Distributed Computing Industry
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In This Issue

P2P Safety

P2PTV Guide

P2P Networking

Industry News

Data Bank

Techno Features


April 26, 2010
Volume XXX, Issue 7

P2P & CLOUD MEDIA SUMMIT Pre-Registration Rates End April 30th

The P2P & CLOUD MEDIA SUMMIT at DHS (P2PCMS) is coming to Santa Monica, CA.

This first-ever conference focused totally on the impact of P2P and cloud computing on the entertainment sector is scheduled for Thursday May 6th at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel and is the fifth annual DCIA conference being held in conjunction with Digital Hollywood Spring (DHS).

Pre-registration for P2PCMS as a full-day stand-alone conference is $399 through April 30th, or DHS delegates can add registration to P2PCMS for just $100. Please call 410-476-7964 or click here to register.

P2PCMS will explore current policy, technology, and content issues as well as next-generation business opportunities related to P2P and cloud based commercial offerings.

KEYNOTES will include Akamai's Stuart Cleary, Director of Product Marketing, Media & CDN; Alcatel-Lucent's Buck Peterson, General Manager, AppGlide; BitTorrent's Claude Tolbert, Vice President of Business Development; Cisco Systems' Geng Lin, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Cisco-IBM Alliance; Giraffic's Assaf Benjamin, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development; HD Cloud's Nicholas Butterworth, Chief Executive Officer (CEO); KPMG's Mark Lundin, Partner; and MediaUnbound's Michael Papish, Founder and CEO.

A special session during the CONFERENCE LUNCHEON featuring a candid discussion on how to do business with leading media firms. What are the 'do's and dont's' for approaching major entertainment companies with new technology solutions? What are the absolute musts for succeeding in such endeavors? What are the most serious pitfalls to avoid?

Participants will include Foresee Entertainment's John Penney, President (formerly HBO); Loeb & Loeb's Larry Kenswil, Of Counsel (formerly Universal Music Group); Pepperdine University School of Law's John Malcolm, Distinguished Practitioner in Residence (formerly MPAA); Priority Digital Media's Amy Friedlander-Hoffman, President (formerly AT&T); TAG Strategic's Ted Cohen, Managing Partner (formerly EMI Music); and Ubiquity Broadcasting's Steve Jacobs, President (formerly SONY).

The full-day event features keynotes and panels of industry leaders from the forefront of innovation. There will be a continental breakfast in addition to the conference luncheon.

Registration can be done online here or by calling 410-476-7964. For sponsor packages and speaker information, please contact Karen Kaplowitz, DCIA Member Services, at 888-890-4240.

BitTorrent CEO: The Public is Our Regulator

Excerpted from PC World Report by Stephen Lawson

The Internet industry has to regulate itself by responding to consumer demands in the wake of the recent US federal court ruling that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) didn't have authority to enforce its net neutrality rules, BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker said Monday.

"There is no ambiguity. There is not going to be, at least in the near term, a strong regulator for broadband," Klinker told the eComm Conference in Burlingame, CA.

Instead, it is the public that will pass judgment on how service and application providers behave, Klinker said. "The public is our regulator."

BitTorrent was at the center of the case that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided on April 6th. The FCC had ordered cable operator Comcast to stop throttling BitTorrent and other file-sharing applications on its network. The high court ruled that the agency could not do so.

BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) tool for transferring files, including very large ones, and has been called one of the major platforms for sharing of copyright-protected works. Comcast has defended its right to take steps to manage its network so a few users don't take up too much its capacity. The court ruling appears to have seriously hobbled the FCC's ability to enforce its network neutrality principles, which call for nondiscriminatory treatment of different applications traveling over public networks, among other things.

But Klinker told eComm he isn't afraid of carriers creating "walled gardens" of selected content and turning the Internet into the equivalent of cable TV. They also would have a hard time selling network management programs based on "discrimination," he said. What consumers really want are steps to ease delays during times of heavy usage, according to Klinker.

BitTorrent even has its own mechanism for doing this, called Micro Transport Protocol (MTP), and has rolled it out to the users of its software.

Carriers probably won't try to be gatekeepers against certain websites or Internet-based services because of the steps they would have to take, he said.

"For example, if carriers wanted to extract a rent from Google, one of the carriers in this room is going to have to blink first and block Google," Klinker said. The greater threat to the Internet may be Apple's "feudal" approach to the Internet, he said. Apple has come under fire for controlling access to popular, lucrative platforms of its own creation, such as iTunes and the iPhone App Store.

Most people basically want net neutrality, so it would be hard for carriers to justify network management measures that are seen as discriminatory, Klinker said. What consumers will embrace are moves to ease congestion during busy times.

"Management practices devoted to this problem, I think, are totally defensible," Klinker said. He used the analogy of ambulances traveling quickly through crowded streets because other drivers pull over for them. "Neutral and priority can - in fact, they do - coexist," he said.

This is the principle behind MTP, Klinker said. The system instructs BitTorrent to take up unused capacity on a network so, for example, it will hold back during a busy work day to let more critical applications maintain their performance, he said. When it senses delays, it slows down, helping other applications maintain low latency.

BitTorrent has been developing MTP for several years. In January, it declared the software stable and provided it as an automatic update to users of the company's own BitTorrent client. Users who don't choose to update their clients won't get it. About 60 other companies distribute versions of BitTorrent software, which is open source, but the company has about 70 million users out of a worldwide total of about 100 million, according to Klinker.

The new protocol can benefit carriers by allowing them to run their networks more fully loaded, because BitTorrent will stop itself from overloading the network, he said.

ShambroWest Corporation Introduces GenosTV

ShambroWest Corporation this week announced the forthcoming introduction of its revolutionary Genos broadband television service. 

GenosTV will provide its subscribers worldwide with access to cable, network, and other media content from every geographic region and in every language around the world.

GenosTV will be delivered over broadband Internet connections to its subscribers' televisions using proprietary hardware and software platforms to maintain the security of the content.

GenosTV plans to provide easy-to-use aggregated access to a diverse and broad range of media content whether the content comes from major production houses or from GenosTV community members themselves.

Using a feature called TvME, GenosTV subscribers will be able to create and distribute their own television channels, sharing them either with a small circle of friends, broader interest based groups or the entire GenosTV community.

With CloudDVR, the Genos network will provide secure online storage of up to 180 days for every channel on the service, making a multi-million hour DVR available to members with active subscriptions to the content.

CloudDVR will also store non-channel content including material created by subscribers, movies in multiple languages from both mainstream and independent producers along with other free and pay-to-view content.

The Genos network is currently seeking and evaluating technology partners with hardware, software and networking solutions. GenosTV is seeking to license content from providers in every language and every geography around the world.

"One World, One Box" - get the Genos box, connect to the GenosTV service, choose your language, pick your channels, thank the box!

Genos is a subsidiary of the ShambroWest Corporation, with offices in Las Vegas and Amsterdam. It was founded by Rob Shambro, Serial Entrepreneur and founder of SAVVIS, StreamSearch, and ILabs; Mike West, subject matter expert in consumer electronics and former technical leader at IBM; and Kevin Bachus, creator of the Microsoft Xbox.

ShambroWest Corporation has its headquarters in Las Vegas, NV and is being incubated by Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal. Genos and ShambroWest Corporation have recently opened a European headquarters in Amsterdam and are seeking an Asian headquarters location.

Convergence in the Cloud

Excerpted from CTO Edge Report by Mike Vizard

When most vendors today talk about cloud computing, they talk about infrastructure and applications as almost separate entities. But in the real world, IT organizations have to manage both the IT infrastructure and the applications that run on them. What that means in terms of cloud computing is that most IT organizations are going to be looking for cloud computing platforms that allow them to manage the applications and the systems they run on anywhere those systems reside.

What IT organizations really require, says GigaSpaces CTO Nati Shalom, is access to a holistic cloud computing platform. GigaSpaces just released version 7.1 of its namesake cloud computing platform, which Shalom says tightly integrates application and systems management inside a much easier to manage common framework for deploying applications on private or public cloud computing platforms.

The latest release of GigaSpaces adds support for distributed caching across a cluster to create what Shalom calls "elastic middleware." That ability leverages distributed memory to boost application performance while simultaneously reducing application dependencies on databases. That, in turn, can serve to reduce the number of database licenses that an IT organization requires.

With every vendor on the planet offering a cloud implementation of their product, IT organizations can quickly wind up with a plethora of cloud computing services that they will have to spend time and money integrating. Shalom says that a better approach is to find cloud computing platforms that integrate all the services required to effectively run a cloud computing environment in the first place.

For many IT organizations, cloud computing represents a significant opportunity to modernize their IT infrastructure. The only question is how to achieve that in the quickest, simplest way possible.

Report from CEO Marty Lafferty

Photo of CEO Marty LaffertyIt's important that DCINFO readers weigh-in on the draft Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) publicly released this week after two years of negotiations for its disclosure led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

EFF previously brought us several leaks of this in-process document with far-reaching implications ((here, here, here and here).

ACTA is far broader than its name implies, and its primary focus is actually the Internet, web-based applications - in particular those developed by our industry's participants, and "citizens' ability to use the Internet to communicate, collaborate and create."

For example, this "treaty" would put costly new burdens on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to serve as de facto "copyright cops" obligated to disable the access of accused infringers by various "unelected and unaccountable vested interests."

As Martyn Warwick reports in TelecomTV:

"Over the course of the past 12 months and more, and under conditions of great secrecy, the authorities in various countries have been asked to submit their proposals as to how ISPs should be made responsible for policing the Internet, what those responsibilities should be and what punishments and penalties should be meted out to them if they fail to do the bidding of the powerful content lobby.

These submissions have been made under conditions of guaranteed anonymity because were they to be made public the US and other countries believe its content would be 'politically problematic.' In other words, the overarching global legislation would compulsorily export incredibly great swathes of highly controversial US legislation to the rest of the world whether the populations want it or not - and that might result in opposition. So better keep it quiet.

ACTA has been in preparation for many months now. Pushed for relentlessly by the suits representing the vested interests of the huge content lobby in the US, its various sections have been written in conditions of the greatest secrecy. So secret is it that the American authorities have time-and-again rejected requests from civil liberties, privacy groups, and technologists alike to see the draft proposals.

You might have expected a reaction like that in the dying days of the second George W. Bush administration that was so in thrall to Hollywood and the record industry, but that nice Mr. Obama has also turned down requests that the contents of the draft ACTA be made public. The White House actually issued an executive order preventing its publication on the grounds that it would 'damage national security.'

What utter BS. The reason it was being kept secret is that it has profound implications for the privacy of the individual.

We are learning a bit more about the draconian powers that will be contained in the treaty because back in March the European Parliament decided by a vote of 633 for and 13 against that parts of it should be made public now to avoid 'possible political difficulties' further down the line. By that they presumably mean they expect popular public protest of its provisions.

The draft text of ACTA was published on the EU's main website this week along with a memo from the EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Grucht, in which he claims that concerns about the global scope and intimidating provisions of the Treaty are 'unfounded.'

Is that so? How come then that one of the most controversial of sections from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the so called "anti-circumvention" provisions that make it a crime for an individual to bypass studio-imposed copy protection even to make a back-up of a legitimately purchased DVD, have been imported lock, stock, and barrel?

So to have the provisions of the No Electronic Theft Act (NETA). This little gem makes it illegal for individuals to copy "sufficient quantity" (whatever that means) of music or videos even if there is no monetary consideration and you just hand over free to a friend or family member a copy of a favorite film that you have bought and paid for.

How is that one going to be enforced? I shudder to think. Government inspectors with statutory right to enter your home and rootle through your film collection?

While, as you would expect, much of ACTA has been written in the US, the fact is that Australia, Canada, several member states of the European Union, Japan, and New Zealand have all appended their secret codicils. So much for democracy.

The 'treaty' is primarily a big stick with which to beat the public and cow the service providers but it also dangles a carrot before the ISPs. They will be granted 'immunity from lawsuits' that might result from their 'denying and disabling access' to material the content lobby claim to be pirated.

The not-so-subtle deeper semantic meaning here is, of course, that if ISPs don't bow to the will of the ACTA proponents they could face court, legal liability, and crippling financial sanction if found complicit in 'the transmission of materials protected by copyright.' In other words, 'obey our commands or we'll ruin you.'

Needless to say the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and its ilk approve greatly of ACTA and in a statement say it is an 'important step forward that deserves to be adopted.'

However, in response, the privacy group Public Knowledge says ACTA is 'an attempt to export a regulatory regime that favors big media companies at the expense of consumers and innovators.'

Meanwhile, the Quadrature du Net organization, headquartered in Paris , has issued a list of three 'core reasons' to oppose ACTA.

It accuses the Treaty of being a 'policy laundering' device whereby 'international negotiation is used to circumvent democratic debates at national or European level' and will result in the adoption of policies 'that Parliaments will have no choice but to reject completely or adopt as a whole. In the case of the United States, it is probable that Congress will not be consulted on this matter.'

Quadrature du Net goes on to complain that the 'one-size-fits-all nature of the treaty is far too broad and all-encompassing.' It says, 'The promoters and drafters of ACTA have created a mixed bag of titles, types of infringement, and enforcement measures, in which life-endangering fake products and organized crime activities are considered together with not-for-profit activities that play a role in access to knowledge, innovation, culture, and freedom of expression. ACTA would create a de facto presumption of infringement.'

Phillipe Aigrain, the Co-Founder of la Quadrature du Net says, 'Contrary to the 'don't worry' statements of the negotiators and persons in charge of ACTA in national governments, what we are seeing is an all-out offensive on freedom of expression and fundamental rights and a process that seeks to establish circumvention of democratic control as a rule. ACTA must be dropped before any reasonable process of international cooperation in the fight against counterfeiting can begin.'

The next meeting of ACTA proponents and lobbyists will be in Switzerland in June. No doubt that will be in secret too, with the Gnomes of Zurich hosting the event in one of those aircraft hangers built into mountainsides above Alpine meadows. Officially they don't exist, but they're there alright. Just like the Luddites of the content industry." Share wisely, and take care.

Adobe Bakes Secure P2P into Flash

Excerpted from The Register Report by Andrew Orlowski

The P2P arms race is warming up, with Adobe adding secure P2P communications to its latest beta version of Flash, 10.1.

The addition of Adobe's closed Real Time Media Flow Protocol (RTMFP) gives developers the ability to stream data to endpoints without going through a central server. Flash has already had P2P support as part of Flash media server for a couple of years. The difference here is the RTFMP support, as implemented here by Adobe, supporting 1:1 or 1:many communications.

It allows rudimentary VoIP applications - although it obviously has other uses.

You can find an hour-long explanation on this by Adobe's Matthew Kaufman here.

Applications that could use this include group conferencing and gaming. But it's a natural transport for P2P radio. The last attempt at licensed P2P radio was Mercora, which abandoned subscription revenues for a web-tastic ad-supported revenue instead, changed its name to Social.fm and died an inevitable death not long afterwards.

Rendezvous and wireless networking allow every iPod to become a short-range radio station. Some things just take longer, I guess.

Can P2P Be Made to Pay

Excerpted from GigaOM Report by Janko Roettgers

Napster, Grokster, Kazaa, Morpheus, Torrentspy, Audiogalaxy: Hollywood and the music industry have forced countless file-sharing services out of business in the last decade, and major record labels have sued tens of thousands of individual file sharers in the US alone. But go to a site like The Pirate Bay (TPB) and you'll find millions of users busy swapping practically every movie, TV show or song imaginable, even as music sales free-fall and DVDs follow suit.

More and more, entertainment industry insiders are seeking alternatives to lawsuits and legal threats, realizing it's time to finally work with, instead of against, P2P network operators and their users. Some of these initiatives are still in stealth mode, while others are emerging to establish entirely new ways to compensate rights holders. Here's a look at three approaches I described in a recent article for GigaOM Pro.

Flat-fee Licensing:

This approach to monetizing music sharing is as simple as it is disruptive: Instead of regulating file sharing, the music industry wants to monetize it through small monthly fees paid by users. Two years ago, Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman hired digital music distribution pioneer Jim Griffin (who was a sharp critic of the industry when it started to go after P2P networks) to explore the idea of licensing P2P downloads through a flat fee that would let users legally download as many MP3s as desired. 

Griffin and his company, Choruss, approached universities early on to act as a test bed for flat-fee licensing and say they are looking at broader deployments later this fall. Though no school has publicly declared to be a Choruss partner, Griffin recently stated in an interview that half a dozen schools have signed on for field tests. The Isle of Man proposed a similar licensing scheme in early 2009, and Noank Media has been building tools to legalize music and video sharing in P2P environments as well. However to date, none of these projects has gone beyond the planning stages.

Ad-supported P2P: 

LimeWire, one of the most established file-sharing clients, proposed a different type of monetization scheme two years ago: The company would show contextual text ads, similar to the ones popularized by Google, next to search results within its file-sharing client and split any revenue from those ads with rights holders. 

The system might, for example, display an ad for Gwen Stefani's perfume next to search results for No Doubt tracks. Advertisers would pay only if a user clicked on the ad, and rights holders would receive around 40 percent of the revenue generated by that click. LimeWire is the first company to tackle advertising in a P2P context by using Adsense-like ads within a file-sharing client. Others have claimed to deliver ads over P2P networks before, but most of those efforts were little more than thinly disguised spam, and no other company has so far proposed to give rights holders a cut of its P2P ad revenue.

User Donations:

Swedish BitTorrent site TPB has been known to make fun of rights holders in response to take-down requests, but one of the Bay's founders recently launched a startup that explores yet another way for rights holders to monetize sharing of their works. Flattr, which launched in private beta earlier this year, offers users the ability to donate money to writers, musicians, filmmakers and other creatives. Rights holders list their works with Flattr and, in turn, receive a badge that looks very much like the button used by social news site Digg. They can then embed this badge onto their own sites and ask users to contribute with a click, just like they would vote on a post with a Digg button.

Choruss, Lime Engine and Flattr aren't the only companies and projects looking to monetize file sharing, but are among those closest to deployment. The very fact that more than one solution exists represents a huge opportunity: Smaller and bigger rights holders alike can figure out which solutions work best for them, experiment with various approaches and possibly even combine multiple models to receive new revenue streams through a mix of donations, advertising and flat-fee licensing.

Entertainment industry executives have lost the war on file sharing, and it's time to start to building a peace-time business. The tools are there.

How to Use BitTorrent and P2P Safely

Excerpted from TechWorld Report by Richard Plant

Millions of people use BitTorrent-based P2P networks to share information. In fact, Bram Cohen, the original designer of the BitTorrent protocol, invented the system to let people with slower upload speeds than download speeds help with sharing content, letting smaller publishers compete with huge distribution networks.

Like almost every other activity you can do using a computer, there are certain dangers you can run into using BitTorrent networks. Here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself, and your privacy.

Yes, we all know The Pirate Bay (TPB) is out there. But what you might want to consider, is that there is no way to know whether that torrent you're downloading is actually what the title says it is. It may instead be carrying a secret cargo of malware, primed to blow-up as soon as you open that download.

The consequences can sometimes be more serious than having to run anti-virus software to clean-out an infection. Lovers of obscure Japanese erotica who downloaded an unlicensed version of an explicit hentai game were shocked when the program stole their personal information, and posted it publicly online. The scammers who thought-up this scheme then blackmailed the hapless downloader into coughing-up to have their name and address taken off the site.

Try to use sites that are well moderated, and that carry authorized content, like ClearBits and Public Domain Torrents. You'll expose yourself to far less risk, and you can be sure that what you are downloading is what you wanted.

One of the downsides of using BitTorrent, even for licensed material downloading, is that some identifying information such as your IP address is available to anyone sharing the same torrent. Downloaders may not be comfortable sharing information that could be used to identify them personally with anonymous third parties. Even worse, it can lay you open to being detected by malware and spyware spreaders.

While this problem is part of the BitTorrent protocol, and can't be completely cured, there are ways to mitigate the potential damage.

Peerblock is an IP blocking program that maintains a list of IP addresses that are potentially dangerous, such as P2P monitoring organizations, advertising or spyware servers and hacked computers. If your BitTorrent client attempts to communicate with any of these addresses, the connection will be automatically closed.

Enlist your fellow BitTorrent users to protect yourself. If the torrent site you are using allows users to leave comments, always take the opportunity to read them before clicking that link. If there is a problem with the file you want to download, someone else has probably run into it already, and posted about it.

Following on from this, if you do run into a problem with a download that wasn't mentioned in the comments, then post about it yourself. You'll be doing everyone who comes after you a favor.

This is especially important for those of us with poor Internet connections, or who have to share a network with other people. BitTorrent is optimized to allow you to share the greatest amount of data your connection can handle. Unfortunately, this can mean maxing out your upload or download bandwidth, which brings Internet browsing or YouTube watching to a screeching halt.

The solution? Cap the speed at which you are downloading or uploading. Most modern torrent clients give you this option, generally labeled something like "Limit upload/download speed." If you find that downloading is damaging your other Internet activities, experiment with setting these at different levels until you find one that suits you.

In addition, some Internet service providers (ISPs) such as the UK's Virgin Media operate a "traffic management" policy. What this means is that if you download too much at certain times of day, your connection may be slowed down to compensate. Be aware, and find out if your own ISP operates something similar.

Remember, BitTorrent is about sharing. Without seeders to return the completed file to new downloaders, the torrent will die and the file become unavailable. Can you live with that?

Leave your torrent client open for a while after your download completes, even if only in selfishness. If everyone else quit as soon as they were done, you'd never be able to download a thing. It's only good manners.

Secure P2P Scheme Leverages Social Networks

Excerpted from Information Week Report by Thomas Claburn

Security researchers from Microsoft, The Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and elsewhere are proposing a novel approach to secure, anonymous instant messaging (IM) and voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP)communication that turns the conventional wisdom about social networking privacy on its head.

Drac is a P2P communication system designed to make IM and VoIP traffic anonymous and unobservable. It achieves this goal by exposing the social connections of the users who make up the nodes of the peer-to-peer network.

Find out how to increase availability while reducing data center energy consumption

"Drac gives away the identity of a user's friends to guarantee the unobservability of actual calls, while still providing anonymity when talking to trusted third parties," explains a paper on the proposed technology.

The paper, "Drac: An Architecture for Anonymous Low-Volume Communications," will be presented at the The 10th Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS 2010) in Berlin, Germany in July.

The paper was written by George Danezis, from Microsoft Research in Cambridge, Claudia Diaz and Carmela Troncoso at The Catholic University of Leuven (K.U. Leuven), and Ben Laurie, a computer security researcher.

The authors note that while anonymous online communication may conceal the content of conversations, information about the network addressing, the timing of the messages, and the volume of traffic often reveals as much as the hidden correspondence.

Drac aims to preserve anonymity while also thwarting traffic analysis by using a peer-to-peer relay architecture that routes data through social networking connections.

The Drac system envisions a network of friends who have a strong trust relationship and who share cryptographic keys to maintain secure communication links. Their social networking connections become the possible network data paths for Drac messaging.

In addition, Drac allows users to communicate with contacts outside their network. But while social network connections in Drac are public, contacts sending or receiving messages to or from the network are concealed.

The authors argue that relaying messages over a friend-of-a-friend network makes denial-of-service and related attacks less likely, does not require a central server or trust infrastructure, and avoids network discovery and random sampling attacks that affect other peer-to-peer systems.

The system is not without drawbacks: network paths over social networks tend to be longer, the authors observe, and knowledge of participants' social network connections may be undesirable in some contexts.

The Drac system has been implemented in a limited software simulator, the code for which the authors intend to make available on request. It's merely proof-of-concept code and Drac will have to be refined further before it emerges as a functional product.

How Facebook Will Change Digital Music

Excerpted from Billboard Magazine Report by Antony Bruno

No longer just a popular social networking site, Facebook's new mission is to become the underlying social engine powering the entire Internet. 

That's what became exceedingly apparent yesterday during CEO Mark Zuckerberg's keynote speech at the company's F8 developers conference. There, he outlined Facebook's new Open Graph initiative, which spells out this grand effort. 

The upshot of Open Graph is this: Just as the British Empire in the 1700's wanted to "make the world England," Facebook aims to "make the Internet Facebook." 

Facebook intends to take all the features users enjoy on Facebook - the like button, comments, friending, news feeds, etc. - and apply them to other websites, indeed the Internet at large. 

Facebook already has trained more than 400 million users in how these functions work within the Facebook confines. Applying them to the broader Internet holds significant implications for the music industry. For instance, it's no secret that music recommendation and discovery is considered the greatest digital music opportunity. More music is being created that ever before, and the digital music services that can best introduce users to the new music best suited for them in the most seamless way possible will benefit not only the music service, but the artists and labels trying desperately to reach new fans. 

Facebook's Open Graph initiative could conceivably create an Internet where digital music services will know each user's musical preferences the minute they navigate to their site, and automatically cue up the playlists, recommendations and music geared toward them without going through today's painful process of "teaching" the service to recognize their tastes. 

That's because Open Graph is designed to track those tastes on every other site users are on. With Open Graph, Site A learns from the activity on Site B. That's what's missing today on the Internet and that's what Open Graph is trying to provide. If successful (and admittedly it's a big if) it will be a huge deal that fundamentally alters the way the Internet works. And in the process, it could make Facebook bigger than Google. 

Facebook tends to be overlooked as a vehicle for music because it doesn't offer its own music service or store. The attention goes to Apple, or MySpace Music. Every move Apple makes is followed ridiculously close at the expense of other developments. The iPad launch for instance was a huge media event, but only a handful of the geekiest tech outlets followed the Facebook news. But Facebook's Open Graph is by far bigger news than the iPad. 

Open Graph makes every participating digital music service a Facebook music service. It allows Rhapsody, and Napster and even iTunes to gain the social layer they've been sorely missing all these years. 

The music industry too often tends to sit back and watch new developments like this unfold before jumping in. Cautious labels like to see which way the wind blows before dedicating already scarce resources to every new tech fad that emerges. It's understandable. It's also wrong. 

Every element of the music industry with any sort of online presence at all needs to participate in Open Graph, and needs to do it now.

If the lessons of P2P distribution taught us anything, it's that online social interactions have incredible power; industry-changing power.

The music industry wasn't ready to embrace the potential of P2P distribution when Napster first hit the scene, and it's still feeling the sting. Times have changed. Hopefully, they've changed enough to allow faster movement on this opportunity.

For Web's New Wave, Sharing Details Is the Point

Excerpted from NY Times Report by Brad Stone

Mark Brooks wants the whole Web to know that he spent $41 on an iPad case at an Apple store, $24 eating at an Applebee's, and $6,450 at a Florida plastic surgery clinic for nose work.

Too much information, you say? On the Internet, there seems to be no such thing. A wave of web start-ups aims to help people indulge their urge to divulge - from sites like Blippy, which Mr. Brooks used to broadcast news of what he bought, to Foursquare, a mobile social network that allows people to announce their precise location to the world, to Skimble, an iPhone application that people use to reveal, say, how many push-ups they are doing and how long they spend in yoga class.

Not that long ago, many were leery of using their real names on the Web, let alone sharing potentially embarrassing personal details about their shopping and lifestyle habits. But these start-ups are exploiting a mood of online openness, despite possible hidden dangers.

"People are not necessarily thinking about how long this information will stick around, or how it could be used and exploited by marketers," said Chris Conley, a technology and civil liberties fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The spirit of sharing has already run into some roadblocks. Amazon.com was so wary of the security ramifications of Blippy's idea of letting consumers post everything they bought that, for several months, it blocked the site from allowing people to publish their Amazon purchases.

In March, Blippy sidestepped Amazon by asking its customers for access to their Gmail accounts, and then took the purchase data from the receipts Amazon had e-mailed them. Blippy says thousands of its users have supplied the keys to their e-mail accounts; Amazon declined to comment.

There is no way to quantify the number of these start-ups, but they are the rage among venture capitalists. Although some doubt whether the sites will gain true mainstream popularity - and whether they will make any money - the entrepreneurs involved think they are on to something.

Blippy, which opened last fall, was the first site to introduce the notion of publishing credit card and other purchases. Last month it attracted around 125,000 visitors and closed an investment round of $11 million from venture capitalists. It hopes to one day make money by, among other things, taking a commission when people are inspired to imitate their friends' purchases posted on the site.

The people behind Swipely, a site soon to arrive and similar to Blippy, are also optimistic.

"We will help people discover a great restaurant or movie through their friends and make it easy to recommend their own purchases," said Angus Davis, 32, a veteran of Netscape and Microsoft who is testing Swipely with a limited group of users. "I really believe that the lens of your friends is fast becoming the most powerful way to discover things on the Internet."

Mr. Brooks, a 38-year-old consultant for online dating Web sites, seems to be a perfect customer. He publishes his travel schedule on Dopplr. His DNA profile is available on 23andMe. And on Blippy, he makes public everything he spends with his Chase Mastercard, along with his spending at Netflix, iTunes and Amazon.com.

"It's very important to me to push out my character and hopefully my good reputation as far as possible, and that means being open," he said, dismissing any privacy concerns by adding, "I simply have nothing to hide."

This new world owes its origin to the rampant sharing of photos, resumes, and personal news bites on services like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, which have acclimated people to broadcasting even the most mundane aspects of their lives.

To Silicon Valley's deep thinkers, this is all part of one big trend: People are becoming more relaxed about privacy, having come to recognize that publicizing little pieces of information about themselves can result in serendipitous conversations - and little jolts of ego gratification.

DailyBooth, founded in London but moving to San Francisco, asks users to publish a photograph of themselves every day. "It's the richest and quickest way to share how you are doing and what you are feeling," said Brian Pokorny, a Silicon Valley investor who recently became the company's chief executive.

While the over-30 set might recoil from this type of activity, young people do not seem to mind. The site, which gets around 300,000 visitors a month, according to the online research company Compete.com, appears to be largely populated with enthusiastically exhibitionist teenagers.

Still, only two years ago, Facebook members rebelled when the site introduced its notorious Beacon service, which published members' online transactions back to the site - essentially the same concept as Blippy and Swipely.

A decade ago, Dennis Crowley was trying to get people to share information about their geographic location with a service called Dodgeball. For years, he said, he faced a barrage of questions about why anyone would want an update on where someone was having a beer.

"After we sold the company to Google and they shut it down, we left those questions to Twitter, and they did a great job of answering them," said Mr. Crowley, who went on to create Foursquare, which Silicon Valley venture capitalists are competing to finance. "This kind of sharing makes people feel connected to each other," he said.

But there is the worry about identity theft.

"Ten years ago, people were afraid to buy stuff online. Now they're sharing everything they buy," said Barry Borsboom, a student at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who this year created an intentionally provocative site called Please Rob Me. The site collected and published Foursquare updates that indicated when people were out socializing - and therefore away from their homes.

"Times are changing, and most people might not know where the dangers lie," Mr. Borsboom said.

The business plans for these start-ups are no sure thing, either.

"These companies are betting they take this data, monetize it or resell it," said John Borthwick, an entrepreneur based in New York who advises companies like DailyBooth and Hot Potato, which lets people share plans and experiences of live events. "But the assumption that every scrap of data is actually useful to individuals, or even companies, will be tested."

PPLive Upgrade Combats PPStream Upgrade

Excerpted from Marbridge Consulting Report

Industry leading Chinese P2P video service PPTV (also known as PPLive), has launched a new "Blue Shield" feature, which is designed to prevent malicious software from uninstalling the PPLive application.

The new function will activate when other applications attempt to uninstall or otherwise abnormally modify the PPLive software, and will prevent any malicious uninstallation of the software, as well as automatically revert any changes made to the software to their original configurations.

PPLive had previously announced that rival PPStream (PPS) had added a feature in the latest upgrade to its software that would force the removal of any installed copies of the PPLive software.

PPLive CEO Vincent Tao said that the actions of PPStream had caused a 10% drop in PPLive's installed user base.

For more background on this topic, please see "PPLive Sues PPStream."

Public Knowledge Appalled At RCN Settlement Case

Reported from DSL Report by Karl Bode

Cable overbuilder RCN has settled a class-action lawsuit for throttling user P2P traffic.

According to an e-mail sent to subscribers, the lawsuit accused RCN of "delaying or blocking" broadband subscriber traffic using network management practices that sounded very similar to the packet forgery practices that resulted in a Comcast FCC "sanction."

As part of the settlement, RCN promised to "cease and desist" all network management practices which specifically affect P2P Internet traffic for a period of eighteen months. Public Knowledge has since made the following statement:

"We learned today that another Internet Service Provider (ISP), this time RCN, was throttling its customers Internet traffic. This is yet another example showing why the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to be given the authority over Internet access service.

As of now, there is no Federal cop on the beat to protect consumers. Not every consumer will take a case to court, and not every cable company would be willing to settle what could be prolonged litigation. The Commission's regulatory authority needs to be reinstated as quickly as possible."

A copy of the settlement is available here. Of course as part of the settlement, RCN "vigorously" denied any wrong doing.

Small and Mobile ISPs May Avoid New File-Sharing Laws

Excerpted from The Register Report by Chris Williams

UK regulators are considering creating loopholes in the implementation of the Digital Economy Act to allow small, mobile, and Wi-Fi ISPs to avoid its copyright enforcement regime.

A suggested threshold system would take into account an ISP's size and the costs of compliance before imposing the Act's provisions against "unauthorized" file sharing.

The new law allows ISPs who are not considered large carriers of copyright-infringing material to be exempted, and gives Ofcom scope to define the considerations.

A threshold would mean dozens of small fixed-line ISPs would likely avoid sending warning letters to customers on behalf of rights holders, as the extra staff required would represent a large cost to them.

Many smaller outfits would also need to purchase new equipment if, as is widely expected, after a year the written warnings have not significantly cut copyright infringement by file sharers and ISPs are required to apply technical measures. These are likely to include restricting the bandwidth or protocols available to those repeatedly accused of unauthorized file sharing.

Similarly, mobile broadband providers would find retrieving customer details to send a warning letter request for music or film industry monitoring teams an expensive task. They typically serve all their Internet users from a tiny pool of shared IP addresses and are not set-up to easily discover who was responsible for a connection to a BitTorrent swarm at a particular time.

Claims by digital rights activists during the Act's passage through Parliament that public Wi-Fi hotspots will be closed down could also be undermined by the threshold. Since users typically use them for short periods, Wi-Fi ISPs are unlikely to be considered a major source of copyright infringement.

Ofcom is considering the system during a series of hastily-convened meetings with major ISPs and rights holder organizations after the Digital Economy Act became law on April 9th. The communications regulator is tasked with completing or approving a Code of Practice within eight months, including three months waiting for approval from the European Commission.

The discussions raise the possibility that only the largest consumer ISPs, who dominate the market, would be affected. Between them, BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange and O2 provide more than 95 per cent of the home broadband connections and file sharing that rights holders plan to target.

Smaller ISPs have not been invited to the meetings, which has prompted some consternation, but also hope that this is a sign that regulators plan to exclude them from the most controversial parts of the Digital Economy Act.

Sources who have been to the meetings say a threshold has not yet been set, but there is seemingly no desire from the music and film industries to impose the Act on small ISPs.

An Ofcom spokeswoman denied smaller ISPs had been excluded from discussions, which she said were ongoing.

"We need to consider a number of different options before setting out some formal proposals in our consultation - nothing is decided before then," she said, declining to comment on where a threshold for compliance with the Act could be set.

Italy: ISPs Not Responsible for Subscribers' Infringement

Excerpted from Digital Media Wire Report by Mark Hefflinger

An Italian court has ruled that Internet service providers (ISPs) should not be held liable for the actions of their customers, rejecting calls from copyright holders to compel ISPs to monitor users and block purported unauthorized file-sharing websites, TorrentFreak reported. 

The local film anti-piracy group Fapav (Federazione Anti-Pirateria Audiovisiva) filed suit against Telecom Italia in a bid to compel the country's largest ISP to take actions against its subscribers. 

The court did side with copyright holders on one issue, namely that ISPs must forward complaints of infringement from copyright holders to local prosecutors.

Coming Events of Interest

LA Games Conference - April 29th in Los Angeles, CA. Over 300 of the most influential decision-makers in the games industry gather for the LA Games Conference to network, do deals, and share ideas about the future of console, PC, online and mobile games. LA Games Conference - now in its 4th year - features a lively and fun debate on timely cutting-edge business topics

Digital Hollywood Spring - May 3rd-6th in Santa Monica, CA. Digital Hollywood Spring (DHS) is the premier entertainment and technology conference in the country covering the convergence of entertainment, the web, television, and technology.

P2P & CLOUD MEDIA SUMMIT - May 6th in Santa Monica, CA. The DCIA presents its fifth annual seminal industry event as a conference within DHS, with the subject matter now expanded for the first time to include cloud computing, the most advanced and rapidly growing distributed computing technology.

Cloud Computing for Government Conference - June 7th-9th in Washington, DC. Learn how to cut costs and create a more efficient, scalable and secure IT infrastructure. In addition, learn how to develop a cloud computing strategy, along with helpful tools, tips, and techniques to get started. Hear practical advice, firsthand, from leading experts including the NASA Ames Research Center, US Department of Energy, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, and many more. Mention "DCIA" to receive a $200 registration discount.

Broadband Policy Summit VI - June 10th-11th in Washington, DC. The most comprehensive, in-depth update about the implementation of the FCC's National Broadband Plan. No other forum provides the detailed coverage, expert insight and networking opportunities you'll receive at Broadband Policy Summit VI. The expanded program includes top-notch faculty who will address the most pressing broadband issues in six panel discussions, two debates and four keynote addresses.

Digital Media Conference East - June 25th in McLean, VA. The Washington Post calls this Digital Media Wire flagship event "a confab of powerful communicators and content providers in the region." This conference explores the current state of digital media and the directions in which the industry is heading.

Copyright 2008 Distributed Computing Industry Association
This page last updated May 1, 2010
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