ISP Level Anti-Piracy System Neutralized By BitTorrent

Two arch rivals from the KaZaA copyright infringement case have teamed up to produce what is being touted as a formidable anti-piracy system, converting pirates into paying customers. Installed at the ISP level so that users can't easily bypass it, 'Copyrouter' is defeated by BitTorrent.

During recent weeks, a ‘new’ anti-piracy system has been mentioned many times in the press. ‘Copyrouter’ gained most of its press for its ability to deal with the menace of online child porn, but of course, systems like this are almost always created with ‘dual-use’ in mind. There is money to be made in protecting minors, but this is peanuts when compared to the bounty associated with stopping or monetizing illicit file-sharing. The creators of Copyrouter understand this. However, they won’t be making a penny from BitTorrent users, or stopping them from accessing whatever they like.

The company behind Copyrouter is Brilliant Digital Entertainment, headed up by Kevin Bermeister and Michael Speck, previous arch-rivals in the infamous KaZaA case. Within a month they will be trialling the Copyrouter system on an unnamed ISP’s network in Australia.

Using technology known as ‘Deep Packet Inspection‘, the Copyrouter system sits at the ISP level, with access to a list of hash values of infringing files that have been previously found on the Internet. The system then compares these stored ‘digital fingerprints’ to files being accessed or sent by users on the particular ISP where Copyrouter is installed (similar to CopySense). If the system finds a match, transmission of any infringing files would be stopped and the user would either be presented with a warning screen indicating there is a problem, or (and this is where the money-making comes in) directs the user away from pirated content onto legitimate (and presumably chargeable) content.

However, there is a problem. Copyrouter works with applications such as those on the Gnutella network like LimeWire, and also works with DCC+, Soulseek and KaZaA (if anyone uses it anymore) but simply cannot do anything about BitTorrent transfers. BitTorrent uses ‘swarming’ technology, whereby small pieces of a file are sent out and received, to and from multiple users. This method of shifting data makes it impossible for Copyrouter to examine and compare the fingerprint of files being transferred as we have argued before, which means that the entire BitTorrent ‘revenue stream’ is off-limits to Brilliant Digital, a real problem since BitTorrent is the Internet’s most popular P2P protocol.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the Internet space,” Brilliant’s Michael Speck told MSNBC “who doesn’t think fighting child sexual exploitation is good business.” Agreed Mr Speck. But there can’t be that many people in the Internet space who believes that piracy isn’t the main target of Copyrouter either.

Brilliant won’t miss much with its inability to monitor BitTorrent for exploitation as it’s the ‘cleanest’ of all P2P networks when it comes to protecting young folk. Torrent site admins already do Copyrouter’s job for it in this respect. At no charge.

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