File-Trading Pressure Mounts on ISPs (and Users!)

by Marc Hedlund

Related link:

c|net's reports that some users have been suspended or terminated by their ISPs for using filetrading clients like Morpheus or Bearshare. Does Napster's downfall and the rise of decentralized filesharing networks mean that individual users are next on the chopping block?

The article notes, interestingly, that filesharing programs have been one of the biggest adoption drivers for high-speed Internet connections. ISPs, it seems, have a real revenue incentive to allow filesharing, but also a regulatory prohibition (under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) against doing so.

It would seem like the remedy for individual users would be to use filesharing clients to receive files, but prevent them from serving files. "One-way" filesharing clients would be harder for copyright holders to detect and prosecute -- though they would also degrade the utility of the filesharing networks. To combat one-way clients, ISPs would need to sniff and filter specific types of traffic (either traffic to particular ports, or traffic on port 80 with particular characteristics).

The Legislative/Digital Rights Management (DRM) track at The O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer and Web Services Conference will address this issue for several audiences. Perhaps by then David McOwen will not be the only P2P user facing criminal prosecution...