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HBO Attacking BitTorrent 844

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the hand-that-feeds dept.
DIY News writes "HBO is actively poisoning the BitTorrent downloads of the new show Rome. In addition to an older tactic of offering bogus downloads that never complete, HBO is now obstructing the downloads offered by other people. HBO runs peers that tell the tracker they have all the chunks of the show, but then send garbage data when a downloader requests a chunk. While the bogus peers can be detected, it will take much longer to download shows."
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HBO Attacking BitTorrent

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  • by mommywheresdaddy (901772) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:33PM (#13736675)
    Rome is actively poisoning my HBO. What a craptacular waste of programming.
    • by r2tincan (893666) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:37PM (#13736706)
      rome wasn't built in a few shows
      • by bullitB (447519) on Friday October 07, 2005 @04:12AM (#13737741)
        "Veni, Vidi, Vici"...roughly translated into modern English reads:

        "I came, I saw, I 0wned your BitTorrent tracker"

        Of course, after watching a few episodes Rome, I've learned that in Ancient Rome they actually spoke English anyway. Who started this Latin rumor?
    • Re:That's Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) on Friday October 07, 2005 @12:16AM (#13736942)
      I can go to the supermarket and eat cheese for free. I don't have to steal it or nothin'. They even slice it up for me. They find that by simply giving cheese away they end up selling more cheese than if they don't. To a certain extent they even reduce shoplifting (most grocery shoplifting isn't hardcore theft, but casual snacking along the way and a package of bologna with one slice removed is, to the store, the same as a whole stolen package of bologna).

      The free cheese whets my appetite and makes me more inclined to buy a half pound of the stuff for later.

      That is, of course, if the free "cheese" they give me isn't really a pile of poison poo spray painted yellow.

      I really hate when that happens.

      Perhaps HBO should consider, instead of interdiction, simply giving the first few episodes away to induce subscription, that is, of course and ironically, if the show isn't too cheesy.

      If they don't feel inclined to give me a free sample, at my convenience, I'm afraid I'd be inclined to believe there's something about it they don't want me to know.

      Like the fact that I wouldn't want to buy it.

      KFG
      • I started watching Rome after a friend got an unsolicited DVD from HBO in his mail that had the first episode of Rome. I really liked it and wanted to get into the series, but it's the kind of show where you have to watch the episodes in order. So I had no choice but to download the first five episodes from my commerical usenet feed :)

        I did however watch the sixth episode "regularly" on HBO, so I guess their tactic gained them a viewer. Then I immediately downloaded that episode so I could have a complet
      • Re:That's Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cybergrunt69 (730228) <cybergrunt69@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Friday October 07, 2005 @12:36AM (#13737044) Journal
        OK, so I get HBO (or any other channel, premium or not) on-demand. Most of the time, there are just a few *specific* episodes they offer. If and when I can find the one show I want (or all of them), I can then record it on my Tivo/PVR, right? I can use my PVR to put it on a DVD, right? If I'm running a home-brew PC-based PVR, I can copy it to disk. Or, I can just record it when I watch it at it's regularly scheduled time. The point is, I already pay the particular media company for the right to watch their channel, because I want to *WATCH* the programming on that channel. Anyway, there are several ways that I can get this show onto a device that will allow me to play it back whenever I want, on whatever device I want. Are you saying that because it's downloaded instead of recorded from TV that it's illegal? I hope whatever tards at HBO came up with this idea get knocked over the head with the clue stick!!!!! If they want to stop/reduce the downloads that they think is a bad idea, then USE THE TECH that will enable them to make a buck off of it. People are still gonna download it, but if the make it easy to _legally_ obtain this show ($$ for non-subscribers, 1/2$ or free for customers), they can have a huge array of options for how to present this, and the method of delivery. Of course, putting some stupid DRM in there is gonna hurt their cause... What the hell is it gonna take for these old media companies (MPAA, RIAA, TV, Cable, etc) to realize that the internet and online users could be helping their bottom line instead of making them look like idiots, and them treating their customers like theives. There is a market opportunity here, and they are completely ignoring it.
      • Re:That's Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

        by yfarren (159985) <yossi@NoSPAm.farvi.com> on Friday October 07, 2005 @01:27AM (#13737240) Homepage
        I am puzzeled and troubled, both by your comments, and how it got moderated. A supermarket may choose to give you free samples. It is theirs to give. But you cannot make the argument, "well, because the supermaret gives free samples, I am entitled to take free cheese, even when they are not giving out free samples."

        It is the supermakets property, and their choice, how they wish to advertise. Similarly, the series "Rome" belongs to HBO (or whoever the relavant copyright holder is). It is not correct to say "it would be good marketing for them to give this away, therefore it is legitamate for me to take some" any more that you could say "it wasnt shoplifting, when I unwrapped the cheese, they regularly give the stuff away". It is THEIR choice, not yours. If you dont want to buy it because they wont give you a free sample, that is your choice. But that doesnt legitamize people who want to download, against the will of HBO. Their marketing descisions are not the same as your entitlment.
        • Re:That's Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kfg (145172) on Friday October 07, 2005 @01:33AM (#13737269)
          But you cannot make the argument, "well, because the supermaret gives free samples, I am entitled to take free cheese, even when they are not giving out free samples."

          I am puzzled by the fact that you seem to believe I have made that argument. I have done nothing of the kind. Perhaps you need to go read my post again and try to see what those who moderated me saw.

          KFG
          • by HardCase (14757)
            I don't think that it's a good idea to rely on moderators to make your point, unless it's an observation of the behavior or rabid crackheads - or Wallace and Gromit fans.

            -h-
        • Re:That's Funny (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lifeblender (806214)
          This is too easy.

          If you dont want to buy it because they wont give you a free sample, that is your choice. But that doesnt legitamize people who want to download, against the will of HBO. Their marketing descisions are not the same as your entitlment.

          The GP, KFG, was not indicating that downloading was appropriate. I believe that the point was that HBO's decision was DUMB. I'll repeat it, too: HBO and all the other companies attempting to control downloads of material that can be legally recorded have th
        • by trezor (555230) on Friday October 07, 2005 @08:05AM (#13738327) Homepage

          The fact that someone compared DLing a TV-show with free cheese-samples, in a somewhat (but definitely not entirely) valid way, doesn't mean you should continue to use it.

          First off. Media: digitizable, zero-cost reproducable, non tangeable goods. Cheese: actual, physical, unreproducable goods. Now copying something that inherently reproducable costs noone nothing. Stealing physical goods will result in expenses for the producer or store.

          Please stop equating these to fundamental different things. Foe.

      • Re:That's Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

        by WarPresident (754535) on Friday October 07, 2005 @01:33AM (#13737270) Homepage Journal
        I can go to the supermarket and eat cheese for free. I don't have to steal it or nothin'. They even slice it up for me. They find that by simply giving cheese away they end up selling more cheese than if they don't.

        True, but they don't let you take the whole 10 pound block of cheese home for free.

        Perhaps HBO should consider, instead of interdiction, simply giving the first few episodes away to induce subscription, that is, of course and ironically, if the show isn't too cheesy.

        HBO isn't selling you a block of cheese, or a single show, they're offering a service where you get a lot of movies (well, a few movies played a lot of times) and a few HBO-only shows. Perhaps your cable operator occasionally runs a free HBO weekend promo.

        If they don't feel inclined to give me a free sample, at my convenience, I'm afraid I'd be inclined to believe there's something about it they don't want me to know.

        You could probably go to this link [hbo.com] and "watch a clip of the new episode". At your convenience, of course.

      • Re:That's Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

        by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Friday October 07, 2005 @03:22AM (#13737602)
        I can go to the supermarket and eat cheese for free. I don't have to steal it or nothin'. They even slice it up for me. They find that by simply giving cheese away they end up selling more cheese than if they don't.

        Would you still buy the cheese if you could take as much of it as you wanted, whenever you wanted, for free?

        Now you are comparing apples.
      • Re:That's Funny (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gatzke (2977)

        HBO is not giving you a free download, as in your cheese analogy.

        HBO is fighting illegal distribution of their material. They do give you a free taste of the show in their advertising. That is the level they feel comfortable giving out.

        You downloading the show is like going to the dairy section and opening / eating whatever cheese you want.

        They should do like XM and let you get an online account if you pay for the service and download / stream content when you can't watch otherwise. You pay for the stuff
    • Re:That's Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous&yahoo,com> on Friday October 07, 2005 @12:32AM (#13737021) Homepage Journal
      Actually, Rome is a very intelligent, well-done show, though I could have done without the swinging-cock shots of Purefoy in episode 4.

      My first piece of entertainment journalism (in 1997) was interviewing a VP at Showtime about the upcoming premiere of Stargate SG-1.

      From the article (the "Zakarin" quoted was Marc Zakarin, Exec VP of Original Programming):

      Perhaps the most amazing part of all of this is Showtime's committment to Stargate SG-. In a bold move, Showtime has ordered forty-two one-hour episodes and a two-hour series premiere at an average budget of a whopping 1.4 million dollars per episode. Each episode will be cycled into syndication by MGM Worldwide Television a few months after it runs on Showtime, helping recoup some if not all of the production costs, but by the time the first one airs on commercial TV, over thirty million dollars will have been invested.

      Even with Anderson and the financial success of the original movie, will Showtime suddenly quail and re-think its committment if the initial ratings for Stargate SG-1 are weak? "Because we're not advertiser supported, we're less influenced by the vagaries of the ratings," Zakarin says, "so if we have a couple of bad weeks, we're not sweating bullets."

      "What we really respond to more than ratings is the intensity of the viewing experience, and when we see and hear from the field that there is a strong core audience that is really appreciating something on Showtime, that's more important than tonnage. The networks are in the tonnage business. We're in the intensity of viewing business."

      That said, the "intensity of viewing" is aimed at generating new subscribers and keeping old ones happy. If people shuffle off the shackles of the HBO coil and resort to downloading, how long will HBO keep producing good content?

  • Thankfully (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kaosrain (543532) <root@kaos[ ]n.com ['rai' in gap]> on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:34PM (#13736677) Homepage
    Closed registration torrent sites will be able to weed out the poisoners.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:34PM (#13736682) Homepage Journal
    These people would have been owned and disconnected within hours of this being discovered. With the changing of the guard, so too does the changing of morality.
    • Let HBO use black-hat tactics if they want. It won't save their ratings, and it certainly won't improve their public image. Someone is going to be fired over this, I think.
      • by Daemonik (171801) on Friday October 07, 2005 @12:30AM (#13737014) Homepage
        Someone is going to be fired over this, I think.
        ROFLMFAO!!!!!

        Wait, you're serious? ROFLMFAO!!!!!!!

        Yeah, HBO is going to fire someone for preventing the free dissemination of their copyrighted material over the internet. Yeah, sure. Especially a cost effective, directly focused counter to what would otherwise be settled by $300 Per Hour legal departments who might or might not sue the right person. Um-hum.

        What HBO is doing is what every business should be doing instead of taking the RIAA's route. HBO is not restricting your right to make copies at home, they are not restricting your archiving of those copies, or even sharing them with your family/close friends. They are not suing BitTorrent, they are not demanding that all P2P software be banned, they are pro-actively preventing the illegal distribution of their material in an incredibly low impact manner. Bravo, HBO.

        • by Ragica (552891) on Friday October 07, 2005 @01:11AM (#13737176) Homepage
          And they are pro-actively helping the P2P community by giving them incentive to design and implement better, more secure, less easily polluted P2P networks, protocols and tools. Bravo, HBO!
        • vigilante justice (Score:4, Interesting)

          by idlake (850372) on Friday October 07, 2005 @02:41AM (#13737487)
          What HBO is doing is what every business should be doing instead of taking the RIAA's route.

          That's called "vigilante justice", and there are laws against it. Maybe HBO's particular denial of service attack on BitTorrent is both harmless and specific in this case, but the next attempt at vigilante justice may end up shutting down the OpenSuSE distribution as a side effect.

          HBO's actions amount to computer hacking and denial of service, and they should be treated as such by the legal system. On the other hand, if HBO wishes to claim copyright infringement, they should bring legal cases; nobody other than a court of law can determine whether copyright infringement has taken place.
          • What HBO is doing is similar to defending yourself against a mugging. You legally need not wait for the police to take action. They are not going against someone who has downloaded, they are disrupting the illegal actions of someone who is downloading. They are also doing it without any collateral damage.

            This is very similar to banks putting purple ink bombs in the sacks of money robbers demand. Only the money is destroyed, making it useless to the robber. If the robber is cheezed, tuff.
          • by Cederic (9623)

            It's not hacking. They're advertising that you can download data from them. If you choose to do so then they'll provide data to you.

            That the data isn't what you expect is unfortunate. There's a quality gap but that's not illegal.

            They're not connecting to you and pushing data at you. They're not attempting to subvert your PC. They're not executing code anywhere other than their own servers. They're doing very little wrong.

            They are declining to play nicely and follow the protocol you're attempting to use. Tha
    • by Matt Perry (793115) <perry.matt54@ya h o o.com> on Friday October 07, 2005 @12:12AM (#13736919)
      These people would have been owned and disconnected within hours of this being discovered.
      Are you kidding me? These are the guys that would be owning you not the other way around. They're beating the copyright infringers at their own game. They're using technical measures to thwart downloading of material they own the copyright to. I'd rather see more of this type of geek warfare than another letter from a lawyer. It reminds me of when DirecTV did a similar thing [slashdot.org] to people hacking the cards for their satellite systems. Again, better this than resorting to lawyers.
      • by nettdata (88196) on Friday October 07, 2005 @12:39AM (#13737057) Homepage
        No kidding... it's hard for some people to even consider the fact that HBO IS IN THE RIGHT!

        People are illegally distributing a copyrighted movie, and are BITCHING that HBO is stopping them, by knowing more about the "hackers" game than the "hackers" do.

        Go HBO! More power to you, IMO.

        I'm getting soooo sick of this sense of self-entitlement... "give me everything for free" attitude.

        • No kidding... it's hard for some people to even consider the fact that HBO IS IN THE RIGHT!

          The issue is not whether HBO is (formally) in the right--they probably are. The issue is that whether HBO is in the right, as well as the remedies, are a matter for a court of law to determine. We don't want a world in which companies decide for themselves whether they are in the right and then decide for themselves how to enforce the rights they themselves have determined they have.

          I'm getting soooo sick of this s
          • That is TRULY funny. So let's summarize.

            1.) It's bad if HBO acts as if they are in the right in stopping people from downloading their shows, because we don't want them to act like they are in the right without a court case.
            2.) At the sime time, it's good for people who think they are in the right to download HBO's shows, because we want them to act like they are in the right without a court case.
  • Abusus non tollit usum. /There I said it!
  • Pure BS (Score:4, Informative)

    by FS1 (636716) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:35PM (#13736686)
    Most modern Bittorrent clients will recognize that a peer is spewing garbage chunks, and snub them. Usually the trigger to snub is as little as 3 bad chunks.

    So the whole idea that this will significantly increase download times is complete BullShit!
    • Well if you get 100 fake clients then that becomes 300 chunks. And that is a non-significant glob of data you will need to download.
    • So the whole idea that this will significantly increase download times is complete BullShit!

      No dude, that's on showtime [sho.com]
    • Re:Pure BS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Orcish_Rodent (665783) <aroden AT iupui DOT edu> on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:53PM (#13736807)
      False, as they are using a very large range of IP addresses the clients internal blocking will not help.

      It seems to work based on haveing a lot of crap spitting clients connect to the tracker which claim 50-92% complete and then start spewing data to who ever they can. The connecting clients will receive data at about 1/2 kBps. Receiveing 3 bad chunks to ban a ip only to connect to another bad ip will slow you down considerably. Typical torrent has 5000-10000 chunks assumming they have 3000 ip's (easy) thats 9000 bad chunks of bad data they can send doubleing the download time. FYI all ips are in the range 70.85.*.*
  • azereus! (Score:5, Informative)

    by blackomegax (807080) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:35PM (#13736690) Journal
    azereus has this nifty little feature that blocks the IP of any client that sends more than 2 or 3 corrupt blocks of info.
    • Re:azereus! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Come on, spell the name right at least. It's AZUREUS.

      And a link. http://azureus.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] Note, it's a Java Bittorrent client.. so all those people that are allergic to Java might want to avoid it.
      • Re:azereus! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by speeDDemon (nw) (643987) on Friday October 07, 2005 @01:10AM (#13737169) Homepage
        Azureus also has a plugin called SafePeer that automagically downloads a list of 'bad' IPs. Currently there are about 117,000 banned IPs in my block list, and I get good solid download speeds. Could also just add the HBO range of IP address's to the block list, thus their clients will be ignored completely.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:37PM (#13736710)
    svefg cbfg
  • Good and Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:38PM (#13736712)
    Good for HBO. They have every right to protect their legitimate revenue stream. If we think we can send whatever sequence bytes we want over the p2p networks, I say we extend the same freedom to the fine people at HBO.

    At the same time, this is also good for p2p software. I'm sure it will only result in better algorithms for dealing with tainted peers.
  • TiVo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptainPinko (753849) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:39PM (#13736718)
    I use torrents instead of the TiVo I don't own. I've got fully legit paid for HBO but lately I've been too busy to watch Rome so I've just been d/l-ing them. I wonder how that falls under fair-use?
    • What I don't get is that they could just put the program they created up on the net with ads attached. That way they get to show their ads to many people and people who otherwise couldn't get their show can watch it.
    • Re:TiVo (Score:5, Informative)

      by slashdotnickname (882178) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:57PM (#13736831)
      I've got fully legit paid for HBO but lately I've been too busy to watch Rome so I've just been d/l-ing them. I wonder how that falls under fair-use?

      According to HBO's copyright protection rules [hbo.com], which you enter into agreement with when you sign up for their service, you CAN create a single copy of the show for yourself but NOT distribute it to others. For bittorrent to work though, you have to upload as well as download, thereby breaking your service agreement with HBO regarding not distributing your copy to others.
      • Re:TiVo (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Friday October 07, 2005 @02:45AM (#13737500)
        Signed what? I called my cable operator, gave them my credit card number, and my HBO service was turned on before I even hung up the phone. I have no contract with HBO.
        • Re:TiVo (Score:4, Informative)

          by Deadguy2322 (761832) on Friday October 07, 2005 @06:33AM (#13738067)
          It's called implied consent. Unless you were under duress, when you asked for the service, you agreed to the terms of the service provider. I used to work for a satellite provider here in Canada, and we actually had a hardcopy terms of service we could send out on request, as well as packing them in with our hardware. If you chose not to read the terms, didn't matter. You asked for the service, that bound you to its terms. Works the same for cable TV.
  • by saskboy (600063) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:39PM (#13736724) Homepage Journal
    Rome wasn't downloaded in a day either, I guess.

    Good things take time, so I guess Bit Torrent users will just have to wait a little longer for legitimate video files to become available if they desperately want to see this show.
  • Headline misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:39PM (#13736726)
    HBO is not attacking BitTorrent the program, they're attacking people misusing BitTorrent to share copyrighted material illegally.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:40PM (#13736733)
    Here's an infrinigement notice from MediaSentry [mediasentry.com] passed along to me just the other day by Speakeasy [speakeasy.net] for downloading 2.4k worth of Rome on BitTorrent.

    It might be worth noting that I was using Azureus [sf.net] and running PeerGuardian [sf.net] at the time of the download.

    I'm running Azureus on a different computer now.
    Subject: Case ID XXXXXXXX - Notice of Claimed Infringement
    Date: Mon, 03 Oct 2005 11:56:33 -0400
    To: Abe Usetonsen <abuse@speakeasy.net>
    From: MediaSentry Copyright Infringement <infringements@hbo.com>
     
    Monday, October 03, 2005
     
    Speakeasy Network DSL
    Seattle, WA 98121 US
     
    RE: Unauthorized Distribution of the Copyrighted Television Program Entitled Rome
     
    Dear Abe Usetonsen:
     
    We are writing this letter on behalf of Home Box Office, Inc. ("HBO").
     
    We have received information that an individual has utilized the above-referenced IP address at the noted date and time to offer downloads of copyrighted television program(s) through a "peer-to-peer" service, including such title(s) as:
     
    Rome
     
    The distribution of unauthorized copies of copyrighted television programs constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3).
     
    Since you own this IP address, we request that you immediately do the following:
     
    1) Disable access to the individual who has engaged in the conduct described above; and
    2) Take appropriate action against the account holder (if other than the individual whose access has been disabled) under your Abuse Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.
     
    On behalf of HBO, owner of the exclusive rights to the copyrighted material at issue in this notice, we hereby state, that we have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by HBO, its respective agents, or the law.
     
    Also, we hereby state, under penalty of perjury, under the laws of the State of New York and under the laws of the United States, that the information in this notification is accurate and that we are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights being infringed as set forth in this notification.
     
    Please direct any end user queries to the following address:
     
    Steve Rosenthal
    Legal Department
    Home Box Office, Inc.
    1100 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, NY 10036
    212.512.1780 phone
    212.512.5854 fax
    infringements@hbo.com email
     
    Kindly include the Case ID XXXXXXXX, also noted above, in the subject line of all future correspondence regarding this matter.
     
    We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Your prompt response is requested.
     
    Respectfully,
     
    Mark Weaver,
    Director of Enforcement
    MediaSentry, Inc.
     
    --------------------
    Infringement Detail:
    Infringing Work: Rome
    Filepath: Rome.S01E06.HDTV.XviD-LOL.[eztv].torrent
    Filename : Rome.S01E06.HDTV.XviD-LOL.avi
    First Found: 3 Oct 2005 10:28:33 EDT (GMT -0400)
    Last Found: 3 Oct 2005 10:28:33 EDT (GMT -0400)
    Filesize: 359,196k
    IP Address: X.X.X.X
    IP Port: 26495
    Network: BTPeers
    Protocol: BitTorrent
        Download (untitled) 2.4k
    • by aaza (635147) on Friday October 07, 2005 @02:54AM (#13737530)
      Dear Media Sentry,

      According to me, 2.4k of 359,196k is 6 ppm (or about 0.000006%), and as a result, is far less than is allowed by fair use (10%, depending on context). As this is the case, I feel fully justified in offering the following statement as payment for the half a frame which was downloaded:
      Fuck off, you tit.

      Thanks and regards,

  • Bittornado (Score:4, Interesting)

    by metatruk (315048) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:40PM (#13736734)
    In Bittornado, and possibly other clients, there's an option you can check that will ban peers that do this.

    prefs -> check [Kick/ban clients that send you bad data]

    After at least one failed hash check, the client won't eat any more poison, so to speak.
  • Don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shky (703024) <shkyoleary@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:40PM (#13736736) Homepage Journal
    Okay, I understand why they'd want to do it, or at least some initial reasoning: People are infringing on our copyright (Arrrr!), so we should try to stop them. Thing is, how does this help them at all? Do they really think that people are going to try to download the first episode, realize that it's really difficult, so they'll pay for HBO and start mid-series? Is that their game plan here? I just can't imagine this working. What they've really done is only two things.

    1: They've pissed people off, some who may simply download out of spite now, and
    2: They're stopping potential customers from seeing their show. I don't have HBO (not sure I can get it here anyway, but let's say I can). So what if I download and episode, realize that I really like it, and want to sign up? Well, they've stopped me from doing that, or at least tried.

    So yeah, I just can't imagine how this helps them at all. Of course, I may be way off here, so bring on the torches if you're into that sort of thing.
    • Re:Don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shark72 (702619) on Friday October 07, 2005 @01:56AM (#13737361)

      "So what if I download and episode, realize that I really like it, and want to sign up?"

      Sheyeah, right.

      This would put you in that same class of people who download albums off of P2P so that they can listen to the whole thing before buying a copy. While there might be a small percentage of people who do that (certainly not anybody I know -- all of my friends who use P2P do so to save money), it's abundantly clear that most people do things like downloading "Rome" so they don't have to pay HBO to watch it.

      "So yeah, I just can't imagine how this helps them at all."

      As an aside, the ironic thing is that your post is presently 4, insightful, despite the fact that you used "I can't imagine" twice in your post and even titled it "Don't get it." That's a lack of insight.

  • by yfarren (159985) <yossi@NoSPAm.farvi.com> on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:41PM (#13736744) Homepage
    You say it like HBO is doing something Evil. I would agree, if they were messing up the protocol, across the board, but, from the article, they are doing this to downloads of their copyrighted material (specificaly, the show ROME).

    Perhaps "HBO using technology to counter Copyright Infringment". I mean, really, downloading Rome cant be particularly leagal. It is theirs. Surely this is a good thing. I mean, entities have to be able to protect their property. Argue what you will about the terms of copyright (I would agree they are ridiculous). But this is somone trying to protect something which is currently making them money. And they arent suing anyone, either (yet). I for one, hope they can find a technological way to stop people from using BitTorrent to illeagly download theiri intellectual property, as I tend to prefer those solutions to the far nastier ones that are available (see the RIAA).
  • by Auckerman (223266) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:41PM (#13736745)
    I hate to break it to you, they have the copyright to the show. They have full license to distribute the show in any way they see fit. They see fit in distributing the show as a garbled mess over Bittorrent. If you don't like their distributation method, that's YOUR problem. Find another way to watch their show.
    • Thats irrelavant. What they are doing is not illegal, even if they didn't have a copyright.
    • they have the copyright to the show.

      Yep. They sure do. A copyright that under current rules protects the show for almost a hundred years. Seventy-five years from now, when your dead and your grandchildren are curious about your generation, they can get sued for downloading it, too, just like dear old Grandpa.

      There are two reasons I have few problems with this type of filesharing: First, the copyright deck is stacked exclusively in favor of the distributors. This is not how it was meant to be. The

  • Obstructing? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by linuxmop (37039) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:41PM (#13736748)
    That's pretty cute, the use of "obstructing" in the summary. Usually when I hear the word obstructing it is in phrases like "obstructing justice." Obstructing is usually something the criminals do. The word has picked up a pretty negative connotation.

    But here, we have HBO obstructing the downloading of their copyrighted material. HBO is obstructing copyright violation. Would you say that a lock obstructs breaking and entering? Or that self defense obstructs assault? Perhaps good server administration obstructs the stealing of private data. Of course you wouldn't say that. It sounds silly. So why is HBO obstructing downloads?
    • Re:Obstructing? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by daranz (914716)
      Exactly. HBO is only wasting their bandwidth... People who download stuff from bittorrent don't expect it instantenously, so what if there's a slight delay - it's not stopping people from actually downloading the file, and all the user has to do is just minimize his client of choice and forget about it until the file is finished downloading.

      To me this reaction seems like lifting your fist at someone, and shaking it while spewing "I'm gonna get you" through clenched teeth, without really knowing how you're

    • Re:Obstructing? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Azi Dahaka (625546)
      Maybe because they ARE obstructing the download. It has a negative connotation, to be sure, but obstruction means exactly what HBO is doing.

  • HBO's Actions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by postsingularity (874666) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:45PM (#13736766)
    are understandable since Rome is their big subscription pitch for the moment. If they can frustrate DLers enough to pay for a subscription, buy or rent the dvd, then they can profit. While many opinionated slashdotters will scoff and say people should boycott HBO, fact of the matter is most people's convictions aren't so strong that they will throw away the time invested in watching the earlier episode. On a positive note, the fact that HBO has some sense of what is going on technologically means that they are that much closer to offering download services of their own.
  • heh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Renraku (518261) on Thursday October 06, 2005 @11:47PM (#13736776) Homepage
    Easy solution. Dedicate a website to Rome trackers that actually contain other things (like fan-created things). Name them like HBO Rome Episode One.torrent, etc, etc. HBO will ejaculate half their money into lawyers and it'll go down like a burning ship
  • I love it! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by csoto (220540) on Friday October 07, 2005 @12:01AM (#13736852)
    Game the game! Perhaps this will help the rest of the "entertainment industry" (HBO is one of the few actually entertaining networks these days) understand that there is no way to prevent "piracy" via technical means. There is always a way around any technical "problem" (in this case, BT). By practicing this sort of act, it seems that at least some people at HBO will come to understand this. The only way to win the game, is to provide an easier, BETTER alternative. iTunes is proving this, for example. No, it doesn't stop MP3 trading, but it makes money DESPITE illegal file trading.
  • by pico303 (187769) on Friday October 07, 2005 @12:06AM (#13736879)
    Car thieves are miffed because auto makers are now installing locks on all cars.

    If you're going to be a thief, don't complain when someone tries to stop you from stealing their stuff. Anyone who complains about this is an immature idiot. HBO spends 10 million dollars to develop, produce, and advertise a show on their premium networks. To recoup the costs, they charge subscribers money. For those that don't wish to subscribe, they sell DVDs in a couple of months, so that you can either buy the DVDs or get them off Netflix or from some other video rental source. HBO makes 20 million dollars from this process. HBO goes on to keep their people employed and continue to make television series and movies. ...or...

    HBO spends 10 million dollars, and everybody steals their content without reimbursing HBO for any of their costs. 10,000 people lose their jobs because HBO declares bankruptcy.

    I know this is an extreme case, but I'm tired of all the whining because a company (or even a person) who produces something that you think is valuable enough to at least steal would like to make some money off of it. Yes, I know they're rich, but if you don't like that, stop buying their product. Why exactly should networks, studios, software developers, or anyone else provide anything of value if there's no benefit to them, i.e. no way to make a living?

    I'm a software developer, and if my company doesn't get paid for something, I get laid off.

    Grow up people.
    • If you're going to be a thief, don't complain when someone tries to stop you from stealing their stuff. Anyone who complains about this is an immature idiot.

      No, there's still a reason to be worried about this, even if you're a staunch supporter of copyright. This tactic can be applied to any torrent. Today it's HBO interfering with illegal downloads of the show they're trying to sell to subscribers, but tomorrow it could be Microsoft/SCO interfering with legitimate downloads of Linux ISOs, or the MPAA inter
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday October 07, 2005 @01:23AM (#13737229)
    But there was a time when HBO showed movies. Several "movie" channels actually showed movies 24 hours a day with only previews for movies between them. Then HBO started showing a lot of crap like Rome and this new channel came along called... "The MOVIE Channel (TMC)" and they showed movies- just movies. One month they showed almost 500 unique movies (including the old Boston Blackies!). I know it's hard to believe these days but it's true!

    And ... GET THIS... MTV only showed music videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get out of town!

  • by laxian (174575) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [elggurtslatigid]> on Friday October 07, 2005 @01:25AM (#13737233)
    As long as they don't do it to Deadwood, I don't care.
  • by mpesce (146930) on Friday October 07, 2005 @02:00AM (#13737371) Homepage
    HBO didn't start poisoning torrents with "Rome". It started with season 5 of "Six Feet Under". I live in Australia, where SFU is shown - eventually - on free-to-air television, but it's shown months after my friends watch it in the US, so I tend to grab the episodes off the torrent as they're shown on HBO. With the beginning of series 5, I noted that I was getting 2x the hash errors than I was receiving good chunks. I knew that it must be HBO "poisoning" the torrent.

    Whether it's good or bad, it's certainly within their capabilities to do so. The danger for HBO is that it is forcing BT clients to evolve in interesting ways to avoid this kind of manipulation. SafePeer anyone?

    The raw, honest truth is that anything that is broadcast - via airwaves or cable - is up for grabs. HBO doesn't yet understand that the real money is to be made in licensing - DVDs, soundtracks, decorative "Rome" wall hangings, what have you. That's where they'll need to earn back the $100M they spent on the series, because it's growing increasingly impossible to force people to watch something through a proscribed channel once it has been broadcast through _any_ channel.
  • by ceswiedler (165311) * <chris@swiedler.org> on Friday October 07, 2005 @02:09AM (#13737401)
    Fine, people trying to kill Bittorrent altogether because some people use it for copyright infringement is bad. But for christs sake, HBO puts a ton of money into those episodes and it deserves to get paid for them. It's illegal and immoral to download them, and I think it's perfectly fine to attack transfers of obviously copyrighted material.

    How do you justify it morally? On a very small scale, filling in an episode you haven't seen, sure, no big deal. Massive redistribution of an entire series is obviously going to harm HBO, whose only crime was creating something which people like to watch. Do you think that HBO is some soulless bunch of corporate assholes who deserve to get screwed? Where do you draw the line between small artists and these corporate assholes? HBO hires the best screenwriters, directors, actors, and technical people in the business, and the result is the show that you like to watch. Do you think you're benefiting anyone by downloading it for free en masse?

    What do you think will happen if no one enforces their legitimate copyright, and everyone has push-button access to free copies of Rome. Fast-forward to a time when most houses in America would have the ability to watch freely downloaded episodes on their TV, as an alternative to subscribing to HBO. Do you think HBO will make money? Do you think they will continue to make high-budget shows when their subscriber base shrinks? Their most likely source of income is incoporating ads into the scripts in a way which is impossible to skip, like references to how well Tide gets their togas cleaned. Is that better than paying for HBO?

    The technology isn't wrong. But don't go bullshitting yourself thinking that downloading copyrighted material anonymously and in large quantities is somehow justifiable.
  • so what (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Friday October 07, 2005 @03:00AM (#13737550)
    why is it acceptable for a company/person to take the law into their own hands when it's copyright, but not when i catch someone breaking into my car and i give them a beating? thats what the real outrage here is. these movie studio's think just because it's their precious copyrighted works, they are some how justified in anything and everything they do.
  • by Hosiah (849792) on Friday October 07, 2005 @05:41AM (#13737952)
    Some of you arguing in favor of HBO: do you remember a time just 25 short years ago when all television was FREE? We had some 100 channels available counting UHF. When cable came along, the selling point was "better quality, no commercials". That was only temporarily so. These days, I encounter the exact same viewing situation on any given night that I did 30 years ago- everything is crap and there's a commercial interruption every five minutes. The only difference is, now I'm charged a couple-hundred scoots for the priveledge of getting it.

    We got sick of it and cancelled our cable. We still get a few local stations for news. We rent or buy only the DVDs we want to see. The kids get videos of cartoons for as cheap as 99 cents, and they get to see the *good* cartoons, without commercials. It's cheaper in the long run, more convenient, and HBO has made a habit of releasing their original series complete on DVD, which is the only way to make sense of the entirety of "Carnivale", for instance.

    As for HBO, shame on them; they host Bill Maher, and I wonder what he's had to say about this.

  • Hash collisions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by acb (2797) on Friday October 07, 2005 @05:50AM (#13737969) Homepage
    Does BitTorrent use MD5 or SHA1 for computing hashes? How computationally feasible would it be for an organisation on the scale of Time Warner to poison torrents with bogus chunks whose hashes check out correctly? (Could they do it with a few powerful machines? What about a SETI@Home-style distributed-computing application running in the background on all corporate desktops?) If they did that, downloaders would not find out that the file was bogus until they downloaded the whole thing; such a tactic could render BitTorrent unusable for poisoned shows.
  • by jabella (91754) * on Friday October 07, 2005 @07:13AM (#13738173) Journal
    for at least the last 3 or 4 years, a company called overpeer [overpeer.com] has been doing this for hire in the music industry. labels would pay them a fee, and they would get a few hundred (or thousand) hosts on all of the p2p networks that claimed:

    - high bitrates
    - high bandwidth
    - full artist catalogs

    except all of they files they offered had been re-sampled like 10x, so the music was equivalent to about 24kbps... :) they used to have a large presence in some of the northeast datacenters, but since they got aquired by loudeye, they seem to have moved some gear around.

  • Reasonable to me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaronl (43811) on Friday October 07, 2005 @08:03AM (#13738319) Homepage
    This is the method that we all said we would prefer. I don't understand why people are all up in arms over this; would it be better if they were throwing lawsuits around instead of beating people at their own game? Really, I prefer this way anyway, and it has the fringe benefit of getting people get to try to design better protocols. This keeps sounds more and more preferable to lawsuits.

    Besides all of that, I really don't have a problem with people downloading broadcast TV shows. I honestly think the legal system shouldn't have a problem with it either, since it was broadcast and all. Now, the courts probably would take issue, seeing to how the industry bought so many wonderful laws. But that isn't the point.

    The problem here is that /Rome/ wasn't broadcast, so it doesn't count. HBO is a somewhat pricy subscription based cable TV network, so their content never hit the air in any form of open format. This is like throwing DVD rips up on a BT tracker and wondering why whoever bankrolled the movie is a little peeved.

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