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AT&T Invests in Filtered Networking

CowboyNeal posted more than 5 years ago | from the dark-futures dept.

The Internet 152

Filtered Coward writes "Last summer, AT&T announced its intention to begin filtering copyrighted content at some point. The telecom has now bought a chunk of Vobile, whose core product is VideoDNA. "Like other systems of its kind, VideoDNA develops a unique signature from every frame of video. The signature is meant to be robust enough to survive various transformations and edits, and it can then be used to run matches against incoming content.' Vobile claims that VideoDNA is good enough to be used on video when transmitted over a network. 'Based on the complexity of the problem, we suspect that anything initially deployed by AT&T will fall far short of a robust P2P video filter. But should AT&T truly have its eyes on just such a prize, the company would be in a powerful position to impose its own policies on the entire US, since it owns major parts of the Internet backbone.'"

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Sounds preposterous (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375205)

This seems to imply that copyright-infringing video is being streamed over the network. Does this ever happen? More likely it is broken up into completely arbitrary chunks, which may or may not contain an entire frame and are unlikely to be delivered in sequential order. Furthermore, any form of network or P2P encryption currently in use ought to be able to defeat this. I wonder how much AT&T will be spending on this plan?

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375249)

Bittorrent already has good encryption yeah.. and something like 25% of people have it turned on in the US and close to 80% of people in the UK.

As soon as this absurd technology starts working (if ever) everyone will turn on the encryption.

Re:Sounds preposterous (1, Informative)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375579)

It's just the protocol header that is encrypted with Bittorrent, not the data and it is not particularly good encryption
and it doesn't really stop ISPs from specifically throttling Bittorrent traffic (which is the issue today).

You can route Bittorrent through an SSH tunnel which would encrypt the data as well. Presumably you'd need a VPN service provider because I don't think a shell account provider would take to kindly to widespread use of their services in this way.

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

piojo (995934) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375651)

It's just the protocol header that is encrypted with Bittorrent, not the data and it is not particularly good encryption and it doesn't really stop ISPs from specifically throttling Bittorrent traffic (which is the issue today).
I have used three clients extensively (the others haven't impressed me): azureus, utorrent, and rtorrent. Azureus and rtorrent have the option for full encryption, but it appears bittorrent doesn't. Hopefully it will be added, if it hasn't been yet.

RE: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375917)

You don't even have to encrypt.

It's a PITA for torrent users, but you could simply RAR the video files.

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375305)

Not to mention, how much processing power will AT&T have to spend on analyzing our packets? I'd imagine they'd need to beef up their servers considerably. Unless they incorporate it into their NSA program... which could be likely with the new legislation that makes it the government's job to enforce copyright.

Otherwise, with tin-foil hat off, this sounds like a genius marketing plan doomed to fail but done to please certain people who don't have a clue.

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

AlamedaStone (114462) | more than 5 years ago | (#21378215)

Where's my "+1, Hopefully" mod...

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#21378411)

Vobile's core product is a screening technology that it calls "VideoDNA." Like other systems of its kind, VideoDNA develops a unique signature from every frame of video. The signature is meant to be robust enough to survive various transformations and edits, and it can then be used to run matches against incoming content.

Not to mention, how much processing power will AT&T have to spend on analyzing our packets?
If they do this with video packets by identifying fingerprints on the fly, I guess I've found someone with deep pockets to sue the next time I download a virus!

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375343)

Furthermore, any form of network or P2P encryption currently in use ought to be able to defeat this.

"Unauthorized" protocols are even easier to filter and block. Attempts to defeat these mechanisms will be dealt with harshly.

Re:Sounds preposterous (2, Interesting)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375375)

How can they distinguish between encrypted video and other kinds of odd, binary data that they have no business interfering with, such as text in an exotic language and encoding, or somebody's proprietary compression format, or raw data from some odd kind of sensor?

Re:Sounds preposterous (5, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375475)

This is AT&T. They don't distinguish, they just give it all to the NSA, as demonstrated by the lawsuits filed by the EFF and the whisteleblower who revealed the taps on core fiber optic backbones.

The NSA, now, has fairly good tools. There's a fascinating tool from a company called Sandstorm that re-assembles network traffic into its distinct streams and does quite a good job of re-assembling email and web transactions. Given a remote opportunity to do a man-in-the-middle SSL key replacement, or simply steal the SSL or SSH keys from the serving host (with or without a subpoena), such tools could doubtless do quite a good job of intercepting transmissions seamlessly. And innocent folks aren't bothered to go to that level of protection, such as using obscure languages or real one-time pads.

Like the phone company's wilingness to tap phone conversations from the telephone offices, undetectably, because it's merely duplicating the digital bits and sending them to whomever they care to send them to, such monitoring constitutes a massive risk to the innocent for political and illegal monitoring. We see what such monitoring and related censorship does in China right now: we need to be extremely wary of it occurring here with such tools casually accepted.

Re:Sounds preposterous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21376935)

The NSA, now, has fairly good tools. There's a fascinating tool from a company called Sandstorm that re-assembles network traffic into its distinct streams and does quite a good job of re-assembling email and web transactions.

What, say, like Ethereal?

One time pad (2, Funny)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377555)

I tried to create my own one time pad by XORing the Windows install CD with the Ubuntu install.... My computer burst into flames...

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375529)

First off, it doesn't matter anymore what business they have interfering with traffic. By default we gave them that authority by protecting their monopoly. They can and will do what they please, and most will believe it's "for our protection", and we know what happens to those who disagree.

As for deciphering the data, they can easily set the rules as to what kind of traffic can pass. Getting through will be our problem. As long as we're stuck with their wire, we are stuck with their rules.

Re:Sounds preposterous (0)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376733)

Furthermore, any form of network or P2P encryption currently in use ought to be able to defeat this.

"Unauthorized" protocols are even easier to filter and block. Attempts to defeat these mechanisms will be dealt with harshly.
Fear will keep the local systems in line...

On topic here I'm truly hoping this will spur enough people to start creating a wireless mesh network in large areas to bypass all this stuff. Enough people do that then at least in terms of being able to get to the content, not speed mind you, it would make AT&T's attempt at blocking rather irrelevant.

Somebody here want to figure out how to run a DD-WRT hacked Fonera router from off-the-grid power? :-)

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375625)

I'd love to know how AT&T would determine that you did or did not have a license to download or even serve the content. IANAL, but if they start using this to examine traffic going over their wires couldn't it make them liable if they a) detect copyright content, but choose to take no action, or b) take action on certain content, but not on other? There is also the issue of privacy - if the Government (supposedly) can't go intercepting whatever communications it likes, why would AT&T be allowed to? Even if one end-point was an AT&T customer the other may not be.

I can't possibly see how this would work for examining video from anything other than an AT&T-hosted site.

No, I didn't RTFA. But I figure my comment will probably make as much sense as most others :)

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377069)

Along the same lines (and possibly more importantly) this should, in my IANAL HO, remove their DMCA safe harbor exemption. Now any content that gets through means AT&T allowed it through. They are opening up a huge can of worms with this action.

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375749)

This seems to imply that copyright-infringing video is being streamed over the network. Does this ever happen?
____

http://joox.net/ [joox.net]

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

vidarino (1115853) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376117)

Streaming pirated content over the network is one thing, but how about perfectly legally distributed content, such as video-on-demand services? Or streaming television? Or movie trailers or reviews that happen to contain some of the "fingerprinted" frames. Completely unmanagable, and as always they end up badgering the legal users, while pirates (whom I'm sure never would stream anything) remain unhindered. I love it. ;)

Re:Sounds preposterous (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377535)

My concern is false positives, like comcast's torrent destroyer that also fucks up Lotus Notes. Stupid squared. Sigh. Another class action just waiting to happen.

noooooooooo! (0, Redundant)

carseneau (936558) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375211)

noooooooooo!

Yet another reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375217)

to use encryption.

Re:Yet another reason (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375251)

Exactly, AT&T can't block encrypted traffic, because huge numbers of people require it to do things like banking and VPN. There isn't anyway of determining for sure what the content of the stream is, so the ability to just block the copyrighted files would be impossible without also blocking legitimate traffic as well.

Re:Yet another reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375543)

They could throttle it though. Banking isn't exactly bandwidth-intensive. VPN -- well, in the old days, you had to get a "business" DSL connection to use VPN.

Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (3, Interesting)

compumike (454538) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375241)

Encryption can beat this, but should it have to? Now we've got to throw a lot of computing power at a problem just to get around our nominally "common carriers."

I think we can all agree that there's a problem: lots of illegal video transmission is happening online. And while some of the slashdot crowd consists of "information wants to be free" hippies, there is also a good community of people who reasonably understand the value of intellectual property rights. But I don't think anyone is excited about a solution like this, which clearly removes the user's fair use rights and common sense.

So where's the balance? Can a technical solution exist that will simultaneously stop the illegal pirating of movies and TV shows (which would be good), and allow other uses (even short clips, parodies, etc)? I think the answer is no. The determination of fair use relies heavily on intent, and no technical system will be able to determine that very effectively.

--
NerdKits: Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1)

Barradrewda (1016610) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375277)

Can a technical solution exist that will simultaneously stop the illegal pirating of movies and TV shows (which would be good) Whose a pirate? Prove it. I for one welcome our Wonkavision utilizing overlords. "A stretch, I know, but the only way out is through."

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375351)

And while some of the slashdot crowd consists of "information wants to be free" hippies, there is also a good community of people who reasonably understand the value of intellectual property rights.
And while some people are more than willing to sell everyone's rights up the river for fist full of gold, there is also a good community of people who have morals and are willing to refuse to obey bad laws.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1)

compumike (454538) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375463)

And while some people are more than willing to sell everyone's rights up the river for fist full of gold, there is also a good community of people who have morals and are willing to refuse to obey bad laws.
I agree that this policy of network filtering is a bad one, and that it violates the rights of the network users.

However, one thing that some of the slashdot crowd tends to ignore is that content owners have rights too. Or are we suddenly to believe that the only things that have value are physical things?

--
Long-time coder? No electronics experience? Come play with microcontrollers! [nerdkits.com]

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375513)

one thing that some of the slashdot crowd tends to ignore is that content owners have rights too.
You're painting a lot of people with a very wide brush there.. after all, aren't YOU a member of the "slashdot crowd". Would seem so from where I'm sitting.

There are no "content owners". There are "copyright holders" and they have the rights ascribed to them by copyright law.. of which I am opposed and believe should be drastically reduced, if not immediately and completely abolished.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (-1, Troll)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376167)

There are no "content owners". There are "copyright holders" and they have the rights ascribed to them by copyright law.. of which I am opposed and believe should be drastically reduced, if not immediately and completely abolished.

Ahhh yes one of the teaming throngs that believes, if they can get their hands on it they should perfectly free to give it way, to anyone they please. They think nothing of giving away someone else's hard work without any sort of compensation at all.

So Mr. "Information wants to be free, please quit your job, live off of your savings and write a screenplay or a novel and get it published. Never mind that you have bet your families future on it selling and you getting a royalty check.

So while you are watching your savings deplete and your wife get really pissed off because the bills are not getting paid and your children wearing ratty clothes you can rejoice in the fact that Information is free as I put your hard work on a bit torrent and just give it away, to anyone I want, as often as pleases me and not give you a dime. I hope I am going to remain your hero while I ensure that "information if free" like it wants to be.

After your wife divorces you and you lose your kids and your living on the street, or worse yet in your parents garage, you can rejoice in the fact that "information is free, like it wants be. But wait for it.... You don't have any money to buy a computer, much less get an internet connection so you can avail yourself of all that free information. Ohhh the irony. My god what a putz you are.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376319)

So Mr. "Information wants to be free, please quit your job, live off of your savings and write a screenplay or a novel and get it published. Never mind that you have bet your families future on it selling and you getting a royalty check. So while you are watching your savings deplete and your wife get really pissed off because the bills are not getting paid and your children wearing ratty clothes you can rejoice in the fact that Information is free as I put your hard work on a bit torrent and just give it away,

What a tragic story.

Can you name a single, real, person that it might describe?

In the real world, screenwriters are paid advances when a producer wants to option their script, and receive a lump sum when a movie begins shooting. Some may get a share of income, but that's pretty iffy, due to the well-known ability of studio accountants to minimise income and profits.

As for novelists, 99% of novelists earn pocket change. Not because anyone is cheating them, much less pirating their work, because the competition is very tough. (And very few writers are half as good or sellable as they imagine.) The "starving writer in a garret" stereotype was around, and true, long before the Internet. Only a complete fool would bet his family's future on royalties from a book or script unless he has a contract and advance in hand. Most popular writers have a day job to pay the bills.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375947)

So are you suggesting my rights of fair use are less valuable then a copy holders rights?

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377587)

However, one thing that some of the slashdot crowd tends to ignore is that content owners have rights too.

No, they don't! They have a privilage of a finite-duration monopoly, created by the government, for the express purpose of "promot[ing] the progress of science and the useful arts!" Nothing more! This is exactly the opposite of a "natural right."

Or are we suddenly to believe that the only things that have value are physical things?

That's how it's been during 99.99999% of human history (i.e., everything except the last 200 years or so). You know the Bible? No copyright! Beowulf? The works of William Shakespeare? All those revered works of art, music, etc. created during the Renaissance? No copyright on any of them! And it's not because it expired; there never was any copyright on them. Yet they still got created! <sarcasm>Gee, I wonder how that possibly could have happened!</sarcasm>

Face it: copyright was a fluke, which just happened to make sense in the period between when duplication technology was invented and when it became cheap enough for ubiquitous use. That time is over, and copyright is now no more relevant than the buggy-whip was after the invention of the automobile.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 5 years ago | (#21378781)

You forgot the "and still profitably published" part

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375419)

I would compare this to the public road system. The roads can be put to uses that we can all agree are bad, even criminal. They can be used to transport kidnap victims, or to escape after robbing banks or killing people, or to get to the the place where one is going to commit a crime. Filtering network content and allowing only approved data would be like requiring every driver to submit a travel plan stating the reason for the trip and have his or her vehicle searched. That might well cut down on crime, but the game isn't worth the candle. This is all the more true where the problem with "bad" network traffic is nowhere near life-and-death and, in spite of a lot of posturing by the industry, not even all that big for the industry it affects.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375491)

Ohhh, a stupid car analogy, cool.. Ya know what it's more like? It's more like the government enacted some special laws hundreds of years ago that made it so only the manufacturer of fuzzy dice could transport those fuzzy dice on the road for the 19 years after manufacturer, then anyone could transport them. But the manufacturers of fuzzy dice wanted to maintain their stranglehold on the fuzzy dice transportation business so they lobbied the government to have a 20 year extension placed on their monopoly.. then it became 50 years, then 70. The government was happy to oblige because the original intention of the law, to encourage the creation of fuzzy dice for the public, never really made much sense anyway.. cause what good are fuzzy dice when you can only hang dusty old ones in your car, anyway. Obviously you could enjoy the fuzzy dice behind closed doors but the real purpose of fuzzy dice is to make a public statement, so really, ya gotta wonder who is buying all these fuzzy dice. As it turns out, not to many people do buy the fuzzy dice.. cause, as I've said, all the interesting uses are forbidden, unless the fuzzy dice are really old. And now that people are being harassed by lawyers for displaying recently acquired fuzzy dice, we really need to install fuzzy dice detectors on every street corner to make sure the ones on display are sufficiently old.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375649)

Was there a point in there somewhere? Calling something a "stupid car analogy" doesn't make it so. If you've got an argument as to why this is a poor analogy, feel free to make it.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (0)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375745)

All analogies are poor. It's an antiquated way of arguing, long abandoned by people who actually understand logic.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (0)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375803)

I understand logic quite well, thank you. Good analogies are actually quite useful. Again, making broad, wholly unsupported statements just makes you look infantile. If you want to play with adults, try presenting an argument. Thats how those of us who understand logic do it.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (0)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375875)

Arguing from analogy is just that, making unsupported statements. If you say X is like Y, and I say X isn't like Y, then what have we got? A disagreement.. which we already had. There's no way to say why X isn't like Y without descending into an ever widening spiral of analogy. This is why arguing by analogy (or metaphor) is just so very pointless - it doesn't help us discover truth.

If you understand logic quite well, why do you avoid it so by turning to analogy?

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21376063)

I realize a faulty analogy can be flawed reasoning, however belmolis's analogy was quite good. He even showed the limit of his analogy.

  "This is all the more true where the problem with "bad" network traffic is nowhere near life-and-death and, in spite of a lot of posturing by the industry, not even all that big for the industry it affects. "

It's hard to create good analogies, but in my view, this one suffices. I'm curious though, why are analogies poor, antiquated ways of arguing? In Attacking Faulty Reasoning (5th edition), Dr. Damer doesn't think analogical arguements are the best way to argue, and he belives in most cases they need more evidence to back them up, but this does not constitute a poor argument. Perhaps not the best, but certainly not poor. I would agree that an analogy cannot help if it was only the two of you who saw this article, and both of you understood how AT&T's system worked, and if the parent post didn't exist, but his anology helps put the action of AT&T in perspective with those that don't understand the system and it also gives supporting evidence to the parent's point.

Don't feed the trolls (1)

clayne (1006589) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375821)

Re:Don't feed the trolls (0)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375905)

Thanks for reminding me.

Re:Don't feed the trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21376131)

I do not think there is trolling going on. More of a rational discussion, though a touch of ad hominum attacks.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375683)

So where's the balance?

There isn't any. As long as the media companies try to clamp down on fair-use, the more appealing piracy is. It's like driving slower when someone's tailgating you. They'll never learn, and so my movies will always be free.

Re:Encryption can beat this, but shouldn't have to (1)

bentcd (690786) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376425)

And while some of the slashdot crowd consists of "information wants to be free" hippies, there is also a good community of people who reasonably understand the value of intellectual property rights.
You are mixing up two entirely different issues here. I think you will find that the "hippies" understand the value of the copyright monopoly quite well. Much as they also understand that if AT&T were to be given a monopoly on the distribution of water, this would be extremely valuable to them. What the "hippies" question is whether or not this is actually a very good idea.

Not for long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375243)

"the company would be in a powerful position to impose its own policies on the entire US, since it owns major parts of the Internet backbone."

It does not take too long for customers to abandon any company, which does not serve them the way how the customers want to be served.
Any "volunteer policing" company is at risk...

Yeah right.... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375299)

Ok, following that logic, free yourself from the oil companies. And while you're at it, the food distribution monopolies. Tired yet? How about freeing yourself from the power company?

Two of the above were supposed to be public-serving municipal utilities. They were granted breaks to serve the public. This concept is now abstracted by the FCC, which no longer needs to recognize utilities in this way, rather, based on recent telecommunications law and the whims of the NTIA are what govern what AT&T does.

Go ahead; try to escape them. We no longer have the constructs to do this. These are also the same companies that are willing to, without a warrant, give up your calls, your Internet usage data, and anything else the current administration asks for. Do you think that they're going to listen to YOU-- especially when you might have nexus to sue them? I hardly think so.

Volunteer policing? What do you think they're doing NOW?

Re:Yeah right.... (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375361)

Ok, following that logic, free yourself from the oil companies. And while you're at it, the food distribution monopolies.
Actually, that isn't hard in Seattle. Ride a bike, and eat vegan, locally grown food. Far too many of my friends have done this. Freaks, the lot of them. But the power company bit is tricky, I'll give you that.

Re:Yeah right.... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375423)

Add water.. sure, you could get a cistern or well.

Re:Yeah right.... (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375503)

Dig a well where I live and I'm afraid you'd hit a cesspool.

Re:Yeah right.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375523)

I find your post painful to read. You are a tired, cynical, resigned coward. America doesn't need you. The world doesn't need you. You are part of the problem. A spoiled middle class cock who never stood up and fought for anything their life. Everything you say, you could have put in a positive way instead of that sarcastic snivelling tone. The whole reason your country is in such a mess is because of people like you.

Re:Yeah right.... (2, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375647)

You're entitled to your opinion, but not your facts.

In the 1900s-1930s, utilities were of a public benefit and received numerous breaks. AT&T is not the AT&T of yesteryear. Through the US TCA of 1996, and subsequent legislation, the breakup of the 'Bell' companies then reformed into the morass we face today in the US. That infrastructure was supposed to be a public, not private, asset base. Now it's to be a return on investment for the telcos-- especially AT&T. AT&T is a combination of SW Bell, Ameritech, assets of AT&T Wireless, AT&T Long Lines, and other property grabs. Their anti-competitive stance, and long failure to invest in infrastructure instead of lobbying every congressional office in Washington DC with a bevy of lawyers, is what got them the advantage they currently have. Now they want to filter content, to their advantage likely (they intend to distribute video themselves) is a violation of public trust in my opinion.

The FCC plays into their hands. AT&T gives up private information readily to the US government in an onerous way.

You otherwise know nothing about me, and your anonymity prevents you from standing up to be suitably addressed. And you call me a coward. Fie.

Identify content (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375283)

If they can filter "coprighted" content, then they can "identify" said content. They could flag users and/or collect info for the *AA.

Co-conspirators (4, Interesting)

Mr_Blank (172031) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375289)

I thought telecoms were immune to certain types of litigation because they are neutral carriers of data. If a person makes a phone call or uses a bulletin board to commit a crime, the teleco is not part of the conspiracy. They are neutral. If AT&T starts filtering out "criminal" activity (and what jury of peers determined that anyhow?!), then are they giving up their neutral status? If they try to filter any material, will they be liable for all the material that inevitably slips through their net?

    Also, how do they pick out copyright material for which a license has been granted compared to material that is "criminal" activity?

Re:Co-conspirators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375315)

That's what bribes are for.

Re:Co-conspirators (2, Informative)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375317)

AT&T the phone company is a common carrier. AT&T the ISP isn't. The ISP can do pretty much whatever it wants with "it's" network without any repercussions from the government. They never had a neutral status to begin with, so I don't see how this changes anything. AT&T has to abide by the DMCA at a minimum. This is just them being nice to the RI/MPAA and other such groups.

Re:Co-conspirators (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375639)

I thought the whole point of the common carrier thing was that it meant ISPs weren't liable for infringing material hosted on their network? A "don't shoot the messenger" sort of thing.

Re:Co-conspirators (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375793)

ISPs aren't and have never been common carriers. The confusion is due to the fact that AT&T the phone company is a common carrier, but AT&T the DSL company isn't. AT&T only has to comply with any DMCA takedown notices to avoid liability.

Re:Co-conspirators (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375835)

I think in this case, though, (at least where everyone's concerns lie) it may be less the AT&T the DSL company and more the AT&T the fiber backbone company.

Re:Co-conspirators (1)

clayne (1006589) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375841)

"have never been" is not accurate.

At one point in time - they were, or atleast were able to successfully operate as so (pre-97/98 or so).
The onset of internet popularity in the late 90s coupled with the need for lawmakers to pin legal responsibility on *someone* resulted in common carrier rights (even if presumed) of some ISPs ending up being yanked from them.

This was a fairly known case:

http://www.loundy.com/CASES/RTC_v_Netcom.html [loundy.com]

Re:Co-conspirators (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375551)

The sad thing is that mail carriers are not blamed for the anthrax scares, and telephone companies not blamed for their lines being used to transmit terrorist plots, or even the buy-and-toss cell phone companies for further allowing hard-to-pin conversations to happen. But somehow ISPs and telcos get tied in some notion they should provide a silver bullet for illegal activity. Why not sue the government for making so many roads that facilitate drug trades quick get-aways?

Re:Co-conspirators (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375945)

telephone calls are easily traced after the event. The anon nature ( to an extent) of a lot of internet traffic means that its a different kettle of fish. Plus the economic damage caused by mass distribution of copyrighted material dwarfs the relatively minor amount of crime that is facilitated by telephones.
Its a different scenario, and needs handling differently. if you think that the current situation, where companies invest tens of millions in movies which get stolen instantly, will persist, you are dreaming.

Re:Co-conspirators (2, Insightful)

stonertom (831884) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375591)

If i were a customer, i would want to know why i can't download a film off my ftp, but still get spam and malware. As an aside, shouldn't they use this for worse things than copyright infringement?

False positives (1)

xanadu113 (657977) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375297)

So.. there is NO possibility of a false positive occuring with this technology?

Fair Use? (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375327)

What about Fair use?
or, what if frames are the same between 2 different movies. (Fade to black, fade to white, common things like FBI warning, etc...)

comcast is the beginning (1, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375313)

You know what is next, they're going to throttle anything that is encrypted lest it have any illegal content that they can't scan. comcast was nothing just wait until the new overlords take over. Not only that but I'll bet they'll try to get the support of the legal system somehow...

Re:comcast is the beginning (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#21378257)

They could try and have a whitelist of internet addresses that are permitted to have encrypted traffic (banks, online retailers as examples). They would then have to ban the basic programming API functionality of the socket programming library (recv, recvfrom, recvmsg, send, sendto, sendmsg).

After all, any unknown data compression format is effectively encrypted unless you know how the algorithm works.

Copyright Law (5, Insightful)

drspliff (652992) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375337)

Allows you to fairly use content in a situation which merits it, for example:
* Educational material
* Parodies
* Licensed use
* Short clips
* Lots of others

I'm not in the USA, but say for example I own a hard copy of a movie or TV show on DVD, am I "allowed" to stream it from home during my lunch break or after work when this system is possibly live?

Remember, if they are doing filtering it means they are no longer a common carrier, what is the legality of this in regard to third party content; if I were to transfer illegal content over their connection will they be liable for this because they haven't filtered it out? Or will the law apply to them when it suites em.

There are so many holes in this I couldn't possibly see this implemented, not to mention the resources that'd be required on their end to keep up with the constant change in codecs/compression methods and to be able to decode it in realtime.

Yeah, it's just speculation at the moment, but in a really dark and unfunny way I can see PHBs combined with RIAA/MPAA mafia seriously pushing something similar based on their draconian previous tendancies.

Dear AT&T (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375385)

Dear AT&T,

I have been a voice customer with you for many, many years, and I have chosen to get my internet service from you in the days of yore - 1996, with a 56k modem, and four years later, I upgraded to your residential ADSL product. I've always been content with your service - sure, the random two-hour downtimes at 1 AM every four or five months piss me off, but I understand that sometimes, you just gotta do it.

I've done my part in being a loyal customer; I only call when I'm sure the problem lays beyond my DSL modem, I don't torrent often, and I've never tried to do anything shady to your other customers. Over the past decade, you've treated me well by not blocking inbound port 80 traffic. That's why I haven't ever moved to a much faster Cable connection. Hell, I even work for a CLEC and if I was so inclined, I could have a free 1.5 SDSL line - but I haven't done that because you've given me no reason to go through the hassle of set-up.

You might have spied on me. Don't get me wrong - I'm plenty pissed off about that. But I know it wasn't anything personal. I know how upper management can be when the NSA comes knocking. The way things are going, I think you'll ultimately answer to us for what you did, so I won't stress too much about it. Anything important is encrypted, anyways.

But now, my dear AT&T, for the first time in a decade, I don't know what to think about you. Your problems with torrenting and streaming video are that you don't have enough bandwidth to accommodate all of your customers. You've grossly oversold your network's capacity, just like my company does, and now you're being bit for it. It's an unpleasant situation for you - trust me, I know exactly how that feels.

But now, how many billions are you going to spend on this fingerprinting system for video? How many people will work on this project? How many legitimate packets of mine is this going to slow down or drop? And, in the first week this system goes live, won't everybody just turn crypto on and use YouTube over https? Billions of dollars...flushed right down the toilet in an instant!

Now, as I said, I'm just a humble legacy customer. I started out at SNET, then get assimilated into SBC/Yahoo, finally ending up as a customer of the Great Bell Company. But, might I, a meek twice-legacy customer, suggest that you ax this project and ***invest the fucking money in buying more fiber, thereby solving the actual problem***?

I mean, come on. What the fuck do you care if people are stealing the latest blockbuster using your network? You're not in the business of being moral guardians, and there's no way in hell a court would ever hold you liable for something like this.

Just know, my old friend, that if you do end up implementing this, the first time one of my packets gets dropped mistakenly, you damn well better believe I'll take my company up on that free SDSL line. And I'll be living here for a long time to come.

Sincerely,
Anonymous
The Happiest AT&T Customer Ever

It's not about fear of being sued (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#21378301)

... there's no way in hell a court would ever hold you liable ...

Of course no court would find them liable. But that's not the issue. The issue is that AT&T wants to enter the entertainment business, just like all the other big facility based providers. They want to become your "one stop source" for everything in audio, video, gaming, and reading (and bill you for everything on one big bill). But they face TWO obstacles to that. The content industry has probably already made it clear to them what they must do in order to acquire the right to "broadcast" their content. And they also worry their own revenues might be impacted by the same material coming over from other sources.

Good ole Ma (3, Interesting)

gsn (989808) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375459)

It's taken under 30 mins since this story was posted and the obvious is already been pointed out
a) this technology can't work - too much overhead looking through all those packets
b) will probably flag several false positives
c) can be circumvented with encryption

AT&T doesn't have to do anything though - they just have to appear to be looking out for the media companies. Perhaps even catch a few dumb people who upload a lot and don't use encryption and hand them over to the media companies to sue. Makes many people appropriately scared of Ma Bell. And who do you think the media companies will choose to deal with to distribute their content on the mobile and internet platform. Well its not like they will have much choice really - IIRC the FCC relaxed rules that prevented AT&T from charging more for access to its lines. Remember when the government broke AT&T up - probably not which is the problem.

Re:Good ole Ma (1)

fortunato (106228) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375527)

I think its pretty safe to say it will be far more than SEVERAL false positives. There will be an incredibly high amount of false positives. Then it will be on the sender to prove that they are innocent due to the vast money and legal teams available to those who would remove fair use altogether. Any other opinion is naive at best. Look at what the RIAA has been doing and try to make a convincing argument otherwise. Not possible. Innocent until proven guilty is a vain hope of the past. One is now guilty until proven innocent or can afford the better lawyers. Yes, this is a very pessimistic opinion but it's by far the reality in this day and age despite the Constitution and despite what the Intelligentia would like to think.

Re:Good ole Ma (2, Insightful)

keithmo (453716) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375831)

c) can be circumvented with encryption

At this point, could using any form of on-the-wire encryption be considered a "circumvention device" and therefore illegal under the DMCA?

Re:Good ole Ma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21375853)

The point of this surely isn't simply to block limited instances of copyright infringement on P2P networks. That's aiming too low, and (as pointed out) won't work very well anyway. It could, however, be a very powerful tool to control general access to information. This would make ATT the kingmaker of the Internet, and give it a resource much sought after by certain government entities desiring to control dissemination of embarrassing or awkward information. See, the modern world thrives on the availability and exchange of information. If you control that, you have unprecedented control over society and the economy.

For example, they could sell this filtering to companies trying to suppress a whistleblower's report, using it to solve the Streisand Effect. And beyond merely blocking information there is still vast opportunity to profit by identifying and collecting information. For example, it could presumably match all the data discussing a political dissident, or identify in realtime everyone accessing a certain photo. Such information could be sold to everyone from inquisitive government agencies to web marketing firms.

So that's what I think it's really about.

If ever there was a reason to mandate network neutrality, this ATT initiative should be it.

Re:Good ole Ma (1)

akirapill (1137883) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376715)

AT&T doesn't have to do anything though - they just have to appear to be looking out for the media companies.
Engaging in this kind of arms race against all p2p users in America? That's some pretty expensive PR IMO.

What's in it for AT&T? (2)

doyoulikeworms (1094003) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375531)

What do they gain from this? Last I checked, they produced no media, just conveyed it.

Re:What's in it for AT&T? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375815)

I doubt very much AT&T is doing this service to the MPAA and RIAA out of the kindness of their hearts. Either they are doing this to avoid a war with the **IA and friends over doing nothing or they got a new shiny gift from a mysterious *cough* source. There may even be a two for one deal here, NSA gets some free data intel and the **IA's get to continue their extortion scheme. If people start encrypting their data traffic all AT&T has to do is throttle the hell out of it or drop that kind of traffic entirely while under the cover of protecting national security or whatever euphemism the NSA uses for screwing people.

Not going to stop anything! (1)

KClaisse (1038258) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375545)

show.01 show.02 show.03 show.04 show.05 show.06 show.07 show.08 show.09 show.rar show.sfv show.nfo Can't match video inside multiple rars now can ya? And thats the main for of video transfer over p2p anyway, at least in the scene.

Re:Not going to stop anything! (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375619)

I have nothing but pure hatred for those that rar video. You're wasting my hard drive space you !#" >.

Cracked upon release... (1)

clayne (1006589) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375805)

Based on the relative "robustness" of past DRM-like encryption schemes - I expect this to be voraciously cracked within a couple of days upon release.

The people impementing said encryption schemes are not the same individuals cracking them. Because of that, the schemes will be continually cracked.

Think: narcotics officer whose never done drugs.

Why I don't find this threatening whatsoever (1)

zantolak (701554) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375891)

What would stop someone from, before making a torrent, putting a video file inside an encrypted RAR? What would stop video sites from streaming over TLS?

Re:Why I don't find this threatening whatsoever (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376915)

What would stop video sites from streaming over TLS?
Processing power. Really, that's all it comes down to anymore and even then there are dedicated crypto cards you can buy to offload the TLS crypto calculations from the main CPUs. Frankly, I wish *all* web sites would switchover to using TLS exclusively, including sites like Slashdot. The two biggest obstacles to this other than sheer processing power are the fact that "trusted" SSL certificates are so expensive and that SSL web sites each need their own unique IP address (no more virtual web hosting hundreds of sites on one IP). Until IPv6 comes along I don't think it is feasible for this to take off without all those sites sharing the same SSL certificate of the virtual hosting provider.

a thought (1)

pat mcguire (1134935) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375927)

How long is it before movies start being watermarked in a way to send up blatant and non-ambiguous flags? I feel like that would be the best situation for both parties, putting aside the issue of whether or not AT&T has any right to filter content based on whether some program thinks it's copyrighted.. The watermarking would be to ensure a constant and distinctive signature for the film in any format rather than the current privacy invading nonsense of being able to trace copies back to individuals. The hit rate in various formats would improve and the false positive rate would go down, because the film would be encoded to produce a similar signature in all formats and because that signature could be chosen to be something truly statistically insignificant (messing with various brightnesses of pure black for instance - all would appear the same but have different digital signatures, creating something truly distinctive). Of course, such systems would be circumvented eventually by those with know-how, and it's useless against encryption...

Who needs DRM Now? (1)

KookyMan (850095) | more than 5 years ago | (#21375929)

Seriously, if this will catch all "illegally traded" video, I guess it will no longer be necessary to load it full of DRM software to ensure its not transmitted.

Also, what about the legitimate transmission of copyrighted video? Say from NBC.Com to me? Is it gonna be blocked because its copyrighted?

If Yes: You've just eliminated the need for streaming video on the net.

If No: Then all you need to do is copy video from sites that don't use this process on it and start streaming that.

Wow, ATT proves its intelligence yet again.

What about encrypted content? (0, Redundant)

zborro (591127) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376285)

This filter will only apply to plain video information,
but what about encrypted video files? It's enough to
zip the archive with a strong password and nobody will
be able to understand what's inside. If they are going
to deploy this technology worldwide, the p2p will evolve
into an encrypted only network with some password database
somewhere.

It's an escalation and drives nowhere.

Wow let's invest in AT&T (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376575)

They seem to be betting the future is an un-free internet.  Interesting, eh?

Determining the Difference Between (ill)&Legit (1)

jrieth50 (846378) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376817)

Not sure if I missed another comment, but can anyone please explain to me how this system would KNOW for a fact that a movie I was downloading wasn't coming from a legitimate source? Is it strictly a white-list? If so, how could they possibly keep track? Sure, knowing when traffics coming from Apple or Amazon is easy enough, but there are far smaller carriers of copyrighted digital materials. Maybe I'm wrong. And if there are not any currently, are we resigning ourselves to a world where there are exactly 2 (or 5) outlets for digital, copyrighted entertainment?

If a school gets permission for their students to log in and view a video online - will their filter flag this as violating traffic?

Is this the end game? No more FYEs, no more Record & Tape Traders (insert your local music shop,) no more middlemen whatsoever (except Apple who snuck in the back door?) Just major content owners, restrictive rights management (many if not all major companies opposing mere cross-device interoperability,) and 'the rest of us' who must do their bidding thanks to our wonderful friends at AT&T, Cisco, et al?

If somebody doesn't step up and put an end to it all, this will be one of the greatest business coups of modern times. Sorry, just pissed, don't mean to be preachy, but srsly.

Yawn. (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 5 years ago | (#21376855)

And the war continues.

What About Legal Streams? (1)

dreohio99 (963130) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377063)

How does this affect legally paid for streaming movies, such as the ones provided by netflix and legitimate online video services? How is AT&T going to be able to tell the difference between an authorized stream and an illegal one?

AT&T buys one of *everything* (1)

LongestPrefix (929027) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377253)

AT&T, and every other big LEC, buys one of everything. They've got equipment and software from thousands of vendors, and this probably isn't the first filtering system they've developed.

To paraphrase an ex-Baby-Bell engineer I worked with: AT&T will probably ride this horse as far as it can, decide it's not the right horse, shoot it, then walk back to find another horse.

Slightly off topic but still a part of the picture (1)

Nichole_knc (790047) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377521)

I have had a Bellsouth now ATT fiber optic connection for about 5 years.. It was one of the fastest Bellsouth connections for a long time.. Then ATT happened... It got real slow and then the shutdowns started to happen... Multi-call to what used to be Customer Support fell on muted ears... Well.. This is where it gets interesting.. I had two different ATT techs come out to check the lines.. BOTH TOLD ME THE SAME THING AS TO WHAT MY ISSUE CAUSE WAS and IS.. ATT deliberately throttles the fiber lines in Georgia... Once upon a time I had 3 up and 3 down.. Now I am lucky to have 1.5 down and 700 up... So I expect them to get even worse before it gets better... My neighbor, who works for ATT has twice the speed I do and ATT tells me I cannot get that.... Frankly and this in my opinion, ATT sucks.. They did b4 they were busted up and now again since they were allowed to reestablish their monopoly on the US telecom market.. and yes they have control of most of uunet via the Worldcom suck up...

Re:Slightly off topic but still a part of the pict (1)

Amazetbm (1087099) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377749)

Comcast does the same damn thing, in Georgia. So you won't have any luck with them either. Picking a broadband provider, in this area, is like choosing between the mumps or the measles.

Flawed (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377525)

Brilliant! So, when someone BUYS copyrighted content from ITunes, or Amazon, or some other content provider, AT&T's filter will detect it and block it.

Not so flawed... (1)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377931)

Brilliant! So, when someone BUYS copyrighted content from ITunes, or Amazon, or some other content provider, AT&T's filter will detect it and block it.
I suspect that's more likely to be the point of the exercise.

AT&T will sell / lease this service to other - media company related - ISPs. "Want to download a movie from iTunes, Amazon, or even TPB? Sorry, not if it's one of ours - but here's a link to our video store..."

Why should AT&T care? (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377831)

Why should AT&T even care about bittorent? Sure it uses a lot of bandwidth but so does YouTube, and downloading music "legitimately" they shouldn't care what I am using my network that I payed for, whether that is bittorent, YouTube, downloading Linux ISOs, iTunes or whatever, they are the ISP Internet Service Provider not some arm of the *IAA. Their goal should be to provide internet at a fast speed and not care at all whatever you want to do, and unless in the contract it said so, that means don't give bittorent or other P2P networks lower priority, seriously, what is with all these companies fighting innovation.

Unintended consequences for AT&T's network (1)

cscrutinizer (214083) | more than 5 years ago | (#21377911)

Steps like this are going to drive the encryption of all traffic, which is going to increase the utilization of the network. besides the overhead of encryption, it eliminates the possibility of compression and caching, which are very important aspects to WAN acceleration.

The question remains is this something that will have a greater financial impact on the consumers or AT&T. It certainly make thing much more difficult for organizations that are sniffing traffic.

A Fair(y) Use Tale (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#21378065)

I wonder how A Fair(y) Use Tale [stanford.edu] would be flagged by the "Video DNA" system. For those who don't know, this is a video consisting entirely of tiny clips from Disney movies. Most clips provide only a single word. When strung together, they explain what Fair Use is and why it's important. The use of the Disney copyrighted material clearly falls under Fair Use, yet Video DNA might flag it (and thus AT&T might block it) simply because the material is copyrighted.

So all AT&T have to do is.... (1)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | more than 5 years ago | (#21378157)

1. reconstruct a tcp stream and figure out what is bittorrent traffic and what is ssh, ssl etc.

2. decrypt Bittorrent encryption.

3. put the psuedo-randomly-ordered chunks of torrent data into the final file[s] (requires downloading the whole thing).

4. put the rar files most p2p movies are contained in into one piece and decompress.

5. compare the divx with the footprint for the dvd they have (remembering that its all been recoded n-times and possibly editted/cropped a bit so the divx timescale/image is not much like the vobs).

and all in real-time/wire-speed! riiiiiiiiiight. good luck with that one videodna.

oh anyone know if stargate atlantis s04e08 is on thepiratebay yet?

Great Firewall (1)

greedyturtle (968401) | more than 5 years ago | (#21378537)

This sounds similar to how the Great Firewall works, instead of ip blocking, it filters and replaces censored sites.
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