrent format. Another drawback is that the download speeds are generally lower than regular BitTorrent transfers.

On the uTorrent Idea Bank, more than 1,600 people have asked for the Anomos protocol to be built in to a future uTorrent build, making it the second most-popular suggestion overall.
Seedbox (paid)

A seedbox is BitTorrent jargon for a dedicated high-speed server, used exclusively for torrent transfers. With a seedbox users generally get very high download speeds while their IP-addresses are not shared with the public. Once a download is finished users can download the files to their PC through a fast http connection. FileShareFreak periodically reviews several good seedbox providers.

Thousands More BitTorrent Users To Be Sued In The U.S.
Written by Ernesto on July 18, 2010!+Mail

The troubles for U.S. based BitTorrent users who share movies without permission is far from over. The United States Copyright Group (USCG) has called in the help of 15 law firms to file lawsuits against BitTorrent users who refuse to settle. For those who are willing to pay, the USCG has set up a portal where alleged file-sharers can conveniently pay their settlements online.

In March the U.S. Copyright Group imported the mass litigation “pay up or else” scheme to the United States. The initial targets were relatively unknown indie films, but this changed when the makers of the Oscar-winning Hurt Locker joined the lucrative scheme, suing 5,000 alleged file-sharers all at once.

Through legal action the copyright holders hope to compensate for the losses they claim piracy is causing. For the lawyers involved, the quest for settlements is also a profitable one as they get to keep 70% of the recouped money.

The USCG is coordinating the scheme and has been preparing for the huge amounts of settlements they expect to come in. They’ve now set up a payment portal where ‘victims’ can conveniently pay off their debts online. All the defendants have to do is enter their Record ID and they are ready to settle.

To ensure that the defendants pay up quickly instead of considering a court case, the USCG uses a variety of threats and persuasion tactics.

In the Far Cry case the alleged downloaders were offered an initial settlement amount of ‘just’ $1,500. However, this would increase to $2,500 if they failed to pay up within three weeks. A classic persuasion tactic, which was followed by a threat that going to court could lead to a fine of up to $150,000.

Up until now around 15,000 BitTorrent users have been sued as ‘John Does’. Several of the defendants have already received settlement requests after their ISPs were ordered by the Court to give up their information. However, not all alleged file-sharers have been willing to settle immediately.

To deal with these defiant defendants, the USCG has now called in the help of 15 law firms across the United States that will act as local counsel and pursue those who refuse to pay.

The Hollywood Reporter claims that this will result in an “explosion of lawsuits around the nation” starting in August. Although it’s not impossible, we have reason to doubt that there will indeed be thousands of cases against individuals.

For one, the cost of this operation would be huge, and without doing a trial case it might turn into a financial disaster for the lawyers if their evidence doesn’t hold up. If anything, we believe that USCG is more likely to go after a handful of select individuals with poor defenses first, in order to set an example and to make clear where they stand.

Perhaps the announcement should just be seen as a threat to those who are thinking about not settling their case?

More news about the new round of lawsuits is expected to follow in the weeks to come, apparently.

Anti-Piracy Group Stuns The World With Torrent Site Massacre
Written by enigmax on July 15, 2010!+Mail

An anti-piracy group has revealed that when it comes to shutting down torrent sites, it is the undisputed king of the Internet. BREIN, which works on behalf of the Hollywood movie studios, says that not only has it shut down several Usenet indexers and streaming sites already in 2010, but hundreds of torrent sites too. There is torrent site carnage going on in The Netherlands and we’ve failed to report on any of it.

When it comes to reporting on BitTorrent-related news and issues, we try our very best to cover every angle here at TorrentFreak. Admittedly we can’t cover everything and sometimes it’s hard to constantly turn out positive articles which fill our readers with optimism that the Internet isn’t about to taken over by evil corporate entities hell-bent on web-wide file-sharing destruction.

Today, however, we have a big apology to make. We’ve let you all down and we’ve let ourselves down too by completely missing one of the biggest developing stories the BitTorrent world has ever known. We’ve totally neglected to cover what can only be described as a wholesale slaughter of file-sharing venues in The Netherlands, and for this we wholeheartedly apologize.

Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, who have previously given Mininova, The Pirate Bay, Demonoid and a hard time in varying degrees, have been busy. And when we say busy, we aren’t messing around. During the last few months it’s up for debate whether the group’s staff have had time to sleep. If they’ve even stopped to eat it would be, frankly, somewhat of a surprise.

According to BREIN, which works mainly on behalf of the Hollywood studios but has branched out to work for other rights holders in recent times, during the first half of 2010 it shut down a staggering 422 “illegal websites”.

While the whole world was focused on the U.S. Government taking down less than 10 sites this year but making a huge song and dance about it, BREIN was quietly showing them how it’s really done.

In addition to 5 Usenet indexers, 6 streaming sites, a FTP server, and 29 sites linking to material on one-click hosters, this most prolific and apparently effective of anti-piracy groups took down 384 torrent sites in the last 6 months. That’s more than 2 torrent sites culled every day this year and we’ve failed to report on just about every one of them.

In an attempt to fill this gap, TorrentFreak contacted BREIN boss Tim Kuik for information but we didn’t do very well at all. We were told that they aren’t releasing the URLs of the sites since they only detail those that they take to court and naming them would only give them increased traction and popularity.

We also tried to find out their names through our own network but yet again we failed miserably. For this we apologize. A bloodbath going on under our noses, in our own community, we didn’t even notice and we still can’t give you details since it appears all the corpses have been buried in unmarked graves surrounded by a wall of silence.

The worst part is that this failing on our part is nothing new. All the signs were there a few months ago that BREIN was capable of carrying out yet another massacre in 2010, just as they did last year.

In 2009, BREIN said it shut down 35 eD2K servers, 38 streaming video sites and 14 Usenet portals/NZB sites. It also took responsibility for the destruction of an unprecedented 393 BitTorrent sites. We didn’t notice, but strangely neither did anyone else.

So what were we able to find out about the closures?

“The take down most often takes place through the hosting provider,” Kuik told TorrentFreak. “We also obtain identity details from the hosting providers but these sites tend to register under a false name. If the site changes to another hosting provider, we will contact that provider. In case all else fails we will go for blocking of the site by access providers. Currently there is court case pending about that.”

If BREIN is allowed to continue this rampage there won’t be any torrent sites left by 2012 and we’ll be left with literally nothing to report on. TorrentFreak will die, but really we only have ourselves to blame. Nearly 800 torrent sites gone already and not a whisper from us? A shameful performance. We’ll try to improve, for all our sakes.

P2P - Filesharing / RIAA Warns 1 Million Copyright Infringers a Year
« on: July 05, 2010, 07:41:46 am »
RIAA Warns 1 Million Copyright Infringers a Year!+Mail

Written by Ernesto on July 04, 2010

In less than two years the RIAA has sent copyright infringement notices to 1.8 million Internet subscribers and 269,609 to colleges and universities. Despite this staggering average of more than a million infringement notices every year from the recording industry alone, the effect on file-sharing levels seems unnoticeable.

For years, content owners such as record labels and movie studios have been sending copyright infringement notices to Internet users. They hire companies such as DtecNet and BayTSP, who monitor file-sharing networks and automatically send infringement notices to Internet providers. The Internet providers on their turn are legally obliged to forward these to their customers.

Although these copyright infringement warnings are nothing new, little was known about the scope of these operations, until now.

This week the RIAA revealed that, since October 2008, it has sent out infringement warnings to 1.8 million Internet subscribers and 269,609 to colleges and universities in the United States. This translates into an average of well over a million infringement warnings a year.

Since the RIAA stopped pursuing individuals for sharing music online a long time ago, these infringement notices are merely a warning. However, the RIAA is confident that a significant number of the recipients will change their downloading habits once they’re notified.

An RIAA spokesman declined to inform TorrentFreak whether the number of infringement notices sent out are increasing or declining. The RIAA has no hard facts on the effectiveness of the notices either, but told us that university administrators usually see “very few” repeat offenders.

It does indeed seem plausible that some who are warned will think twice before they fire up their BitTorrent client unprotected, especially with all the talk about lawsuits recently. However, the effect of the warning campaigns are not noticeable in the number of file-sharing users and the traffic that they generate. Both are still increasing year after year.

RIAA’s openness with regard to their infringement notices comes right after the US put into effect a new requirement for colleges and universities to stop illicit file-sharing on their networks.

Starting this month, a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 puts defiant schools at risk of losing federal funding if they don’t do enough to stop illicit file-sharers on their campus.

In recent years colleges and universities had to undertake measures to reduce piracy, and go after students who use file-sharing networks to share copyrighted files. Those who failed to do so will now lose their eligibility for federal student aid.

Effective or not, the new rules have proven to be quite costly for US educational institutions who spend between $350,000 and $500,000 a year to decrease piracy. With continuing doubts, even from the Government, as to whether or not piracy is causing losses to the entertainment industry, one has to wonder if it’s all worth it.

Whether the measures installed at colleges and universities are successful has to be doubted. We’ve reviewed the effectiveness of a few of the measures in the past and they provided little hope. If we add that users of file-hosting services such as Rapidshare and Megaupload are untraceable by the RIAA and its partners, the newly installed anti-piracy measures seem to be just symbolic.

P2P - Filesharing / RIAA Wants Court To Shut Down Limewire
« on: June 06, 2010, 03:59:13 am »
RIAA Wants Court To Shut Down Limewire
Written by Ernesto on June 05, 2010!+Mail

The RIAA has asked a New York District Court to shut down the world’s most installed file-sharing application, Limewire. The record labels argue that the Gnutella-based download client might have caused billions of dollars in lost revenue and that it’s therefore one of the largest threats to the music industry’s revenue.

The RIAA and the company behind Limewire have been fighting out a legal dispute since 2006, but in recent weeks the case seems to have been moving along faster than ever before.

Last month, a US Court ruled that the Lime Group, the company behind Limewire, was liable for the copyright infringements committed by its users. Two weeks later the Lime Group asked the court to reconsider this judgment. This request was followed by one from the RIAA, asking the court to shut down Limewire via a permanent injunction.

The RIAA argues that Limewire’s operation has to be stopped immediately, to avoid it doing any more harm to the music industry in the future. Interestingly enough, very little argumentation or evidence is given for any real losses suffered by the record labels.

“It is patently obvious that the rampant illegal conduct that Lime Wire intentionally induced, and for which it has been adjudged liable, will continue uninterrupted day after day unless and until the Court issues an injunction to rein in this massive infringing operation,” RIAA’s lawyers wrote to the Court.

“Every day that Lime Wire’s conduct continues unabated guarantees harm to Plaintiffs that money damages cannot and will not compensate,” RIAA’s legal team continues. “The scope of the infringements that Lime Wire induced – and that continue to this day – boggles the mind.

The RIAA is right in saying that Limewire users have committed, and are committing many millions of infringements, but there is very little evidence for the massive damage that this has cost. Thus far, a real assessment of the claimed losses has been lacking in most file-sharing related legal cases.

“It does not require sophisticated mathematics to calculate that the likely damage award in this case will run into the hundreds of millions, if not the billions of dollars,” the RIAA argues. However, one of the few academic papers (pdf) that looked at the relationship between actual downloads and lost sales to the music industry has found that there’s no direct correlation.

With that said, the outcome of this case could potentially change the file-sharing landscape for good. Despite BitTorrent being the leading file-sharing protocol for several years already, Limewire is most likely the most installed P2P application on the market. In 2008 LimeWire was the most installed P2P application with an impressive market-share of 37%, compared to 14% for runner-up uTorrent.

If the RIAA score a victory in court against Limewire, hundreds or millions of people will have to seek an alternative download client, which might mean a significant boost in user numbers for some of the major BitTorrent applications.

Piracy Will Earn Hurt Locker More Than the Box Office
Written by Ernesto on May 30, 2010!+Mail

Hollywood often complains that unauthorized downloads are causing the industry to lose huge sums of money. The makers of The Hurt Locker discovered that this doesn’t always have to be the case. Through an extortion-like scheme, The Hurt Locker is set to make more money from settlements with BitTorrent users than it ever made at the box office.

Two days ago, the makers of The Hurt Locker filed a complaint against the first 5,000 ‘unidentified’ BitTorrent users. Helped by the U.S. Copyright Group (USCG), the film makers are requesting the personal details connected to the IP-addresses that allegedly shared the film on BitTorrent.

With The Hurt Locker’s Oscar for the Best Picture of 2009, the case has received a lot of press interest, but it’s not the first movie for which BitTorrent users were targeted. Earlier this year, the USCG employed the same tactic for lesser known films. For one of these, Call of the Wild, TorrentFreak obtained the settlement papers.

With the document, alleged infringers have the option to settle the case for $2,500 and avoid further legal action. Because the case is similar to that of The Hurt Locker, we assume that a similar settlement amount will be proposed. This allows us to calculate how much money is involved in this case, and the results are quite interesting.

Thomas Dunlap, a lawyer at the USCG, earlier said that in the Hurt Locker case they could pursue tens of thousands of users. Let’s be careful with our estimate and assume that some 20,000 BitTorrent users will eventually receive a settlement letter in the mail. Of these, half will choose to pay the $2,500 without complaining, a number that seems to be fair based on the results of similar schemes.

If the above scenario becomes reality, The Hurt Locker would make $25 million in settlements alone in the coming months. This number could of course go much higher, as thousands of people are still downloading the movie every day.

With this $25 million the film makers would have collected more money from BitTorrent users than they did from U.S. movie theater visitors. Despite the recognition from Academy members and the huge success among downloaders, the U.S box office revenue has been relatively low at $16.4 million.

The settlement money is not net profit for the makers of Hurt Locker though, as they have to give up 70% of it to the USCG. Still, if they want to earn more they can simply continue to track down BitTorrent users and send out a couple of thousand extra settlement offers. Easy money.

This whole scheme is in no way intended to protect the copyrights of the Hurt Locker producers. USCG don’t want to go to court at all, they want to see money, as much as possible without too much trouble. Lengthy and costly court cases would only get in the way of this goal and could even bust the whole scheme if they lose. The ultimate goal is to ‘monetize’ piracy, this is also how the USCG pitched their scheme to rights holders.

A good example of this ‘money orientation’ is the letter that downloaders of the film Far Cry received from the USCG. Here, the alleged downloaders were offered an initial settlement amount of ‘just’ $1,500, but this would go up to $2,500 if they wouldn’t pay up within three weeks. A classic persuasion tactic, which was followed by a threat that going to court could lead to a fine up to 150,000.

Yes, it’s all about extracting as much cash as possible. We have to say, if they can beat the Box Office revenues of an Oscar winning movie with these threats, they sure delivered as promised.

P2P - Filesharing / Fifth OiNK Uploader Walks Free
« on: March 31, 2010, 06:16:37 am »
Fifth OiNK Uploader Walks Free
Written by Ernesto on March 30, 2010!+Mail

During October 2007, the popular BitTorrent tracker OiNK was shut down in a joint effort by Dutch and British law enforcement. Three months ago the site’s administrator was cleared of all charges. The remaining uploader had his case dropped today and also walks free.

January this year Alan Ellis, the administrator of the OiNK BitTorrent tracker, had his name cleared as a jury unanimously decided that he was not guilty of Conspiracy to Defraud the music industry.

“Operation Ark Royal”, as the investigation into OiNK was named, also resulted in the arrests of five users of the BitTorrent tracker.

Previously, four users pleaded guilty to uploading music torrents. The four were charged with copyright infringement and sentenced to fines and community service, rather than the custodial sentences the prosecution had been pushing for.

This week the last OiNK case came to an end, as the remaining uploader Matthew Wyatt saw his case dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Unlike earlier press releases from the music industry alleged, Wyatt was not the original source of the music files he made available. The prosecution had further difficulties providing evidence and never actually proved that the files Wyatt linked to were actually copyrighted.

Wyatt’s lawyer David Cook said that the music industry pushed for a criminal instead of a civil case just to set an example, which failed miserably. The Prosecution Service was acting as a proxy for the music industry and in doing so it failed to come up with solid evidence.

“Government ministers have categorically stated they do not want to see teenagers arrested in their bedrooms for file-sharing. This case makes clear such assurances are hollow. This prosecution was not only incompetently handled, it has never been in the public interest and the CPS was forced to admit that,” Cook commented.

A week from now the UK Government is expected to rush the new anti-piracy bill through Parliament, in part thanks to an aggressive lobby from the same music industry groups that pushed OiNK over. Critics of the bill are planning to run ads to convince MPs not to accept it and have already raised over £10,000 in just three hours.

If anything, the outcome of the OiNK investigation which cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of pounds should motivate legislators to think twice before they accept the Bill.

 Well here goes another one!

US Court Wants isoHunt to Remove Infringing Torrents
Written by Ernesto on March 31, 2010!+Mail

A United States court wants isoHunt to stop inducing copyright infringement via torrents that can be found through the popular BitTorrent search engine. The proposed injunction would require isoHunt to censor its site based on a list of keywords. A similar measure led to the quasi-shutdown of Mininova last year.

In an ongoing legal battle with MPAA-represented movie studios, a Californian court has now proposed a permanent injunction that would require isoHunt to maintain a list of banned keywords and remove torrents that match items found on it.

The proposed keyword filter is a suggestion from the movie studios that was taken over by the court. Last year, a Dutch court ordered fellow torrent site Mininova to install a similar measure. The operators of Mininova found it technically unfeasible to pre-approve or filter every potentially infringing torrent file, so restricted their torrent offerings to uploads made by approved users instead.

IsoHunt owner Gary Fung has no faith in a filtering mechanism either. He previously told TorrentFreak that such a measure “raises serious issues on the balance between freedom of speech, fair use and copyright protectionism,” as it would also filter out many torrent files that are in the public domain, or distributed with the consent of copyright holders.

It has to be noted that the court’s suggestion is not yet a final order. Fung told TorrentFreak that he will certainly be objecting to the proposal. Instead of a keyword filter Fung has prepared a ‘lite’ version of isoHunt that would address the judge’s concern on inducing copyright infringement.

The lite version of the site is nothing more than a big search box similar to other search engines such as Google. Unlike the present site where users can browse through various torrent categories, the lite version should not induce copyright infringement any more than other search engines, Fung reasons.

Whether or not the court will accept this lite version, it is unlikely that isoHunt will start to actively filter content from the site in the future. The ultimate measure would be to block access to visitors from the United States, which would also be sufficient to comply with the court’s demands.

P2P - Filesharing / Warner Bros. Recruits Students to Spy on Pirates
« on: March 29, 2010, 06:02:17 am »
Warner Bros. Recruits Students to Spy on Pirates
Written by Ernesto on March 29, 2010!+Mail

Warner Bros Entertainment UK is recruiting tech-savvy students to help the company with their anti-piracy efforts. During the 12 month internship the students will have to maintain accounts at private BitTorrent sites, develop link-scanning bots, make trap purchases and perform various other anti-piracy tasks.

The people who work at the anti-piracy divisions of Warner Bros. and other large media companies have to be experts in file-sharing technology. It is therefore no surprise that Warner Bros. is actively recruiting students for a job as Anti-Piracy Intern, as most students have grown up sharing files.

Warner Bros Entertainment UK is currently offering an internship to “IT literate” students with knowledge of file-sharing networks to assist in the company’s ongoing anti-piracy efforts. The internship deals with both digital and physical piracy and among other things the applicant will have to make trap purchases and maintain accounts at private file-sharing sites.

The intern will further have to scour the Internet for illegally posted Warner Bros. and NBC Universal content and gather intelligence on the sites that offer these pirated goods. One of the more boring tasks listed in the job description is the sending of takedown requests and infringement notices to sites and users.

The full job description taken from the vacancy (pdf) at The University of Manchester reads as follows:

    During the 12 month internship, duties will include: monitoring local Internet forums and IRC for pirated WB and NBCU content and in order to gather information on pirate sites, pirate groups and other pirate activities; finding new and maintaining existing accounts on private sites; scanning for links to hosted pirated WB and NBCU content and using tools to issue takedown requests; maintaining and developing bots for Internet link scanning system (training provided); preparing sending of infringement notices and logging feedback; performing trap purchases of pirated product and logging results; inputting pirate hard goods data and other intelligence into the forensics database; selecting local keywords and submitting local filenames for monitoring and countermeasure campaigns and periodically producing research documents on piracy related technological developments. Various training will be provided.

The lucky student who gets the job will receive a £17,500 salary for the 12 month internship that starts July 2010. Applicants are required to study a degree in a computing related discipline and programming experience with Java or JSP and PHP, Perl or Python is seen as a bonus.

We encourage all eligible TorrentFreak readers to apply for this exciting internship and provide us with regular updates on Warner Bros’ anti-piracy efforts. You have to be quick though, the vacancy closes on March 31.

P2P - Filesharing / uTorrent Accused of Unfairness, Banned by Trackers
« on: March 15, 2010, 08:38:42 am »
uTorrent Accused of Unfairness, Banned by Trackers
Written by Ernesto on March 14, 2010!+Mail

The uTorrent team released the long-awaited version 2.0 of their popular application last month. The overall reception has been very positive, but critics have labeled the new release as unfair, which has resulted in the client being banned from several private BitTorrent trackers.

One of the most significant changes in the new uTorrent is uTP, the ‘micro transfer protocol’. UTP is a new and improved implementation of the BitTorrent protocol which is designed to be more network-friendly than its predecessor.

With uTP, uTorrent has become more network aware as it will throttle itself if congestion is detected in the network. The uTorrent teams hopes this improvement will eliminate the need for ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic, while its users should see less interference with other local applications.

The effectiveness of uTP is still being debated, but some people in the BitTorrent community have noticed another issue. According to some owners of private BitTorrent trackers, uTorrent is no longer playing fair. Since uTorrent users are the only ones using the new protocol, uTorrent favors its own kind over other clients.

This means that when connecting to other clients, uTorrent users will give preference to other uTorrent users, behavior that some have characterized as unfair. As a result, several private BitTorrent trackers have refused to put the newer uTorrent releases on their whitelists, effectively banning the client and forcing their users to stick with the older versions.

Simon Morris, BitTorrent’s VP of Product Management admits that the tracker owners have a point, but says that it is very hard to innovate without having to face such technical downsides. “This is part of the challenge of innovation… but hopefully a challenge we’ll overcome,” Morris told TorrentFreak.

“We’re well aware of these discussions and have been very receptive to the feedback we have received. uTP is being constantly tuned and like any advanced technology on the internet there are edge cases where there’s room for improvement,” Morris adds.

BitTorrent Inc. has opened up the specifications of the uTP protocol and hosted a conference in their San Fransisco offices a few weeks ago to discuss uTP in detail with developers of some of the most popular Bittorrent clients. According to Morris, other popular client developers have shown interest in implementing uTP into their own applications.

Widespread support for the new protocol would of course be the easiest way to get rid of the unfairness allegations, but uTorrent’s major competitor Vuze has no plans to support uTP in the short term. On the other hand, Vuze doesn’t believe the unfairness will result in a noticeable disadvantage for its users.

“In terms of speed, we do not buy-in to the ‘threat’ cited by some, claiming that uTP can result in slower downloads for non-uTP clients due to uTP clients favoring each other during the torrent cold start phase,” Olivier Chalouhi, CTO told TorrentFreak.

Vuze is keeping a close eye on how uTP evolves and will consider adding it to their own client as the technology matures. For now Vuze will continue to work on their own congestion solutions and speed improvements. They have already added UDP transfer support, but not as the primary protocol.

“Vuze added support for UDP transport a few years ago, as a fallback for when TCP connection attempts fail. To date, Vuze chose not to implement UDP as a first-class protocol, as we consciously wanted to avoid claims of a Vuze-specific protocol bias, which we do not believe serves the BitTorrent community at large,” Chalouhi said.

Whether uTorrent’s choice to push uTP forward results in any significant disadvantages for users of other clients is still open for debate. BitTorrent Inc. is, however, committed to play fair and will make the necessary adjustments where needed.

Thus far, only a few private trackers have decided to ban uTorrent and there are currently no signs that it will spread out to more.

P2P - Filesharing / uTorrent Reaches Milestone With 2.0 Release
« on: February 04, 2010, 03:59:24 am »
uTorrent Reaches Milestone With 2.0 Release
Written by Ernesto on February 03, 2010!+Mail

The uTorrent development team officially released the long awaited version 2.0 of their popular application today. The release hopes to optimize the download experience for uTorrent users while eliminating the need for ISPs to manage, block or limit BitTorrent traffic.
uTorrent for Windows saw its first public release in September 2005 and soon became the most widely used BitTorrent applications. The client is used by more than 50 million users worldwide and this number continues to rise.

Today, uTorrent version 2.0 was officially released. This new release is built to be more network friendly thanks to the Micro Transport Protocol (uTP) which aims to mitigate network congestion caused by poorly configured BitTorrent clients.

uTP is a new and improved implementation of the BitTorrent protocol which is designed to be more network friendly than its predecessor. The current implementation often causes interference with other applications. This is one of the main reasons why ISPs try to slow it down, or even stop it altogether. uTP aims to solve this problem.

Simon Morris, BitTorrent’s VP of Product Management is quite proud of the end result, and told TorrentFreak that most ISPs have also responded positively to the implementation of the uTP protocol.

“In general the ISPs who we have explained the technology to have been quite pleasantly surprised. There are occasional noisy skeptics who think its something evil, but they are generally poor confused souls who are more interested in selling a centralized vision of the internet rather than the distributed egalitarian system we have today,” Morris said.

“I’m excited about uTP finally arriving at a full scale deployment on the internet and I really hope that ISPs take the time to understand the potential benefits to them before they take decisions about how to manage this new class of traffic on their networks,” he added.

Aside from being gentle to the ISP’s networks, uTorrent 2.0 might also have a beneficial effect on the download speeds of individual users. Since there is less congestion, uTorrent users will experience no slowdowns in web-browsing.

Less congestion and a more efficient use of the network may eventually result in faster download speeds, which means that it will be a win-win situation for both ISPs and uTorrent users.

P2P - Filesharing / Demonoid Is Open To All Without An Invite
« on: January 24, 2010, 03:27:43 am »
Demonoid Is Open To All Without An Invite
Written by enigmax on January 23, 2010!+Mail

Demonoid is without doubt one of the most famous BitTorrent trackers on the Internet. That said, despite its fame and large userbase, it’s still necessary to obtain an invite code to use the site. Right now, however, be it intentional or a fortunate bug, its torrents are open to all. Has Demonoid transformed from a semi-private to a public tracker?

In September Demonoid went down with overwhelming hardware problems but fully returned in the middle of December, much to the relief of its members.

Despite this extended downtime, the semi-private tracker came in at an impressive 20th place in our list of Top 25 torrent sites of 2009.

With hundreds and thousands of daily visitors and an Alexa rank of 657 last month, it’s undoubtedly a popular site, especially since one needs an invite to gain access.

Well, normally that’s the case. Currently the situation is different.

Whether this is a bug (maybe as a result of the admins having to rewrite some of the site code after the crash) or entirely intentional, we just don’t know, but currently it seems that anyone can browse and download torrents from Demonoid without being a member.

We’re not exactly sure how long this has been the case, but it has been a little while now, perhaps since the site returned after its break.

Demonoid, it seems, has changed from a semi-private to a public tracker.


Update: A few people have mentioned that it’s been possible to download 3 to 5 torrents a week as a guest in the past. After downloading a dozen today, we’ve still not reached any limit.

P2P - Filesharing / Trial Against OiNK Admin Alan Ellis Begins
« on: January 07, 2010, 06:55:18 am »
Trial Against OiNK Admin Alan Ellis Begins
Written by Ernesto on January 05, 2010!+Mail

In 2007, the popular BitTorrent tracker OiNK was shut down by Dutch and British police. Four users of the popular BitTorrent tracker have already been sentenced to community service and ordered to pay fines. The trial of site admin Alan Ellis started today.

OiNK was considered by many to be the finest BitTorrent music tracker the world has ever seen.

The private site tracked hundreds and thousands of torrents linking to the finest recordings from virtually every musical genre. With millions of peers, it was more popular than many public trackers.

The site was shut down in a joint effort by Dutch and British law enforcement in October 2007, based on intel provided by two music industry lobby organizations, the IFPI and the BPI. The police arrested Alan Ellis, the founder of the site, and months later several uploaders were arrested as well.

Four of the uploaders pleaded guilty at Teesside Crown Court in December 2008, where they were all charged with copyright infringement offenses. The four were later sentenced to community service and fines.

The trial of OiNK founder Alan Ellis was pushed back and started today at Middlesbrough Crown Court. Due to a press boycott of the previous court hearings, there was no information available on the reasons for the delay.

What we do know is that Ellis has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the music industry for his role in the OiNK tracker.

During the first day of his trial little has happened. The case has been adjourned until tomorrow when the jury will be assigned. There is still a reporting ban in place on three specific issues, but the trial can and will be reported on.

We will cover the rest of the trial, which is expected to end next week, in the coming days.

Update: Court documents list the remaining uploader as part of the trial, but new information received by TorrentFreak says that his case is due later this year.

P2P - Filesharing / uTorrent Adds Video Streaming Support
« on: December 18, 2009, 07:39:19 am »
uTorrent Adds Video Streaming Support
Written by Ernesto on December 17, 2009!+Mail

uTorrent – the client of choice for most western BitTorrent users – has added the option to stream video files while downloading. With this new functionality, BitTorrent Inc. hopes to provide the ‘point-click-watch’ experience people have grown used to from their usage of streaming sites such as YouTube.

BitTorrent was first released by Bram Cohen back in 2001, long before streaming video sites such as YouTube existed. At the time, those who wanted to watch high quality video on their computers sometimes had to wait for hours or days until a download finished.

Now, at the end of the decade where BitTorrent has become a synonym for file-sharing, hundreds of millions of people have high speed broadband connections at their homes. Downloading a popular movie or TV-series often takes less than an hour nowadays, but for the demanding web users of today this delay can still prove quite annoying.

Spoiled by the many streaming video sites that have surged in popularity since YouTube’s launch in 2005, many people simply want to start watching instantly. To satiate this demand the popular BitTorrent client uTorrent has now added streaming support to the latest uTorrent beta release, which allows users to play video files while they are downloading.

“Our hope is to transform getting media using uTorrent from a ‘load-wait-watch-tomorrow’ to more of a ‘point-click-watch’ experience,” Simon Morris, BitTorrent’s VP of Product Management said in a comment.

Although several other BitTorrent clients have already implemented similar streaming capabilities, uTorrent will finally make BitTorrent streaming possible for the majority of BitTorrent users.

In our tests the new feature worked flawlessly on well-seeded torrents. Users simply have to click on the play button next to the download, and after a few seconds or minutes it will turn green, ready to be streamed.

By default the latest uTorrent release is configured to use the DivX web player to stream video. This works well for most files but for us it caused problems with some video formats. Changing it to VLC or any other media player is relatively easy though, by nominating a different streaming player in uTorrent’s preferences.

Aside from streaming regular downloads, uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc. is also working on BitTorrent-powered live streams. BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen himself aims to develop a piece of code that is superior to all the other P2P-based streaming solutions on the market today.

“I think there’s a very large market for live [streaming] in general, and to date no-one has proven that a p2p solution can meet the real-world requirements for being an acceptable live solution. I intend on changing that,” Bram told TorrentFreak earlier this year.

For now, uTorrent users will have to settle for on-demand streaming. Those who do not intend to use the feature can be assured that the streaming implementation used by uTorrent is designed on the principles of tit-for tat sharing, meaning that it does not slow down regular downloads.

BitTorrent’s Future? DHT, PEX and Magnet Links Explained
Written by Ernesto on November 20, 2009!+Mail

This week The Pirate Bay confirmed it would shut down its tracker for good, instead encouraging the use of DHT, PEX and magnet links. This move confounded many BitTorrent enthusiasts, who although wishing to adapt, were confronted with hard to grasp terminology and technology. Time for some explaining.

The Pirate Bay’s recent confirmation that they had closed down their tracker since DHT and Peer Exchange have matured enough to take over, was coupled with the news that they had added Magnet links to the site. This news has achieved its aim of stimulating discussion, but has also revealed that there is much confusion over how these technologies work.

The key thing to understand is that nobody is being forced to use Magnet links or trackerless torrents. While these long-standing technologies may prove to be the future, they will co-exist with tracker-enabled torrenting for quite some time. For now, nobody will be forced to immediately change their existing downloading habits, although it may be wise to switch to a BitTorrent client that is compatible with these technologies.

In an attempt to clear some of the mystique surrounding DHT, PEX and Magnet links we will walk through all three briefly, hoping to assure those who’ve become confused earlier this week.


Using DHT instead of trackers is one of the things The Pirate Bay is now trying to encourage, and torrent downloads that rely solely on this technology are often referred to as “trackerless torrents.” DHT is used to find the IP addresses of peers, mostly in addition to a tracker. It is enabled by default in clients such as uTorrent and Vuze and millions of people are already using it without knowing.

DHT’s function is to find peers who are downloading the same files, but without communicating with a central BitTorrent tracker such as that previously operated by The Pirate Bay.

DHT is by no means a new technology. A version debuted in the BitTorrent client Azureus in May 2005 and an alternative but incompatible version was added to Mainline BitTorrent a month later. There is, however, a plugin available for Azureus Vuze which allows it access to the Mainline DHT network used by uTorrent and other clients.

Peer Exchange (”PEX”)

Peer Exchange is yet another means of finding IP addresses. Rather than acting like a tracker, it leverages the knowledge of peers you are connected to, by asking them in turn for the addresses of peers they are connected to. Although it requires a “kick start”, PEX will often uncover more genuine peers than DHT or a tracker.
Magnet links

Traditionally, .torrent files are downloaded from torrent sites. A torrent client then calculates a torrent hash (a kind of fingerprint) based on the files it relates to, and seeks the addresses of peers from a tracker (or the DHT network) before connecting to those peers and downloading the desired content.

Sites can save on bandwidth by calculating torrent hashes themselves and allowing them to be downloaded instead of .torrent files. Given the torrent hash – passed as a parameter within a Magnet link – clients immediately seek the addresses of peers and connect to them to download first the torrent file, and then the desired content.

It is worth noting that BitTorrent can not ditch the .torrent format entirely and rely solely on Magnet links. The .torrent files hold crucial information that is needed to start the downloading process, and this information has to be available in the swarm.

Pirate Bay links cf. Mininova links: When the Magnet link specification first came out, in January last year it called for a particular format (”base32 encoded”). The links that EZTV, Mininova and ShareReactor have displayed for some time all conform to that original specification. In May of last year the specification was changed, in favor of “hex encoding”, and that is the format of the links being displayed by The Pirate Bay. Torrent clients should accept either format.

Compatible Clients

All the main torrent clients: uTorrent 1.8.5, Vuze, BitTorrent 6.3, BitComet 1.16, and Transmission 1.76 (and others) support Peer Exchange and DHT (via a plugin in the case of Vuze). Neither BitComet nor Transmission yet support Magnet links but Transmission is planning to include Magnet link support in the upcoming 1.8 release. Bearing in mind that no site, including The Pirate Bay, has yet abandoned support for traditional torrent files, there is plenty of time for support to be added.

We hope that this article has cleared some of the smoke that was generated by The Pirate Bay’s announcements earlier this week. There is no need to panic, cry or be angry, and it’s not a problem if you’re still confused after reading this article. Torrents will still be available and aside from some extra downloading options thanks to sites that add Magnet links, nothing drastic will change in the near future.

Props to ‘Adapa’ for contributing to this article.

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