• Kazaa code rises from ashes to help ISPs block pirated material for profit

    The people behind a company once accused of being complicit in copyright infringement through peer-to-peer filesharing are now selling software that blocks pirated content—and gives Internet service providers a way to make cash in the process. And soon, a version of the same technology could be used by ISPs to inject their own advertisements into search results—a capability that is sure to raise the ire of proponents of network neutrality.

    Global File Systems LLC, a subsidiary of Kazaa owners Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc. (BDE), have developed software that combines a database of “known bad files” with Web filtering technology at the ISP’s firewall, allowing ISPs to intercept and change links in search results being passed back to a user’s PC—and sending searchers to sites where the user can pay for legitimate copies of the content.

    “A number of trials have shown that, properly priced, it’s possible for the content owners and the ISP partners to take back customers from the pirate operation,” BDE’s Michael Speck, who manages the content management business, told Ars in an interview. He said that the software, called Global File Registry—advertised with the tag line, "What goes up can come down"—offers an opportunity to end “the friction between content owners and ISPs,” and to make content blocking a no-cost or profit-making capability for the ISPs themselves.

    Speck said that the other solutions proposed by content owners and some ISPs to stop piracy (such as those that were part of drafts of the failed SOPA and PIPA legislation) require fundamental changes to the way the Internet works. BDE’s approach, he said, “is a software platform integrated into the existing machinery of the Internet,” and doesn’t require changes to the Domain Name Service.
    Ironically, Global File Registry is based on Truenames, a file identification technology that was originally part of the Kazaa filesharing service. “It’s the Truenames patents that allow individual items of content to be located within a peer-to-peer or cloud environment,” Speck said. BDE has pursued a number of cloud companies to get them to license the technology, and Speck says that many have bought in, including Skype, Level 3 Communications, and Google (which Speck called “one of our most enthusiastic licensees”).

    In the case of Global File Registry, which BDE has worked with Cisco to develop over the past few years, a database of Truenames identifying information is combined with the existing content-filtering capability of firewalls to intercept links to infringing content being returned in search results. The software, which is embedded in the ISP’s firewall, then modifies the data to remove and replace the link. “ISPs already have equipment that can identify ‘bad data’,” Speck said. “We’re only asking the machinery that operates the Internet to do one more thing after it identifies bad data—and that is to convert it to a positive response.”

    Speck added that the software doesn’t look at the source of the infringing content or the destination of the search results, so it doesn’t identify users trying to access the content. “It’s only a refinement of the data being delivered,” he said.
    Global File Registry is already being deployed, and BDE is initially marketing the software to ISPs in Australia, New Zealand, and France. In addition to the anti-piracy version of the software, Global File Registry is also being packaged for law enforcement customers in a version the company plans to give away as a way to block access to child pornography sites, drawing from data collected by child protection organizations.

    But what may be the most controversial version of the Global File Registry product is yet to come. Speck says Global File Systems is preparing a version for the US market that allows ISPs to intercept contextual ads in search results and inject their own advertisements in their place. “At the moment, ISP operators invest in the network, acquire customers, and just open the window to the Internet, allowing other people to push advertising down customers’s throats,” Speck said. “We believe it’s incongruous that ISPs should just open the window and allow them to force-feed advertising,” rather than getting their own advertising revenue, he explained.

    Speck calls the software “an ISP packet-adjusted advertising platform,” and says it relies on the same technology as the anti-piracy software. “Relying on that same technology, we have been able to replace a search engine or website’s advertising with the ISP’s own advertising,” he said. But he added that “we’re not suggesting we can forensically remove and replace every advertisement from every webpage”—the technology is specifically targeted at search-based ads “of a certain category.”

    When asked how Google would feel about the idea of ISPs swapping their own advertisements for Google’s paid ads, Speck said, “I think they’re excited about the prospect that someone can do that, which is why they’re one of the most enthusiastic licensees of our technology.” But he admits there may be some resistance. “Whenever there is a fundamental shift in a business model, the primary resistance is going to be from the established players.”
    Google has not yet responded to an Ars inquiry on the level of the company’s enthusiasm for the interception of its main revenue stream.
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. mjmacky's Avatar
      mjmacky -
      If I understand correctly, this is just a frivolous and fruitless venture on their parts.
    1. ziggyjuarez's Avatar
      ziggyjuarez -
      THats it! I'm going to stop using kazaa now.
    1. Oluwa's Avatar
      Oluwa -
      Quote Originally Posted by ziggyjuarez View Post
      THats it! I'm going to stop using kazaa now.

      I Like turtles!
    1. mjmacky's Avatar
      mjmacky -
      I like furtles.
    1. megabyteme's Avatar
      megabyteme -
      Threatening, or not, there's no shortage of corporate scumbags looking to fuck around with the free internet for profit.
    1. nntpjunkie's Avatar
      nntpjunkie -
      Sounds cool and a little unsettling at the same time, like the idea of blocking child porn, but the internet aught to remain free leaving those who would look to pirate free to do so - personally I would rather have a massive content store that we could just pay a flat subscription fee to and download all day long - Wake up MPAA and RIAA the opportunities continue to pass you by....old farts.
    1. unclemilty74's Avatar
      unclemilty74 -
      I don't understand how this is legal, for one, and I also do not believe that Google would support this without being compensated for their lost ad revenue. But yeah, nothing will change except the companies will spend more money and raise their prices, thus driving more users to discover alternate sources. Wake up!
    1. thrasher88's Avatar
      thrasher88 -
      These companies already have more money than they need. It has nothing to do with piracy, it has everything to do with control. They don't care about you downloading Britney Spears songs and Kill Bill movies, those things just entertain us all from the truth. The reason they want the power to shutdown all sorts of websites is because of the human awakening taking place because of the internet. Documentaries and whatnot all over youtube explaining in detail things like fractional reserve banking, central banking and 9/11 truths, truths about kony 2012 and all the b/s wars from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya and Syria. The ideas such as the possibility of a faked alien invasion to scare people and the drones killing thousands of innocents in other sovereign countries like Pakistan. Trust me, at the end of the day they totally realize that we pirates aren't going to buy even 5% of all the shit we download, its just being used as the scapegoat, they aren't nearly as dumb as they let on lol... Basically, the legislation passed is VERY wide, meaning they want to give the power to corporations themselves to take down anything they don't like with just the slightest reason in doing so eg., a youtube video with a 30 second clip used for education purposes.... Go ahead tell me I'm crazy
    1. TheFoX's Avatar
      TheFoX -
      Its all about money, and making the richer richer while making the poor poorer.

      There are some people in the world who have wealth we cannot even imagine. Why do individuals even need billions of dollars? What could they possibly buy with that money? And what happens if the currency collapses? Will that wealth still be worth anything, or would it just be useless bits of paper?
    1. proforma's Avatar
      proforma -
      Well - for ISPs it would be a very bad idea to add advertising to the (not their!) content. The internet isn't just youtube where another banner wouldn't matter but also some very critical applications for hospitals, brokers, companies, goverments... Most of these would react very badly if someone would inject some of their own bits.

      Next problem: Just because someone is transfering a file which is copyrighted doesn't mean he is doeing it illegal - even is he is transfering to a swarm. Maybe he is the artist. Maybe this is promo material. Maybe a blockbuster hollywood film uses public domain material which the filter identifies.
    1. megabyteme's Avatar
      megabyteme -
      Quote Originally Posted by proforma View Post
      Well - for ISPs it would be a very bad idea to add advertising to the (not their!) content. The internet isn't just youtube where another banner wouldn't matter but also some very critical applications for hospitals, brokers, companies, goverments... Most of these would react very badly if someone would inject some of their own bits.
      This EKG sponsored by totallysickhorsefuckers.com
    1. TheFoX's Avatar
      TheFoX -
      I am not sure on the exact content of the law, but sharing copyright material isn't the issue, is it? You could share an album or film a million times, but if those million recipient don't listen to, or view, those files, no crime has been committed.

      Copyright infringement happens when you listen to or view something that you are not license to listen to or view. If you buy a CD of music, you buy a license to listen to that CD. If you download that CD from a filesharing site, but don't listen to it, ever, you haven't broken the licensing laws governing that material.

      You could download a copy of a movie, then buy the DVD containing a licensed copy of the film, which would make watching the downloaded copy legal, since you now own a license to view.

      So, filesharing isn't the issue, since the person doing the sharing has no idea that those who are grabbing the file don't have the necessary license to listen to or view the material. The onus on complying with the law must well and truly be in the hands of those grabbing the files, and not those sharing.