May 17, 2004

The P2P Spoofing Patent [8:13 am]

NYTimes’ coverage: New Way to Combat Online Piracy

Prof. John Hale and Gavin Manes invented a system with decoys that appear real but contain either poor-quality recordings, buzzing or advertisements. The friendliest decoy might hold samples of songs for sale, while the most irritating could cause extremely long download times.

[...] Once connected, the patented software scans file sharing systems for piracy. When it finds a song that is being shared illegally, for example, it creates a decoy file that mimics the material but also contains interruptions. The software then shares the decoy files. It also monitors how frequently the pirated song is traded so it can automatically adjust the number of decoy files it distributes.

“If there’s only one file out there to worry about, you don’t need to share as many decoys to overwhelm the material,” Dr. Hale said. “It can scale up and scale down, to conserve bandwidth.”

[...] “For a long time the music industry has gone after an ‘all or nothing’ digital rights management strategy,” Dr. Hale said. “It’s been pretty brutal. It relies on hardware. It’s like putting hardware in your car to meter control of the engine. That’s the strategy which has largely failed.

“Now there’s a new movement in copyright circles to develop a speed bump. The basic idea is to slow or stem the tide of piracy. There’s little that can be done to circumvent a speed bump that spans the entire width of the road. It’s a low-tech, robust technology.”

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