A Brief History of P2P
Back in 1999, Napster was formed and quickly grew to be the first massively popular P2P application. But Napster wasn’t strictly “P2P” as we know it, because the index of available content was kept in a centralized database, maintained by Napster.
In response to scalability and legal issues, 2nd-generation P2P networks such as Gnutella and FastTrack adopted a completely distributed approach, doing away with the central database and setting up networks where the network operator had no knowledge of the files being shared by users, no way to readily gain that knowledge, and no way to control the files being shared by users.
The ‘no knowledge, no control’ design of these decentralized networks was thought to insulate the operators of those networks from the legal issues which caused Napster’s downfall. Specifically, if the network operator had no way of knowing what files a specific user was sharing, and no way to prevent that user from sharing those files, then the network operator could not be asked to ‘take down’ infringing files.
However, the rules of engagement changed dramatically in June 2005, when the US Supreme Court ruled that mere lack of knowledge or control was not a sufficient defense if it could be shown that the network operator induced users to share infringing content.
Enter the DMCA…
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law, which became law way back in 1998.
Even prior to its release, the DMCA was widely criticized and derided as being a draconian act which curtailed academic research into weaknesses in content protection systems, and tipped the playing field unfairly in favour of Fortune 500 content owners.
The DMCA was however of considerable interest to ISPs because it shielded them from liability in the event that infringing content was cached on their servers, routers or edge caches.
Additionally, the DMCA also provided safe-harbor protection for operators of web sites, search engines and P2P networks. If a web site, search engine or P2P network operator promptly removed an infringing data item upon being requested to do so by a content owner (see DMCA overview for details), then the operator of that web site, search engine or P2P network should not be liable for the presence of that content on their site or network, thanks to the DMCA.
But back in 1998 most users were on dial-up modem, Napster hadn’t yet come into being, and, well, pretty much nobody was either making audio and video files available online or downloading them.
So for the first few years of its life the DMCA was largely irrelevant to anyone other than ISPs.
Cut to 2006, and the world is beginning a complete re-evaluation of the DMCA. A belated realization that any search engine, web site or P2P network which implements the DMCA’s File and User Take Down provisions should be able to be obtain protection against liability for any content found on their network is going to lead to an explosion in the number of web sites placing DMCA content take-down email addresses on their sites and seeking shelter under the DMCA content take-down safe harbor provisions.
And so ironically we now have a situation where the operators of decentralized networks such as Gnutella and FastTrack, having designed networks which gave them no control over the content being shared on those networks, may now be looking for means to regain that control, so that they are able to filter out infringing files from those networks.
You could be sending/receiving a lot of DMCA take-down notices...
The solution: Global File Registry
Welcome to the new world of DMCA take-downs, where thousands and thousands of sites add DMCA take-down “Contact us” links to their sites. Content owners are now forced to trawl the web looking for infringing copies of their content online, and then having to contact each site individually to request that data item be removed from that site.
And for all those thousands of web sites, search engines, torrent sites and P2P networks who have added DMCA “Contact us” links to their sites, you’re going to be receiving take-down notices from hundreds of different content owners. And is the person sending you the email really the genuine owner of that file, not someone trying to cause trouble?
It easy to foresee DMCA take-down notices spiraling out of control, with both content owners and site operators spending a lot of time dealing with paperwork.
For content owners...
Global File Registry provides you a single access point for serving, monitoring, logging and auditing all yourtake-down notices. You login in to this site, we deal with the rest.
For web site owners...
Global File Registry provides you a single access point from which your server can automatically receive dynamically updated lists of any take-down notices relevant to your site. Your servers connect to our database, we deal with the rest.
For P2P network owners...
Global File Registry provides your fully decentralized clients with a file take-down facility. Integrating our Global File Registry DLL with you application is easy, and that’s all you need to do.
For companies with file tracking and identification technology...
partnering with Global File Registry gives you a new and greatly increased market for your services.