On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Archive for the ‘BitTorrent’ Category

The one-sided assumptions in the Pirate Bay ruling

In BitTorrent, copyright, cultural industries, economy, file-sharing, law, media ecology, p2p, politics, Sweden on November 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm

This is a translation of an article that I wrote in Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on Nov 27th, following the verdict from the Swedish Court of Appeal in the famous Pirate Bay copyright infringement case.

According to the current ruling in the Pirate Bay trial, the Court of Appeal makes a very interesting comparison between The Pirate Bay and services like Google and YouTube, which also distribute copyrighted material:

“If the nature of a search service is such that it primarily is a valuable tool in lawful activities, and of general benefit to society, if this legitimate use predominates, but the distribution or transmission of illegal material in spite of precautions cannot be ruled out, the operation of such a service should be considered as legitimate.” [emphasis added]

In fact, the ruling depends on whether one sees file-sharing as a fundamentally good thing for society, or as a public hazard. Once again, the saga of The Pirate Bay shows that the law is eminently political.

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Summary of my thesis

In BitTorrent, file-sharing, media ecology, media history, p2p, politics, Sweden on October 26, 2010 at 6:35 pm

As I have now had my Ph.D. recently registered with University of London, I want to take the opportunity to present a brief summary of it here.

Obviously, in 346 pages, there is a LOT more to draw on from it. The subject of p2p-based file-sharing is a complex one, and one challenge was to concentrate all this complexity into a comprehensive – yet not overly simplifying – account.

Please email me if you want a copy of the thesis. See my personal webpage or this blog for contact details.

My thesis is about Swedish file-sharers’ own arguments and motives. I analyze how they justify their habits, and what they refer to. I interviewed Swedish file sharers and analyzed blogs, newspapers, debates and web comments. I placed great emphasis on connecting the arguments to various sociological theories of representation, agency, justification and morality, as well as to the actual technical, economic, historical, demographic and geographical conditions. As the actual p2p protocols (especially BitTorrent protocol) are so central to the drama, the sociologist’s role is to determine: What is BitTorrent? How shall we understand the “nature” of a network, and the way the users themselves constantly invoke this “nature”? Ontology – how reality is described and defined – becomes the crux of the debate.

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The absolute majority of all Internet traffic is p2p file-sharing

In BitTorrent, content analysis, file-sharing, Internet traffic, net neutrality, p2p on March 14, 2008 at 12:34 pm

…and most of the files shared are video files. The biggest p2p protocol, by sheer volume of data exchanged, is BitTorrent.

According to a special report by Internet analyst ipoque (2007), peer-to-peer (p2p) keeps producing more Internet traffic than all other applications combined. Its average proportion of the overall data traffic regionally varies between 49% in the Middle East and 83% in Eastern Europe. The world average share of Internet traffic that consists of p2p-based file-sharing exchange is estimated to around 70%.

In both Germany and the Middle East, web-browsing makes use of the second-biggest share of overall traffic, with a share of 26% in the Middle East and 10% in Germany. These numbers do not include any audio or video streaming content embedded in web pages, like YouTube. This media-streaming content was counted separately. Tellingly, in Germany, media-streaming ranked third with a proportion of about 8%. In the Middle East it was negligible with less than 0.1% of the share. Possible reasons, ipoque argues, include lower-speed Internet access and less media-rich content on local-language Web sites. Read the rest of this entry »