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Comcast Sued Over P2P Blocking

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the let-us-pirate-music-at-a-reasonable-speed dept.

The Courts 268

CRISTAROL writes "Comcast has been sued by a California resident for blocking BitTorrent and other traffic. 'John Hart describes himself as a Comcast customer who has seen performance hits when using "Blocked Applications" targeted by Comcast's traffic management application, Sandvine. In his complaint, Hart says that Comcast severely limits "the speed of certain internet applications such as peer-to-peer file sharing and lotus notes [sic]." Comcast accomplishes this by "transmitting unauthorized hidden messages" to the PCs of those using the applications.' The lawsuit comes on the heels of an FCC complaint over the same issue."

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268 comments

Ha (4, Interesting)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359075)

"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

The article was blocked just a few seconds ago. COINCIDENCE? hmm?

About time (5, Insightful)

proudfoot (1096177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359083)

Maybe comcast will start delivering what people paid for.

Re:About time (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359123)

Yea right. At *best* they'll tell people what they're *actually* paying for in the fine print of their contracts. More likely they'll spend some money delaying lawsuits and lobby congress hard for the ability to do whatever they want. Then they'll settle out of court and anyone who starts a new suit they'll fight with new laws they bought.

Re:About time (1)

TheQuantumShift (175338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359237)

Judging from the week and a half it took for someone to come out and unscrew a filter off my line, I doubt it. Not to mention it took two different techs two visits to do it.

Damn you basketball season, damn you!

Re:About time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359469)

Maybe comcast will start delivering what people paid for.
I take it you didn't read the fine print.

Re:About time (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359479)

or maybe they'll just disconnect him and block slashdot lol. Come on, you know they won't do what people want! What kind of crazy business model is that?
Btw anyone know what the sic was for? I didn't see any spelling for grammar mistakes

Re:About time (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359631)

"lotus notes" should've been titlecased.

Pay to steal (0, Flamebait)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359729)

P2P = stealing

There's no Robin Hood here. Downloaders hurt people: law abiding customers who have there own products degraded by the action of a few, and obviously, all the people who have the rug stolen from under their feet (the artists amongst others).

I think that Comcast is acting in good faith here and in the interests of its best customers.

Let's stop cheering for criminals, please.

Re:Pay to steal (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359763)

Did you accidentally forget the [sarcasm][/sarcasm] tags or are you genuinely brainwashed? Last time I checked, downloading the latest Linux distro via P2P did not "hurt people" and certainly did no harm to any such "artists" (if you can even call them that anymore).

Re:Pay to steal (4, Funny)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359767)

I use P2P for transferring Linux ISOs. And nothing else.

Re:Pay to steal (2, Funny)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359807)

Taken from my own signature: "Linux violates 235 Microsoft patents."

One way or another, P2P is almost always stealing. Especially when it's Linux ISOs!!!

Re:Pay to steal (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359879)

"Linux violates 235 Microsoft patents."
Prove it.

Re:Pay to steal (0, Flamebait)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359943)

http://www.novell.com/news/press/microsoft-and-novell-celebrate-year-of-interoperability-expand-collaboration-agreement/ [novell.com]

Do you use SUSE? If so, when the shoe doesn't fit, you don't have to force it. But everytime someone downloads RedHat (for example), someone in India has to skip a meal... And that's why Tux is so fat, BTW.

Re:Pay to steal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21360057)

Troll. Get off my Intarwebs.

Re:Pay to steal (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21360205)

Hows that new copy of Big.Tits.And.Black.Dicks.xvid.x64-linux working out for you?

Re:Pay to steal (1, Redundant)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360527)

Actually, I was serious about not transferring anything but Linux ISOs. I don't have/want any songs/videos. Legal or otherwise.

Re:Pay to steal (4, Insightful)

Iam9376 (1096787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359811)

Wow, are you bought and paid for? Looking at the homepage and sig.., Bill.. is that you?

P2P != stealing in such a broad sense.

Many companies these days use P2P such as bittorrent to distribute files, free games, Enemy Territory, True Combat Elite, et cetera can be had via bittorrent. No stealing, all legal. This is not even to mention to sharing of Linux and other free, public domain files that can be spread freely.

Go crawl back into your perfect little hole.

Re:Pay to steal (2, Insightful)

Ironspork (916882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359839)

So does that mean WOW using a P2P torrent setup for game updates is stealing? Under your definition, most legal activity under there is stealing. So that means using a legal service that I paid for is illegal? I'm really not following your logic here. Oh wait, maybe because there isn't any?

Re:Pay to steal (2, Interesting)

krazytekn0 (1069802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360135)

[sarcasm]
While we're at it we need to block all internet video and picture viewing
Pictures on the intarwebs = porn

Everyone else who tries to download jpegs is just trying to get porn. Oh yeah, and there's no possible way to use a web browser without being a criminal, you're making copies of copyrighted content on your own computer in RAM, on the Screen and in your cache and index therefore we should block every kind of internet transfer other than emails and IMs because copying stuff that you wouldn't buy anyway hurts artists! Everyone knows this. It would be in your best interest if you just weren't allowed to use the web or ssh or ... because some people have done illegal things that way.[/sarcasm]

I know that I was kinda rambling there, but I'm so tired of people who think that P2P is about stealing. I download FREE music (as in speech and beer) over p2p, linux ISOs because I know that guys putting out distros have to PAY for their bandwidth and mine is pretty much unlimited, I'm sorry to all of the artists that I killed by downloading the latest openSuSE dvd. I hope that they're families will one day find it in their hearts to forgive me

Re:Pay to steal (2, Insightful)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360509)

I'm glad they modded you funny, 'cause I almost laughed myself off my chair reading your post. Seriously, do you think 'downloaders' are hoarding tonnes of cash that they would otherwise have spent on software? I mean, if they didn't pirate software, they would just not have the software. If they didn't pirate music, they'd just not have music. They wouldn't go out and buy it, no matter what you do. In most cases, my guess is these people just don't have the disposable income to pay for music and games over and above the hardware they bought.

Re:About time (0, Redundant)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359761)

Maybe comcast will start delivering what people paid for.
It's sad that I don't know whether to mod this FUNNY, INSIGHTFUL, or REDUNDANT.

PENIS PENIS HAHAHAHAHAHA PENIS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359105)

the title sez it all, fuckers. PENIS!

Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. ISP (4, Insightful)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359115)

The real problem here isn't just that Comcast is doing the filtering. Who knows -- maybe it's really OK under their EULA and the law (which I doubt). But the most painful part of the problem to consumers is that the Comcast government-granted monopoly on the cable lines means that lots of consumers have no other alternative.

I think the antitrust laws might have something to say here, although it's a bit of a stretch. In any case, how can we codify the fact that providers with effective monopoly status should have an additional burden of service to their customers? I do wonder if this is bigger than limited net neutrality legislation.

--
Educational microcontroller kits for a digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (3, Informative)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359163)

I'm not suggesting that this is the correct solution to the problem, but the thing you are describing is a "telecommunications common carrier", and extending that status to Internet access seems to be what you want.

-Peter

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1, Interesting)

Burdell (228580) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359299)

Nobody really wants ISPs to be common carriers. Part of being a common carrier is that you are required to be content-agnostic. Think about what the Internet would be like if ISPs couldn't block customers for spamming, spreading worms, DoS attacks, etc.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (5, Funny)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359587)

Think about what the Internet would be like if ISPs couldn't block customers for spamming, spreading worms, DoS attacks, etc.
They do that now? I hadn't noticed.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (2)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359707)

"Think about what the Internet would be like if ISPs couldn't block customers for spamming, spreading worms, DoS attacks, etc."

We don't have to think about it, buddy...we live it.

"Blocking customers" is a useless exercise that only gives the appearance of doing anything. It's easy for spammers to get new accounts, or activate more zombie PCs.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (4, Insightful)

manly_15 (447559) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359737)

If I use my home phone in an abusive manner, I can lose my service. A simple example would be if I bought a home phone line and send out robo-calls advertising.

Also, phone companies offer restricted numbers, unlisted numbers, and the like. It's possible to set up an account that only accepts calls from specific numbers. This doesn't interefer with their common carrier status. Presumably ISP's could work in exactly the same way.

I am Canadian though, so things could be different south of the border.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1)

Vexo (825223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359871)

Blocking illegal activities and blocking specific protocols because they tend to use up more bandwidth than the ISPs like are two totally different things, don't confuse the issue.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (4, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360069)

Nobody really wants ISPs to be common carriers. Part of being a common carrier is that you are required to be content-agnostic. Think about what the Internet would be like if ISPs couldn't block customers for spamming, spreading worms, DoS attacks, etc.

With all due respect, that's not really accurate. I wrote a 'Net Neutrality For Dummies' column [livejournal.com] in our local weekly, so I won't repeat myself unnecessarily. Suffice it to say that nobody minds having traffic rules. What we don't want is to have traffic rules that get selectively enforced according to the whims of a given Internet provider.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (3, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360099)

Phone companies can still stop telemarketers, phone threats, war dialers, fraudulent marketing, and other forms of phone abuse. They don't really want to, but they can. Especially if they are using obscene amounts of resources like spammers and DOSers do. I don't think being a common carrier would present a problem for this type of stuff. Worst-case it would require some laws to clarify (or some dumb spammer to actually sue an ISP).

And BTW, judging from most Slashdot posters, everyone does want ISPs to be common carriers.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1)

Squalish (542159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360483)

Because phreaking is legal on common carrier phone companies?

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1)

zildgulf (1116981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359323)

The big question is: Why doesn't the government treat them as a "telecommunications common carrier" in some cases? Thanks to Comcast's expansion into telephony (not as a backup carrier, but as a primary carrier) and their residential ISP monopoly, in some locations, they seem to be acting more like a common carrier than another service provider.

Was it the possibility of being treated as a common carrier that made them launch politically motivated ads for the "Modernization of the Telecommunications Laws" for the last few years?

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (4, Insightful)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359189)

"maybe it's really OK under their EULA and the law (which I doubt)."

You'd be correct in doubting it. IANAL, but:

Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.
It would seem to be that 1) Comcast has a scheme to make money (by having less in bandwidth costs), and 2) they fraudulently transmit interrupt signals to accomplish this.

Really, they should be prosecuted in criminal court, not sued in civil court.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359629)

Good luck throwing a corporation in prison. ;-)

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (3, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359863)

There is no reason a corporation could not be locked up. It is simply a matter of judges and juries being willing. They are certainly able.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (0, Troll)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360355)

Please, explain further this wondrous idea of yours. My imagination has not yet figured it out.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360533)

Ahhhh... i hope to see the day when a corporation is criminally convicted, and its registered office sealed as in house-arrest with its board inside.
Unfortunately, by a quirk of fate, the corporate veil (am studying Banking law), cannot be pierced except when government dues/taxes are due or in times of War.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1)

Giranan (762783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359389)

"The real problem here isn't just that Comcast is doing the filtering."

Yeah, but isn't Comcast contracting them? It's not like they don't know what's going on with their own networks.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359487)

EULA is overridden by California law and FCC regulations.
AT&T and others signed a net neutrality agreement for merging.
The same applies to comcast.
If they block any protocol, they get sued.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (0)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359903)

I am curious what law you might think assures you that Comcast cannot block stuff? I cannot imagine any legislation at any level that would do this.

What this comes down to is what an ordinary person would believe they are supposed to get vs. what is actually being provided. Arguing that you want to download movies from Eastern European servers is a non-starter. Perhaps downloading a Linux distribution might be a starting point, but I think that falls vastly outside of the knowledge of "an ordinary person".

I don't see any possible argument for Comcast not providing 100% of the service they are claiming to.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (3, Interesting)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360073)

Well, when they get 100% of the money for all the services they claim to provide, they better back it up by providing 100% service for all the services they contracted to provide me.
Because, if they don't i can sue them for False Advertising, Mis-representation of merchandise involved, delibrate intent to defraud, and a raft of state laws.

Its simple and legal. Use the same arguments they use to make you pay.
Non-Emotional, robotic motions to legal recourse.

What it does it matter to them, if i use torrent to download SG-Atlantis or a Linux distro.

They can't claim to police my activities in the same way Walmart can't question a buyer of handguns in its Keene, NH store just because its store clerk felt like it.

If i were the person who sues comcast, i would send out a subpoena demanding ALL emails relating to this PLUS pull network administrators on oath to say it.

I bet Comcast would settle before going to court.

Re:Government-granted monopoly leads to no alt. IS (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360415)

The real problem here isn't just that Comcast is doing the filtering.

Please, call it what it is: forgery. They aren't just filtering packets; they are sending extra packets to trick one of the two parties into thinking the other said something he didn't.

Slashdot... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359171)

God I hate you guys.


Fuck every single one of you.

Comcast (0, Troll)

iviagnus (854023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359219)

Instead of blocking those apps that use more bandwidth, those Comcast fascists need to spend some of the money we customers pay to improve the network. Fuck it if the shareholders only make $13,490.00 per hour instead of $17,436.00. We're more important than their salaries or dividends.

Re:Comcast (3, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359759)

No, both are important.

Your job as an officer or executive of a company is to maximize shareholder value while obeying the law and business ethics. All of these things are supposed to be done. It's in a company's best financial interests to take care of their customers because that's where revenue comes from. If your customers abandon you because of your shady dealings or you lose millions of dollars in a lawsuit or the government steps in to micromanage your business, then the shareholders are going to be quite upset.

LK

Re:Comcast (2, Insightful)

woodrad (1091201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359881)

While I appreciate the hyperbole, I think that the premise here is flawed. First, the word "fascist" is a word that has been so overused that the meaning is nearly the same as "bad". Second, shareholders obviously aren't making that much, and are not leeching thieves as your comment implies. Shareholders elect to put off their own consumption in exchange for, hopefully, more money in the future. Greed might be the motive, but the result is more of a quid pro quo than theft. Profit in itself is not an evil, but an incentive that can be a boon. If the service is so sub-par, then go to a competitor (most people have the option of DSL, cable, wireless, and satellite at the least). If there is no competitor, try putting off your own consumption and making some competition on your own, if the market does indeed have people who are not being served to their liking. Perhaps the price of the internet would go up even more if they did not implement cost-saving measures. In the end, the company and the customer have to front the bill of infrastructure upgrades. I think an argument that they are making money by nefarious means or by using monopoly power would have some grounding to it, but your comment does not seem to imply that.

Any chance for a.... (1)

PolishPimpin (999262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359229)

Class Acion law suit? Would love to hop on that bandwagon if I could. Comcast used to be good but its stopped caring about its customers here in the Chicago area. The only alternative is DSL and we all know what thats like...

Re:Any chance for a.... (2, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359271)

Class Acion law suit? Would love to hop on that bandwagon if I could.

So you can get a coupon for two free months of Comcast internet service while Comcast continues to block legitimate traffic? Class action lawsuits are worse than no lawsuit at all.

Re:Any chance for a.... (1)

PolishPimpin (999262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359339)

The whole point for a Class Action lawsuit here would be to make it financially impractical for them to continue blocking legitamate traffic....

Re:Any chance for a.... (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359653)

The whole point for a Class Action lawsuit here would be to make it financially impractical for them to continue blocking legitamate traffic....

Too bad it won't work that way. Assuming a class action suit was filed and they lost, they'd be out no money (just operating expenses) for the "remediation" to customers (seriously, you're just going to get some trivial coupons, possibly for stuff you don't even want like free digital phone service when you only use Comcast for internet, in exchange for giving up the right to sue them yourself), they'll be charged a few million for the lawyers and court fees, and they'll spend quite a bit less than that for their own lawyers to scrub their EULAs and TOUs to make the traffic blocking legitimate. Without a law like net neutrality or applying common carrier status to ISPs and without significant competition from other cable-based ISPs, they'll make all of that back and more. And they'll keep blocking traffic.

If this guy wins his lawsuit, it will set a precedent where anybody can sue them and expect to win. If he loses, fine, go class action to attempt to send some sort of message. But don't throw away an opportunity for real change by jumping on the class action bandwagon prematurely.

Re:Any chance for a.... (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360053)

They're only worse if people expect a windfall out of a class action suit. Class actions are meant to take a stab at the wrongdoer (i.e. fix the SOCIAL harm), not deal with individual complaints or fatten up some plaintiffs' wallets.

That there is ANY compensation for the members of the class beyond legal fees and whatever corrective action is ordered as a result is simply a bonus. It's not like you really chose to do anything about it. You put your name on a list somewhere, while someone else bears the risk of having to pay expensive attorneys for their services.

You sit with your hand held out, but rarely were you actually bothered or upset enough to do anything about it. Without someone else filing the suit and retaining (highly expensive) counsel, would you have taken action? Probably not. No risk, no work, no measurable lost time. It seems pretty ridiculous to complain about your pittance--two months of free Comcast Internet service? That's $75 saved right there, and if it forces Comcast to fix the problem (or at least spend time and money finding a different way to screw their customers), that's a perfectly legitimate outcome.

Re:Any chance for a.... (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359573)

Whats wrong with dsl? Besides the obvious speed difference.

Re:Any chance for a.... (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360149)

Whats wrong with dsl? Besides the obvious speed difference.

Most folks tend to have cable TV, and are happy to go along with using the same company to provide internet service. Combine that with the increasing frequency with which people are using cell phones and dumping their landlines, it's not hard to see why cable is so popular. The speed difference you mention isn't something to dismiss, as heavy users need/want those high speeds which, generally, aren't available to most DSL users.

I have DSL (with fixed IPs), and wouldn't even consider using cable. While I could be smug about being insulated from the general cable mess, the Comcast issue is important enough for me (and just about everyone else using the internet) to sit up and pay attention.

Re:Any chance for a.... (2, Insightful)

toadlife (301863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359743)

"The only alternative is DSL and we all know what thats like..."

Reliable?
Stable? (No "slowdowns")
Cap free?
No restrictions on running server?

Yeah I know. Who would want DSL. It's like have the real internet.

Re:Any chance for a.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359857)

I don't know what make believe world you live in, but in the world I live in, DSL is slower, less reliable, oversold (and thus less stable), no more or less capped than cable, and certainly not server-restriction-free.

Re:Any chance for a.... (1)

Carbon016 (1129067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360071)

Agreeing with the AC. DSL here is just crap. I remember thinking it was pretty awesome when I got cable and my pings went from 200+ to 50 on most game servers. DSL was slow and unstable and while I hate Comcast I figure at least I'm getting slightly better service for the same price.

Re:Any chance for a.... (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360543)

It varies by area, but if you did a sampling of DSL users over many areas I think you find that DSL is more reliable than cable.

A good precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359247)

This is great news - I hope this will be an open and shut case. After all, it can be easily argued that comcast's injecting of RST packets as a way of throttling bandwith is a means to their own economic gain.

As much as I hated comcast's terrible idea and horrible implementation, I hated even more their being so cavalier about such a blatantly obvious violation of consumer rights. Fortunately, however, it's the same attitude that led up to this case.

Hopefully the judgment against Comcast will be severe enough to deal a crippling blow or at the very least serve as a stern warning to other companies that plan to mess with our bandwidth.

Re:A good precedent (2, Insightful)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359441)

It will be an open and shut case all right - in favor of Comcast. This guy has no legal claim upon which relief can be granted, which is the language the judge will use while throwing it out of court. You can't just sue someone because you're pissed off, you have to have some basis in law for the claim. As much as I hate Comcast, there's no law saying they can't filter stuff on their network.

Re:A good precedent (5, Insightful)

Dr. Donuts (232269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359561)

Actually no, it's not that simple.

If Comcast were simply prioritizing packets, that would be one thing. However, the contention is they are spoofing packets back to the clients. Think of it this way, you type in a web address and get back an error message saying the host wasn't available and that error was being generated *by the carrier*, and not the actual website. In that case, the carrier is impersonating the destination and returning false information.

Comcast claims they are not doing this, although some critics have claimed they have irrefutable proof that they are in fact doing that.

As always, the devil is in the details.

Re:A good precedent (1)

aegl (1041528) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359663)

California Business and Professions Code, Section 17500 says:

"It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association, or any employee thereof with intent directly or indirectly to dispose of real or personal property or to perform services, professional or otherwise, or anything of any nature whatsoever or to induce the public to enter into any obligation relating thereto, to make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated before the public in this state, or to make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated from this state before the public in any state, in any newspaper or other publication, or any advertising device, or by public outcry or proclamation, or in any other manner or means whatever, including over the Internet, any statement, concerning that real or personal property or those services, professional or otherwise, or concerning any circumstance or matter of fact connected with the proposed performance or disposition thereof, which is untrue or misleading, and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading, or for any person, firm, or corporation to so make or disseminate or cause to be so made or disseminated any such statement as part of a plan or scheme with the intent not to sell that personal property or those services, professional or otherwise, so advertised at the price stated therein, or as so advertised. Any violation of the provisions of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both that imprisonment and fine."

Now Comcast have been running a lot of advertisements saying just how fabulously fast their internet service is. If I were a Comcast customer, I'd certainly feel that I'd been at least "mislead" by those advertisements, perhaps I might even be able to show that they were "untrue" (though that isn't required).

Re:A good precedent (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359951)

You are going to find that this applies to the expectations of what the court considers to be "an ordinary person". This is a pretty common standard and it eliminates lots of fringe stuff.

A while back Toyota ran an advertisement about how low their prices were and specifically used the phrase "for a song". Someone wrote a song, performed it in the dealership and asked for their car. Now please. I believe that guy actually got a car but the courts cut the rest of the claims off pretty quickly using the concept that an ordinary person would not be misled by this.

Now try to convince a court that whatever Comcast is advertising that this extends to what you specifically want to use their service for and how they are preventing you from doing so. You are very likely to find out that your fringe case doesn't mean they have violated the law.

Re:A good precedent (3, Interesting)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360047)

You are going to find that this applies to the expectations of what the court considers to be "an ordinary person". This is a pretty common standard and it eliminates lots of fringe stuff. A while back Toyota ran an advertisement about how low their prices were and specifically used the phrase "for a song". Someone wrote a song, performed it in the dealership and asked for their car. Now please. I believe that guy actually got a car but the courts cut the rest of the claims off pretty quickly using the concept that an ordinary person would not be misled by this. Now try to convince a court that whatever Comcast is advertising that this extends to what you specifically want to use their service for and how they are preventing you from doing so. You are very likely to find out that your fringe case doesn't mean they have violated the law.

Except that Bittorrent is a very widely-used protocol. The fact that World of Warcraft alone uses it puts that in the realm of "the ordinary person". Said ordinary person doesn't have to specifically know they're using the protocol; if Comcast were screwing with HTTP, they would be messing with a protocol widely used by ordinary people despite the fact that most web surfers don't have the first clue what it is. We're not talking about Gopher here.

This is in addition to the fact that this mythical "ordinary person" has a reasonable expectation that when (s)he is promised high-speed downloads, that this will occur regardless of the specific technical means used for the download, and that the ISP will not take steps to deliberately interfere with this. One would also presume that the ordinary person would not expect his or her ISP to be deliberately committing what amounts to a denial-of-service attack against its customers by forging packets.

How about legal use of bittorrent? (2, Interesting)

l1nuXB0X (895667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359249)

Normally I wouldn't put in a comment about P2P and legality, except that the past 3 times I used bittorrent it was legal use and I paid for the downloads. If thats getting throttled, and I'm still paying $55 a month for my comcast cable internets....I'm a little miffed.

Re:How about legal use of bittorrent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359301)

They have no way of knowing what is shared. If the header says "bittorrent" it's fair game to comcast.

Re:How about legal use of bittorrent? (3, Insightful)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359447)

I don't think Comcast is throttling BitTorrent in the interest of stopping piracy - I think they're just throttling it because it's stressing their network too much. The don't care whether it's legitimate traffic or not, they just want to unclog their network a bit. As such, they're still a common carrier, because they're not discriminating based on the nature of the information being transmitted.

Re:How about legal use of bittorrent? (1)

brady8 (956551) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359527)

You're misunderstanding what Comcast is doing in this case - they're *not* acting as a common carrier - not only are they throttling connections (which might be okay - at least the traffic eventually gets through), they are directly interfering with P2P applications by sending reset packets to disable connections between certain peers.

Two very different acts, the former might be okay, but the latter is very much not, and the reason for this lawsuit.

Re:How about legal use of bittorrent? (4, Insightful)

technos (73414) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359731)

Throttling the network is fine to accomplish QoS goals.

Comcast, however, is forging RST packets. They're taking the traffic and altering the content of it.

No legitimate QoS solution does this. Delay the content, fine. Slow the transmission rate of the content, fine.

Discard the traffic and generate a forged reply? Not fine.

Comcast is pretty bad IN GENERAL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359261)

Seriously. I mean, I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Comcast fanatics? I've been sitting here at my freelance gig in front of a Mac (a 8600/300 w/64 Megs of RAM) for about 20 minutes now while it attempts to download a 17 Meg file from one website on the internet to another internet. 20 minutes. At home, on my verizon wireless, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this comcast, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, Youtube will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even Slashdot is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered with various comcast accounts, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a comcast site that has loads faster than its verizon counterpart, despite comcasts' faster tube infrastructure. My cable modem with 8 megs of ram runs faster than this WIFI modem at times. From a web 2.0 standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the comcast is a superior service.

Comcast addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use comcast over other faster, cheaper, more stable service providers [aol.com].

I'd call it epic fail, but it wasn't that good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359295)

Nice try on the troll. I give it a 4/10, only because you actually had me asking myself, "hmm should download speed be affected by how old this computer is?" You totally blew it with the AOL reference though.

High praise, coming -as it is, from EFG himself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359461)

I'll endevour to try harder in the future. I'm giving your bite a 9/10, only because you smugly pointed out the link to AOL while completely missing the fact you're responding to a rehashed version of the (admittedly classic) 17 meg troll [kottke.org]. You totally blew it by posting anonymously though.

Chin up, EFG! [anonym.to]

Re:High praise, coming -as it is, from EFG himself (0, Offtopic)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359585)

The funny thing about the Mac comment is that it was so true. Modern Macs are better, but I remember in the late 90s when every Mac was supposedly faster than its PC counterpart but in real life took longer to do damn near everything. I actually like the newer Macs but my God why did anyone buy them before about 2004?

Ars Janked This Story From Wired (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359355)

This story was broken by the Wired blog Threat Level, then re-written by Ars Technica hours later with no real attribution as to where it found the story. http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/11/comcast-sued-ov.html [wired.com] Please reward good journalism with attribution and traffic, instead of giving it to sites that make a habit of following on other outlets' stories without adding to the story.

Comcast shouldnt stand in our way (5, Interesting)

cynicsreport (1125235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359401)

Going through legal channels is important, but until this makes its way through the courts (which could take a while), I don't think Comcast users are completely helpless.
What we really need is some clever client-side programming. A p2p client (or standard) that does some clever encryption, sends data hidden through other streams, etc. I'm not a network programming guru, but it seems like these programs can (or should) keep a step ahead of whatever recognition software that gets through the approval process for comcast servers.

Comcast cut me off for uploading to a legit server (3, Interesting)

moondo (177508) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359521)

Last night I was uploading a file to mediafire.com at about 450kbps and 3 minutes into the upload session my internet connection was cut off. So I had to restart my cable modem. Then I reconnected and went back on mediafire, tried again... same thing happened. I reconnected the modem, then I tried one last time; my internet was cut off till the next day (today). I can only express disgust for Comcast if I was disconnected for uploading a file I needed for work. I didn't call Comcast because I hate being put on hold, but I probably should have verified if it was really them that cut me off. It's just weird that it happened 3 times during an upload session which used some bandwidth.

Re:Comcast cut me off for uploading to a legit ser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21360235)

I use comcast as well, and I get disconnected for uploading things too. I usually try about three or four times before either giving up or somehow finishing my upload.

Sandvine sucks moosec*cks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359525)

with Comcast representing a large part of their revenue - keep a look out for Douchebag Dave pulling out a few more million in stock before it nosedives...

Charging for the 'hidden' messages (3, Insightful)

trimCoder (954838) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359575)

Do the users of comcast have a limited amount of bandwidth usage per account and do these 'hidden' messages count towards this bandwidth usuage? I think these are important questions as it would result in the customer being charged for a service they did not receive.

Speaking of how Comcast sucks... (1)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359613)

...just about a minute ago, the Boston Comcast cable TV service, during the Family Guy episode on [adult swim], did their monthly EBS test.

Stupid little fuckmonkeys!

I can't wait for Verizon to lay fiber here in Boston. Then it's "Screw Off, Comcast!"

Re:Speaking of how Comcast sucks... (1)

Soporific (595477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359749)

You do realize that once they start providing TV service over fiber that they will do EBS tests also right?

~S

Its about time... (3, Informative)

deAtog (987710) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359639)

While not directly affected by Comcast's filtering policy, I for one hope this guy wins and sets a legal precedent on which other lawsuits against ISPs/OSPs can be based. As a student currently attending The University of Akron who resides on campus, I look forward to the day when EFF or ACLU pursues action against The University of Akron for violating student's rights in the same manner that Comcast has violated the rights of their customers. Shown here are some logs highlighted to show some of the filtering that is being done to students residing on campus. [uakron.edu] Not only is The University of Akron filtering Bittorrent traffic but also HTTPS, SSH, VPN, IMAP, NTP, and as well as many others that I may have missed. This filtering is not only intrusive to students that require secure access to remote resources, but is also counter productive to new innovation. I am appalled by the actions this, and many other, public institutions have taken towards the treatment of students and their rights online. For reference, the 130.101.239.250 address shown in the logs is that of my server. It is on 24 hours a day so feel free port scan it if you like. I suspect you won't be able to determine which ports are open due to all inbound traffic being blocked by the University as well.

What do they want with Notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359723)

It's slow enough already!

Very funny if it weren't so sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21360239)

Apparently its all encrypted traffic, Notes just encrypts by default.

Some questions (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359843)

First is exactly what is Comcast agreeing to provide? I seriously doubt they make any claims of unfiltered, unlimited access. They may not be disclosing all of the limitations on their service to customers, but have they in any way advertised services they are not providing?

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly to Comcast since there is no such thing as "common carrier" for an ISP, do they have any legal liability if it can be proven they are assisting users in gathering materials to which they are not legally entitled? Can Comcast (or Cox, Verizon, etc.) be sued for providing access and not blocking BitTorrent to the best of their ability?

My guess is that ISPs cannot be sued for providing access but that may change soon. The battle for music is over - it is freely available today. The battle over the value of movies and video is just beginning and is worth far more than music. Nobody is going to stand by and allow movies to be devalued to the extent that music has been. Nor is anyone with a high-speed internet connection going to pay for movies when they can be downloaded for free. Especially when they are high-quality DVD rips rather than silly camcorder copies.

Oh Really now? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21359859)

Really amazes me the b*llshit people spew in their comments. Like they know anything other than what they read on another post. FYI Comcast does not oversell their bandwidth; in fact the company standard to not be over 70% capacity. If they are, they fix it. The network technicians are judged off of this metric and it drives the site bonus's. I have never had a problem with Comcast internet service. I am a heavy BT user and I have NEVER seen my speeds drop below those advertised on a torrent with a strong bandwidth pool nor received warning for using too much bandwidth even tho I might download 70gb and upload 30 in a month. The majority of these people complaining probably don't have their firewall open or some other retarded reason. I bet their torrents have 10 seeds and 2000 leechers and because they have Comcast and the speed is slow and they read an article....than it must be Comcast fault. Yea Comcast internet is pricey compared to DSL...but comparing DSL vs Cable internet isn't even comparable in most area's (DSL is slower and requires you pay for phone service or a premium with out). FIOS; I haven't looked into as it's not available in my complex but Comcast is testing 16/1 connections on the east coast and its working fine. Sure FIOS is offering 15/15 in some areas but really....Who needs 15 up for a legit reason. On a residential connection you are not authorized to run a server....and yes...seeding for BT is technically serving files so it still falls under "business" use which has completely differant speed tiers for business customers and prices. /endrant

Sandvine (3, Informative)

kbahey (102895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21359891)

Sandvine is a local company here in Waterloo, Ontario. It has been a high flyer and a media/investor darling of late.

The local newspaper had an article [baheyeldin.com], which I blogged about a few days ago, on Sandvine's technology and how it is involved in the Comcast debacle.

Can Comcast block spam? (5, Interesting)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360007)

Can Comcast block spam? I mean, I'm just wondering. Because it seems like the end result of this line of argument is to give spammers a precedent that says "You must deliver our spam."

Re:Can Comcast block spam? (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360501)

What is Spam for you is communication for Comcast.
Their job is JUST to relay communication.
Who are they to Judge what passes through?

Would you want your electricity supplier to stop electricity to your home in mid-winter just because it "thinks" you bought a distribution box to distribute power to neighbours free of cost or because you plan to use a high-wattage saw to cut up firewood (and not use an electric heater)?

Corporations already have frightening powers than individuals, let us not promote it further by giving them power to judge.

They are the true Undead.

Tomorrow??? (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21360015)

Bittorrent today. Maybe VoIP tomorrow - unless you buy the special (higher priced) Comcast VoIP package.

They want to know how much they can get away with. Stopping them now will be much better than fighting with them later!

Is P2P illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21360421)

Just ask Zak!
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