Slyck’s P2P Wrap-Up 2006

2005 was an eventful year that kept the file-sharing community on its toes. 2006 was little different. Without a doubt, file-sharing has had an impact on many levels this year.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Whether through government, the courts, the ballot box, the streets, homes, or even schools, file-sharing has touched just about everything in today’s digital world. If there is anything this year has proven, it’s that P2P file-sharing is here to stay. Slyck highlights the many events that have shaped p2p to what it is today in the Slyck 2006 P2P Wrap-Up.

While many events spanned a few weeks, or even a month or so, there was at least one particular incident that seems to have spanned the whole year – the Sony Rootkit fiasco. Before the many individual interesting events are examined, Slyck will look at how the Sony Rootkit DRM played out this year.

Sony BMG – the Rootkit Fallout

The Sony Rootkit fiasco didn’t blow over as was likely hoped by Sony. The issue wasn’t one of a single event, but a whole series of smaller events that may have made the biggest move against DRM (Digital Rights Management) yet. The Canadian version of the fiasco heated up in January. The lawsuit was then spread to other parts of the country.

While things were happening North of the border, Sony made a settlement in February. While there were certainly favourable things surrounding the settlement, it wouldn’t be until August before Sony settled with Canadian consumers… but with a catch.

While there were provisions that made many happier about the settlement in the US, those provisions in the Canadian version were non-existent. As such, the fiasco kept going clear into August. One of these points was the mysterious exhibit ‘C’ which claimed, among other things, that since Sony settled adequately in the US, the same shouldn’t be applied in Canada. Sony was then brought under more fire.

As a result, during the review, CIPPIC (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic) lodged key papers during a court review. This made Sony not only pay up, but be held accountable for the actions among several officials. The judge explained, “this is one of those rare cases where the principal result of the litigation is more broadly based, the discontinuance of this practice by the defendant and beneficial impact of this on the general public and consumers.” When the judge accepted the modified settlement, Sony disputed the new settlement – but failed to change it back.

By then, the Sony Rootkit fiasco was quite well-known among the general population. Many consumer groups and organizations, while lobbying the government, were citing the Sony rootkit case when talking about DRM. Even some who were for DRM were against DRM that was similar to the Sony Rootkit. Effectively, very few wanted ‘that Sony DRM’.

Even Bill Gates admitted to not liking the idea of DRM. Major labels, according to the EFF, are even having second thoughts on such strong DRM measures. Some even released a few titles as MP3s. eMusic, a DRM-free music store, made gains. It’s surprising what happens when a major company takes a misstep.

By the end of the year, Sony was forced to pay up with settlements in the US. One settlement totalled $1.5 million US, the other totalled $4.2 Million US, figures that some say are measly raps on the wrist. Measly or not, Sony still has lawsuits outside the US to contend with. Those settlements are likely to be seen sometime in 2007.


While Canada was busy taking Sony through the legal gears over the rootkit DRM fiasco, MiniNova, one of the most popular torrent indexing sites, celebrated one year of operation.

Meanwhile, ThePirateBay made headlines for its major server farm upgrade. At the same time, it was making headlines by clashing with eBay over a humorous auction. The battle of the Bays continued when ThePirateBay launched a new auction by throwing in a t-shirt that read ‘I paid a lot of money to get drunk with ThePirateBay and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’. Sadly, that auction was also removed by eBay.

With BitTorrent indexing sites making headlines, it was not all good news. January also saw the major warez group busts which, at the time of the reporting, allegedly compromised RELOADED, KNIGHTS, TFCiSO, Cinemaniacs, German-Friend, ParadieseBeach and Klapsmuehle as well as eliminating Unreality, DRAGON, Laboratory, Heaven, code talk, GTR, ECP, TRCD, AOS, MRM, SITH, GWL, Cine VCD, AHE, dump station and IOH. There was also the seizure of ‘flip mill’ – 28 hard drives totalling about 4TB, along with 3 other servers in Vienna.

The end of January also saw more litigation news as the ARIA failed to charge Sharman Networks for contempt. January also marked the beginning of the RIAA’s infamous new ‘songlifter’ campaign.


With jokes aside, Azureus and µTorrent took a serious look at traffic shaping and introduced end-to-end encryption to get around the problem.

BitTorrent development continued as Opera introduced built-in support for BitTorrent in their browser.

The population of P2P was also reported to reach a record high overall in January at over 9.6 million users worldwide.

Also making headlines was the question of whether the name BitTorrent is copyrighted and whether or not Bram Cohan was going to go after others who “misused” the name. The issue has since faded out of existence.

Meanwhile, the MPAA launched a new round of lawsuits against alleged p2p pirates. Shortly after this, BREIN announced a crackdown on 16 BitTorrent websites.

BitComet, a BitTorrent client, became controversial over allegedly bypassing private flags on “private” BitTorrent websites. Shortly after, the client was rolled back to an earlier version. The concept of spoofing and bypassing private flags then exploded into the private BitTorrent community. Many private sites started banning clients, often whittling users’ options down to one client.

While the Kazaa appeal was initiated, the eDonkey2000 community suffered a major blow with the fall of the largest server, Razorback. This server had been so popular, some users simply used that server only despite several other available servers. Despite this loss, the ED2K community continued on stronger with the Kademlia network which eMule connects to, while many using the eDonkey2000 official client continued using the Overnet network. Many users also simply switched to other servers, which is as simple as a couple clicks of a mouse.

One of the biggest headline grabbers was the MPAA’s crackdown on the UseNet community as part of a major anti-piracy initiative that also targeted eDonkey2000 and BitTorrent. It would mark the first time NZB indexing sites were ever targeted by the MPAA. The shockwaves through the NZB community proved a certain degree of fragility. One indexing site, TVNZB, even changed management as a result.

At the end of the month, the RIAA launched a new round of lawsuits against 750 more alleged p2p pirates.


The anti-piracy push of February caused a sort of domino effect in March. The first to fall was eDonkey2000 indexing site ED2K-it. The next to go was NZB indexing site By that point, the very concept of running an indexing site in the US became a fearful proposition for both users and operators alike.

While all these legal negative events were occurring, it would prove to be a contagious cold as even the record labels caught negative attention from the US Department of Justice over price fixing on music. However, the tables turning proved to be brief as concerns struck the BitTorrent community once again when Snarf-It went on sale.

An additional blow was inflicted on the BitTorrent community as BREIN launched an additional assault on BitTorrent websites. The MPAA then inflicted its own wound on the BitTorrent community as it eliminated BitTorrent indexing site

March marked the month that brought France into the light of copyright reform. After a degree of success for file-sharers, opposition fought back. It then only took less than a week before Apple broke its silence and launched a reform campaign to defend an aspect of its DRM encoded business model.

While France was busy making headlines, Canada also shared some publicity of its own as CRIA’s study was revealed to be anything but what they claimed. While this proved to be damaging enough, the CRIA fire grew when an argument erupted between Pollara and Michael Geist.


The IFPI launched a round of lawsuits against alleged p2p pirates in Europe in the beginning of April. Spanish police also got in on the action when they arrested 15 BitTorrent/ED2K indexing site administrators.

The domino effect continued for NZB sites as NZBZone bowed out due to MPAA legal pressure. The RIAA also filed an additional 235 lawsuits against alleged file-sharing pirates.

While the IFPI, MPAA, and RIAA got their share of press, CRIA also got its own press – but for the opposite reason. After what happened the previous month, as well as additional controversy from other events, CRIA’s biggest Canadian based record labels left CRIA, fanning the flames. If it wasn’t enough, a number of artists created their own coalition which had a message different than that of CRIA.

Across the border, there were different headlines of the infamous DMCA 2.0 which caused a large amount of controversy. Skype also announced that it gained more than 100 million users.


After CRIA was effectively dragged through the mud in more ways than one, CRIA’s president attempted to fight back with his own opinion. Unfortunately for CRIA, his message may have fallen short of making an impact after calling Canada ‘lawless’. Shortly after, one of Canada’s political parties backed the coalition that started up from former members of CRIA. Later in May, a long list of groups and organizations voiced opinions over privacy implications of DRM. While DRM was getting a bad reputation, someone in the industry may have missed a memo when two press releases delivered conflicting messages about piracy.

May was also the month that bore witness to the fall of BearShare, which settled for $30 million. Bearshare was one of a line of old-time file-sharing clients that connected to the Gnutella network, but then ceased its file-sharing operations.

There was also the debut of two movies that were file-sharing friendly. Those, of course, were the movies Elephants Dream and The Piracy Documentary.

In an unusual turn of events, Jon Newtonof the file-sharing news site was legally pursued for libel. While news reporters and bloggers aren’t always necessarily a target for a lawsuit, what made the lawsuit so unusual was that he was targeted by Sharman Networks – owner of the file-sharing client Kazaa.

Then German police launched a major offensive on 3,500 eDonkey2000 users.

While cammers were busy camming the latest Mission:Impossible movie, BitTorrent Inc. was signing deals with the entertainment industry and Manolito made a comeback, nothing grabbed the attention of the file-sharing community more than when ThePirateBay got raided.

ThePirateBay has been a staple in the file-sharing – namely BitTorrent – community. While not everyone uses the website for their file-sharing purposes, it provided a sort of icon of defiance for the file-sharing community as a whole, so the file-sharing community never took more notice than when the BitTorrent indexing site got raided.


Merely a day after the raid, a copyright organization launched a controversial copyright educational program comparable to the ‘Respect Copyright’ scouts merit badge. It seemed like major copyright influences were really getting the upper hand on things, especially since it was found that US interests had a hand in its closure (later confirmed).

The image was very quickly shattered when, a day after the raids, ThePirateBay announced that it intended to return. If copyright holders were hoping to gain moral victories, their hopes were dashed when it was also learned that internet businesses found themselves also knocked offline. ThePirateBay followed through on their promise and went back online just two days after the announcement. They then proclaimed their victory in the clash.

They say, to the victor goes the spoils. ThePirateBay earned it when their traffic surged. While it was a victory on many grounds, the only thing that was missing was being hosted in Sweden. They finally returned midway through the month.

The interesting news continued when anti-DRM protests started popping up. Events continued that may have made aspirin that much more marketable to industry executives when it was learned that the file-sharing population was climbing (especially in Germany despite the ED2K raid) despite claims made by the RIAA that it was “contained”. Shortly after, the Canadian Library Association blasted the Captain Copyright initiative.

The month of June seemed to prove to be very difficult for the major entertainment industries. It may be why the RIAA decided to change their lawsuit strategy by the end of it.


The BPI tried to deter file-sharing activities via Internet Service Providers. Unfortunately for the BPI, they quickly got rejected. Meanwhile, Sharmen Networks dropped the libel case against Jon Newton of While this helped alleviate some pressure, Jon’s troubles weren’t entirely over, since Nikki Hemming still continued to legally pursue him.

While KCeasy released version .18, Piratbyrån finally came back online after being knocked offline by the raids on ThePirateBay. In the meantime, a study explained that the Japanese file-sharing community grew to 1.8 million users.

Also happening during the month of July, millions of users found out that Sharman Network’s Kazaa settled for $100 million – a new settlement record for a p2p firm.


In an unexpected twist, the RIAA decided to finally try to sue LimeWire. LimeWire still operates today, which is an accomplishment only remotely matched to that of BitTorrent.

August could also be remembered as the month of Captain Copyright. Considering CRIA had a hard enough time with Canadians, it seemed to be pain worth sharing with other like-minded organizations. First, the CLA made another move against the cartoon figure, then Access Copyright responded in self-defence. The reaction to the move sparked even more controversy which ultimately led to the cartoon figure being taken offline.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Pirate Party backed anonymous internet service Relakks (another look at the service here). Towards the end of the month, they also published their manifesto while gaining unprecedented popularity.

In other news in August, Altnet legally pursued Morpheus over the ‘True Names’ patent, which essentially is the hash coding system virtually all file-sharing networks use. On the subject of hash coding, the DCIA also wrote to congress saying hash codes could be used to thwart online copyright infringement.

While gaining fanfare on websites everywhere, AllPeers gained a certain level of fame. Then Slyck got a hold of the software and published a review of it. It was a review that didn’t exactly go over too well on the AllPeers blog.


While Bertelsmann (investor for the now defunct Napster 1.0) settled for 60 million with the industry, TV downloading doubled, and ShareReactor tried making a comeback, something happened that changed the face of the eDonkey2000 community forever. The eDonkey2000 official client became no more and settled for $30 million with the major entertainment companies. The development saw many users migrating to eMule, the open source alternative for the network, and other networks in general. Meanwhile, some users opted to simply re-install an older version that was prior to clashes between the official client’s company and the RIAA.

While the shockwaves of the fall of the official client raced through the file-sharing world, another movement that also deals with creative content was the webcasting treaty.

While the makers of the popular BitTorrent client µTorrent continued making improvements, Microsoft’s new Zune player stirred controversy in the Creative Commons community. Also making headlines was Snarf-It, when the website lost a RAID hard drive and had to re-index some torrent files. The popular indexing site had grown so popular that many wondered if it had been raided, but it turned out to be just a hardware failure.

LimeWire also made headlines when it filed a countersuit against the RIAA. The movement also showed the file-sharing community that open source seems to offer layer of security when it comes to litigation. This is unlike the Grokster client, the eDonkey2000 client and the WinMX client where the shutdown of the main client caused major damage, if not destroyed the client’s ability to operate – losing the main source code in the process. Meanwhile, Morpheus mulled their appeal in the courts.

October made headlines, including their clash with the RIAA. While questions over their legality were being raised, an interesting move was played against the Russian site by getting Visa and MasterCard to block the music store. then made a counterattack and threatened legal action. Meanwhile, a court ruled that a Danish ISP had to block

As the IFPI targeted another 8,000 individuals in 17 different countries, there was much speculation over search engine giant Google buying the popular video sharing site YouTube. Reaction was diverse, including the infamous Mark Cuban not taking the news too well in more ways than one. Either way, such sites would continue making gains.

Meanwhile, an EliteTorrents administrator headed to prison for 5 months (additional analysis).

There was also the news that CRIA’s troubles would continue with the Canadian Supreme court.


November was a month that kicked off with the news that BitTorrent indexing site ThePirateBay was still growing. They also expanded their line-up – thereby further showing that the site is virtually unstoppable.

Other BitTorrent websites also made some improvements. For example, MyBitTorrent expanded their line-up. MiniNova, by some measures the most popular BitTorrent indexing site, made moves to upgrade their web interface. The BitTorrent community was growing so fast that Ares Galaxy consequently adopted BitTorrent in their client. The growth almost completely overshadowed BREIN eliminating two more BitTorrent websites.

The IFPI made more headlines for being displeased with a Spanish court ruling over file-sharing. In other legal and political news, critics were reportedly unhappy about the latest Australian copyright reform. During the same month, many British users were petitioning for user rights. Also, Canadian Heritage minister Bev Oda experienced some controversy over a broadcasting fundraiser. also went on record saying that they were likely legal in the USA. Rumours also circulated about Bram Cohen of BitTorrent Inc. during a time when BitTorrent Inc. landed major deals with the entertainment industry.


During the month of Christmas, it was a jolly season for Azureus fans as the BitTorrent client launched version 3.0.

While some were happy over the news, many µTorrent users were devastated to find out that BitTorrent Inc. acquired µTorrent. Whether or not it really is a security risk, some µTorrent fans found themselves adopting other BitTorrent clients in the process. BitTorrent was also a headliner in December when ThePirateBay decided to block a Swedish ISP in protest for blocking The Swedish ISP then unblocked the site, saying that it was a hasty decision.

Shortly after, the RIAA filed a $1.65 Trillion lawsuit against under US law. The Russian site responded, saying that the site operates legally under Russian laws and pays royalties to Russian Royalty firm, ROMS.

Meanwhile, an old eDonkey2000 indexing site vowed a major return to be a resource for ED2K users once again.

New Zealand also saw an interesting copyright reform bill.

If anything, it would seem likely that 2007 will be filled with events just as interesting – maybe even more interesting – than 2006. What will 2007 bring to the P2P landscape? What new faces will be brought to the spotlight of fame? What old faces will stick around? And what old faces will vanish? What applications will take the file-sharing scene by storm? What will simply be over-hyped vapourware? What laws will be enacted to encourage movements on the various sides of the copyright debate? Or will the copyright industry simply concede to these new movements? All of these things remain to be seen. For now, it can only be left to speculation.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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