The impact of Peer to Peer on ISPs

I’m a director of BitTorrent Inc. (though not speaking for it) and so the recent debate about P2P applications and ISPs has been interesting to me. Comcast has tried to block off BitTorrent traffic by detecting it and severing certain P2P connections by forging TCP reset packets. Some want net neutrality legislation to stop such nasty activity, others want to embrace it. Brett Glass, who runs a wireless ISP, has become a vocal public opponent of P2P.

Some base their opposition on the fact that since BitTorrent is the best software for publishing large files, it does get used by copyright infringers a fair bit. But some just don’t like the concept at all. Let’s examine the issues.

A broadband connection consists of an upstream and downstream section. In the beginning, this was always symmetric, you had the same capacity up as down. Even today, big customers like universities and companies buy things like T-1 lines that give 1.5 megabits in each direction. ISPs almost always buy equal sized pipes to and from their peers.

With aDSL, the single phone wire is multiplexed so that you get much less upstream than downstream. A common circuit will give 1.5mbps down and say 256kb up — a 6 to 1 ratio. Because cable systems weren’t designed for 2 way data, they have it worse. They can give a lot down, but they share the upstream over a large block of customers under the existing DOCSIS system. They also will offer upstream on near the 6 to 1 ratio but unlike the DSL companies, there isn’t a fixed line there.

On ethernet there is no up and downstream, and the same is true on wireless internet, where all the people in the same radio zone and channel share a fixed amount of capacity. If I’m transmitting up you can’t be transmitting down at the same time to the same radio.

Your broadband link then goes into the ISP’s internal network. This network usually has lots of capacity, though it is all shared. Inside a server farm or DSLAM, there is gigabits of capacity.

This 6 to 1 ratio is tolerable because for most customers, most of the time, they like downstream and don’t use much upstream. Web surfing, receiving E-mail, downloads — these all use mostly downstream. Web hosting, uploads, sending E-mail and VoIP and P2P will use your upstream. Most people do a lot more of the former, so they are happy with aDSL and the like.

Bittorrent was clever. It realized that even with the limited upstream, most people don’t even use what they have. So BitTorrent forms a swarm of people downloading a file, and each downloader offers pieces of the file to others, using the upstream capacity they are otherwise not using at all. It’s a trade — I offer you some of my (otherwise unused) upstream and send you bits of the file, and you offer the same thing to me. At least in the DSL case, everybody wins. The original publisher of the file wins most of all, which means even a small publisher without a big server farm can serve up big files like videos and linux distributions. Otherwise they would have to buy a lot of serving capacity to do that well.

Let’s examine a simple case. Imagine ubuntu.com has a new linux distribution of size 1GB. Further imagine that two customers of AT&T DSL, Alice and Bob, both want to download it at the same time. In a traditional system, both users would fetch 1GB from ubuntu.com. It would send out 2GB, and the ISP would take in 2GB, and then it would send 1GB along Alice’s downstream and 1GB along Bob’s. 2GB would also move over the ISP’s internal network.

Now examine the BitTorrent case. Ubuntu.com sends 500MB to Alice and 500MB to Bob, so it only uses 1GB, not 2GB of outbound capacity. The ISP also only uses 1GB, not 2GB of inbound capacity — a huge win for both the ISP and Ubuntu so far. Alice uses 500mb of otherwise unused and wasted upstream capacity to send to Bob, and Bob does the reverse. So both Alice and Bob receive 1GB but now they each send out 500mb on their upstream. We still see 2GB gone on the ISP internal network, though it’s possible it goes over more links due to topology. It may go over fewer.

In the DSL case where the upstream channel is always present, this is a huge win. If it’s not used, it is just wasted. Alice send up 500mb, but in exchange she didn’t bring in 500mb from the outside world. For most ISPs, that’s a big win. And if the file is very popular, so that it has 10 downloaders, the savings are vast. 10 to 1 for ubuntu and the ISP’s incoming pipe, while the peers use more of their upstream, up to the point were they use, on average, almost a full GB of upstream each.

A wireless ISP is different. Because the total bandwidth there is fixed, they will see 3GB of data on their wireless net instead of 2GB, but they still save 1GB on the incoming pipe. But they may feel their wireless capacity is more expensive than their incoming pipe capacity. (If they had a wireless network that truly allowed peer to peer connections, they might get the savings but many WISPs will bring the traffic between customers into their central network and send it back out because of the way they use NAT.)

A Cable ISP is in the middle. They also save on the incoming bandwidth like the others. The poor design of their networks doesn’t mean the upstream takes capacity from the downstream, but their upstream is shared in pools, and high use of it reduces the upstream available to others. Again, it’s a trade-off of which is more expensive to have.

This has become an issue because almost all ISPs offer “unlimited” service. They know they can’t actually sell unlimited service to everybody. They bank on some users being above average and some being below, and giving them all the impression of unlimited service. This is called overselling, and it’s common in many fields, ranging from plane flights to all-you-can-eat buffets and lots of other arenas.

But because they know this, they see an incentive in trying to push away or punish those above average users, particularly above average upstream users on cable and wireless ISPs. If they can get rid of those high bandwidth users, their average drops and the number of times they can oversell their capacity goes up, and thus so does the bottom line.

When there are peers outside the ISP, we don’t get the same savings. It’s mostly a wash, though for many ISPs the upstream is available to make this work. While the clients connect at random, the inherently better connection between neighbours causes the P2P protocols to favour sending data locally. There has been much talk of making this more formal.

Caches

There is another solution to making big file distribution more efficient, which is a local cache. In this case, the local cache receives that 1GB file from Ubuntu.com and feeds it to the two users. This is also a very nice win for all ISPs, as almost no upstream capacity is used. For this reason many ISPs do run invisible “proxy” caches for HTTP downloads, and several big “CDN” companies such as Akamai sell cache services where they pre-store large files on servers at ISPs for their clients.

This is an excellent thing to do, but it does have a few flaws:

  • ISPs must install and pay for these cache servers. P2P simply uses the otherwise wasted capacity of downloader’s computers.
  • CDN cache services are only available to the customers of the CDN companies, who pay handsomely for it
  • Caches only can cache protocols they know about. They require intelligence in the center of the network, while P2P systems put the smarts in end user computers. A proxy cache can’t cache encrypted downloads, or anything new that they haven’t planned and programmed for.

The latter point is the most interesting. The internet is so innovative because of its end-to-end nature. By putting the smarts at the endpoints, interesting new systems (BitTorrent being just one example) can spring up overnight.

It is interesting to note that ISPs that wish to detect Bittorrent could also create a cache for it, which effectively joins all BitTorrent swarms which are popular with ISP users, and pushes itself in as a very helpful peer, so that all the users peer with it and get most of their data from it. Of course, as some authors of Bittorent clients move to encrypt their traffic to stop ISPs interfering negatively, such positive proxying will become no longer possible.

Whose bandwidth is it?

We’ll often see ISPs rail against P2P because it is using “their bandwidth” to benefit a “third party” such as Ubuntu.com, the publisher of the big file in my examples. They allege they are being cheated.

But whose bandwidth is it? There is a compelling argument that the ISP has sold that bandwidth to the customer. How much have they sold? Well, in an unlimited plan, “as much as you want.”

What the P2P users do with their bandwidth is trade it. Every packet on the internet involves a source using their upstream bandwidth to get the packet to a midpoint, and the target using their downstream bandwidth to get it from the midpoint to them. In P2P, the two peers are making a deal — you feed me some of the file, and I’ll feed you a roughly equal amount. The alternative would be to ask the original publisher to feed those bits of file, which is why some ISPs confuse this with helping a third party. In fact, the two peers are helping each other.

That’s because in these cases, the file publisher is not offering that much capacity to begin with. Like ubuntu.com, they are usually not being paid, and in the cases where they are being paid, the payment is for the file, not for enough bandwidth for everybody. So the peers trade some of their unused upstream to other peers for some of the same.

Unfortunately, we have ISPs who say “we didn’t really want to sell you all that upstream, particularly for you to trade it with other people.” But that’s not what they say in their offers, which presents a problem for them.

The more honest ISPs disclose their limits, or with good warning charge you for use above them. They don’t call their service unlimited and thus don’t so overtly oversell. For them P2P should not be a burden but a source of more sales.

Now I have to admit, I do like the overselling in a way. I think paying a flat rate for bandwidth is part of what made the internet great. If ISPs really find they have to have caps or surcharges for very high usage, I hope they still provide 99% of users with flat rate service. For it is flat rate service which allows all this experimentation, the very thing that brought about useful tools like BitTorrent.

Economics

Could it be that ISPs charge file publishers more for bandwidth in order to make internet access cheaper for consumers? If this is the case, whenever the file publishers save bandwidth, the ISPs lose money.

There is so much that is incorrect in the above posting...

...that I barely know where to begin to try and correct it. However, let's simply say that Brad obviously does not understand the economics of the ISP business.

Perhaps the most naive and incorrect assertion Brad makes above is, "There is a compelling argument that the ISP has sold that bandwidth to the customer. How much have they sold? Well, in an unlimited plan, 'as much as you want.'"

This simply defies rational sense. ISPs pay for their bandwidth. Often very expensively. (Many rural ISPs pay $100 per megabit per second per month -- or even more.) They do not, and could not be expected by any rational person to, give a customer as much bandwidth as he or she wanted.

What's more, it is ridiculous to use the ISP's expensive bandwidth to distribute files. In a "server farm," or a co-location facility on the Internet backbone, bandwidth costs $2 per megabit per second per month or less. It's irrational to expect the ISP, at a 50 times greater cost, to have his much more expensive bandwidth taken without compensation to pad the bottom lines of companies like Vuze or Skype. (Or BitTorrent, of which Brad just happens to be a director.)

And this is by no means the only misleading statement above; they go on and on. But of course, given Brad's vested interest in seeing BitTorrent make as much money as possible, it's easy to see why. It's much easier for a company to make money by taking it from others -- in this case, hard working ISPs -- than by making it through its own efforts.

My vested interests

Make no colouring on these opinions. I had them before I ever had any involvement in BitTorrent, and am quite open about my association. If you have some evidence to support your accusations against my integrity, Brett, put it forward. Otherwise, this form of debate (attack the motives and not the arguments) is unwelcome here (and just about everywhere else.)

Conflicts of interest

Brad, I tried to say this to you at David Isenberg's conference today, but I'll try to say it again more clearly here.

There's an old saying, "Res ipso loquitor," which, loosely translated, means, "Consider the source."

You, the source, have not one but multiple conflicts of interest. And it is a basic tenet of ethics that a conflict of interest cannot be washed away by a disclaimer.

The first conflict is that you are a board member of BitTorrent, Inc. Like it or not, this means that you are a fiduciary of the company. You are legally and ethically bound to advocate for the company and not to say anything that would in any way conflict with its interests. You can even be sued if you do.

Secondly, you are a board member of EFF. As above, you are required to support the EFF's interests and views. While you cannot be sued by stockholders if you don't (because EFF has none), it would be a breach of ethics if you did and could certainly get you removed from the board and/or sued by EFF itself.

Thirdly, you have your own interests. Being on the board of EFF lends you prestige and gets you perks (e.g. free speaking trips). BitTorrent, Inc. gives you either income or opportunities for income (e.g. stock options). This encourages you to maximize your returns by supporting them.

Thus, you are not just conflicted but multiply conflicted. There is so much pressure upon you not to say anything against either BitTorrent or the EFF's agenda, and so much for you to lose if you do, that you are legally and ethically bound not to take any side but that of these organizations. (And if they ever disagreed, you'd have to shut up and/or resign from the board of one of them.) So, you can see why disclosure is so important. You simply cannot, legally or ethically, speak freely on these issues. Your hands are tied.

Then you misunderstand

First of all, while it can be argued my work for the EFF gains me status, to say it nets me perks shows a deep misunderstanding of the situation, which could have been remedied had you simply asked, rather than assumed. Like almost all the board members of EFF (and many other nonprofits) I contribute far more in cash donations than I could ever have been judged to receive in “perks” as you describe them. By orders of magnitude, that’s how incorrect this statement is. And while I have, like most other conference speakers, received free admisssion to conferences at which I was an invited speaker, I’m racking my brain to figure out what free speaking trips you could be talking about. (I did once get paid airfare/hotel for a conference to talk about nanotech, which I would think would relate more to my hat at Foresight Nanotech Institute.) I won’t deny I wouldn’t mind at all if conferences paid my travel expenses and I sometimes ask if they can (they usually can’t) but again, it would take a lot of these to touch the money I have donated.

Secondly, the EFF is, as I am surprised you aren’t aware, an organization devoted first to free speech. It does not muzzle its board members from expressing their views. Surely you’ve notice things like board member Dave Farber being a major net neutrality opponent while board member (until a couple of weeks ago) Larry Lessig was a net neutrality booster. Again, you seem to be making nasty allegations of conflict of interest for which you not only have no evidence, but which are demonstrably false.

Thirdly, when I do speak for EFF I am not “conflicted.” Making statements on these matters is what the EFF does. So statements about a conflict of interest make no sense in this context. The EFF’s interests and policies are what we on the board decide, with some reflection on the interests of our members.

It is correct that I have an interest in the financial success of Bittorrent, Inc. And I am quite open about that, mentioning it almost every time I talk related to this issue, and it is noted near the top of my bio on my home page. You would not have known that when I joined the BitTorrent board, I made it a condition that I would not be limited from making statements with my EFF hat which were at odds with what BitTorrent was saying. You can believe that in spite of that, I make statements about P2P which I do not believe in order to further BitTorrent’s interest, but I thought you knew better than that. My advice to you today in person was you would better serve your own goals by sticking to facts and reasoned arguments rather than making false guesses about motives.

However, you are not bound to follow that advice, but it is honestly given (and you’ll find I’ve given it to many other than you over the years, perhaps a hundred times, and still stand by it.) Nobody follows it perfectly, even myself, but it’s the right thing to aim for.

Brad, you cannot make up your own "conditions"

If you are a board member, you are a fiduciary. Period. You should not serve on the board of a corporation without knowing your legal obligations. In any event, I will continue to defend my livelihood against you, the EFF, and BitTorrent, Inc.

Nonsense

In fact, part of the rules of a fiduciary duty is that you disclose any potential conflicts to the rest of the board, not that they don’t exist. There are conflicts of interest with board members all the time. (For example, routinely board members are also employees and founders who take salaries from the corporation. To solve this the board appoints a compensation committee not including those people.)

Naturally in all my actions as a bittorrent board member I will act in the best interests of the corporation, following my duty to the stockholders. This does not mean I can’t express opinions on policy issues outside this role which are not in line with official opinions, and it certainly doesn’t mean I have to express opinions different from my own — at the most extreme interpretations it might suggest silence at most. If it went beyond opinions to actions, such as the EFF getting involved in legal action against bittorrent, then it’s very probable I would have to pick a side and resign the other.

However, again, this is beside the point. I again recommend you focus on facts and arguments, not personalities. You can quote nice latin phrases, but they don’t change how nonproductive that turns out to be, especially online.

So get to the meat of the matter. You have pointed out that sometimes there are small ISPs who pay high prices for their connectivity to the cloud, higher than people who buy servers at more central peering points, and I agree that can happen. And indeed, sometimes those ISPs don’t charge their customers enough to cover it when a customer makes heavy use of that bandwidth, and this can be bad for the ISP.

However, many ISPs, and thus indirectly most ISP customers, peer at as good or better rates than typical hosting companies. Does it make sense to now allow important new technologies there, where it’s a win? How much should we protect so that those ISPs who pay a lot for peering and don’t want to charge their heavy users appropriately can do so?

Also, what is it that makes you want to defend yourself “against the EFF.” What has the EFF actually done to threaten you? You’ve explained your dislike of P2P and Bittorrent, what did the EFF do?

The EFF has slammed Comcast...

...in its filings and in many forums, and advocates regulation of ISPs and of the Internet. Such regulation (especially forced transit of BitTorrent) could put us and all other independent ISPs out of business, so naturally we are defending ourselves against this attack on our livelihood. As for the conflicts of interest, Brad: Go ahead and deny them as long as you can. In our ethically lax corporate environment, you can get away with them until board members or stockholders intervene. I'm just pointing them out as a matter of full disclosure, so that people can assess for themselves whether your obligations to these parties and your financial interests influence your statements on this subject.

The EFF

Has not advocated regulation of ISPs and the internet. You are incorrect. And you know it since you sat in the audience watching me give a speech on the dangers of regulation. The EFF is critical of application targeting and interfering with sessions by inserting forged reset packets. Comcast has announced it will no longer do this.

The EFF called for transparency — that ISPs disclose what sort of network management they are doing to their customers, and that they not say one thing and do another. Comcast has announced this is what it will do, and that’s good.

Transparency

Brad, if you are for transparency, why are you so concerned about my exposure of your conflicts of interest? It seems to me that if you're for disclosure, you should be for that sort of disclosure too.

As for the EFF: It published a report (see http://www.eff.org/files/eff_comcast_report.pdf) using intentionally inflammatory language which mischaracterized the P2P mitigation techniques used by Comcast. It uses the word "forgery" (implying criminal activity) dozens of times for a standard network management technique, and suggests that P2P users (who consist mostly of people pirating intellectual property) hack around it, in violation of Federal law. (It's a Federal crime to obtain unauthorized access to a computer network.)

We and any ISP with any sense will fight this and the EFF. The EFF has taken many such wrongheaded positions in the past -- including being pro-CALEA when it could have stopped the bill. The group is not worthy of support.

I give up, Brett

I see phrases like “federal crime to obtain unauthrorized access to a computer network” in the same paragraph as damning “intentionally inflamatory language” and I have to throw up my hands. You can’t seriously contend that the discussions of how to avoid the false reset packets or use of these techniques would constitute unauthorized access to a computer network.

Our report is accurate. The packets are injected against the will of the users, and with a source address that is false and misleading. I don’t see it as inaccurate to describe that source address, and thus those packets as forged. When you identify yourself in writing as somebody else who has not authorized you to do so, that sounds like forgery to me.

I am not concerned about your “exposure” of my interests. They are not in any way hidden. Almost everybody who has been on the net as long as we have knows that debates which descend to the level of discussing the other person’s motives quickly become pointless, heated and entirely disinteresting to other parties. As such, please take further discussion that is not about the actual issues rather than personalities to your own blog.

Truth

Sorry if it is inconvenient, Brad, but it's the truth. Anyone who gains unauthorized access to a computer network, or exceeds authorized access (yes, those are the exact words of the statute) is indeed committing a Federal crime. That's just a fact; see 18 USC 1030. In particular, users who try to run BitTorrent on one of our ISP's residential connections in violation of our Terms of Service are committing a crime. And the penalties are quite stiff.

However, sending a pair of RST packets to terminate a TCP session is not a crime and is not "forgery," and the EFF uses this inflammatory term many times. An address on a RST packet can't be "false," because in fact the users' respective ISPs that own them. And the addresses MUST be accurate to terminate the proper connecction. What's more, an address is not an identity. (In fact, many users may get a temporary "lease" on the same address -- as often as one every half hour.) Nor are the addresses on the packets "misleading" -- there is no human to mislead.

So, if you want to get right down to brass tacks, Brad, EFF is defending users of your company's BitTorrent software when in fact they are the criminals (even if the content is not pirated!).

Furthermore, you, as a board member of BitTorrent, Inc., are aiding and abetting criminals, and as a board member of EFF you are defending both while bashing ISPs (who are trying to stop the criminal activity).

Again, all plain and simple fact. Check with your lawyers.

Criminals

Ok, then, you’ve made an unequivocal statement and a rather venal accusation of aiding and abetting criminals. So it’s time to put up or shut up. I propose a test.

You demonstrate this is true, and I’ll donate $5,000 to the charity of your choice. If it’s false, you donate $5,000 to the charity of my choice.

How might you demonstrate its true? Well, you could install the same system as Comcast used on Lariat, and then wait for somebody to use one of the encrypting P2P programs or take any other measure discussed in the EFF document. Then press criminal charges, and attain a criminal conviction. Or you need not do it on your own ISP. There are other ISPs still doing what Comcast has now stopped, so just ask the local prosecutors to indict somebody for doing this. I haven’t checked but I bet we could find somebody willing to be the test case. Is the amount too high? Happy to suggest a number you can better afford. Is it too low? Suggest a higher number.

Or not so sure? Come up with any other test that would somehow verify this claim, because otherwise, I suspect I and the rest of the world will consider it ludicrous.

Rather obvious

Brad, I'm not going to blow tens of thousands of dollars on an overpriced network appliance just to satisfy you. I'm more than capable of detecting BitTorrent, KaZaA, and other abusive software with network monitoring software that I have written myself. As for actually prosecuting someone: we have never yet had a situation in which a user continued to abuse the network when we've informed them that they were violating our Terms of Service and Federal law. No test case is necessary; "exceeding authorized access" is a per se violation of the statute. It's ironic that you, who oppose suing of users by the RIAA, would ask us to have a user prosecuted.

It doesn't have to be your ISP

Several ISPs are doing this right now. Get a charge pressed and a conviction made on any US ISP with similar terms to Comcast and you could win the bet. (We might well help defend this poor victim, but in fact I’m pretty sure you could not even get an indictment, let alone a conviction.) The truth is the claim that it is criminal is entirely bogus, and since you’re the one asserting it, you need to come up with some facts to back it up, since accusing people of being criminals and aiding criminals is a very serious accusation. So back it up, or back down. I doubt you could even get a serious independent lawyer to agree with you, let alone a prosecutor. Go advance your theory in a more widely read place than the comments on my blog if you really believe it, but don’t expect to like the results you get back.

Or better yet, let’s talk about the real issues. Does P2P, when used properly and for legal purposes (such as when I download my newest ubuntu distro) help the internet and the world, or harm it.

We won't t take your sucker bet.

Brad, you might find someone really stupid to take your sucker bet, but we sure won't. Prosecute a customer? In a small city? Good way to wreck a business. (I suppose that you were hoping that we would do it that way so you wouldn't have to wreck it by forcing us to allow P2P.) We'd do it only if someone were tampering with our network and caused severe damage that we couldn't stop. But we can detect and mitigate P2P and we are doing it.

Nonetheless, it is plainly criminal activity. You just don't want to admit you're supporting criminals.

As for your question just above, it is again loaded. P2P cannot be used properly or for legal purposes on our residential accounts, because our Terms of Service do not allow it. And P2P is always harmful, because it circumvents the weak fairness and congestion control mechanisms of TCP/IP (which rely upon trusting "ends" that cannot be trusted).

Prove it somehow

No, I don’t think you want to charge a customer, and listen, we get that your ISP is different and sets different terms. You can set whatever terms you like. We’re talking about the bigger debate, on the bigger ISPs. I’ve challenged you to come up with something — anything — to demonstrate your accusation of criminal activity. If it weren’t for the fact that you can always find a lawyer who will take your side, I would be amazed if you could even find any lawyer with serious grounding in this area of the law to agree with your claim.

So again, put up or shut up. You tell us what sort of test — other than your highly unusual and unfounded in caselaw interpretations of some rules — could demonstrate that there’s even a shred of truth to your claim of criminal activity here.

Anything. Cite us a case.

P2P, as a concept, does not circumvent any congestion controls. What are you referring to here? What does P2P do worse than any other downloader, especially the common downloaders people use with their web browsers that simultaneously open several sockets to the source fetching different parts of the file? Or are they criminals too?

Wrong on many counts.

You write:

"You can set whatever terms you like. We’re talking about the bigger debate, on the bigger ISPs."

Not true. The rules for which EFF is lobbying, and the legislation it is supporting, would apply to all ISPs regardless of size. Not that size should matter; it is not ethically any better to steal service from a large company than from a small one.

"I’ve challenged you to come up with something — anything — to demonstrate your accusation of criminal activity."

And I've quoted a law which clearly defines the activity that way.

"P2P, as a concept, does not circumvent any congestion controls."

"As a concept," maybe. But every actual P2P program tries to do it. And BitTorrent is among the worst offenders.

Brad, it's bad enough that you're not being truthful. But what's worse is that you have exposed both yourself and EFF as corrupt. EFF claims to espouse online freedom, but you would cut our users off from being online altogether -- the ultimate denial of online freedom -- simply to pad your pockets as a director of BitTorrent, Inc. And EFF is going right along with you. You've blown your credibility AND the credibility of the organization.

On all ISPs

Well my own position is to limit regulation to the monopoly franchise players. So while I didn’t push for the current position as it does not mesh entirely with my own, I don’t think transparency requirements are a bad idea so don’t mind them being more universal. Why are you against transparency?

You misunderstand criminal law if you think what you have quoted demonstrates criminal activity. I recommend you consult with a criminal lawyer for more information.

P2P programs don’t deliberately circumvent congestion. When fetching a file from a large number of peers, it is inherent that several sockets will be opened. How would you implement it?

Brett, as Brad said put up or shut up!

If it is illegal to share files using a P2P client, either take it to court of law and prove it or show case history. don't just waddle around. Your methods might fly in the boonies, it won't in the silicon valley. If doing business is unprofitable, quit, stop whining about it.

Looking at IP addresses from

Looking at IP addresses from a European perspective, IP addresses are copyright the person holding that IP address at that moment. In short, that means an ISP can't dick around with it. Also, just because someone kowtows to T&C's doesn't mean they're legal. It just means you have a bigger bully stick. That's not right or fair. Speaking of which, if Brad has a view on the interception and privacy outrage by Phorm and their ISP chums in the UK I'd love to hear it.

Copyright

Well no, IP addresses are not copyrighted. But if a man-in-the-middle injects packets into my TCP/IP streams with another party, putting my IP address into them or my sequence numbers into them, and it’s against my wishes and knowingly against my wishes, I’m not sure why forgery isn’t a good term for that. They are pretending to be me to the other side. This is quite different from sending such packets when a link is going down for reasons beyond my control. In that case, I want the other side informed that the link is down, and as such one can reasonably argue I authorized or would have authorized the MITM to use my identifier in a packet. When you use somebody else’s identity when they don’t approve it, that’s forgery.

Brad, IP addresses are

Brad, IP addresses are copyright in European Union law. It's been to court and a precedent has been set. I can't think of a reference to help you out but it's a done deal. If I recall, it was some communications directive and a case in Germany that nailed it. Essentially, the IP address for the time you used it is your copyright. It can be used for the transmission of data as that's implied in the transmission but any other use not explicitly granted by you is a breach of copyright law.

I did some earlier reading on issues related to Phorm and what you say about forgery came up. As well as Phorm breaching RIPA and the DPA the fraud puts them in breach of the Computer Misuse Act. This specifically prohibits any unauthorised use of a computer system. The Phorm bunch are saying they're in the clear because putting a web page up implies consent. Uh, since when? You have a respectable view but law enforcement isn't prosecuting these people because of their carefully crafted business status.

Tell me more

I certainly have not heard of any use of copyright applied to IP addresses, or anything that short, or anything plainly factual, in Europe.

Can you cite the URL of something talking about that? It goes at odds with all general concepts in copyright, so I would be surprised. Let us know the URL.

Germany's data protection commissioner

I did some really hard digging and was about to give up but I found something that's close. It doesn't directly address the issue of copyright but might be a useful lead and help explain the reasoning behind it. As you know, an IP address can be transitory. The copyright perspective I read took a similar approach to the data protection line. Sorry, I couldn't do any better than that.

http://blogscript.blogspot.com/2008/01/ip-addresses-are-personal-data-of...

That's something entirely different

It’s about a privacy right in records tied to your IP address, ie. server logs about you.

Completely apart from copyright.

And all are apart from forgery. Your name is not private, nor copyrightable, but if somebody uses it to act as you without your authority that can be forgery.

Yeah, I know but it's the

Yeah, I know but it's the best I could come up with. I lost the link that mentioned IP addresses being copyright and the particular case it referred to. It's very specific and doesn't apply generally. If you're really interested you could chase it up with the German data protection commisioner or a German lawyer.

Anyway, that forgery thing is pretty much nailed down. That trips the UK Data Protection Act and other relevant EU directives, whatever they are. The problem is getting authorities to understand and act. Sadly, they side too often with business. Mostly because of status and phantom job losses, I reckon.

More evidence of Brad's, and EFF's, conflict of interest

Just read an interesting session description for the "Computers, Freedom, and Privacy" conference -- whose programming chairperson is on the staff of EFF and whose programming committee has at least one other EFF member on it. The description said:

"In Washington, DC, debates over network neutrality are often not only contentious, but also unhelpful, if not dishonest. In DC, panels on network neutrality often include a "pro" and a "contra," which can degenerate into a war of slogans as people talk past one another, using very different sets of facts, many of which come from dubious sources. A particularly good example is several panels held in DC on Comcast's secret, scattered blocking of p2p protocols. Comcast defenders often work from wildly different facts from everyone else. Comcast denied its actions to the public, to the press, and to nonprofit organizations repeatedly until the Associated Press's tests confirmed Comcast's actions. Then Comcast and its surrogates continued dissembling, making technical assertions that were generally discredited by technical experts testifying at the FCC's Cambridge Hearing on Feb. 25 on network management practices, yet Comcast continues making its questionable/inaccurate assertions. DC panels including a Comcast defender and opponent have largely been marred by an inability to agree on any basic, objective facts."

In other words, the description of the supposedly "unbiased" panel discussion is about as biased as can be! Also, note the multiple white papers on EFF's Web site which -- conveniently -- support BitTorrent's financial interests (and, hence, Brad Templeton's) 100%.

This should be a total embarrassment to EFF. Not only does its Chairman have an undeniable conflict of interest, but because BitTorrent and other P2P-ware actually degrades networks and hence harms free speech, the group is going directly against the principles it claims to hold dear to favor Brad's personal pocketbook. This completely blows both Brad's credibility and the EFF's credibility. It also does a lot of damage to the credibility of the conference. This blatant cronyism and corruption is amazing. It's a total sellout to corporate interests.

Figure out who to attack

Brett, this borders on comical. You saw me speak. You’ve read my posts. I’m against network neutality legislation. Bram Cohen has come out against it as well (entirely independently from me.) So if you think I, BitTorrent or the EFF have some bias you want to attack, I remain confused. Are you secretly pro network neutrality legislation? I still don’t get what we’ve done that’s go you so in a tizzy. The EFF criticised Comcast for not being transparent and being anti-transparent on their RSTs and used a few strong terms you disagree with to describe it. As for the program chair of CFP, Eddan Katz, he just joined EFF as a staffer in the last couple of months and I’ve certainly never spoken with him about network neutrality or BitTorrent that I recall. I’ve barely met him.

Again, instead of inventing complete fabrications about conflicts, please try to focus on what’s actually wrong about my position, or EFF’s, or BitTorrent’s (none of which 3 are exactly the same as far as I know.)

Brad, you're "saying that which is not so" again.

The EFF has published two falsehood-ridden and inflammatory white papers, at http://www.eff.org/wp/packet-forgery-isps-report-comcast-affair
and http://www.eff.org/wp/detecting-packet-injection,
both of which accuse ISPs who manage their bandwidth of "forgery" and other skullduggery.

EFF has also started a project to publish software which defames ISPs who engage in traffic management; see http://www.eff.org/testyourisp.

Conveniently, these articles all state that reining in BitTorrent's bandwidth hogging behavior is somehow evil. How convenient that these falsehoods just happen to serve BitTorrent's interests and therefore yours personally.

Oh, and I note that there is no mention in your biography on the EFF site that you are a Board member of BitTorrent, Inc. So much for disclosure.

Brad, your assertions that people should look the other way and pretend not to notice your conflicts of interest ring hollow. You've been caught promoting your pocketbook. Time to resign as chair of EFF.

I tire of this

Have a nice day, Brett. You won’t take my advice to stick to real arguments and always see the self-destructive desire to bring in completely untrue ad-hominem. I have no interest in that level of discussion.

Ad hominem

Uh, Brad: Just so you'll know, pointing out a conflict of interest isn't argumentum ad hominem.

RE: There is so much that is incorrect in the above posting...

Really? Defies rational sense? Perhaps your WISP doesn't offer unlimited bandwidth. If so, why should you care? What stops you from just charging for the overages? What exactly constitutes an overage in your standard ToS? If you can answer that, fantastic, but the fact that most ISPs cannot is what "defies rational sense".

And please enlighten: what else was incorrect in the above posting? You didn't offer anything but an ad hominem.

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