ISPs testing technology to intercept illegal music downloads

By on August 21, 2009, 5:20 PM
It wasn't long ago that Kevin Bermeister was in trouble with the law, coming out of pocket with $150 million for his involvement with the infamous peer-to-peer file sharing program, Kazaa. Internet brigands used the software to pirate music and other media before its demise in 2006. Kazaa has since risen from its grave with a paid structure and Bermeister too has turned over a new leaf, recently introducing a technology to prevent the theft of music online.

Dubbed Copyrouter, the technology can detect when a user is trying to download a copyright-infringing version of a song, and replace it with a legitimate paid version. When Copyrouter detects that a user has prompted an illegal download, it jumps in and requests that they instead download a copyright-protected version. Fees associated with the legal downloads are tacked on to the user's next monthly ISP bill.

Copyrouter works at the local ISP level by distinguishing a file's unique bit sequence. The identifying features of illegal songs are stored in a database owned by Bermeister's company, named Global File Registry. As many as 300 illegal versions of copyrighted songs may be mapped to the one legal copy. When a user initiates an illegal download, they are automatically steered to the legitimate version.

Bermeister, ISPs, and the music industry are all enthused about the potential widespread implementation of Copyrouter. The technology was introduced to a trial market of 8,000 Australian customers about three months ago, and is expected to make its way to the US later this year.

The full-blown effectiveness of Copyrouter remains to be seen, but in the trial, around 30% of the diverted transactions resulted in users agreeing to pay. Bermeister believes the convenience factor will sell it on a broader scale. The technology's backers hope to take it a step beyond the individual intervention of each song. If all goes well, they hope to roll out a subscription model for music to be bundled with your ISP bill.

Although most only seem concerned with Copyrouter's capacity to prevent music theft, I have to question the project's ethics. Would you be okay with an ISP intervening in your online affairs?




User Comments: 46

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KG363 KG363 said:

This is so awful. If the government searches my house, I have nothing to hide, but that doesn't mean I would let them. Its a matter of principle to give people privacy. And many who download, wouldn't buy the song/game/movie if they couldn't DL it.

Guest said:

To be honest, this seems like the first idea to me that may actually be succesfull. If there is anything that is important to consumers, it's time.

Yeah, I think this may actually work.

Guest said:

I'm no expert, but wouldn't this become easy to circumvent?

As I believe most music is in the mp3 format.

Can one not just pack it say winrar or whatever...

Simplistic i know, but you get my point

M1r said:

x2 the comment above. They would only target formats in which they are sure to contain music [e.g MP3/WMA/AAC]. Anyone can easily archive the music into a rar file then upload it. In my opinion, the idea has lots of holes...easy to overcome.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@Guest: I can't comment on how difficult it would be to work around the technology, but the idea here is that by making the package seem convenient, people won't want to work around it. The original article goes on to add that, that Bermeister doesn't believe it's so much the "free factor" that draws people into stealing music - but the fact that it's so easy.

Whether or not that's true is beyond me, but I'd wager that most people are using Limewire for their music because it doesn't impact their pocket - not because they don't want to input their credit card information into iTunes. In such a case, this model would either fall or be tweaked so it was even more intrusive.

NunjaBusiness said:

This idea is poised for spectacular failure.

First off, serious downloaders are downloading archives (try blocking that)

and second, when people start getting surprise $500 charges from their ISPs for songs they downloaded, the courts will be full very quickly.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

This idea is poised for spectacular failure.

First off, serious downloaders are downloading archives (try blocking that)

and second, when people start getting surprise $500 charges from their ISPs for songs they downloaded, the courts will be full very quickly.

Maybe at first, but I believe the idea is to package it as a set subscription fee when they go wide spectrum with it. Accumulated fees probably wouldn't be an issue at that point.

Guest said:

This looks like tons of lawsuits to me. My wife buys LPs. cassettes, and tapes and converts them to digital format. She painstakingly edits out the clicks, pops, hum, and other distractions she thinks she finds in the music (sigh). We now buy multiple copies of albums (and incidentally CDs) so she can share the music with my daughter in another state. We, literally, have 4 or 5 legal copies of the same songs.

I truly look forward to receiving a rerouted notice about "copyrighted" music. I think I will be able to walk the 20 miles to Federal court (without touching the ground) on the backs of the lawyers wanting in on the class action suit and violation of privacy law. With any luck at all, we could even send the interceptors to Federal prison for interstate violations. Pity we can only get the music industry surrogates.

js

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

While I can see this working in Australia as they have officials censoring the internet to there standards (or trying). I am a bit skeptical to how this would work in the US. This seems to be a huge privacy concern for one, and as many have pointed out with the vague information they've given this seems rather easy to circumvent as well. While I understand Kevins point that easy access is a motivator in downloading that isn't the only reason.

tengeta tengeta said:

I tell you what, next time that thug walks into the convenience store to rob it, why not just put a hand on his gun and offer him a more civil activity to do instead?

Then enjoy as you get shot in the face.

This won't literally backfire like that, but it will be damn close. This might make 30% of the people want to pay, but it likely made the other 70% so offended that they will stop at nothing to steal it after that.

Rage_3K_Moiz Rage_3K_Moiz, Sith Lord, said:

Meh. This will hardly stop anything.

The best hackers/crackers do not work for ISPs or the RIAA\MPAA. There is always a way around these things, and it will be found sooner rather than later.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"This might make 30% of the people want to pay, but it likely made the other 70% so offended that they will stop at nothing to steal it after that."

And that's the inherent problem with online theft regardless of music, games or movies. The feeling of "entitlement" that these abusers show. All you have to do is look at the laundry-list of utterly lame explanations they offer, i.e."the song sucks anyway," " I would have never bought it," "the artist makes plenty of money without my one download," yadda, yadda, yadda. Just 100% "it's all about me" entitlement attitude.

Not sure if this packet sniffer software will fly here in the U.S. as it has in Australia, but I think electronic surveillance is just one type of mechanism to prevent theft. Somehow, the prevailing attitude of entitlement needs to be addressed also. Good luck coming up with that project....

Brewskie said:

I upload some of my stuff to my own web site. For my own personal backup. If my ISP tried this on me I would have them in front of a judge ...they would not win.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

No software is foolproof. I can't wait to start reading the about the lawsuits where someone tried downloading some free software program (like Open Office or the such) and they get charged by their ISP because this program mistakes it for an illegal music download.

ISPs will love this because it gives them another reason to add more hidden charges to your internet bill. You'll get hit with the price of the song, some kind of delivery charge and taxes. A $.99 song will end up being $3-4 dollars by the time the your ISP gets done with you.

I have the best music delivery system in the world. I get all the music I want and I'm not breaking any laws. It's called...a radio

Guest said:

Does this mean I would be best downloading my tracks around a mates house? or say on a relatives internet connection? let them have the bill lol or does it now work like that?

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

I would imagine you would definately be able to play "screw your neighbor" with this technology. Good point.

JDoors JDoors said:

Looks like it satisfies the needs of nearly one third of Kazaa's customers, the other two-thirds can do what they wish (continue to look for access to stolen property, for example -- though some are probably just not able to, or comfortable with, paying for online music). If you compare this 30% "click-through" rate with other paid content online, it's quite a success.

If by using the site you "agree" to have your downloads scanned, I don't see a legal problem with it. My downloads (and e-mail) are ALREADY scanned (for malware) and intercepted when there's a problem, then I'm given a choice as to what to do about it. If THAT were a pay-as-you-go option (free malware scan, but pay-per-resolution) I dont' think there'd be a problem with that either (business opportunity guys!).

Guest said:

As a musician for 32 years, I say to those who download my music without paying for it: You belong in jail.

Guest said:

So what happens when i download an 80s giga pack off of my favorite tracker? Theres around 5000 songs on there, At 4 dollars a pop thats 20,0000 dollars! I dont have that kind of money lying around! Send me to jail. Music companies get no money, jail system gets a new happy to learn new tricks inmate, 3 squares and no rent in a low security "facility". Tax payer gets the bill.

What a lot of nonsense!! If i had a job where i was continually robbed, id change my job. People will still make music and realease it on to the net because they love the music and not the money as most of todays greedy "Manufactured bands" do,

I hope they send out a 200 dollar bill to everyone as soon as this software is realeased, And watch the shizzle hit the fan! Fat cat muso bastards think they can control when we have a **** these days...

Guest said:

I used to be a big prince fan, Until he took one of his own fans to court for sharing a video of him at a concert ( which she attended ) on his own fan site..

Now i will never buy anything prince related ever again.

Get over yourselves entertainment industry please. If your job sucks so bad and people treat you so badly get a diffrent one!

JudaZ said:

...*lol* yeah good luck with that ISP who dares to try . It does not take time to cirumvent .. I can do that right now .. Encrypt the traffic .. .the problem solved. If the ISP what to use massive computer power to decrypt highly incrypted traffic instead of delivering high speed and preformance to their custokmers..the failure will be theirs .

After all, you have to decrypt ALL traffic to be able to find out if I'm sending mp3's

.. then you have to dechipher if its an "illegal" music file or not.

But before you even do that, you will have to get the courts approval to decrypt information that you maybe can determain is torrent traffic because of the nature of the traffic..but you cant be sure the client is not just downloading drivers from Asus site, the latest Linux distro of choice .. or corpoprate secrets that you have no leagal right what so ever to even think about decrypting.

...good night and good luck .... you have no chance in hell of doing this....so give it up..just give it up.

JudaZ said:

besides Bermeister and Kazaa couldnt even stop 1000's apon 1000's of vierus files posing as music in thoer system....what do they know about filtering traffic?

Guest said:

Put out decent music and we'll be happy to pay for it. People download shared music because "free" is what it's worth.

Guest said:

I can buy 100 blank cds for a tenner.

I can get free studio quality recording software.

I could knock a studio quality album together in an hour on my own.

I can distribute it, And advertise it for free.

Why the hell would i pay 12 pounds for an album when its completely obvious you are ripping me off...

strategic strategic, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Is it me, or am I missing something???

If you guys actually read the article, it doesn't say anywhere that peoples houses will be raided or fines charged. If a certain site allows this to happen, they are shut down, and they are punished. Why is it that everyone wants to interpret their own version of the story?

OneArmedScissor said:

Looking past privacy issues, the problem is that if they're taking money through some previously unheard of system, then who gets it?

I'd bet my life that some vile organization like the RIAA just eats it all in the name of "recouping the cost of piracy," and artists never see a penny of it.

Just look at the wording of the article:

"Bermeister, ISPs, and the music industry are all enthused about the potential widespread implementation of Copyrouter."

Bernmeister makes money. The ISPs may make money, and get the RIAA off their backs. The music industry makes money.

But as always, that does not include the artists, and they will be left out completely. This isn't something covered in record label contracts, and even in the event that it works the same as iTunes, where artists make a whopping few cents per song, it's still a crock of s*** to assert that this solves the issue of "theft."

The real problem all along has been that artists don't get paid by record labels, as they're always finding more ways to wriggle their way out of it. This is just another one.

They make it sound like a perfect system, but it's left wide open to abuse. It's not as if every musician on the planet is clamoring for something like this. It's the suits and ties that are rich enough from screwing the artists with questionable contract clauses as it is.

People will never stop downloading, specifically with the intention of avoiding paying for it, so long as that is the case.

Guest said:

I certainly hope it works.

I am sick of lazy good for nothing SOB's stealing digital media and or games they did not pay for.

Guest said:

This is a perfect case of unintended consequences hurting innocent people and doing NOTHING to prevent file sharing (which I don't belive is piracy or theft because there is not a depletion of the supply of property btw).

Innocent people who aren't aware of the 100000000 different ways this is going to be defeated will get plastered and everyone who they intend to stop won't even probably notice this stupid server routine is running.

How about evolving your business model to adapt to emerging trends like everyone else has to??

xempler said:

I pay my ISP provider to provide me with a internet connection...period....not to police the internet.

Once they start with this...it opens the door and next thing you know you're paying for all sorts of things you never imagined you would while lining the pockets of these corporate money whores.

Twister123 Twister123 said:

I imagine people who download stuff illegally will receive an itemised bill , of what and when was downloaded , failure to pay will result in fines or jail , there's a government task force in Ireland called c.a.b , they send tax bills to criminals who can't prove how they made there money , effectively striping them of there wealth . its not the same thing but the principals the same .

Twister123 Twister123 said:

I pay my ISP provider to provide me with a internet connection...period....not to police the internet.

Once they start with this...it opens the door and next thing you know you're paying for all sorts of things you never imagined you would while lining the pockets of these corporate money whores.

your on another planet man , your ISP won't police you but when requested to hand over info they have to or risk losing there licence .

and as regards paying for stuff you never imagined , you can't always expect a free lunch .

Guest said:

dam good point!

luvhuffer luvhuffer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I pay $9 a month for Rhapsody and download as much as I want. Do you think this program will recognize that the songs I'm downloading are protected content? The last illegal song I download was "Submission" by the Sex Pistols. It was a very slow download, took about 1 1/2 hours. It ended up being Frank Sinatra doing "My Way", tagged as country and western genre. My times more valuable than wasting it on that p2p crap.

Twister123 Twister123 said:

this will change the net if its rolled out in the states , but someone will find a way to get around it , resulting in a type of underground culture .

Guest said:

I wonder if it can detect .zip or .rar albums or anything like that. If it can't detect that, it's only going to catch the lazy people, and the common users. I'm pretty sure no one will ever be able to fully stop piracy. you can't really stop anything from happening, and it's not like the companies aren't prepared for it. That would be like trying to sell a product in a store and expecting it to never get stolen, it's just stupid.

Guest said:

I've been a musician for years now and been posting original material on the net for years also.Some people wish to donate and some dont. it does not really matter as real artists only care for his or her music to be heard. I myself still make a decent living and am able to keep doing what I love. greed is the music industry, I understand that musicans want to get paid, but millions of dollars, comon! how much money does one need to be happy? Money usually currupts..

Guest said:

That will Never Work.most p2p program encrypt the connection.

Guest said:

I pay $9 a month for Rhapsody and download as much as I want. Do you think this program will recognize that the songs I'm downloading are protected content? The last illegal song I download was "Submission" by the Sex Pistols. It was a very slow download, took about 1 1/2 hours. It ended up being Frank Sinatra doing "My Way", tagged as country and western genre. My times more valuable than wasting it on that p2p crap.

Thats because u dont know the best P2p Around.u can donload anything in the net Fast and Secure.u just have to know the right tools.

xempler said:

Twister123 said:

I pay my ISP provider to provide me with a internet connection...period....not to police the internet.

Once they start with this...it opens the door and next thing you know you're paying for all sorts of things you never imagined you would while lining the pockets of these corporate money whores.

your on another planet man , your ISP won't police you but when requested to hand over info they have to or risk losing there licence .

and as regards paying for stuff you never imagined , you can't always expect a free lunch .

What you heck are you taking about. I am talking about the ISP implementing technology that determines your online activities and then charging you extra for it. I stated their job is to provide a internet connection and only a connection....not charge me for whatever they feel like deserves charging...who's getting a free lunch then. No, I don't expect a free lunch but I don't expect to have my lunch taken from me either.

Guest said:

The only thing I have to say to that is good luck.When it comes to computers, and hackers, there is no stopping people if they want to get something online.There are a ton of programs that can stop this kind of thing already, let alone when they try this crap later on.My only advice to give to those trying to stop illegal downloading is...give up.You've already lost, and you'll keep losing with all the great hackers and program designers out there making it safe for illegal downloaders.

Guest said:

Legit music artists make the most of their money performing live.

The world-renouned jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco performs 200 days a year.

Fakes make the most of their money selling albums.

I will pay 50 dollars to watch a LIVE performance. I will not pay a dime for a pre-recorded work.

Guest said:

dont get mad coz your music is **** and you dont make enough money from normal record deals and sales... come on everyone that has a computer and likes music has probly download at least 1 track "illegaly" i think this idea is good and bad.. good because the music/movie/game indrusty will make more money to make more stuff but really.. they dont make enough money already? there is plenty of people that buy the cd or the game or the movie for the soul purpose of the cover/case and collecting it for memory purposes and such.. Bermeister is just helping the ISPs get your hard earned dollar after trying to save you from them.. IMO he is a sellout... enough rabbling off topic to the fact that this clown probaly is useless

Guest said:

And this is their sales blurb. Your activities will be logged and reported to the police. Recent changes to the TIA will make it legal to intercept your downloads too.

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Sections/NEWS/PDFs/081016_
opyrouter.pdf

Guest said:

It is quite sad that people believe they own music that is not theirs.... You are just common thieves. So what if the music industry makes money and that upsets you, isnt that why they are in business? To make money?

If you think "things" should be free go and ask your local car dealer for their latest and greatest vehicle for free and see what happens.... Oh but music is different!! You all make me laugh. A system will come along and knock you all out because there is TOO MUCH MONEY AT STAKE! The governments cannot and will not condone illegal activity! Dont forget they make money from taxes and they ALSO miss out when you steal ....

So.. Steal now for your time is running short.

strategic strategic, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Finally... a post from a 'guest' that actually makes sense!

I guess all guests aren't the same after all...

Thanks for your input

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"He Who Steals My Purse Steals Trash"

I heard that a long, long time ago.

P2P seems to be the most prevalent venue for illegal downloads. P2P has pretty much become a "poison apple" given the frequency and severity of infections contracted by participating in P2P.

So, then it seems that websites such as Techspot are "obligated" to assist with the removal of said infections.

So relax, we have nothing better to do than help with the removal of these infections. After all, illegal downloaders are "entitled" to free assistance, along with the "entitlement" to free music.

Anyway, I guess I'm really getting old since most of today's music seems like a bunch of atonal noise and foul language, generated by a pack of rude and classless people. It doesn't seem worth stealing actually.

As a frame of reference, I bought Taylor Swift's CD, but I wouldn't be caught dead listening to Kanye West, let alone illegally downloading it, and that's even if he paid me.

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