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How Proxied Torrents Could End ISP Subpoenas

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the never-again dept.

Piracy 307

Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes "With the announcement of Verizon's "six strikes plan" for movie pirates (which includes reporting users to the RIAA and MPAA), and content companies continuing to sue users en masse for peer-to-peer downloads, I think it's inevitable that we'll see the rise of p2p software that proxifies your downloads through other users. In this model, you would not only download content from other users, but you also use other users' machines as anonymizing proxies for the downloads, which would make it impossible for third parties to identify the source or destination of the file transfer. This would hopefully put an end to the era of movie studios subpoenaing ISPs for the identities of end users and taking those users to court." Read below for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

Now, I'm not advocating the creation of software that enables piracy. And I don't mean that in a nudge-wink kind of a way, I'm serious: I think people should reward movie studios for making content that they like, if only because that means studios will make more of that type of content. For my last cross-country flight I paid an honest-to-God four dollars to download a movie from Amazon Unbox to watch on the plane, even though I fondly like to think of myself as smart enough that I could have figured out how to find and download the movie for free. (Well, not all that smart; the movie was Lockout.)

However, the idea of users anonymizing each others' downloads is so elementary, that I literally mean it's inevitable that we will see the rise of such software. Whether I'm in favor of it or not, it's going to happen. In fact, under certain assumptions, there's really only one logical direction that it can evolve in.

First, some background. Under the current BitTorrent protocol -- with no built-in support for anonymization -- some server S makes a large file available for download. When the first downloader, say user D1, requests a copy of the file, they have to begin the process of downloading it from S. But when the next downloader, say user D2, requests a copy of the same file while user D1 is still downloading, the BitTorrent server S tells D2 to start downloading the file from D1 instead of from S directly. (D1 is required at this point to share out the file for download, in order to earn enough "credits" to continue downloading from S.) Subsequent downloaders are similarly told to download from other downloaders instead of from the original server S. In this way, the server S avoids incurring massive bandwidth charges (since S only actually served the file one time), and each user on average only has to share out the file once in return for downloading it themselves.

Note that this still means that in order to initiate the download, the server S has to serve out the whole file at least once, to the first downloader -- and if the file is being distributed without the copyright owner's permission, then the operators of server S can be taken to court. This legal pressure was the reason that the Pirate Bay switched from serving BitTorrent files to serving magnet links, which enable users to download content purely from each other, without the Pirate Bay ever actually serving the content themselves. But with both BitTorrent and magnet links, users who are downloading content from other users, can see those other users' IP addresses -- and they know that those other users are serving the content from files stored on their own hard drives. This means that if you're the copyright owner of that content, you can subpoena the identities of the users behind those IP addresses, and taken them to court for unauthorized possession and distribution of copyrighted material.

So what would a protocol look like with built-in support for anonymization? In my first draft of an idea, I thought that each download could take place using one intermediate user as a proxy, so that instead of server S telling D2 to download from D1, the server would tell D2 to use download D3 as a proxy, and tell D3 to proxy the connection from D1. (As with BitTorrent, the downloader D3 would be required to allow their machine to be used as a proxy, in order to earn credits to continue with their own download.) So D1 would not be able to see the IP address of user D2 downloading from them, and D2 would not be able to see the IP address of user D1 that they were downloading from. Both of them would be able to see the IP address of user D3 which is acting as the proxy between them, but as long as it's not against the law to simply proxy a connection for someone else, that would not be grounds to subpoena the user D3's identity. And D3 would be able to see the IP address of D1 and D2, but if the D1 and D2 are communicating using a shared encryption key, then D3 would have no idea what content is flowing between D1 and D2, even as it proxies the connection between them. So even if one of D1, D2 or D3 were an "adversary" (i.e. a copyright holder intent on suing illegal file sharers), none of the three would be able to see the IP address of another user that they knew was either downloading particular content, or serving it out.

Of course you could also argue that if D3 is among the users that server S is making available to others as an anonymizing proxy, then that constitutes proof that D3 must be downloading something else from S (otherwise, D3 wouldn't need to earn credits by acting as an anonymizing proxy), and if either D1 or D2 is an adversary, they can see D3's IP address and reason that D3 must be guilty of some copyright violation. Similarly, if D3 is the adversary, they can see D1 and D2's IP addresses and reason that both of them are probably guilty of some copyright infraction, even if D3 can't actually see what they're trading. Basically, anybody could be considered "guilty by association" simply by virtue of being in the community of users being coordinated by server S. But (1) that accusation could be deflected if some of the files being served by S were in fact legal and being distributed with the copyright holder's permission; and (2) in any case, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act requires you to claim that your specific copyrighted content is being distributed by a user, before you can unmask that user's identity; it's not enough to claim that the user is part of a network that distributes "some" copyrighted content illegally. D3 may be proxying a connection between D1 and D2 in order to earn credits so that D3 can download some content for themselves, but even though D1 and D2 can both see D3's IP address, there's no way for them to know what D3 could be downloading.

Unfortunately, this three-user-chain idea is not secure, because an adversary could still create a large number of users co-ordinated through server S, and sooner or later, a chain would arise where both the proxy and the downloader controlled by the adversary, and at that point, they would know the IP address of the user serving out the copyrighted content. In other words, eventually you'll get a situation where D2 is downloading content from D1 by going through proxy D3 -- but where D2 and D3 are both controlled by the adversary. So D2 knows the content that's being downloaded via D3, and D3 knows the IP address of D1 that's actually serving out the content -- at which point they can subpoena the identity of user D1, and sue them.

So consider this idea instead: When user D1 sends a request to server S to download a file, server S gives them the IP address of another user, D2, from which they can download the file. Now, 40% of the time, user D2 actually does have the file on their hard drive and is serving it to user D1, with no proxying. The other 60% of the time, user D2 is told by S to proxy the connection from D1 and connect to a third user, D3. Now in 40% of these cases, D3 actually does have the file and is serving it out directly; the other 60% of the time, D3 is proxying the connection for yet another user, D4...

So you end up with chains of varying length, with longer chains having a progressively smaller probability of forming:

40% of chains will be of length 1 (one user downloads directly from another)
60% x 40% of chains (24%) will be of length 2
60% x 60% x 40% of chains (14.4%) will be of length 3
60% x 60% x 60% x 40% of chains (8.64%) will be of length 4 etc.

These proportions of course sum to 1, and a little math shows that the length of the average chain is 3.5 nodes. The number of downloads in a chain -- the connections between users -- is one less than the number of nodes in the chain, so this means that to complete one download, the content will have to be transferred an average of 2.5 times -- compared to being transferred only once, when one user downloads from another directly. In order to ensure that users contribute enough to the system as they take from it, that means that in order to download a file, users would be required to provide enough "proxying" to support the equivalent of 2.5 full downloads of that same file.

These chains have a useful property: any time you're downloading content "from" another user, there's only a 40% chance that user is serving content off of their own hard drive, and a 60% chance that they're proxying the connection from somewhere else (another node that may in turn be proxying the connection from yet another node, etc.). So even if the adversary controls three nodes D1, D2, and D3, and D1 is downloading from D2 who is downloading from D3 who is downloading from D4 (and D4 is not controlled by the adversary), from the adversary's point of view there's only a 40% chance that D4 is actually originating the content. This is always true no matter how many nodes in the chain the adversary controls -- in the end, if they want to nail someone for serving out copyrighted content, they have to download the content from some node that they don't control, and there will only be a 40% that user is actually serving the content from their hard drive.

And the 40% number was deliberately chosen in order to weaken the adversary's legal grounds for subpoenaing the identity of the user they're downloading from -- even if they can show that they downloaded content from another user's IP address, it's more likely than not that the other user was not actually hosting the content. (Of course, there might be other details in context that render that probability calculation useless. For example, if the server S only links to one downloadable file, then all users coordinated by that server S are presumably downloading that same file, and anybody that server S connects you to, can be presumed guilty of downloading and sharing that file, 40% figure be damned.)

At this point you might also wonder: Why not just connect over a protocol like Tor, which provides secure anonymity for all transactions, and then use BitTorrent or some other file-sharing system on top of that? The answer is that Tor's connection is likely to be much slower, for at least two reasons. First, Tor servers are a limited resource, and the more people use them (especially for large file trading), the slower they are likely to become. (By contrast, in the peer-to-peer proxying model outlined above, every new downloader can also be made to act as a proxy for other users, so additional users don't slow down the system because they contribute as much as they take out of it.) Second, Tor always routes your connection through multiple servers to guarantee secure anonymity, which means it would be slower on average than the variable-length chains described above, where only about 20% of chains are of length 4 or more.

The key difference is that Tor provides true anonymity whereas the protocol above only provides plausible deniability. In high-risk settings where Tor is often used, it would not be acceptable if there were a 40% chance of your IP address being revealed to your adversary. But for file sharing, the 40% figure might be acceptable if it's just low enough to stave off a subpoena. This trade-off makes it possible to use shorter chains, resulting in faster downloads and less total bandwidth consumption.

You also already have the option today of using a VPN service to download files through an anonymous third-party connection, which renders the rest of these issues moot. But users have to jump through several hoops (and pay some money) to set this up as an option, which means that most users will not be using VPNs any time soon, leaving plenty of naive users for the RIAA and MPAA to go after. The use of peer-proxying links would mean that all users downloading through the system would be protected.

At the moment, the major impediment to a peer-proxying system like this would be that the chained downloads would still consume an average of 2.5 as much bandwidth as direct peer-to-peer downloads. Even with today's high-speed connections, this increase in inconvenience is great enough that some users might just prefer to use plain old BitTorrent to download files directly from peers, and run the (admittedly small) risk of getting in trouble. But as bandwidth speeds continue to grow literally exponentially, eventually the difference in inconvenience will be so small, that users would be foolish not to use proxified downloads if it provided free legal protection.

Note that the viability of this system does depend on the ISP's attitude towards it. In particular, if your ISP only goes after pirates because of legal pressure from content holders, then if the ISP's users are using this peer-proxying protocol instead of a direct download protocol like BitTorrent, then the ISP can quite truthfully claim that they don't have any hard evidence to disconnect any particular users or turn over their identities (because the ISP doesn't know which users are actually storing pirated files and which users are just acting as proxies). On the other hand, if your ISP sincerely wants to stop piracy because your ISP is also a content company (Comcast, for example), then they might also try to squelch the use of any protocol that enables piracy, even if they can't prove that any particular users are using it for anything illegal. Thus Comcast might try to slow the use of the peer-proxy protocol. But in that case they could be forced by Net Neutrality regulations to stop throttling it, in the same way that the FCC ordered Comcast to stop throttling BitTorrent.

As long as those conditions hold true -- content owners continue cracking down on file sharers, but proxying remains legal and bandwidth keeps getting cheaper, and ISPs are restrained from blocking the protocols themselves -- I think that p2p will have to evolve into something like the chained-download system described above, to provide plausible deniability to users, without resorting to the long chains (and subsequently slower downloads) provided by full-anonymity systems like Tor.

But again, I'm just saying it's inevitable, not that it's right. I actually do wish that people would pay the studios' prices for the movies that they watch; part of it is that I think most blockbusters are actually pretty good and deserve to make money. When you refuse to pay for movies, you're casting a vote against fun, big-budget movies that are made for the purpose of getting lots of people to come see them and enjoy them, and instead voting in favor of excruciatingly boring low-budget films that are made primarily so that the director could whine that the cheese-puff-snarfing American public wouldn't know great art if it bit them on their big bloated behind and subsequently didn't even buy enough tickets for the director to pay off the lien he took out on his Honda Civic to get the movie produced. Forget prosecution and civil suits; just make movie pirates sit through The Brown Bunny.

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Please think of the children. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718095)

Pervs will abuse this to share their disgusting filth.

Re:Please think of the children. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718329)

Pedos are already using Tor and Freenet to exchange their filth online. I suppose they might take advantage of it, but I don't think it's nearly as safe as Tor or Freenet are for staying anonymous.

What I would worry about is having my IP associated with child pornography, terrorism, or whatever due to proxied content being chained through my home connection. People have been raided for hosting Tor exit nodes before.

Re:Please think of the children. (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718633)

Freenet is safe from that: It's got no connectivity outside the network, so anyone able to connect to your node has to be familiar enough with the network not to make such an easy mistake. Tor exit nodes are the really risky things to run.

Re:Please think of the children. (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718801)

you lose a lot of your ability to catch certain elements of "crime" when you introduce any form of anonymity. Anonymity will be used by people that want privacy, people that are paranoid, people that want to whistleblow, harass, defraud, threaten, etc. You will get the good with the bad.

Unfortunately, we seem to be headed in the direction that NO bad is allowed, so we are supposed to be OK with giving up all the good.

As a basic example, you can't punish or prevent all slander while allowing whistleblowing. The concept of allowing truly anonymous good behavior while preventing anonymous bad behavior is an impossible goal.

Normally one would expect "innocent until proven guilty" to take precedence and allow anonymous behavior while tolerating difficulty in catching criminals, but there are currently just too many well-funded groups with a stake that push the legislation in the other direction.

Re:Please think of the children. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718843)

I think you're right about this. You *might* manage to defend yourself in court *if* you can convince a judge or jury both that the software was proxying someone else's connection, and that you're not a monster for enabling pedos in this way.

Even if you win, you will have already lost your career and all of your friends based on being accused of being a pedophile.

If you act as a proxy, you enable people who are doing terrible things to present themselves as you.

Too long, didn't read. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718099)

First

Re:Too long, didn't read. (1)

mrops (927562) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718745)

In theory this works, in practice, with average home user being lucky to have 5-10mbps down 1-5mbps up, this won't be worth it. I do see people talking about fiber to home, once we have and 100mbps internet connections, they we can possible revisit this solution.

Add to this crappy monthly bandwidth restrictions and you will be able to download one movie a month as rest of the bandwidth will go for proxying torrents for others.

Bring it on! (1)

rotorbudd (1242864) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718131)

I'd love to see the studios asses handed to them by something like this.

Re:Bring it on! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718213)

If it starts seeing widespread use, they'll probably just buy another piece of legislation in order to let them bring lawsuits against the users anyway.

Re:Bring it on! (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718597)

Actually how the Disney party is bought and paid for by the MPAA, creation of such software will be a TERRORIST act and allow them to do Drone strikes inside the USA against Internet Terrorist suspected locations.

Re:Bring it on! (3, Interesting)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718727)

I doubt they would even need new legislation. They will just argue that all the nodes are participating in sharing copyrighted works and will sue random people they manage to identify. They do not even need a good case since defending yourself is generally cost prohibitive anyway.

This whole idea is a non-solution.... it is kinda like those guides for 'why you do not have to actually pay taxes' or 'you are not technically a citizen of the US and thus the law does not apply'... even if mathmatically the logic might make sense, once it hits actual courtrooms it falls apart.

Just use Retro Share and be done with it (4, Informative)

Megor1 (621918) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718141)

Retro share: http://retroshare.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] friend to friend private open source file sharing.

Re:Just use Retro Share and be done with it (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718249)

Retroshare is great, but it's limited by the number of friends you have. You only ever connect to people you have an established friend relationship with. If you only have one friend, it doesn't matter how many seeders there are for a file, it will never go faster than your friend's upload speed.

Re:Just use Retro Share and be done with it (3, Funny)

Megor1 (621918) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718439)

Just make friends with people who have google fiber :)

Re:Just use Retro Share and be done with it (1)

jamiesan (715069) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718717)

Moral Fiber? What kind of bandwidth do you get with that?

I don't understand (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718169)

Why you're posting information about breaking the law. Are you not ashamed of yourself? Have you no dignity or self-respect?

How would you like it if people stole all of your stuff and left you destitute, raw, and living in a VAN down by the RIVER!?!?!!!

No - you wouldn't like it. So if you would quit it with the criminal thoughts and play by the rules like any other decent human being would you won't have to resign yourself to that fate.

Re:I don't understand (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718231)

I remember my first beer.

Re:I don't understand (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718521)

The RIAA and MPAA have declared war on their customers, despite having several surveys which show that downloaders do NOT affect Movies , that Downloaders buy MORE music. The RIAA and MPAA have been shown in several court cases they DO NOT support artisits, and are only concerned in lining their own pockets.
Copy Right INFRIGMENT IS A CIVIL issue, and yet Kim DotCom of MEga Upload, Several music sites have all been taken down by USA government Agencies with the co-operation of by USA diplomatic pressure.
And yet not a single one of these site take downs has resulted in a single court case. All previous web sites have been given back to the original owner of the web sites except Kim DotCom, who has still not been charged, or given any list of laws he has broken.
As a USA Citizen I am ashamed of my government's corruption and usurption by corporate greed, and now the US courts won't even allow us citizens to use the Freedom of Information Act to determine whether I as a citizen am being watched or not.
So yes I see this as a necessary and good protection from a government I FEAR will prosecute me, as it did Arron Aschwatz, and others like him who are serving sentances in Jail, or being extradited from the UK to the USA.
I can proudly say that I have NOT voted for Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, or Barak Obama, or any other current incumbent, so as far as I am concerned this is NOTHING BUT GOOD.

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718569)

Appeals to the rule of law normally seem valid, but at this point I do not think it is possible to steal from a corporation like Sony etc. we are talking about organizations that have no soul, exist only to steal, and strive every day to destroy democracy.

The rule of law is for people and these things are not people.

Re:I don't understand (5, Insightful)

cgimusic (2788705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718583)

I see the ridiculous attempt at equating piracy with theft has shown its ugly head again. This idea is bad for everyone any only serves to obstruct actual debate about the ethics behind intellectual property. People who post information about breaking the law (it isn't even the law everywhere by the way so don't just assume American laws should be enforced worldwide) are never going to be ashamed because the reason they post the information in the first place is because they disagree with the existence of the law. The law is not the law because it is morally right. The law is the law because of pressure from lobby groups.

Re:I don't understand (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718623)

A lot of the negative impressions against movie studios and such with these law suits is that the individual person cannot properly defend themselves.
Completely innocent people have paid in thousands of dollars to these companies because they know a court case will cost them more.
The suing company doesn't have to solidly prove that the specific user they're suing did anything, they just need a bare minimum to bring it to court.
Individuals that go to court and lose are forced to pay sums of money they'll never likely pay off because the laws weren't meant to be brought against an individual but mass copying businesses.
There is a lot of abuse of these laws done by these big companies.

Yes, Peer to Peer file sharing of unauthorized files has hurt some little guys [though some have managed to work with it] but big business suing little guys has hurt a lot more of them than the damage done to the big businesses themselves [imo].

Re:I don't understand (2)

kaizendojo (956951) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718689)

How would you like it if people stole all of your stuff and left you destitute, raw, and living in a VAN down by the RIVER!?!?!!!

SNL's lawyers would like a word with you when you're done here....

Wrong (5, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718175)

If you are "proxying" connection, then you are downloading from user D1 and uploading to D2. It does not matter if you are not retaining that data, you are still copying stuff illegally. So in the end if content owners are unable to determine identity of actual downloaders, they can go for proxying users and hit them with exactly the same lawsuit.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718317)

> If you are "proxying" connection, then you are downloading from user D1 and uploading to D2. It does not matter if you are not retaining that data,

You are correct. However, does the data 1101 hold up to a copyright claim in court? No. So it's a matter of what the data is. He's not wrong, just not breaking down the practical aspects of the future conditions (which cannot be known for sure).

Re:Wrong (1, Interesting)

qbast (1265706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718451)

Bittorrent already splits data into small chunks and it is no protection from being sued. If you are proxying, they will probably just add charges of conspiracy on top of breaking copyright.

Re:Wrong (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718751)

> Bittorrent already splits data into small chunks and it is no protection from being sued

Citation? Every case has been one of monitoring a full set OR majority of data representing a torrent. Not tiny fragments. FUD is rotting your brain.

Re:Wrong (2)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718895)

Aiding and abetting.

Re:Wrong (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718321)

AHAH! Then clearly the answer to the problem for content owners is to just sue all ISP's! Since, for end users to download copyrighted content, the ISP's infrastructure and many other ISP's infrastructure who merely route between must copy and reupload that data dozens of times for each packet! Why sue the users who requested the files? Since the lawsuits award damages based on the number of copies you make, sue the ISP's since they make dozens of copies for every copy a user tries to obtain!

Re:Wrong (5, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718335)

U.S.C. Title 17 Section 512(a) [cornell.edu] would seem to apply:

(a) Transitory Digital Network Communications.— A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the provider’s transmitting, routing, or providing connections for, material through a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, or by reason of the intermediate and transient storage of that material in the course of such transmitting, routing, or providing connections, if—

(1) the transmission of the material was initiated by or at the direction of a person other than the service provider;

(2) the transmission, routing, provision of connections, or storage is carried out through an automatic technical process without selection of the material by the service provider;

(3) the service provider does not select the recipients of the material except as an automatic response to the request of another person;

(4) no copy of the material made by the service provider in the course of such intermediate or transient storage is maintained on the system or network in a manner ordinarily accessible to anyone other than anticipated recipients, and no such copy is maintained on the system or network in a manner ordinarily accessible to such anticipated recipients for a longer period than is reasonably necessary for the transmission, routing, or provision of connections; and

(5) the material is transmitted through the system or network without modification of its content.

The only question is whether you as an individual can qualify as a "service provider", but if the EFF's interpretation is correct, anyone falling into the above exemption would inherently qualify.

That said, I would not want to be the person who was being sued over using such a service. You'd presumably have to convince a judge that your purpose for using the software in the first place was something other than engaging in or facilitating copyright infringement.... Good luck with that.

Re:Wrong (2)

toejam13 (958243) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718527)

That's what I wonder. If proxy services are not classified as service providers, the government could in theory come after you for conspiracy or possibly RICO statutes.

If proxy services are classified as service providers, expect that laws regarding logging and auditing be ramped up. Every TCP connection you make will be saved and stored for a long time. Even if you bounce across seven proxies, the logs will eventually point back to the client. They could easily require little more than an administrative subpoena to get those logs, too.

My worry is that in their effort to trace pirates using back channel methods, the government is going to obtain very powerful methods to track you. And we're going to pay for it out of our own pockets.

Re:Wrong (2)

bytestorm (1296659) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718575)

Safe harbor provisions were exactly what I wanted to mention, and also as you mentioned, you have to be acting in good faith which may be hard to prove. What business or technical need is satisfied for legitimate users of the technology by proxying through peers? Proxying is only more useful for obfuscation as it is less efficient for actual data transfer (limited now by relay speed as well, increased complexity with a need for intelligent proxy selection). Maybe for NAT bypass, but that's about it, and it only needs 1 extra hop. For everything else, IP already does routing perfectly. Because of this, I don't see the necessary legitimate "cover traffic" arising, only infringing users will have this feature running.

Re:Wrong (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718577)

The gist of the story (quoted from the original post is this:...

but as long as it's not against the law to simply proxy a connection for someone else, that would not be grounds to subpoena the user D3's identity.

You ask "The only question is whether you as an individual can qualify as a "service provider".

But I don't think its necessary to reach that conclusion in order to go after the proxy provider any more than it is necessary to equate a drug mule to a licensed Bus Line like Greyhound.

The very act of proxy-ing could be found to be "aiding and abetting" which would probably be sufficient to get a warrant to search a proxy's server, even if there was no ultimately no arrest for the act of providing that proxy.

Further, to the extent it became common it would be explicit outlawed as it is in China today. There is a reason that Microsoft's first act when acquiring Skype was to kill off the entire concept of Skype Super-Nodes, and run all skype conversations through its own servers, and that reason had nothing to do with performance.

Trying to read a law set up to provide safe harbor to ISPs as applying to Joe Sixpack seems unlikely to be successful in the long run.

Re:Wrong (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718347)

If you have no control over the data being transported through you as often is the case with these darknet programs you are probably protected by the same DCMA provisions that protect the ISPs. That is, until they change the law. But then again you can make it in a way that never a complete file passes through you, and data never stays within your system.

Re:Wrong (1)

apcullen (2504324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718375)

I'm reasonably sure that transient copies such as you describe are not considered to be infringing.

Re:Wrong (3, Informative)

dbet (1607261) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718403)

Not necessarily. Keep in mind they never go after "doanloaders", only uploaders. It's just that with torrents, they've made the argument that everyone in the swarm is an uploader.

Also, if 2 people share a file, there are several nodes between them that also share that file, but no one is ever sued except the end user. With a place like Torrent tracker sites, they've made the argument that they of course know they're trading illegal files, that they have received take-down requests and ignored them. Even places like Youtube are expected to ban things on request.

Now enter proxy torrenting. Who do they send a take-down request to? Even if they can pin an upload to a specific address, they need to show that you knew you were trading "The Avengers" which you almost certainly didn't.

It's a legal mountain.

Re:Wrong (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718415)

It is not sane to assume that everyone is running a packet analyzer and inspecting all the traffic across their system.
And without knowledge, you cannot complete the necessary elements to convict.

Throw in some encryption for the proxied contents and the case against the proxy owner will never reach a jury.

Re:Wrong (3, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718645)

No conviction needed. These cases are civil actions, not criminal. There is no need to show the 'beyond reasonable doubt' level of proof.

Re:Wrong (4, Insightful)

spikenerd (642677) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718427)

It does not matter if you are not retaining that data, you are still copying stuff illegally.

By that logic, the owner of every router through which the data passed is responsible for the activities of the end users. I am not a lawyer, but I suspect intent may actually be relevant sometimes.

Re:Wrong (2)

Derekloffin (741455) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718497)

Intent plays into that. If I engage in an act (that in itself is not illegal) that I unknowingly facilitate an illegal act, I'm generally going to get off. However, if I engage in that same act and I know it will facilitate an illegal act, then I'm now generally accountable as well.

Re:Wrong (1)

eap (91469) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718507)

If you are "proxying" connection, then you are downloading from user D1 and uploading to D2. It does not matter if you are not retaining that data, you are still copying stuff illegally. So in the end if content owners are unable to determine identity of actual downloaders, they can go for proxying users and hit them with exactly the same lawsuit.

The FA says the traffic sent over the proxy is encrypted, so there would be no evidence it was copyrighted material.

Re:Wrong (2)

qbast (1265706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718655)

Traffic could be already encrypted between endpoints without inserting proxy in the middle, so it does not change anything.. Honestly, idea of adding a proxy is just weak attempt at finding legal loophole by splitting responsibility. Piratebay guys and Grokster (see MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.) got convicted for providing file sharing tools that happened to be used also for copyright infringement. Do you seriously expect that "I don't know and I don't care what I was proxying" defense will work? Judges can actually use common sense and anybody can see that this is just a technicality.

Re:Wrong (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718693)

Then CISCO is the largest Copyright infringement company on the planet and should be Stormed by the BATF right away.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718695)

>If you are "proxying" connection, then you are downloading from user D1 and uploading to D2

actually, you are retransmitting traffic one packet at a time. At no point do you "download"; you are just playing hot potato IMHO

I'm not so sure. (2)

Derekloffin (741455) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718181)

Didn't they already try to sue the proxy user for something like this. You aren't off the hook legally just because you disguise who you are dealing with. All I see this doing is having them shifting from suing the download'er to the proxy'er.

Re:I'm not so sure. (2)

Unknown1337 (2697703) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718351)

There are technicalities on both sides, but the idea of using proxies does imply a certain amount of expected of privacy (similar to using a vpn) which can be enough in some countries to have these lawsuits dropped or thrown out.

Re:I'm not so sure. (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718743)

Didn't they already try to sue the proxy user for something like this. You aren't off the hook legally just because you disguise who you are dealing with. All I see this doing is having them shifting from suing the download'er to the proxy'er.

Plausible deniability. Probably not the best defense, because its still going to cost you lots of money to defend yourself.

However if ALL Bittorrent clients had proxying built in and turned on by default, and if none of them provided any logging, then plausible deniability could probably be used as a defense. But only if the provider of the proxy was clueless as to the proxy's existence on his machine. If you have to go out of your way to install a proxy your intent becomes pretty clear.

Anyone serving as a proxy would never want to retain any of the proxied material, and the proxies should be nominated by the server to specifically not use as a proxy any bittorrent client having any of the files that the server is trying to serve, and provide very little information as to the addresses or files flowing thru the wires.

Unless proxies were double or triple hopped, there is nothing to prevent honeypot proxies from being set up with deliciously fat pipes to trap all IP addresses and requests. Hmmm, now who would want to set up something like that. Let me think about that for a couple milliseconds.

Swarm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718201)

Use this set of 10,000 users to proxy and reproxy and re re re proxy the 0's.... And this set of 10,000 users to proxy and reproxy and re re re proxy the 1's...

Prove i assembled them into some sort of file.

1's and 0's are not special. I don't care what pattern they eventually make. It's not aginst the law to move them around.
Or it shouldn't be... BECAUSE THAT IS FUCKING STUPID!

Re:Swarm... (1)

qbast (1265706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718261)

Here is even more radical idea: all zeros and all ones are the same anyway. So let proxy users send you just one 0 and 1, then you can duplicated them as needed and assemble (or not) into some file. Think about bandwidth savings - not matter how long is the file, it can be sent in just two bits!

Re:Swarm... (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718473)

the 1's and 0's aren't anonymous, only the ultimate source of the 1's and 0's. every one or zero sent to you through a torrent must still have the information describing in which part of which file it it belongs.

Re:Swarm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718685)

the 1's and 0's aren't anonymous, only the ultimate source of the 1's and 0's.

That's an inherent contradiction. Ultimate source has no meaning in this context. The message (the 1's and 0's) is not anonymous, except for where it came from? *facepalm*

every one or zero sent to you through a torrent must still have the information describing in which part of which file it it belongs.

Not true. Any encryption applied, obscures the message (every one and zero). Talking about the current common case of torrents is easy, but really just navel gazing. Only the lack of any legal action is preventing better security practices. That will be corrected in time.

The nuclear option (4, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718205)

I have a feeling this is a nuclear option.

If this is implemented, then pro-copyright extremists will argue that running or using a proxy is prima facae evidence of criminality and then lobby hard to make it illegal. Result? Anybody with a legitimate (or illegal but ethically necessary) reason to use a proxy will lose out.

The OPs' hope that the pro-copyright extremists won't fight back hard, with legislation to ban proxies, or force China-style "real ID" laws on Internet users, is naive at best, and ultimately, dangerous.

Re:The nuclear option (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718289)

While they may indeed lobby for such, it actually already is illegal. If you copy the data, you are infringing copyright, even if you don't keep the copy. Only reason the ISPs don't get hit with this as is is the DMCA protects them.

Re:The nuclear option (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718765)

Unless the protocol were designed such that you can't read what you relay.

Re:The nuclear option (4, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718397)

But that is the idea. The only way that has any chance of wining the fight is by forcing them to take more and more extreme measures until enough people are pissed with them.

anomos? (2)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718215)

This sounds like anomos: http://anomos.info/ [anomos.info]

I was researching this weekend, I can't seem to find out if the project is still alive. It looked well designed in 2010, and I'm not sure if it's using the Tor network (bad), or just the Tor protocol for its own network( good).

Re:anomos? (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718833)

Sounds a lot more like "Freenet [wikipedia.org] ". And you'll run into the many of the same issues with Freenet as you'll run into with this new proxied torrent system.

Seedboxes... (3, Informative)

ccguy (1116865) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718223)

Seedboxes have been around for years, they solve this problem too.

Re:Seedboxes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718429)

Only to a point: one can sue the seedbox provider for the necessary data (or enforce takedown in a similar way).

Re:Seedboxes... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718759)

Solution: Use a seedbox provider that doesn't keep logs. They get taken down, you're safe.
Or use a vpn for downloading that, again, doesn't keep logs.

Doubt that'll happen (3, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718253)

What'll happen is the studios will continue to sue and subpoena the information for the machines that they see connecting to the torrent. They'll argue that it's the owners of those machines responsible for any use of their machines by others. They'll continue to use these tactics as long as the courts make it cheap for them to file and lose. That won't end until the courts start ruling that the studios know they don't have grounds for these suits and start dismissing them with prejudice and sanctioning the plaintiffs without a defendant having to do anything. Maybe the courts starting to refuse to let the plaintiffs withdraw their claims after a defendant's responded, forcing the plaintiffs to face an adverse judgement and sanctions, might stop them too, but my money's on the studios in that case betting that too few defendants will have the resources to gamble on winning that show-down.

Re:Doubt that'll happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718423)

The question that will be addressed by the courts will be "does this technology have a valid use independent of piracy?" (c.f the legality of the VCR, and the associated legal battle). If the answer is yes, then the courts will almost certainly allow it. However, if we cannot muster some explanation for why files should be transmitted at essentially 2.5x their original size that is not simply to evade legal obstacles to pirating, the courts will look very disfavorably at this, probably calling it something like "willfully assisting mass distribution of copyright infringing material". Fundamentally, the author is trying to solve a [x] Legal problem by technical means.

Re:Doubt that'll happen (1)

buswolley (591500) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718601)

Anonymous freedom of speech fliers.

And I have a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718263)

And I have a gun in an unlocked box, loaded of course, in my front yard with proper signage if I ever need to use it. No one would ever touch someone else's gun with ill-intent would they?

I don't see how you get to "plausible deniability" (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718269)

All the studios need to do to quash this idea is to successfully argue in court that volunteering to act as a proxy host is comparable to hosting the file yourself. That does not seem like a hard argument to make. Don't the copyrighted bits have to pass through the proxy host's machine? That sounds like "distribution" to me.

Yet another half-baked idea from frequent contributed Bennett Hasselton.

Re:I don't see how you get to "plausible deniabili (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718399)

> All the studios need to do to quash this idea is to successfully argue in court that volunteering to act as a proxy host is comparable to hosting the file yourself.

Proving a message is part of a larger coordinated effort is not a solved cryptographic problem. Intent to proxy simply hasn't been attacked in court to show how futile that effort is. The problem space is wide, so don't worry your little head about it.

Re:I don't see how you get to "plausible deniabili (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718449)

This is useless because the big guys have at their disposal a nearly 100% effective method for converting even the purest forms of "plausible deniability" into "overwhelmingly costly deniability"

Re:I don't see how you get to "plausible deniabili (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718519)

This is useless because the big guys have at their disposal a nearly 100% effective method for converting even the purest forms of "plausible deniability" into "overwhelmingly costly deniability"

Near-100% sure does stop those physical copies, amirite?

Too long, did NOT read (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718343)

Torrenting is good for the net though

3.5 times more people sued (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718357)

This just seems like a great way to have 3.5 times more people sued for being 'accessories to copyright infringement'.

Let's just assume the 6 strike is very real threat (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718359)

Maybe someone creates a malicious software targeted @ Verizon customers.
It would download RIAA monitored torrents at very low bandwidth in order to be unnoticeable to the average user.
It could download at least 6 torrents in 1 month which would result in disconnection of service.
Lets say the attackers have a database of Verizon customer e-mails and a good method for exploitation of Windows O.S.
Seems like one could put Verizon out of business if they are so keen on upholding their 'Six Strikes' plan.

Idiots (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718371)

The only thing that's going to do is make the industry sue internet users for simply running p2p software, regardless of what they download with it.

That, or they'll have an internet tax created, so every ISP needs to pay the media industry protection money for each user.

And by "solve the problem"... (4, Informative)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718373)

You mean make everyone responsible for everyone's downloading. You wouldn't be eliminating the lawsuits, you'd just enable them to sue everyone who was in the proxy pool, for much higher amounts than they can even now.

They don't care if you actually watch the movie (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718387)

or play the game or listen to the music you downloaded. It's the making and distribution of copies that is the "problem".

So they'll just go after the proxy runner who has both downloaded and uploaded the copyrighted content.

Congrats on dumbest idea for the day though!

"but as long as it's not against the law to proxy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718391)

Then it will be against the law soon enough.

What am I missing? (2)

mcmonkey (96054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718393)

This sounds too much like, "it's OK to rob a bank, because you're just taking the bank's money. You're not stealing from any people."

the ISP can quite truthfully claim that they don't have any hard evidence to disconnect any particular users or turn over their identities

Does it work that way? I mean, my ISP can tell I'm sharing something that under current law I do not have a right to share. Is my 'get out of jail' card really as simple as, yes, but I don't know who I'm sharing it with?

On the other end, my ISP can tell I'm downloading something that under current law I do not have a right to download, but it's all good, because no one can say for sure who I'm downloading from?

To go back to the bank robbing analogy--and I don't mean to equate copyright infringement with stealing,but--let's say I bust my way in to a bank, crack open the safe, and the next day money is missing. Would I feel comfortable going to court with the defense, "yes, I got in to the bank, and in to the safe, and the money is missing, but you can't prove I took the money?" I don't think I like that defense.

So in this case, "yes, I uploaded your movie, but you can't prove who I uploaded it to." I don't think so. I also don't think not being able to prove who received the bits I sent is the same as not being able to prove that someone received those bits.

Re:What am I missing? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718641)

There was no effort to identify who Jammie Thomas uploaded files to, only that she made the files available from her computer for others to download. I don't see that changing anytime soon, so identifying who the downloader might be is unimportant, only that there are files being offered for download.

I also tend to agree that No Good Can Possibly Come From Piracy. I have seen plenty of justifications like the studios are making plenty of money as it is even with rampant piracy and the Star Trek justification - if we get rid of revenue everything will be free. Unfortunately what we are seeing is the "early adopter stage" still with piracy. It is somewhat more mainstream than it was five years ago but overall Internet speeds are increasing worldwide and that makes piracy faster and easier. We are educating children that there is no need to pay for anything on the Internet and I think the lessons are taking hold. This means we will see piracy being more and more mainstream. So when do studios decide there is no longer enough revenue to even bother with digital distribution? As a bulk of the material on The Pirate Bay is digitally recorded OTA and satellite broadcasts, what happens when it is decided there just isn't any point in putting this stuff out for the pirates to grab? I think the point comes when broadcast ad revenues drop to the point where it is clear that "popular" does not result in revenue - just pirate viewers.

Is the answer to this that the Internet comes with a fee for getting access to all that content from studios? I don't think so - because the Netflix model doesn't begin to compensate studios as is easily seen by the Netflix content selection. Nobody is giving Netflix anything that could have any other revenue stream associated with it - Stars pulled out because even as a cable channel they were getting more than Netflix could cough up. No, a subscription fee isn't going to cut it. And comparing it to the media tariff is pointless because none of that has ever been distributed to anyone.

Math fail (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718419)

a little math shows that the length of the average chain is 3.5 nodes

The average length of such a chain is 2.5, not 3.5

(defun p (n)
    (let ((p 0.4)
                (l 1)
                (tot 0))
        (dotimes (ii n)
            (setf tot (+ tot (* p l)))
            (setf p (* 0.6 p))
            (setf l (+ 1 l)))
        tot))
(p 100)

Hush Bennett! (2)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718421)

This is the kind of talk that will spur DMCA2. Where only authorized computers with sufficient limitations, forced ISP activity reporting and government backdoors will be allowed to connect to the internet.

Because the current markets and business models developed around our old IP laws are more sacred than the natural development of technological innovation.

Re:Hush Bennett! (1)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718681)

You already have Government backdoors in ahem...a certain OS I will not mention. Some ISPs have logging software that they give to the Government and they search for keywords etc. We are already being monitored, now it's time to figure out how to weasel out of it.

I do agree with you, if for some reason the RIAA and MPAA were locked out of our activities, they have the power to lobby and succeed in getting new legislation passed. That's the problem with some countries, we have allowed big corporations to take over absolutely everything and dictate what we can and can't do.

Casting a vote against fun? (4, Interesting)

CCarrot (1562079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718437)

When you refuse to pay for movies, you're casting a vote against fun, big-budget movies that are made for the purpose of getting lots of people to come see them and enjoy them, and instead voting in favor of excruciatingly boring low-budget films that are made primarily so that the director could whine that the cheese-puff-snarfing American public wouldn't know great art if it bit them on their big bloated behind and subsequently didn't even buy enough tickets for the director to pay off the lien he took out on his Honda Civic to get the movie produced.

Firstly, this [commnet.edu] .

Secondly, I'm casting a vote against not being able to use the media I purchased in the manner I want, on whatever device I want for as long as I want.

I buy DVDs (okay, usually on sale) and rip them, because all of the legal digital versions available suck lame sauce in terms of DRM crap. If I'm feeling too lazy to rip it myself, I have no compunctions about grabbing a torrent.

In conclusion, I would like to refer you to this handy illustrated guide [geek.com] .

Oh, and this one too [theoatmeal.com] .

Re:Casting a vote against fun? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718883)

There is a mountain of evidence that clearly shows that peer-to-peer downloaders BUY MORE MUSIC AND MOVIES than non-downloaders. This whole 'you stole it' stuff is bunk. Sure, I may download a current show or movie if I am not sure if I'll like it, or if this week/month/quarter/year I can't afford to buy a copy. But, and this is a big but, for movies and music that I like and want to have around I buy the stuff! I also have a Netflix subscription for both disc and streaming and here's a for instance: I watched Ip Man on streaming. I liked it so I rented the discs to get the extra features and I liked those too, so I bought Blu-ray copies of Ip Man and Ip Man 2. I have a collection of ripped movies and TV shows, but I won't hang onto them for very long or I'll actually buy the ones I like. To blanket everyone who downloads movies, music or TV shows as a pirate is more than a bit disingenuous. Reaching back to what others have said repeatedly, if there was a legal means for me to watch the shows I want to watch when I want to watch them, I'd do it. But TV shows are often delayed to the Internet. Movies take forever or never to get into Netflix streaming or a month after street date for rental discs (WTF?!?!). So, the more roadblocks the establishment puts between me and the content I want to see and hear then the more I am going to do what I can to circumvent it and enjoy myself when I want the way I want with the content I want. Why have they still not gotten this through their thick, pointy heads? It's been more than a decade since file sharing started and they are still trying futilely to stop it instead of trying to find out why it's happening and fix their processes to match the market demands. It's just plain idiocy!

Doesn't work legally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718463)

Look, it's illegal to distribute copyright material. The ISPs can get away without liability as they have some kind of common carrier status, but USERS DO NOT. If users have copyright material flowing through their machine as part of a new Pirate Bay, they will be held liable for distributing it.

not a fix (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718465)

First let me say that I legitimately use Bit torrent and similar programs to download (and reshare) perfectly legal things like Knoppix and other open sores software. I have had to limit my use, being a victim of the AT&T monopoly I'm subject to the data caps even for my DSL land line, so no more leaving the torrent up for a month to help share new software after it is released.

I sure don't want my IP address associated in any way with crap like copies of the latest jar-jar movie from the hack who lied to us about Lost (illegal or legal copies). And I don't want my traffic to skyrocket to move that junk even when I didn't download it myself, just so some warez freaks can try to hide from the entertainment mafia. And if I chose to run software that knowingly routed such traffic through my computer, then I completely expect that the courts owned by the entertainment mafia would decide that I acted in collusion with the people who uploaded and downloaded the questionable files and that I was an accomplice.

Naive (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718471)

would make it impossible for third parties to identify the source or destination of the file transfer.

Not even Tor can guarantee that unless other dozens of requirements are met. So, no.

would hopefully put an end to the era of movie studios subpoenaing ISPs

Erm.. no.

Verbify (1)

grumpy_old_grandpa (2634187) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718515)

Before we go ahead with any of this, could we please not "verbify" all the nouns? In other words, feel free to implement a proxy based p2p protocol or network, as long as you don't "proxify" it.

The Pirate Bay never served content files (5, Informative)

capedgirardeau (531367) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718523)

Note that this still means that in order to initiate the download, the server S has to serve out the whole file at least once, to the first downloader -- and if the file is being distributed without the copyright owner's permission, then the operators of server S can be taken to court. This legal pressure was the reason that the Pirate Bay switched from serving BitTorrent files to serving magnet links, which enable users to download content purely from each other, without the Pirate Bay ever actually serving the content themselves.

This shows a basic misunderstanding of how BitTorrent works.

TPB never had any copyrighted content files on their servers ever. They served up .torrent files which were files that pointed to trackers for the content files being shared.

Now they use magnet files, which allows users to get .torrent files from other users instead of from TPB.

And they say that I'm an idealist (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718531)

You're going to deploy a technology that will threaten the profits of the corporations that can can get statutes enacted definining "securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors" as "the entire life of the author plus 75 frikkin' years to an estate" - and you expect the government they own won't come down on you like a ton of bricks? You expect technical merit and plausible deniability to even be a factor here?

Please donate to the guy who's being prosecuted for kiddie porn [lowendtalk.com] for running a Tor exit node while you think about it.

If you're stressing anonymity (2)

Sheetrock (152993) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718541)

Then you want everything in the same encrypted network and the lion's share of the usage of that network to be legitimate. Although BitTorrent over TOR is currently abusive of the TOR network, it would be better to find a means of making BitTorrent tolerable to TOR (or vice-versa) than to create a separate encrypted filesharing network.

When this all gets tested in a courtroom, it is far better for an encrypted network to appear to be protecting privacy than to enable lawbreaking. The difference between the two is just how closely the type of data over the encrypted network matches the type of data sent over the unencrypted Internet. Better to encourage the use of TOR to everybody than to have one encrypted network for privacy advocates and another made 99% of pirates -- the latter service lowers the bar for legal decisions and laws to be made that can then ruin all encrypted networks in general.

This idea is a copy of my theses from 2004 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718551)

This idea, all down to the length of chain and statistical calculation is described in my Master Thesis from 2004.

(sorry, the thesis is in russian)
https://docs.google.com/document/edit?id=1wRgj1VChUsbcdkQJcrEweW6ZsYtZJZVLelhejBhEL9Y#

--
Moshe Vainer
And here is the listing of the thesis in the university's site http://mocnit.miet.ru/do/2004.html

Error in TFA (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718561)

This legal pressure was the reason that the Pirate Bay switched from serving BitTorrent files to serving magnet links, which enable users to download content purely from each other, without the Pirate Bay ever actually serving the content themselves.

The Pirate Bay still serves torrents.

For a file with few seeders, the torrent is linked on the website.
Once the # of seeders reaches a certain threshold, the torrent link is removed.
BUT, the torrent is still on the server and can still be accessed if you take 30 seconds to figure out the formatting of the torrent names.

The top 200 torrents on TPB: https://thepiratebay.se/top/all [thepiratebay.se]
Here's the the TPB .torrent for the most popular file. It has 15,093 seeders and 22,038 leechers.
https://torrents.thepiratebay.se/8074715/WWE_Royal_Rumble_2013_PPV_HDTV_x264-FreaK.8074715.TPB.torrent [thepiratebay.se]

Seems like lazy coding on TPB's part.

Re:Error in TFA (1)

capedgirardeau (531367) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718903)

It is worse than just the mistake about still serving up torrent files. He seems to think TPB actually served up the copyrighted content files..

Reminds me of a saying... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718613)

...A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I think someone just reinvented Tor.

My thoughts on this. (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718647)

May I be the first to say, fuck the RIAA, MPAA, and BSA. And, the ISP's they rode in on.

Use math (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718657)

Is rational to penalize people for sharing some of the digits of an irrational number? It could even be a known one, like e or pi.

Not how BitTorrent works (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718719)

Note that this still means that in order to initiate the download, the server S has to serve out the whole file at least once, to the first downloader -- and if the file is being distributed without the copyright owner's permission, then the operators of server S can be taken to court. This legal pressure was the reason that the Pirate Bay switched from serving BitTorrent files to serving magnet links, which enable users to download content purely from each other, without the Pirate Bay ever actually serving the content themselves.

Not at all. The person you're labeling as "server S" here would be more appropriately called the "initial seeder". Every individual that is participating in a swarm but has the entire torrent being shared is a seeder. The initial seeder is, generally, the person first making the file available. BitTorrent doesn't treat them any differently from any other seeder, though.

There are two kinds of servers in a BitTorrent network: a tracker and an index. The trackers are actually part of the BitTorrent protocol. They maintain a list of connected peers for each torrent. That is all. The indexes are not strictly part of the BitTorrent protocol. They are websites that are sources for metainfo files (".torrent files") and/or magnet links. Confusingly, The Pirate Bay runs both. The Pirate Bay website is an index. They also run trackers. However, neither indexes nor trackers ever possess or share any part of the actual data being shared. They store and transmit only metadata.

D1 is required at this point to share out the file for download, in order to earn enough "credits" to continue downloading from S.D1 is required at this point to share out the file for download, in order to earn enough "credits" to continue downloading from S.

This is often how it's described, but it's not true. BitTorrent's decision-making is local-only. A particular peer P1 will tend to deprioritize another peer P2 if does not receive pieces from that peer. (This is a "tit-for-tat" priority approach.) Peers don't communicate with each other about who's been sharing what. They don't communicate with the tracker about who's been sharing what. They receive no explicit instructions from other peers or from the tracker.

As for your overall idea, it seems like you're trying to out-clever the legal system. That's a dangerous path. It's more effective to have a system where the protects you want are guaranteed by the design of the system.

In other words, all P2P systems are doomed to reinvent Freenet, badly.

One time Pads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718787)

When you are downloading multiple torrent files, you can simply say how a packet of file is computationally related to other. :-) like, i'm sending you XOR(Torrent X , Torrent Y). It's entirely possible that Torrent Y is an Ubuntu ISO torrent. :-) This is an excellent way to couple the proxy idea, and it works nicely as an Onion layer as well.

Coordinated adversaries and statistical deviation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718797)

We can safely assume that our adversary will control a number of servers, as such, a regression analysis based on the frequency with which a peer is reached will make the system vulnerable to legal attack.

If D1 (adversary) sees D0 (us) as a peer, D1 can only prove 40% chance that D0 is hosting the file. This is good, as it falls below the balance of probabilities needed in civil law.

If D1 through D20 (coordinated adversaries) see D0 significantly frequently than C1 through C20 do (adversary control systems not downloading the file), the adversary can probably reach the level of legal proof (hosting the file on balance of probabilities) from the statistical improbability of having a non-hosting D0 appear that frequently. This is bad.

Fortunately, as the number of users hosting the file and using the system increases, the number of adversary controlled machines needed increases. (I haven't done statistics in a very long time, but I suspect the rate of increase is logarithmic and related to the 40% number.)

Unfortunately, the adversary has nearly unlimited resources. A 40% direct transfer rate is a good starting number, but I'm not convinced it's low enough; but I think we can all agree that software like this is coming. Careful analysis will be needed to maximize 'legal anonymity' while retaining download performance.

why do you keep calling it piracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718803)

...when you mean fair usage? most people i know just watch series and movies that have been already aired on TV, which makes it fair usage and the equivalent of having a friend record something for you on an old VHS recorder. i understand the movie industry gets pissed when people share movies recorded at the theater but seriously how many people watch screeners nowadays? we have to stop calling it piracy when what we really mean is fair usage, which btw is legal in most countries

Pirates have other countermeasures too. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42718851)

Anyone else noticed that movies are getting smaller? From 4.4GB for all 720p movies, 3GB-ish files are now increasingly common. Games too are abandoning the relic of the pile-o-rars in favor of more space-efficient schemes. It's the pressure of bandwidth quotas and the need to get back underground: Pirates are investing more time in compression.

Think larger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42718899)

Think larger guys... There's two aspects at play:

a) minimizing expensive links (eg JPAU, JPUS, USEU), where having one or more of the intermediate anonymous nodes being closer to the file requester would result in less data having to go over the expensive and slower international pipes
b) killing off "region locking", which is hobbling the "web"

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