Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comcast Pays Out $16M In P2P Throttling Suit

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the bad-money-after-good dept.

The Courts 176

eldavojohn writes "Comcast has settled out of court to the tune of $16 million in one of several ongoing P2P throttling class action lawsuits. You may be eligible for up to $16 restitution if 'you live in the United States or its Territories, have a current or former Comcast High-Speed Internet account, and either used or attempted to use Comcast service to use the Ares, BitTorrent, eDonkey, FastTrack or Gnutella P2P protocols at any time from April 1, 2006 to December 31, 2008; and/or Lotus Notes to send emails any time from March 26, 2007 to October 3, 2007.' $16 million seems low. And it's too bad this was an out-of-court settlement instead of a solid precedent-setting decision for your right to use P2P applications. The settlement will probably not affect the slews of other Comcast P2P throttling suits, and it's unclear whether it will placate the FCC."

cancel ×

176 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Seriously, (1, Funny)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534388)

People need to stop using the internet so much. I never use the internet because it is just a big waste of time and it's full of Italians and thieves.

Re:Seriously, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534432)

it's full of Italians and thieves.

You forgot Americains.

Re:Seriously, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30536098)

it's full of Italians and thieves.

Brought to you by the department of redundancy department and the letter "Soprano"

Typical! (5, Insightful)

SirLoadALot (991302) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534400)

Once again the lawyers are the only winners. $16 is farcical, and the total $16 million is a rounding error for Comcast -- it doesn't serve as much incentive against bad behaviour in the future.

Re:Typical! (5, Insightful)

SirLoadALot (991302) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534420)

Also, although I am not in Comcast's service area, if I were I don't think I would want to sign a piece of paper saying I used one or more P2P services between two dates. The MPAA and RIAA are way too aggressive to give them even a sliver of help for $16.

Re:Typical! (5, Funny)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534484)

Amateur porn. Say you were downloading amateur porn. When people ask me how to download movies and music, I tell them I only use P2P for amateur porn.

Replace one taboo with another and watch the reaction you get. It is an interesting reaction because which one is worse (for the British prudes)?

People, at their own peril, take me too seriously.

Re:Typical! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534616)

Why do you refer to the British as prudes? The US has stricter censorship than the British do.

Re:Typical! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535262)

Cite?

Re:Typical! (2, Insightful)

ppanon (16583) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535962)

Page 3 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Typical! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535354)

To the Brits,

You've got to remember the US education system still focuses on the "Tea and Crumpet" persona from last century/ early this century when...well...the British were prudes, and all we saw was the aristocracy. Now if anyone pays attention to the culture they'd know that's a bygone era. However, I still have friends in the UK that refer to the US as the Colonies. Some times it hard for people to let go of the past.

Re:Typical! (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535748)

Hate speech?

Re:Typical! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534704)

LMAO, British prudes.

Americans are only the biggest load of Christian fundamentalists in the world.

Re:Typical! (3, Insightful)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534912)

British prudes

They certainly exist, but they don't have control over the media. After 21:00, supposedly when young children are no longer watching, pretty much anything except porn is broadcast on normal channels. Before that time nudity would normally be non-sexual.

The full rules for broadcasters [ofcom.org.uk] .

Re:Typical! (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535596)

Linux CD and DVD images. It's the fastest way to get a burnable Knoppix ISO image.

Check your md5sums and PGP signatures, of course.

Re:Typical! (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534646)

I don't think I would want to sign a piece of paper saying I used one or more P2P services between two dates.

I, for one, welcome the opportunity to sign a paper saying I downloaded Ubuntu, because I did.

Re:Typical! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535094)

I, for one, welcome your misuse of the "I for one, welcome" meme.

Re:Typical! (4, Insightful)

supersat (639745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534696)

World of Warcraft uses BitTorrent to distribute its patches. Every WoW player using Comcast can make a claim without admitting to anything that the MAFIAA might use against them.

Re:Typical! (2, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534978)

There's also Linux distributions. I can honestly say that I downloaded several Linux ISO's over the previous year via Bittorrent. I can't say that's ALL I downloaded, but I did use it for that :).

Re:Typical! (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535504)

In theory you are correct but fat load of luck proving it in court with the MAFIAA litigation machine grinding you to smithereens.

World of Warcraft (1)

Hobbiticus (1555299) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535334)

Illegally downloading music and movies is not the only use for BitTorrent. For example, Blizzard distributes all of their WoW patches using the BitTorrent protocol. So, if you played WoW between those dates (and you were a Comcast customer), then you are theoretically eligible for compensation.

Re:Typical! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535384)

There are legit uses of P2P.
One app that does use this is Notes. If you use the thick client then you are using P2P. I'm one of those people who do just that.

If you think that the MPAA & RIAA Are going to get anywhere coming after me then you have enother thing coming. They'll be hit so fast with a multi million dollar suit they wont have time to blink.
Yes, I'm a lawyer. (wait for the boo hiss). One who happens to think that their tactics in this area is totaly reprehensible.
As for searching my computer... Fat chance. There is client information on it.

Re:Typical! (2, Insightful)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536120)

This isn't intended to jinx you or anything -- but if anyone is going to get hit with a suit by the **AA's I hope it's a lawyer. They're the only ones who can afford to defend themselves. Most of the rest of us can't afford your industry's rates.

Re:Typical! (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536094)

Absolutely correct. It's like having to sign a paper publicly admitting you have some socially unacceptable disease in order to receive the benefits of the suit. You shouldn't have to shame yourself -- or in this case expose yourself to risk of prosecution and/or increased review by lawyer-happy third parties interested in your online P2P activity. You would be painting a big target on yourself and if you were ever actually accused of distributing / downloading items via P2P you've just removed your "couldn't be me" defense.

Re:Typical! (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534852)

Not only that, but it basically immunizes them against further lawsuits on the issue. Sometimes, I think some of these class action suits are the result of a collaboration between the companies and some lawyers. The lawyers get a big payday, the companies get immunity from anymore lawsuits, and the consumer gets screwed.

Re:Typical! (2, Insightful)

jambarama (784670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535462)

Comcast is not immunized from further suits. As long as you don't take part in the settlement, you can still sue them individually. Alternately, although it is unlikely a judge will certify another class over the same issue, it has happened before (see asbestos lawsuits).

Class actions let you bring suits where no one person has been harmed a meaningful amount. How much legally-cognizable value did you lose from having P2P interrupted? Probably not enough to sue over. Without class action, comcast wouldn't be deterred from repeating this behavior and no one would get anything. I know $16 isn't much, but really how much do you think is reasonable for a few months of p2p interruption on a residential cable line?

Re:Typical! (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535520)

That class action settlement means nothing without an injunction to stop Comcast from further meddling.

Re:Typical! (1)

jambarama (784670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535648)

You're right, there is no binding precedent or permanent injunction, but a ruling can go either way - comcast could have gotten permission to screw with their network in the future. Of course a settlement isn't as good as a favorable ruling, but it does signal to others that they can expect meddling to cost $16M and a lot of bad publicity. Plus, the incident brought the FCC down on this kind of behavior, so ISPs have that to worry about too.

Re:Typical! (3, Informative)

Uncle Rummy (943608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535672)

As long as you don't take part in the settlement, you can still sue them individually.

Actually, as with most class action settlements, everybody is opted in by default, and you must explicitly opt out in order to retain your rights to sue on your own. Didn't hear about the settlement in time to file a claim or opt out? Gee, that's a shame.

From the table at the bottom of the official settlement page [p2pcongest...lement.com] :

Exclude Yourself: Get out of the Class You may ask to get out of the Class and keep your right to sue on your own about the claims in the lawsuit.

Do Nothing: You remain in the Settlement. You get no money or compensation and give up your right to sue about the claims in the lawsuit.

Re:Typical! (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535922)

I know $16 isn't much, but really how much do you think is reasonable for a few months of p2p interruption on a residential cable line?

Considering they did that while at the same time advertising "unlimited internet" it should be worth the monthly fee x however many months (counting even fractional months as 1 month) the interruptions occurred. Of course, if you were smart enough to block RST packets on the affected ports, there really isn't much to complain about.

Re:Typical! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535620)

Right because pursuing the suit to a ruling would've cut down on legal fees & gotten more money to consumers...

Re:Typical! (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534962)

$16 million is a golf bet for the CEO of Comcast. They'll make $16 million selling cable porn this afternoon.

I'm trying to think of the last time a corporation was fined or sanctioned in such a way that it really changed their behavior. Anyone want to give some examples?

Re:Typical! (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535146)

Honestly. Didn't Comcast just buy NBC? They'll just cancel some show (what's on NBC anyway?) and that's that.

[John]

Re:Typical! (5, Informative)

drew30319 (828970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536132)

Although it wasn't a fine, McDonald's changed its business practices when sued for the dangerous temperature of their coffee. While the case has been the butt of many, many jokes the jokes (and vitriol) are primarily based on misinformation.

Between 1982 and 1992, over 700 people had been seriously burned by McDonald's coffee that was brewed at a temperature that was not fit for drinking; at the time they were serving coffee at a temperature of 180-190F, a temperature that can result in third-degree burns in as little as two seconds. They had already paid claims as high as $500,000 for burns resulting from these high temperatures but had apparently done nothing to change their procedures to prevent future injuries.

Enter 79-year-old Ms. Liebeck and the infamous "coffee lawsuit." In 1992 she purchased a cup of coffee at a McDonald's drive-thru; placed the cup between her knees; and removed the lid to add cream and sugar. The cup slipped, spilling the coffee onto her cotton sweatpants which absorbed the hot liquid, resulting in serious burns.(1) This brief exposure to the coffee resulted in burns over 16% of her body, 8% of which were third-degree burns requiring skin grafts on her groin, buttocks, and thighs. She was in the hospital for eight days as the result of these injuries.

She requested $20,000 from McDonald's to cover her medical bills (which were $11,000) but McDonald's only offered $800. After filing suit a third-party mediator advised settlement of $225,000 but McDonald's refused. At trial the jury found Ms. Liebeck partly responsible for her injuries (20%) with McDonald's liable for the remaining 80%. She was awarded $160,000 ($200,000 less 20%) for compensatory damages (actual damages plus injury and harm) as well as $2.7M in punitive damages (intended to punish the harming party). The jury came up with the punitive damages amount based on two day's sales of McDonald's coffee throughout the franchise.(2) The jury's intention was to send McDonald's a message in an attempt to get them to change their business practices.

It worked. Days after the verdict the coffee served by the same McDonald's location was twenty degrees cooler. Additionally the restaurant now adds cream and sugar to the coffee for you at the drive-thru, mitigating the risk of a repeat incident.

Unfortunately this "example" of how to change corporate behavior has served as a rallying cry for corporate interests. When it's the businesses that control media spin it can become difficult for individuals to properly position stories that are "pro-consumer."

I agree that $16M is unlikely to affect change at Comcast (at least to the extent that their customers would like) but feel that it's a step in the right direction. I'm one of the "affected" customers here and will take my $16 and move on; nothing would preclude me from filing suit if they were to recommence (or continue?) their behavior in the future.

--------

(1) Despite common belief to the contrary, Ms. Liebeck was not the driver of the car. She was a passenger. Additionally, the driver, her grandson, actually pulled the car over and came to a stop to allow Ms. Liebeck to carefully remove the lid. She had taken what many would consider to be the steps of a "reasonable" person.

(2) On appeal the punitive award was reduced to $480,000 and the parties eventually settled out of court for an amount presumed to be in the neighborhood of $600,000.

Re:Typical! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535528)

I know it is easier to blame greedy lawyers, or some other unpopular group, but the $16M figure may have been low because the cause of action was weak and the damages are fairly speculative.

So.... (1)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534404)

$2000 to make up for years of slow ISO downloads,
$15,998,000 to punch deep enough to hit Comcast's pain receptors.

Re:So.... (1)

Bicx (1042846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534440)

And.... this makes no sense. Shame on me for posting before my morning coffee.

Re:So.... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535536)

I think that you're talking about punitive damages.

You won a boat! scam. (1)

splatter (39844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534416)

Ok I realize I have my tin hat firmly on but does this sound to anyone like the old you won a boat trick to catch wanted people.

Hey p2p users you can get $16 come register at our office to pick up the money.

On another note, what happens if no one claims money like this from class action suits?

Re:You won a boat! scam. (3, Funny)

base3 (539820) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534506)

I predict a sudden and marked increase in the reported userbase of Lotus Notes from between March 26, 2007 and October 3, 2007.

Re:You won a boat! scam. (0, Redundant)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534570)

"I used Lotus Notes!"
"No, I used Lotus Notes!"
"Ni, **I** used Lotus Notes!"

(with apologies to "Spartacus") :)

Re:You won a boat! scam. (1)

The Grassy Knoll (112931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535684)

"Ni"
I think that should be "apologies to Monty Python" there

.

Re:You won a boat! scam. (2, Funny)

slaughterhause (992109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534566)

Well, a boat's a boat, but the $16 could buy you anything. It could even buy you a (toy) boat! You know how much we've wanted one of those.

Re:You won a boat! scam. (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534652)

There are a lot of people (I'm one) who uses BitTorrent, etc. to download Linux distros, FOS software, music that the artist encourages you to share (and there's more of that than there is RIAA music), etc.

P2P is not proof of illicit activity, although the RIAA wants everyone to think it is.

Re:You won a boat! scam. (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536126)

P2P is not proof of illicit activity, although the RIAA wants everyone to think it is.

Absolutely correct. But to the uneducated masses, P2P users are all downloading illegal materials. Just like Tor users.

Educating people is the only way to clear this up.

Re:You won a boat! scam. (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534666)

Hey p2p users you can get $16 come register at our office to pick up the money.

If I had to go to an office to get my check, I'd bring a burned copy of OpenDisc [wikipedia.org] (free software for Windows) and give it to whoever would give me the check.

I for one welcome... (1)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534418)

... this efficient new way for RIAA and MPAA to identify people to sue - for $16 I am of course very likely to say "hey, I use p2p!" (or go through the shame of admitting that I use Lotus Notes) and then wait for the gazillion dollar lawsuit to come my way for downloading Ubuntu 7...

Gotta love it. (5, Insightful)

system1111 (1527561) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534426)

Got love how everyday people will get sued by corporations for many times their annual income ( $80,000 a song) but when it comes to corporations getting sued it equates to a far lower ratio. Any one else think its kind of silly.

Re:Gotta love it. (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534562)

I don't think it's silly, I think it's a damned shame.

Re:Gotta love it. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534748)

The problem is many of the laws on the books that crimes that ordinary people are committing were once ones that only organizations can do.

Lets just use Copyright infringement, back even 20 years ago being able to copy music from one device and spread it to millions of people needed a lot of money and resources. Today one person can do it and have it spread like wildfire. But the laws for fines for such actions are still based on the old model. Sure it would $80,000 good fine for say a Radio Station to Play a song without rights to play it, It wouldn't kill the radio station however for a small station it could really hit its profits. But the ability to "accidentally" do such a crime is so much easier that anyone can do it. But the laws are written in a way that the fine could seriously bankrupt a person who made a mistake.

Re:Gotta love it. (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536134)

Yes. Unfortunately U.S. laws are usually written to favor corporations at the expense of individuals.

Re:Gotta love it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30536224)

How much of a fine is enough? I kinda think that they won't accept any less of a profit, so the only place the money can come from is to decrease the level of service they have (or not roll out new things such as faster, more competitive internet access), or by raising rates. Facing those two possibilities, I'd rather a lower fine and come up with some other non-monetary punishment that will benefit their customers.

1%? (3, Insightful)

MikeD83 (529104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534430)

Assuming someone paid for only internet access at $35 per month during the time Comcast was infringing their rights they would have paid Comcast $1,155. Comcast is only required to pay damages of 1%? Wow... that's Comcastic!

Re:1%? (2, Insightful)

Croakus (663556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535714)

... during the time Comcast was infringing their rights ...

How were their rights infringed? This seems like a simple breach of contract. Comcast was contractually obligated to provide a certain service and failed to do so.

GOD DAMM RIGHT IT MY RIGHT TO STEEL !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534450)

And Happy Christmass to ANY !!!!

Re:GOD DAMM RIGHT IT MY RIGHT TO STEEL !! (3, Funny)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534538)

We all have a right to steel and other metals.

Re:GOD DAMM RIGHT IT MY RIGHT TO STEEL !! (3, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534574)

You're right. It's not ferrous.

Re:GOD DAMM RIGHT IT MY RIGHT TO STEEL !! (4, Funny)

mrsurb (1484303) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534598)

Stop being ironic

Re:GOD DAMM RIGHT IT MY RIGHT TO STEEL !! (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534618)

What have we done that you punish us so?

Re:GOD DAMM RIGHT IT MY RIGHT TO STEEL !! (2, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534722)

Ore what?

Re:GOD DAMM RIGHT IT MY RIGHT TO STEEL !! (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536468)

It's a test of his metal (mettle).

Ummmm.. (2, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534464)

I'm a Comcast customer, I was throttled, I've never used my connection to download music or movies (TV shows and OSS only), and I still don't think I want to apply for my $16 pittance.

Prediction: The sharks who ran this class-action suit aren't going to be satisfied with $6.4 million (the usual 40% of $16 million), and they're going to make a few more bucks sell the names and details to RIAA/MPAA so everyone who receives their $16 will be slapped with a $999999 gazillion lawsuit for illegal file sharing. Most of the P2P users end up disconnected and eventually homeless after the spate of ruinous P2P lawsuits, Comcast gets to dump their heaviest-bandwidth users, everyone wins except the granny whose next door neighbor mooched off her WiFi and got a copy of Avatar.

"A strange game. The only way to win is not to play."

Re:Ummmm.. (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534482)

I was trying to use Lotus Notes and was throttled. Darn inconvenient. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Re:Ummmm.. (0)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534526)

Let me know how that works out for you, assuming they allow you access to slashdot from prison. If you send me an address, I'll see if I can find a non-ferrous file and bake it in a cake for you.

Say "Hi" to Bubba. He goes easier on people who are nice to him. :)

Re:Ummmm.. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534592)

Let me know how that works out for you, assuming they allow you access to slashdot from prison.

They do.

Say "Hi" to Bubba. He goes easier on people who are nice to him. :)

No I don't.

hm p2p? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534476)

so anyone who ran one of those p2p apps, and their download was slowed b/c their peer had comcast as their ISP, was damaged by comcast, right?

Tell me (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534522)

As part of the settlement, does Comcast get to hand over names and addresses of all the claimants to the MPAA/RIAA for a nice tidy sum, say, $16 million?

Re:Tell me (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534546)

I don't think Comcast will necessarily have access to the names and addresses. Usually Comcast pays their money to the lawyers who initiated the class action suit, and the lawyers then divvy it up by the approximate number of people in the class, minus their traditional 40% that they keep. Then, any unclaimed amounts, they keep. Plus they have the names and addresses which they keep.

It won't be Comcast handing the names and addresses over to MPAA/RIAA. I'd actually trust Comcast with that information more than I would the people who WILL be getting them.

Re:Tell me (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534648)

Tell me, who wants to exclude themselves from this lawsuit, and maybe hire one of those country type lawyers, say like one of those that live in New York for a "real" case that will not just be settled? I have had too much trouble with my Comcastic service, and tired of even my Internet being throttled. I can go to Speedtest.net and it automagically lets Google load up the page. Without it, even Google may have a hard time. I have actually resorted to having TabMixPlus reload the Speedtest.net tab about every minute and a half or so to attempt to thwart my surfing being interrupted. It isn't perfect, but I notice a difference. It's just ridiculous, and so is a $16 settlement!

The lawyers working this (I know, almost all of them) should be ashamed. How about this, in a class action lawsuit, instead of the lawyers getting the unclaimed payouts, everyone gets mailed a check at the same time for the their equal share out of the whole pot. More people would bother to claim, and fairer payouts would be had. Thoughts? Let make the politicos vote on this! (Yes we can? And if not, let us show them!)

Re:Tell me (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534834)

The lawyers working this have no interest in paying you the $16. They have no interest in stopping Comcast from doing this. Their interest in both ended when their bribe check to the judge cleared and they got granted "class action" status. From that point forward it was all about maximizing the settlement and minimizing effort.

Comcast knew this, of course, and pulled some money out of petty cash so the lawyers could make $6 million in cash today and move on to the next righteous-looking yet profitable cause.

They saw an opportunity to look righteous and good and just and make $6+ million for filing a suit and settling quickly. Skip the "righteous and good and just" bit, come to think of it. They saw a bunch of people angry and upset about something, and bought off a judge to form a class so they could claim to represent people who had been wronged. Now that they've won, they'll dole out the money they need to and pocket the difference plus their 40%.

As a bonus, it saves them from all those exhaust fumes from chasing ambulances.

They SHOULD be ashamed, but they've learned to live with it. A few million a year in settlements will buy a LOT of shiny toys to distract people from their shame.

As far as the politicos voting on it, politicos are lawyers who have taken class-action and ambulance chasing to a high art. Sharks don't bite sharks. Professional courtesy.

Comcast is in the MPAA (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534802)

It won't be Comcast handing the names and addresses over to MPAA/RIAA.

Comcast will soon own half of Universal Studios, which is in the MPAA. But then every major TV news outlet is in the MPAA too.

Re:Tell me (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535022)

Without specific lists of things you downloaded, the RIAA/MPAA can't do anything. Methinks the paranoia is running a bit too rampant on this one.

Re:Tell me (2, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535622)

How can people on Slashdot be so fucking dumb? If Comcast wanted to sell your name to the RIAA or MPAA, they already have all the information they need. Hell, they could hand over your credit card number, if they wanted to.

Yeah, Comcast sucks, but use your fucking brains, people.

It's a trap! (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534586)

used or attempted to use Comcast service to use the Ares, BitTorrent, eDonkey, FastTrack or Gnutella P2P protocols

They'll give you 16 bucks, and the RIAA will take 20 grand!

They're still doing it. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30534620)

Comcast in my area will start cutting connection to your modem if you use full bandwidth bittorrent for more than a few minutes. Reset your modem, and you're fine for another couple minutes, then it's out again.

If you turn off bittorrent, or throttle the settings back to rediculously low levels (say, 384 kbps download and 32kbps upload), there's no problem at all. If I pull a couple hundred megs down off a website or do a huge ubuntu update at full speed (1.8megabytes a second or so) I never have any problems, It is completely obvious that it's heavy bittorrent usage that 'causes' this.

Really makes me wonder who the hell "Comcast Extreme 50" is for. I see those signs all the time around here and can't figure out who they are expecting to buy those. Who the hell needs 50mbps downloads except bittorrent users... and Comcast has made it clear they will do everything possible to discourage bittorrent usage, they just keep changing the tactic. now it's 'connection quality' issues.

Re:They're still doing it. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534854)

Comcast in my area will start cutting connection to your modem if you use full bandwidth bittorrent for more than a few minutes.

For me, it's not Comcast but the router. If I torrent without throttling, the router crashes, and I have to power-cycle it to get it going again. I don't think the stock firmware versions on home NAT-router appliances are intended to handle dozens of simultaneous inbound connections.

If I pull a couple hundred megs down off a website or do a huge ubuntu update at full speed (1.8megabytes a second or so) I never have any problems

That's because you have only one connection open at once.

Who the hell needs 50mbps downloads except bittorrent users

Businesses, multi-family residences, and people watching HDTV streams.

Re:They're still doing it. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535046)

For me, it's not Comcast but the router. If I torrent without throttling, the router crashes, and I have to power-cycle it to get it going again. I don't think the stock firmware versions on home NAT-router appliances are intended to handle dozens of simultaneous inbound connections.

It's definatly the connection from comcast to the modem causing my issue, as resetting the modem, not the router, is what fixes the issue, and I've been using this same router for 4 or 5 years, bittorrent for a good portion of that, and this problem just started in the past 6 months or so. Additionally, when I limit the bandwidth on the connect, I don't limit the total connections at all. Instead of a dozen active transfers at 200kbps each, I've got a dozen at 12kbps each. Addtionally, I'm pretty sure that I've removed the router from the loop to run a direct line from the modem to my torrent machine at some point near the begining of this, to see the same problem.

That's because you have only one connection open at once.

Not at all. An ubuntu update manager session when I havn't run it in awhile may be pulling from a half dozen different repositories. Granted it's no 200peer torrent download, but my point was that it is not a bandwidth throttling issue. It is a bandwidth-while-torrenting-for-long-periods-of-time issue. I use encrypted packets on a non standard port, just like any torrenter with a brain does, but I'm sure that even a simple packet trend scanner at comcast's local office can figure out what I'm probably doing and limit me accordingly.

Businesses, multi-family residences, and people watching HDTV streams.

Can't run a business on one of their residential lines (which extreme 50 is), they'll shut you down if they catch you. I can watch HDTV streams on my regular connection just fine, and while a multi-family residence may require more bandwidth than usual, I submit that almost nobody is using 50mbps on anything like a regular basis except torrenters. Sure anybody can burst up to maximum now and then, but the difference between 15-20 seconds at 50mbps and 45 seconds to a minute at at 10-20mbps (the standard connection) isn't going to be noticable to most people most of the time. The people who really care are the ones who look at the connection and say "i'm looking at the difference between downloading this torrent in 8 hours and 3 hours". I can't imagine what most people would max out a 50mbps connection for, for 8 hours, other than downloading extremely large files (I.e. pirated games, movies, etc). I'm sure that somebody else out there uses it for some legitimate reason, I'm just saying that those users are few and far between, and that the majority of the people who'd actually make good use of that connection, are the exact people comcast doesn't want using it.

Re:They're still doing it. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535892)

Can't run a business on one of their residential lines (which extreme 50 is)

I must have confused it with the corresponding tier of Comcast Business Class, which Comcast is promoting all the time on the cable news channels.

I can't imagine what most people would max out a 50mbps connection for, for 8 hours, other than downloading extremely large files (I.e. pirated games, movies, etc).

Steam is not "pirated", nor is iTunes Store. Blu-ray movies are streamed from the disc at 54 Mbps.

I'm sure that somebody else out there uses it for some legitimate reason, I'm just saying that those users are few and far between

As Internet connection speeds in the United States and Canada slowly climb to match those available in Japan and the Republic of Korea, and as the size of an operating system service pack continues to climb (it's currently about 200 MB for Windows, Mac OS X, or Ubuntu), those users will become less few and less far between.

Letter from my ex-wife. to comcast (2, Funny)

Fished (574624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534640)

Dear Comcast's Lawyers,

I'd like to receive my $16, as I was unable to download numerous hit Hollywood movies and popular music at acceptable speeds while on your service. I was affected while using such protocols as E-donkey, Bittorrent, Limewire, Gnutella, and anything else that might get me sued. Please send the check to my address above.

Yours Truly,

Fished's Ex-Wife

Recycle the settlement (2, Funny)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534654)

Phase 1: Find as many geeks in your area that are eligible for the settlement.

Phase 1a: Jump through the hoops this settlement will likely require ("Submissions must be sent on a 3x5 index card, handwritten in blue ink with no misspelled words, and a tiny drawing of a European Swallow hand drawn in the lower left hand corner not to exceed 13% the total area of the card...")

Phase 2: ????

Phase 3: Have everyone deposit their checks, then send $16.00 donations to the EFF, OpenSSH Foundation, FSF, or FOSS project of your choice.

Specific programs? That's a load of... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534682)

used or attempted to use Comcast service to use the Ares, BitTorrent, eDonkey, FastTrack or Gnutella P2P protocols

Ok, so if your Blizzard updater got throttled, you can't say a word? You have to sign a paper confessing that you used one of those specific P2P client, where 99% of the users are downloading copyrighted material?

Yeah, there's nothing to fear, comrade, come in and sign this paper for your huge 16$ check.

Re:Specific programs? That's a load of... (2, Insightful)

supersat (639745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534738)

protocol != client. The Blizzard updater uses the BitTorrent protocol.

Re:Specific programs? That's a load of... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534890)

Oh yeah, my mistake.

So, is there any commercial program out there which uses P2P?

Uh yeah, World of Warcraft (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535102)

So, is there any commercial program out there which uses P2P?

Yeah, World of Warcraft, made by Blizzard, who runs a software updater (using BitTorrent, see your parent) whenever it connects to Battle.net. For WoW, that means "whenever you play".

(Now, the software updater probably goes "if (my_version >= newest_version) return; else download_with_bit_torrent(newest_version)", so it won't be running bittorrent every time you play.)

(Anonymous because I moderated)

Re:Specific programs? That's a load of... (1)

anamin (796023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536056)

Oh yeah, my mistake.

So, is there any commercial program out there which uses P2P?

Please re-read. The Bizzard updater uses the BT protocol, which means the updater for a piece of commercial software uses P2P.

Re:Specific programs? That's a load of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535266)

The Blizzard updater is an implementation of the BitTorrent protocol.

Re:Specific programs? That's a load of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535546)

Reminds me of the Mitch Hedburg joke: "At the doctor, they tried to trick me with all these yes or no questions. Have you ever tried sugar? ... or PCP?"

Hasn't Stopped Comcast (4, Informative)

bilturner (907791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534818)

I'm a Comcast user, and as soon as I fire up bit-torrent my cable-modem starts resetting every 2 minutes or so. That has to be Comcast. Takes my cable-modem a minute to cycle through the reset sequence, during which time I'm offline. This tactic seems more egregious, though. Before, they were just interfering with packets. Now they're interrupting my service. Turn off bit-torrent, cable modem and service runs like a charm. Mysterious, isn't it....

Re:Hasn't Stopped Comcast (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30534938)

Not that I'm backing up Comcast or anything, but try taking your router out of the loop for a few days. A lot of consumer grade routers have reduced their standard onboard memory to a paltry 2MB and BT clients will cause them to crash repeatedly. If this is the problem, get a router with 4MB+ of memory (WRT54GL comes to mind). If that doesn't work, complain until you get a new cable modem.

Re:Hasn't Stopped Comcast (2, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536462)

I had that problem. I use Comcast Business. I found that when they upgraded my speed from 6mbps to 12mbps my WRT54G router would crash if I used bittorrent. It turns out they are giving me 20mbps with it reaching 30mbps at times. I upgraded my router to an AR670W (not the best choice, but it was cheap) and my problems just went away. There was no question that the router was the problem.

Re:Hasn't Stopped Comcast (3, Interesting)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535408)

PPalmgren's suggestion is certainly worth investigating, but have you tried throttling your upload speed on your client? I had some serious problems until I cut way back on my upload speed and that made things calm down. I have no issues with downloading as fast as possible, but things start to get very bad for me if I allow the default unlimited speed on uploads. I have AT&T and not Comcast, but maybe you might look into that and see if it makes any difference.

SWEET! (1)

HideyoshiJP (1392619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535104)

$16.00! I can finally get that steak I've been craving!

Obviously (2, Insightful)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535226)

Obviously Comcast's reaction to this news will be to increase their fees to each consumer by $17.

So hit them where it hurts their pocket book (2, Insightful)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535294)

Yes, there should be legal repercussions for a company doing something like this to its customers. Unfortuneately, lawyers aren't cheap and companies can pay to have more of them. While more doesn't mean better, it does reduce your chances of being able to go up against such a company. Of course it would be different if you identified the people who were wronged by this ahead of time and had each one chip in five bucks for a legal team ($5 X 1 million people, you get the idea).

Regardless of this, getting a settlement of 16 million isn't going to hurt anyone. They'll make that amount back from a "customer" in a few months. So if you disagree with a company's practicies... don't use that company. Give up your cable modem or switch to another provider. It makes no sense that you are willing to continue to pay a company which you are suing, and thus financing their legal defense against your claim. Having 1 million subscribers choose to drop Comcast would do tons more than paying each one 16$.

Re:So hit them where it hurts their pocket book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30535570)

Switching ISPs is a great idea, except in my case where i have two options for internet:

1) Comcast
2) Dial-up

So yeah, leaving Comcast isn't even an option (We are due for FIOS lines by end of 2013, originally it was 2009 so i'll believe it in 4 years if it actually happens.)

Re:So hit them where it hurts their pocket book (2, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535592)

Do the words "monopoly" mean anything to you?

Comcast apparently sucks...but does it suck bad enough that, when there's no other game in town, it's better to just do without?

its a trap (1)

jambarama (784670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535346)

You may be eligible for up to $16 restitution if you live in the United States or its Territories, have a current or former Comcast High-Speed Internet account, and either used or attempted to use Comcast service to use the Ares, BitTorrent, eDonkey, FastTrack or Gnutella P2P protocols at any time from April 1, 2006 to December 31, 2008

I knew it. (1)

Xupa (1313669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535420)

This is fantastic. I had Comcast from 2005-2007 and during the last few months my connection went to shit. Basic diagnostics proved I was being throttled and when I asked my local branch they swore hell no. They were real nice, they came and checked my wires, but I knew. It was fine until I started up a torrent. I had practically no service the last three weeks I lived in that area and when I got my last bill I sent it back to them with a nice note explaining that I hadn't received any service and had no intentions of paying for it. They keep sending me a bill for $80. I keep printing the same note. Now I'm gonna get my $16 and what the hell, I'll pay them the other $64. Just as long as somewhere a judge told them that was wrong and I don't gotta pay for all of it.

Still going on? (2, Interesting)

Ornlu (1706502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535666)

Oddly enough, I'm moving to Houston in a week, so I need to sign up for an ISP. Comcast is the only cable provider in the whole city, so they've got the market cornered on speed. I did the whole "chat now" thing that popped up when checking availability. I asked about bandwidth caps and P2P throttling. They referred me to a tech hotline. Here's the gist of the conversation with the CS tech rep: I've got 3 questions, 1) To your knowledge, does Comcast throttle P2P traffic? 2) To your knowledge, does Comcast cap the monthly bandwidth for connections? 3) To your knowledge, does Comcast block any incoming/outgoing ports? They replied: "I've never heard of throttling or 'bandwidth'. What do you mean by those?" I then had to explain what bandwidth was... to a cable co tech support "guru". I'm definitely not signing up with this incompetent & abusive company that feels no obligation to actually meet its TOS. A couple questions come do to my mind however: Are they still blocking P2P? Would they admit to further throttling if they are doing it?

Hmm... (4, Funny)

Spykk (823586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30535842)

Hmm, I'm not sure about all this. I'm going to have to check with admiral Ackbar on this one.

P2P for all updates (2, Interesting)

drew30319 (828970) | more than 4 years ago | (#30536260)

I've wondered for some time (and often aloud, but nobody has ever responded) as to why more software updates aren't done via P2P?

Benefits:

(1) It's more efficient for everybody (I would imagine that bandwidth for folks like MS / AVG / even SourceForge would be lower by at least a magnitude of ten)
(2) It further legitimizes P2P
(3) It forces ISP's hand in treating bittorrents like all other traffic

While I appreciate that the tin-hat-wearers may believe that the MPAA / RIAA wouldn't want such a move I wonder if there are technical aspects of which I'm unaware?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>