Highlights from Computer Scientists' Brief in Grokster

copyright, p2p, policy

I've seen a copy of a brief supporting affirmance by 17 computer science professors in MGM v. Grokster. Here are some choice quotes.

First, they take the opportunity to correct the DoJ:

[T]he United States' description of the Internet's design is wrong. [...] First, amici address statements in the United States' brief, see United States Br. at 2-3, that P2P design and file sharing are recent aberrations. To the contrary, they have been features of the Internet from its inception.

This is my favorite (the context is arguing that the decision not to include filtering for copyrighted works should not be dispositive):

In light of the astonishing usefulness of general purpose networks such as the telephone network and the Internet, a designer's decision not to include some function in the network should not, in itself, be seen as evidence of any particular intent.

UPDATE [2005-03-01 09:31:20]: This brief has 17 profs. not 40!

EFF posts The Betamax Case archive...

copyright, SIMS, p2p, friends, policy

Link: http://eff.org/legal/cases/betamax/

Jason over at the EFF has sent word that they've made the case archive from 1984's Sony v. Universal supreme court case avaiable here: EFF: The Betamax Case.

You've just got to check out Universal's petition for a rehearing of their loss at the supreme court.

On Teaching Titilation


Choice quotes from Alex Halavais about how difficult it is to teach a class on cyberporn:

"It's not hard to make some ASL translators blush."


"At this stage, it appears clear that a not insubstantial number of the students are going to fail the course, despite some generous curves on the exams. I don't know that some brief titillation is worth having to admit to failing your porn course."

Classic Grokster Quote

copyright, p2p

"[W]e live in a quicksilver technological environment with courts ill-suited to fix the flow of internet innovation."

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 380 F.3d 1154 at 11746 (9th Cir. 2004)

New paper on the poisioning and pollution of P2P networks

copyright, hacks, SIMS, berkeley, p2p, friends, research, policy

Nicolas Christin has just put the finishing touches on a new paper authored with Andreas Weigend and SIMS professor John Chuang, "Content Availability, Pollution and Poisoning in File Sharing Peer-to-Peer Networks" (PDF) that will be presented at ACM's Conference on Electronic Commerce (EC'05) this summer in Vancouver, Canada. Here is the abstract:

Copyright holders have been investigating technological solutions to prevent distribution of copyrighted materials in peer-to-peer file sharing networks. A particularly popular technique consists in ‚??poisoning‚?? a specific item (movie, song, or software title) by injecting a massive number of decoys into the peer-to-peer network, to reduce the availability of the targeted item. In addition to poisoning, pollution, that is, the accidental injection of unusable copies of files in the network, also decreases content availability. In this paper, we attempt to provide a first step toward understanding the differences between pollution and poisoning, and their respective impact on content availability in peer-to-peer file sharing networks. To that effect, we conduct a measurement study of content availability in the four most popular peer-to-peer file sharing networks, in the absence of poisoning, and then simulate different poisoning strategies on the measured data to evaluate their potential impact. We exhibit a strong correlation between content availability and topological properties of the underlying peer-to-peer network, and show that the injection of a small number of decoys can seriously impact the users‚?? perception of content availability.

This is a really interesting paper. They measure a number of P2P network metrics - query response time, temporal stability, spatial stability and download completion time - using a widely distributed set of PCs on the PlanetLab network running scripted P2P software. This is a clever way to simultaneously study the characteristics of different P2P networks (notably eDonkey, eDonky/Overnet, FastTrack and Gnutella) as well as quantitatively illustrate differences in the underlying network algoritms. The really nifty part of this paper, in my opinion, involves measuring the effects of various content poisoning and pollution strategies. Their results show that fairly simple strategies are fairly simply defeated while more sophisticated and hybrid strategies aimed at mucking-up-the-net are difficult to detect and thwart.

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