Shared.com Gives 100 GB of Storage Space

shared-logoShared Media have announced a new service where you can share files with others instantly – up to 100 GB in the freemium model with 2 GB upload cap.

Shared.com has come out of the gate with a higher storage capacity to hopefully grab early adopters and get some of the Mega and Dropbox clientele. With Shared.com, you can share a file with the public or just have it ready at your fingertips between devices.

Shared.com Pro and Pro Plus models have also been added – For $9.95 a month you can upload 5 GB files with a 2 TB storage area and Pro Plus allows for up to 10 GB files with unlimited capacity.

Coming options will include mobile apps so you can access your files on the go.

There have been legitimate concerns to sites like this after what happened with MegaUpload in 2012. However, a shared file resource is a great way to distribute legal files to the masses. Shared.com says they will be following DMCA rules and resolve any disputes on their service.

In the meantime – its a great way to send photos of the family to loved ones, post a video of you doing something silly or a document that you need shared information on.

BitTorrent Introduces Share at CES 2012

Bittorent BitTorrent was original created to allow people to share large files over the Internet efficiently. In the last couple of years more and more people are sharing their digital media over the Internet with friends and family. Unfortunately because of the way things are currently setup they often have to compromise on quality. BitTorrent is attempting to solve this problem. They have a new software application called Share which they introduced at CES 2012.  This program will allow people to share large media files with family and friends. There is no limit on file size, number of files or recipients. Each person will have to be authenticated either by email or connecting on Facebook. They will also have to run Share in the background. Share is less the 1 mg in size and takes up very little resources. The media file will be uploaded to each recipient who along with the cloud application will act as seeders. Once you reach a critical mass the cloud application will drop off. Share is currently still in Alpha and being tested.

Share

BitTorrent is also working on a live video streaming protocol which will allow people to share live streaming video without a hosting service. This is also currently in Alpha, you can participate in the test every Friday night at BitTorrent Live. BitTorrent also announced 4 partnerships with various companies in Europe and Asia, that would embed the Bittorent protocol directly in their devices.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central

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Happy 15th Anniversary, Download.com

download.com

download.com

Today we have application stores up the ying-yang. But 15 years ago, trying to find applications for your computer was a lot harder. We did have two decent sources: Tucows.com and download.com (a CNet company, now owned by CBS). Since then, these two sources have grown to better catalog Freeware, shareware, and paid applications. This week, we say Happy anniversary to Download.com.

While the domain was registered on February 24, 1996, Download.com will officially launch on October 23rd, 1996 (Reference via CNet article). Since then, the website sees almost 10 million downloads of software a week. The top downloads being AVG and Avast antivirus software. A long cry from Hey, Macaroni (the dancing macaroni meme), WinZip 32 and Duke Nukem 3D – which was the most downloaded in 1996. WinZip is still one of the top 5 download pieces of software on the site.

For 15 years, download.com has kept a great archive of software, weeding out the obsolete, malware producing items. They have been sued for some software downloads, most notably the free music download program LimeWire. While download.com did not promote the download of mp3 music or movies, the peer-to-peer software is another way to download legally shared items. Of course, this has always been the conundrum of file sharing.

In retrospect, TuCows has been in operation since 1994, offering the same services. Other services have come and gone, but download.com has stayed strong. So happy 15 years to a source that I’ve personally used many a time from my IT career.

ACS Law Boss Fined By ICO

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office today announced that it was fining Andrew Crossley of the now defunct ACS Law £1,000 for failing to keep secure sensitive personal information about 6,000 people.

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, was particularly critical saying, “The security measures ACS Law had in place were barely fit for purpose in a person’s home environment, let alone a business handling such sensitive details.”

If ACS Law had still been trading, the fine could have been as high as £200,000. As Andrew Crossley was trading as a sole trader under the name ACS Law, it falls on him to pay as an individual.

Previously, ACS Law had been pursuing alleged copyright infringers on behalf copyright holders, including some from the adult entertainment industry. Its main tactic had been to send out letters to the alleged infringers, “encouraging” them to settle outside of court. Apparently over £1 million was raised through this tactic with 65% of the money going to ACS Law and only 35% going to the copyright holders (as reported by the BBC.)

Last year ACS Law’s IT systems were attacked by a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) which brought down their website. When the site was restored, for a short time a backup file was easily available for download by anyone. This file contained Excel spreadsheets with information on around 13,000 alleged file sharers, including those accused of downloading pornography.

More from the press release…The ICO’s investigation found serious flaws in ACS Law’s IT security system. Mr Crossley did not seek professional advice when setting up and developing the IT system which did not include basic elements such as a firewall and access control. In addition ACS Law’s web-hosting package was only intended for domestic use. Mr Crossley had received no assurances from the web-host that information would be kept secure. While the firm should have been aware of their obligations under the Data Protection Act, they continued to act negligently and failed to ensure that appropriate technical and organisational measures were in place to keep personal information secure.

Overall, a pretty damning report. However, even if ACS Law is no longer trading, one can’t help feel that Andrew Crossley’s £1,000 fine is too small given that around £650,000 was raised by ACS Law by threatening alleged copyright infringers with legal action. I wonder what the average cost to settle was in comparison?

The Limewire Shutdown Is Not The End Of the RIAA’s Problems

As you may have heard recently, Limewire has been ordered to finally shut its digital doors.  Yesterday, a federal judge granted the shutdown request from the RIAA after a ruling in their favor several months ago.  All searches, uploads and downloads through the client were ordered to stop.  It was, no doubt, quite a shock to users when they fired up their client and were greeted with the this message:

Legal Notice: This is an official notice that Limewire is under a court-ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software. Downloading or sharing copyrighted content without authorization is illegal.

So now the RIAA goes along its merry way without anymore worries, right?  Right?!  Not exactly.  In reality, the Limewire shutdown is a blip on the file-sharing radar.  Truth be told, the RIAA probably spent more on legal costs to pull this off than they lost from the users of the software.  And what do they have to show for it besides one program to point to as an example?  Not much, it would seem.

First, there were numerous articles popping up online today touting the alternatives to Limewire.  And of course there’s no shortage of those alternatives.  Then there’s Usenet which is almost untraceable.  And of course bittorrent which is now discovering better ways to hide users with tools like Anomos and Peerblock.  If anything, the RIAA may have made things harder on themselves by forcing pirates into more obscure places and making them harder to catch and sue.  What a kick in the butt if this shutdown makes the RIAA’s life the one that just became more difficult.

Second, there seems to be a study or survey popping up every few weeks that shows such things as “file sharers buy more music”.  I’m actually inclined to believe that too.  And not only because countless surveys have shown it, but because in a strange way it seems logical.  If you like an artist you feel as if you should support them.  They deserve to make a living off of their work, because, after all, if they can’t, then they will look for a 9-5 job and you won’t hear them again.  A lot of P2P users seems to be looking to discover new music that they can then support.  Obviously there will always be exceptions.  A percentage will always just be thieves.

So, the RIAA got their big example with Limewire.  They started down this course way back in the 90’s with Napster, so we can see how well it is working for them. They have succeeded only in alienating themselves from their customer base and probably forcing more people into piracy than would otherwise have been there.  And with each “example” they also further the technology used to thwart them.  Business models can either move ahead with the times or they can die – kicking and screaming in this case.

Swiss Court Stops IP Gathering By Anti-Piracy Outfits

On September 8th Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court handed down a ruling which could shake up copyright holders around the world and probably scared the heck out of such outfits as the RIAA and MPAA.

In a nutshell, the Federal Supreme Court ruled that IP addresses are personal information, and therefore, fall under the country’s strict privacy laws, and may not be used by anti-piracy companies.

The suit, brought by Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC), Hanspeter Thür, came about because Swiss-based Logistep has been collecting thousands of IP addresses and using them to file lawsuits.  Most cases were settled out-of-court for thousands of dollars.  The same strong-handed methods used by the RIAA and MPAA in the US.

In their press release, FDPIC states:

According to the Federal Supreme Court decision issued in Lausanne on the 8th September 2010, IP addresses are clearly personal data and are thus subject to the Data Protection Act.

In a majority decision, the Court considers it to be unlawful for private companies to covertly probe IP addresses. The decision by the Federal Supreme Court stated that there was insufficient justification for such practices.

Logistep has responded, of course, stating that their methods are perfectly legal in other countries and that they feel the ruling will make Switzerland as safe for pirates as it is for those hiding money in the (in)famous Swiss banks.  They also hinted at the possibility of leaving Switzerland and pursuing their business elsewhere.

What does this decision mean for other European countries, especially highly-privacy conscious ones such as Germany?  Will the ruling have any effect on countries elsewhere in the world?  Obviously I don’t speak for this website, but I think it’s safe to assume that none of us endorses piracy.  We all want right-holders to get their fair-share for the work they have done.  But the methods employed by some of these organizations are, to say the least, questionable and to say the most sometimes resemble extortion.  And in many countries they are difficult, if not impossible, to defend against.  So let’s hope this ruling reverberates far and wide.

Illegal Downloaders Do Spend More Money on Music

The London-based think tank Demos has concluded that illegal downloaders spend more money on music. The headline figure, based on the survey of over 1000 people between 16 and 65, is that the average spend per annum on CDs or vinyl was £75 (GBP) for file-sharers compared with only £51 for all surveyed.

The notion that illegal downloaders actually spend more money on music has always had its supporters but it’s good to see that this can now be backed up with some hard data, at least for the UK. However, there’s some much more juicy information, but remember that this is representative sample of the online population, not the whole population and not just music aficionados or games players.

69% of those questioned had used official or legal sources for music such as iTunes or YouTube. Physical media still dominates purchasing with 65% having bought CDs or vinyl against 33% who purchased downloadable music.

A third had used peer-to-peer technology or search engines to find free music but only 9% actually confessed to illegal downloading. Almost everyone knew that sharing purchased music was not “fair use” but 81% of people who had purchased their music thought that “fair use” should include the ability to move the music between different players easily.

47% would be interested in a monthly subscription service with the optimum price point being £5 per month but it would have to be simple and convenient to use.

There is only a slight male bias of 57%:43% in illegal music downloading (which is far less than I would have expected) and 46% gave “because I can” as a reason for doing it. (I think in the old days, this would’ve been known as “troughing”).  Unsurprisingly, two thirds of this group also engaged in the illegal downloading of movies, games and other software.

The full “Digital Music Survey” is available to download from the Demos website and it’s a fascinating read into the state of music consumption.  Recommended.

Note for readers – as far as I’m aware and I’m not a lawyer, the UK does not currently have a “fair use” provision in its copyright legislation.

Dropbox — File Sharing

dropbox-logo A nice item to have in your geek toolbox is a way to share files on the Internet. Sending large photos or videos through email is simply not possible so you need another way. There are a number of sites that allow you to do this, but there is one that I’ve been using that has some unique features. It’s Dropbox.

Dropbox is a file sharing site that works on the Mac, PC, Linux, and even through your browser. You go to GetDropbox.com and sign up for a free 2 GB account. You download and install the program on your computer and it creates a Dropbox folder where you simply copy the files you want to share. Anything placed into the folder is sent to the “cloud” and can be accessed by you on other computers or after logging on to the GetDropbox.com website. You can also place files in the Public subfolder and send the unique URL through email or place it on your blog to share photos, videos, and documents. There’s even a mention of using the Public folder in Dropbox to host a small website.

If someone you know has a Dropbox account, you can send them a link to a folder you want to share on your computer. When they accept the shared folder, it appears in their Dropbox folder. Any items placed into the shared folder appears in the other’s shared folder. It’s a great way to share project files.

I’ve been using Dropbox to make some documents and photos available so I can access them later and as a way to move them between my Mac and PC computers. Since it keeps older copies of files you place  in your Dropbox folder, it’s a great way to keep backups of your important data and you can even access files deleted from your Dropbox folder.

One word of caution about storing anything sensitive in your DropBox folder.  In theory only you have access to the files, but this is the Internet, so it’s possible that others could gain access. I would encrypt any file containing sensitive data before placing it in the Dropbox folder.

If Dropbox is free, how are they making money? Well, the site is still very new but for the moment they are offering two additional storage accounts for those who find the service useful but need more storage. They offer a 50 GB account for $9.99 USD a month, and 100 GB for $19.99 USD a month.

You can sign up for DropBox by going here. Using this link will give you 2 GB of free storage plus an extra 256 MB as a bonus (you won’t get the 256 MB bonus if you go directly to the GetDropbox.com site). As a disclaimer I must mention that if you use my link for the bonus data, I get credit in the form of extra storage in my account.

There are a number of sites offering free cloud storage and there is nothing stopping you from signing up for a few. You never know when they may come in handy.

73’s, Tom