News from the P2P front line

It has been quite some time that I did not write about the P2P news. They start popping up everywhere and it is time to talk about the wonderful things happening right under our eyes.

First, the Internet users start to find again -in Europe- some protection since a decision from the European Justice Court: the ISPs will not be obligated to deliver the name of Internet users associated to an IP address when merely requested by copyright owners like we see in the US of A (the case was opened when Telefonica denied this right to deliver the name and address of some of its subscribers accused by a Spanish copyright owner of using Kazaa to exchange MP3 files). It means that the legal actions to attack indelicate Internet users copying songs, music or videos will be limited far below the level reached in North America where tens of thousands of such actions have been started. There will be the need to open not only a civil case, but a criminal action.

Furthermore, BitTorrent, the most easily recognized software program running on the BitTorrent network, will no longer be free. This is most probably a consequence of the intent of its developers to entter a new phase where they want to reap benefits from more commercial activities (including less risks of legal actions, too). Nothing new under the sun, since many Internet users already prefered BitComet, Azureus or uTorrent.

You may also remember that AllOfMp3, a Russian web site distributing MP3 files without any trace of DRM protection, had to stop its activities a few months ago after police action and the beginnning of legal procedure. It appears that Denis Kvasov, founder of AllOfMp3, has been cleared by the Russian justice (he was insisting on the fact that his sales were including author’s right compensation even if some Euopean and American companies were after him for selling at low prices and without DRM).

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Add to it that PirateBay (BitTorrent files search site) have been authorized a few months ago by the Sweedish justice to restart their activity and that they now want to give a new life to the SuperNova web site that closed a couple of years ago, I would try to say that the pendulum is swinging back toward the side most favorable to the Internet users. During months, it seemed that the media producers would be able to force anything they wanted into our throats under the pretense of protecting artists rights. Now, they start experimenting with low-cost without-DRM legal alternatives for music download (even in always-easily-scared France, Neuf-Cegetel intends to start an ISP offer including that kind of possibility: unlimited music and triple-play (Internet+TV+telephone) for 29.90€). Even better, the development of Video on Demand should help film producers and distributors to think in a parallel line.

There is only to find a way to balance the ease of use (requested by Internet users) and artist earnings (naturally expected by the authors). We should find this middle way for the best of consumers and artists, even if it measn suffering for some producers and distributors.