Just getting back from our tech talk seminar today at Western Michigan University. The topic of DMCA requests came up in our discussions, and here are some of my notes on the subject.
Background: The DMCA, which is the enforcement arm of the motion picture copyright conglomerate, tracks down users with illegal content.
They seem to sometimes shoot first and ask questions later when sending out their notices more specific detail to follow.
Unconfirmed Rumor has it, that one very large University in the State of Michigan just tosses the requests in the garbage and does nothing with them, I have heard of other organizations taking this tact. They basically claim this problem for the DMCA is not the responsibility of the ISP.
I also am aware of a sovereign Caribbean country that also ignores them. I am not advocating this as a solution just an observation.
There was also a discussion on how the DMCA discovers copyright violators from the outside.
As standard practice, most network administrators use their firewall to block UN-initiated requests into the network from the outside. With this type of firewall setting, an outsider cannot just randomly probe a network to find out what copyrighted material is being hosted. You must get invited in first by an outgoing request.
An analogy would be that if you show up at my door uninvited, and knock, my doorman is not going to let you in, because there is no reason for you to be at my door. But if I order a pizza and you show up wearing a pizza delivery shirt, my doorman is going to let you in. In the world of p2p, the invite into the network is a bit more subtle, and most users are not aware they have sent out the invite, but it turns out any user with a p2p client is constantly sending out requests to p2p super nodes to attain information on what content is out there. Doing so, opens the door on the firewall to let the P2p super node into the network. The DMCA p2p super nodes just look like another web site to the firewall so it lets it in. Once in the DMCA reads directories of p2p clients.
In one instance, the DMCA is not really inspecting files for copyrighted material, but was only be checking for titles. A music student who recorded their own original music, but named their files after original artists and songs based on the style of the song. Was flagged erroneously with DMCA notifications based on his naming convention The school security examined his computer and determined the content was not copyrighted at all. What we can surmise from this account was that the DMCA was probing the network directories and not actually looking at the content of the files to see if they were truly in violation of copying original works.
Back to the how does the DMCA probe theory ? The consensus was that it is very likely that DMCA is actually running super nodes, so they will get access to client directories. The super node is a server node that p2p clients contact to get advice on where to get music and movie content ( pirated most likely). The speculation among the user group , and these are very experienced front line IT administrators that have seen just about every kind of p2p scheme. They suspect that the since the DMCA super node is contacted by their student network first, it opens the door from the super node to come back and probe for content. In other words the super node looks like the Pizza delivery guy where you place your orders.
It was also further discussed and this theory is still quite open, that sophisticated p2p networks try to cut out the DMCA spy super nodes. This gets more convoluted than peeling off character masks at a mission impossible movie. The p2p network operators need super nodes to distribute content, but these nodes cannot be permanently hosted, they must live in the shadows and are perhaps parasites themselves on client computers.
So questions that remain for future study on this subject are , how do the super nodes get picked , and how does the p2p network disable a spy DMCA super node ?
Music Anti-Piracy in Perspective Once AgainFebruary 11, 2012 — netequalizer
By: Art Reisman
Art Reisman is the CTO of APconnections. He is Chief Architect on the NetGladiator and NetEqualizer product lines.
I was going to write a commentary story a couple weeks ago when the news broke about the government shut down of the Megaupload site. Before I could get started, one of my colleagues pointed out this new undetectable file sharing tool. Although I personally condemn any kind of software or copyright piracy in any form, all I can say is the media copyright enforcement industry should have known better. They should have known that when you spray a cockroach colony with pesticide, a few will survive and their offspring will be highly resistant.
Here is a brief excerpt from rawstory.com:
The nature of its technology (file sharing technology) is completely decentralized, leaving moderation to the users. Individuals can rename files, flag phony downloads or viruses, create “channels” of verified downloads, and act as nodes that distribute lists of peers across the network.
In the recent U.S. debate over anti-piracy measures, absolutely none of the proposed enforcement mechanisms would affect Tribler: it is, quite literally, the content industry’s worst nightmare come to life.”
Flash back to our 2008 story about how the break up Napster caused the initial wave of P2P. Back in 2001, Napster actually wanted to work on licensing for all their media files, and yet they were soundly rebuked and crushed by industry executives and the legal departments who saw no reason to compromise for fear of undermining their retail media channels. Within a few months of Napster’s demise, decentralized P2P exploded with the first wave of Kazaa, Bearshare and the like.
In this latest round of piracy, decentralized file sharing has dropped off a bit, and consumers started to congregate at centralized depositories again, most likely for the convenience of finding the pirated files they want quickly. And now with the shutting down of these sites, they are scattering again to decentralized P2P. Only this time, as the article points out, we have decentralized P2P on steroids. Perhaps a better name would be P2P 3G or P2P 4G.
And then there was the SOPA Fiasco
The Internet is so much bigger than the Music Industry, and it is a scary thought that the proposed SOPA laws went as far as they did before getting crushed.
I am going to estimate the economic power of the Internet at 30 trillion dollars. How did I arrive at that number? Basically that number implies that roughly half the worlds GDP is now tied to the Internet, and I don’t mean just Internet financial transactions for on-line shopping. It is the first place most communication starts for any business. It is as important as railroads, shipping, and trucking combined in terms of economic impact. If you want, we can reduce that number to 10 trillion, 1/6 of the worlds GDP , it does not really matter for the point I am about to make.
The latest figure I could find is that the Music Industry did approximately 15 billion dollars worth of business at their peak before piracy, and has steadily declined since then. There is no denying that the Music Industry has suffered 5 to 6 billion dollars in losses due to on-line piracy in the past few years, however that number is roughly .06 percent of the total positive economic impact of the Internet. Think of a stadium with 1000 people watching a game and one person standing up in front and forcing everybody to stop cheering so they could watch the game without the bothersome noise. That is the power we are giving to the copyright industry. We have a bunch of sheep in our Congress running around creating laws to appease a few lobbyists that risk damaging the free enterprise that is the Internet. Risking damage to the only real positive economic driver of the past 10 years. The potential damage to free enterprise by these restrictive overbearing laws is not worth the risk. Again, I am not condoning piracy nor am I against the Music Industry enforcing their laws and going after criminals, but the peanut butter approach to using a morbid congress to recoup their losses is just stupid. The less regulation we can put on the Internet the more economic impact it will have now and into the future. These laws and heavy-handed enforcement tactics create unrealistic burdens on operators and businesses and need to be put into perspective. There has to be a more intelligent way to enforce existing laws besides creating a highly-regulated Internet.
Stay tuned for some suggestions in my next article.